European Team Championship
Photographs courtesy of Studio Cee
Scotland v Serbia (Women)
Scotland’s Women’s team faced up against Serbia in the European League Qualifiers. Representing Scotland was Rebecca Plaistow, Lucy Elliott and Faye Leggett – Coaching the ladies was Corinna Whitaker.
Lucy Elliott was up first against Aneta Maksuti. Lucy started off very confident in the first set taking an early lead in the set, catching Maksuti off with down the line shots, however Maksuti managed to pull back the lead and win the first set 11-9. The second set started the same way but Maksuti stepped up her game and made it difficult for Elliott to play hers, Maksuti took the second set 11-7. In the third set, Maksuti didn’t allow Elliott to play the way she wanted and ran away with the set 11-2 to win the first game 3-0.
Up next was Rebecca Plaistow against Vignjvic Dragana. The first set could have gone either way with both players having some great rallies, but it was Dragana who took the first set 11-7. In the second set, Plaistow was unable to find a rhythm with Dragana winning the set 11-2. The third set was similar to the second with Dragana making it difficult for Plaistow to get a run of points and in turn winning the third set 11-4 and winning the match 3-0.
In the third match, Faye Leggett was up against Aleksandra Savic. The first set went in favour of Savic winning 11-4 but the score line didn’t reflect the good rallies that were played between both players. In the second set, Leggett stepped up her game by remaining focused and attacking the ball at the table. She was able to pull off a 11-7 to level the match at 1-1. In the third set, Savic changed her tactics which Leggett struggled to deal with and won the set 11-4 to take the lead 2-1. The fourth set could have gone either way with points being won by both players simultaneously, but it was Savic who took the opportunity at 8-8 and won the next 3 points to win 11-8 and win Serbia the match 3-0.
The girls put in a good performance against a strong Serbian team. They showed fight and determination and were unlucky not to take the games closer.
Scotland v Finland (Men)
Scotland began this return fixture as clear second favourite having lost the reverse fixture 0-3. So, it was a must-win match if they wanted to keep hopes of qualifying for the European Team Championships alive. Our team clearly strengthened by the return of an inspired Gavin Rumgay had more than a fighting chance.
Yasser Razouk was sent on first against the wicked serves and booming backhands that make up European top 50 Olah’s game. Razouk struggled in the first 2 games but made a spirited fight in the 3rd learning the importance of return and movement. Naumi made a bright start before Rumgay got into his stride around 7-7 in the first. From there on it was one-way traffic as Rumgay’s serves and set plays helped him take total command. This was just about the most disciplined performance I have seen Rumgay give. He had a close to the table game plan and didn’t divert from this, winning the last 2 games 3 and 3.
The vital third game between Colin Dalgleish the awkward short pimpled Samuli was always going to be a messy affair and so it turned out. Points were won and lost in batches and neither player could assert his dominance. As usual, Dalgleish won all the longer rallies with his free-flowing game but Samuli had the just edge on serve. Dalgleish took the first and 3rd 14-12 and 12-10 displaying nerve under pressure but lost the 2nd and 4th -6 – 4. The decider ending -8 in favour of the Finn with a few errors at crucial times proving costly.
The mouth-watering prospect clash between the two number ones took place in a charged atmosphere.
Rumgay clearly had better movement, placement, variety, and disguise. Olah had the edge on serve, power and backhand winners. Olah took the first -12 after what I consider an ill-timed timeout from Rumgay when he had game point. Olah also ran away with the second 11-5 with his unstoppable backhand boomers. A big shift took place with Rumgay targeting the big frame of Olah and then stretching him wide resulting in 11-5 and 11- 8 to Rumgay in the third and fourth. The crowd rose to both players as they entered the arena for the decider with service advantage to Rumgay. Unfortunately, the big Finn broke away early and never looked back – taking the decider 5-11.
A great game and a thoroughly entertaining match which ended 3-1 to Finland and could so easily have been 3-1 to Scotland. Fine margins.
Drumchapel were once again wonderful hosts before, during and after the matches. We are indebted to Chairman Terry MBE and his team for providing a venue worthy of such a match, fantastic hotel accommodation, and efficient transport.
Dave Fairholm – Table Tennis Scotland Director of Performance
Photographs courtesy of Studio Cee
October 18, 2018
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October 16, 2018