By Yuri Karpenko
At the group stage, our Belarusian girls have already defeated their rivals in four matches: England and Poland (away) and France and England (at home). Regardless of the results of other matches, they have secured their play-off place, being among their group’s top two teams. The final matches are scheduled for autumn.
In the recent home match against Poland, the Belarusian squad was represented by its strongest line-up: acting European champion Victoria Pavlovich, her sister Veronika, Alexandra Privalova and Yelena Dubkova. Poland failed to bring its core players to Minsk but still looked quite formidable. The equally strong Polish players posed a serious threat to the Belarusian girls, who felt the stress of playing at home, where fans’ expectations were high. This may have affected their nerves, as they failed to bring their best game, losing 2:3. The two Belarusian wins were captured by Victoria Pavlovich.
The Belarusian men’s team, playing in the Premier Division of the tournament, faced Russian players in Yekaterinburg, losing 2:3. Table tennis leaders Vladimir Samsonov and Yevgeny Shchetinin were absent from the squad due to a tough club schedule.
Meanwhile, October’s Europe-Asia tournament is to become one of the brightest in table tennis. Minsk will gather the top ten players from our two continents this autumn. Each country will be represented by just one player. Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus is an old-timer of this tournament.