Drinkhall and Pitchford set for last 16 Euro Championships battle

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ROTHERHAM’S Paul Drinkhall and Chesterfield’s Liam Pitchford continued their fine start at the European Table Tennis Championships in Herning, Denmark, yesterday with a nail-biting victory over French pair Emmanuel Lebesson and Adrien Mattenet.

The English pair kept their nerve to triumph 14-12 in the fifth and final set to add to their previous group stage victories on Wednesday over opponents from Finland and Slovakia respectively.

Also in doubles action, Darius Knight and Daniel Reed were beaten in straight sets by Danes Jonathan Groth and Kasper Sternberg, while Andrew Baggaley and his Portuguese partner Andre Silva lost to Russia’s Alexey Liventsov and Mikhail Paykov.

Both Knight and Reed had better fortunes in singles competition, with Knight dispatching Magnus Magnusson of Iceland in four sets before losing in five to Sweden’s Pet Gerell, and Reed winning two out of two against Linor Citaku and Patrick Franziska respectively.

There were also singles wins for Pitchford, who beat Estonia’s Vallot Vainula and France’s Quentin Robinot, Baggaley, who was a five-set winner over Poland’s Konrad Kulpa, and Scot Gavin Rumgay who beat Ylli Prestreshi of Kosova in straight sets.

In women’s singles, England’s Joanna Parker, who is based in Rotherham, beat Nicole Trosman of Israel in straight sets, and Kelly Sibley won through over another Israeli Natali Ruvman, who retired.

Drinkhall who plays for German club Bremen, and Pitchford now meets Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Vladimir Samsonov in the round of 16.

Ovtcharov was the man who knocked Drinkhall out of the Olympic Games, in the last 32 before going on to win the bronze medal.