(by Steve Hopkins)
Germany’s Dang Qiu has won the European Championship in Munich. His path to the final includes a very tight opening round win over Ibrahim Gunduz 4-3, a 4-0 win over Sgouropoulos, a 4-1 win over tough German veteran Benedikt Duda, a 4-0 statement win over Timo Boll in the Quarterfinals, a 4-1 win over tricky Mattias Falck in the Semifinals, and a 4-1 win in the Final over Darko Jorgic.
Despite the great run Qiu had put together, Jorgic was still a slight favorite entering the Final. And after Jorgic managed to come from two points down to take the first game 12-10 – and established an early lead in the second game (up 6-3 and 8-4), one might think Qiu was about to fold. But that was not the case, Qiu reversed the script in the second game and came from a few points back to tie the score 9-9 and then fought for the 14-12 win to even the game score. The next two games were about the same – tight throughout with Qiu pulling ahead. And with a 3-1 lead and just needing one more game, Qiu could do no wrong in the fifth game – rolling to an 11-2 win.
Qiu is a two-sided penhold player. His father Qiu Jianxin and his mother Chen Hong were both Chinese National Team player who immigrated to Germany (both played on Bundesliga teams in Germany), so Qiu is the first penholder German team member who was born in Germany.
The European table tennis landscape is changing – with a seeming change of generation. Perhaps Timo Boll and Dima Ovtcharov will push forward again, but at the moment, the top two European players are Truls Moregard and Darko Jorgic – and other younger rising players include Dang Qiu, and Patrick Franziska. And one more note about styles, 15 year old French penholder Felix Lebrun is now in the Top 10 among all junior players in the World. What a great time to be a fan of our sport.
In the Women’s Singles Event, three Germans advanced to the Semifinals, but it was Sofia Polcanova of Austria the is European Champion. Polcanova defeated Sabine Winter 4-3 in the Semifinals and then topped Nina Mittelham in the Final. Polcanova won the first game 11-9, and the second 11-2 before Mittelham was forced to retire due to injury.
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