June 24, 2015, by Lee Chrimes
European University Table Tennis Championships – Day Four
Event report by Jonathan Spinks, UoN Table Tennis
Today was our last competition day, with both the men’s and women’s singles resuming at the last 32 stage. With only Paul McCreery, Tressa Armitage and Yolanda King left in the draw, it meant the rest of the team were only on supporting duty. Liam and I dragged ourselves out of bed to be there for the earliest matches, and were joined by the others at a more leisurely rate.
The day kicked off with Paul, who was looking hopeful having inherited a kind draw after knocking out the 10th seed in the 1st round. Here he was drawn against the Armenian number 3, in a match where Paul at all moments simply looked a class above, claiming a fairly routine 3-0 victory.
Hoping to join him were Tressa and Yolanda, both of whom having drawn tough opponents. Tressa was pulled into a rematch with the Polish number 1 (a potential tip for the title), and despite a valiant performance and a few big hits was unable to defeat an extremely tough opponent who went on to lose narrowly to the 1st seed.
Yolanda was similarly given a tough first opponent in one of the Russian team finalists, and looked to have put herself in a good position after leveling the tie at one set apiece. Unfortunately the steady play and defensive style of the Russian managed to hold out against Yolanda’s more fluent approach.
This meant that if UoN were to achieve success it would have to become Paul McCreery Day, with all hopes pinned on him. His opponent in the last 16 was a member of the victorious Polish Rzeszow team, but Paul was able to call upon his big match experience to safely see off his opponent and advance to the next round.
This brought us to the quarter-finals. What do you get if three Poles, two Czechs, two Russians and an Irishman walk into a room? It sounds like a setup for a bad joke, but in fact it was the quarter-final lineup. Paul’s good luck in the draw did not hold up any further however, as he was matched against Russia’s strongest player so far, and one of the two favourites for the competition. Despite this high pedigree Paul was able to go toe-to-toe, unluckily losing the first set 12-10. The next two went in similar fashion, with Paul pulling off some simply huge points, but falling foul of one of the most powerful backhands on show. But one does not become Ireland’s three time national champion for nothing , and Paul roared back to life to take the 4th set (all matches from quarter-finals onwards now being played as best of 7). This set up an entertaining tie in front of vocal Team UK support, but unfortunately Paul could not keep up his comeback, and was defeated in yet another close set.
This therefore saw a close to our involvement in the competition, but with results we can be very proud of, and hopefully improve upon in coming years should we keep up our dominance of the UK game. We’ve just spent our remaining time strolling around and seeing the beautiful sights of Geneva, finishing with a gala dinner tonight before heading home tomorrow.
This has been an unforgettable experience for all of us involved, and I’m sure the whole team would like to thank the University for making our involvement possible, the organisers (in particular our local volunteer Emily) and all our opposition for making this a fantastic few days.
Personally for me this was an unbeatable way to end my time at university, and I sincerely hope our team get the chance to come back next year!