The England men’s team of Liam Pitchford, Paul Drinkhall and Tom Jarvis defeated Serbia in a hard-fought 3-2 result in Belgrade yesterday; in the away leg of a double header which will see the home fixture played in January. Also in the group is France, with each nation playing home-and-away qualifying ties. The matches are the first stage of qualifying for the European Team Championships, which will be held in Sweden in September next year.
Always a tough team to play, the England men knew Serbia were going to be formidable opponents having being defeated by them the last time they played on their home soil.
Drinkhall took the opening set comfortably (11-4) against Dimitrije Levajac, but the Serbian then found his form and edged the next two games, with the final running away from Drinkhall (3-11).
Next a win by Pitchford over Marko Jevtovic to level the match. The Serbian was outplayed by the England number one, with Pitchford securing the win, (11-9, 5-11, 11-7 and 11-9).
Tom Jarvis (pictured above) took England ahead with a win against Zsolt Peto. The opening two games being close (14-12 and 9-11), before Jarvis built his confidence and vanquished his opponent (11-5, 11-6).
It was then time for Pitchford to face Levajac, in a thrilling 5 setter, the Serbian edged Pitchford out to level the match (11-6,8-11, 11-8, 9-11 and 8-11).
So it all hinged on the last match, Drinkhall v Jevtovic. The English man did not succumb to the pressure overcoming his opponent, 11-8, 11-9, 5-11 and 11-7 and so securing the win for England.
England will next play Serbia and France at home on consecutive dates in January, more information to follow.
2023 European Team Championships
Mens Teams S1L2 Group A 3
Serbia 2 England 3
Dimitrije Levajac bt Paul Drinkhall 3-1 (4-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-3)
Liam Pitchford bt Marko Jevtovic 3-1 (11-9, 5-11, 11-7, 11-9)
Tom Jarvis bt Zsolt Peto 3-1 (14-12, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6)
Dimitrije Levajac bt Liam Pitchford 3-2 (6-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-9, 11-8)
Paul Drinkhall bt Marko Jevtovic 3-1 (11-8, 11-9, 5-11, 11-7)