England had been defeated in three shut matches as France silenced a 700+ crowd on the K2 in Crawley tonight of their European Group Championships Stage One tie.
Paul Drinkhall opened up in opposition to Can Akkuzu, on paper a good match with the Frenchman ranked 11 locations greater at 68.
Photographs by davidjohnsonphotographic.co.uk
The primary sport was duly an in depth one, Drinkhall clawing again from 5-9 to 9-9 with a combination of forehand and backhand winners down the road and a trademark forehand flick.
Each males had probabilities to take it, Drinkhall going a whisker lengthy at 11-10, however it was Akkuzu who took it 14-12 as Drinkhall pressured his opponent again, introduced him in with a delecate drop shot however then went simply lengthy with the kill shot.
As an aperitif, that wasn’t unhealthy, and the 2 continued to duel. There was not more than some extent between them for a lot of the second as both went forward and the opposite instantly pegged them again.
However it was Drinkhall who had the sport factors, three of them from 10-9, lastly powering previous Akkuzu to stage it up.
One other shut one within the third noticed Akkuzu carry up two sport factors with a brilliant forehand bulleted down the road. Drinkhall saved one with a kind of well-known forehand flicks, however clipped the online and went lengthy with the same shot on the second sport level.
The fourth noticed Drinkhall produce a few these blistering passages of play when you recognize you’re watching desk tennis the equal of anybody on the planet.
Akkuzu had the odd trick up his sleeve – akin to a well-disguised ‘ace’ straight up the road, however he couldn’t dwell with Drinkhall for a lot of the sport as Paul turned a 5-0 begin into an 11-5 victory with a beautiful array of pictures.
Akkuzu held the higher hand by a lot of the decider, turning round at 5-3 and forcing Drinkhall right into a timeout some extent later. Drinkhall hung in, decreasing the arrears to 8-9, however simply unable to reverse the movement as Akkuzu sealed it 11-8.
Tom Jarvis versus Felix Lebrun had a tasty look about it, with the 16-year-old French participant the discuss of the world sport having already risen into the highest 70 on the planet.
So when he took his timeout as early as 4-1 down within the second, it was maybe a shock. To not take something away from Jarvis, who was laser-focused and in full management of his sport.
He took the primary 11-5 and had that lead, which turned 5-1, within the second. One thing on the timeout labored, nevertheless, as a swap appeared to return on in Lebrun. He immediately led 10-5 as he upped the tempo of his pictures and consequently made Jarvis look hurried.
Jarvis stopped the movement by saving two sport factors however netted a obtain to depart all of it sq..
We noticed some top quality within the subsequent two video games from each gamers, however the penholder Frenchman usually had the sting from 8-8 within the third onwards, taking that sport with three in row after which staying simply in entrance all through the fourth by way of a Jarvis timeout and, for an audible obscenity, a yellow card a few factors away from the top.
A bit of frustration was comprehensible – he performed nicely, and Lebrun’s full-throated celebration confirmed he felt he had actually earned his victory.
David McBeath had taken Jules Rolland to a decider on the World Championships in China in October and he made a assured begin to lead 5-2. Rolland discovered his vary to overturn that and take it 11-7.
McBeath had the same lead within the second however this time he caught with it and was first to carry up a sport level. That was saved by a viciously clear forehand crosscourt winner, and McBeath missed one other probability at 11-10. So, there was a glimmer, however Rolland swiftly doused it by reeling off three in a row, the game-winner one other heavy forehand into McBeath’s physique.
There was one other lead within the third – 4-2 this time, however Rolland confirmed he was up for the struggle with some monumental defence on the subsequent level, sending one lob from the again of the court docket proper onto the sideline virtually by way of the ceiling, earlier than counter-attacking to win the purpose.
The timeout at 5-6 felt like a final roll of the cube for McBeath and coach Gavin Evans, and McBeath did proceed to point out flashes, together with saving two match factors at 8-10.
A high edge gave Rolland one other probability. McBeath once more clawed it again with a thumping forehand kill. When McBeath netted within the subsequent rally, there was a fourth match level. Rolland took a nerve-calming timeout however nonetheless misplaced the subsequent level, regardless of making one return from a seated place.
McBeath introduced up a sport level with assistance from a web wire, however couldn’t make it rely – and Rolland lastly sealed it as McBeath went lengthy.
So England had been crushed by some ‘Gallic aptitude in Angleterre’. However they’ve an opportunity to show the tables shortly – the return match is in France on Sunday.
England 0 France 3
Can Akkuzu bt Paul Drinkhall 3-2 (14-12, 11-13, 11-9, 5-11, 11-8)
Felix Lebrun bt Tom Jarvis 3-1 (5-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-7)
Jules Rolland bt David McBeath 3-0 (11-7, 13-11, 15-13)