The four-strong Team GB contingent at the European Singles Qualification Tournament in Portugal have discovered their first-stage opponents as they battle to secure a place at the Tokyo Olympics.
In the men’s singles, Paul Drinkhall, world-ranked No 57, is top seed in Group B and will face Rares Sipos of Romania (WR 149), Ibrahim Gunduz (WR 166) of Turkey and Latvia’s Daniels Kogans (WR 1,064).
Sam Walker (WR 96) is the top-ranked player in Group F and his opponents are Florent Lambiet of Belgium (WR 104), Eric Glod (WR 210, LUX) and Alex Naumi (WR 265, FIN).
In the women’s singles, Tin-Tin Ho, currently ranked No 94 in the world, is the top seed in Group H, where she will face world No 137 Sabina Surjan of Serbia, Slovenia’s Ana Tofant (WR 242) and Polina Trifonova of Bulgaria (WR 408).
Charlotte Carey (151) faces two opponents in Group B – Debora Vivarelli (WR 71, ITA) and Tatiana Kukulkova (WR 139, SVK)
There are 38 men and 41 women competing at the tournament and a total of nine places in Tokyo are available – five in the men’s event and four in the women’s.
How to watch
The event in Guimaraes starts tomorrow and will be streamed live on ETTU TV. The first-day matches involving Team GB players are:
10am: Charlotte Carey v Debora Vivarelli (Table 2)
11.40am: Tin-Tin Ho v Ana Tofant (T1)
12.30pm: Paul Drinkhall v Ibrahim Gunduz (T4)
2.10pm: Sam Walker v Eric Glod (T2)
4.40pm: Tin-Tin Ho v Sabina Surjan (T3)
6.20pm: Paul Drinkhall v Rares Sipos (T1)
7.10pm: Sam Walker v Florent Lambiet (T4)
What is the format?
The top four seeds in each competition are exempt. The remaining athletes will be drawn to play in 10 groups.
The group winners and runners-up from stage one will go through to join the top four seeds in a knockout bracket. The finalists (ie two men and two women) will both qualify. The final matches will not be played.
The remaining 22 players from the knockout bracket in stage two will play a further knockout stage and the finalists (again, two men and two women) will qualify. The final matches will not be played. In the men’s event, there will be a play-off between the two beaten semi-finalists, with the winner also qualifying.