John Murphy reports from Budapest…
Mia Egan,Natasya Barry, Owen Cathcart, Thomas Joyce
Coaching Team – Amy Barry, John Murphy
A young Irish team travelled to Budapest, Hungary over the weekend 9-11 of January. For most of this young squad it was there first time to take part in a European level event. The competition started with boys and girls team event on the Friday with singles Saturday and Sunday.
The girls were placed in a tough group with Hungary and Bulgaria. Both Mia and Natasya performed well against Hungary although losing 0-3 they both showed signs that they could compete with the strong table tennis nations.
Against Bulgaria the girls stepped up again to plate with a good performance unfortunately losing 1-3 this time, with Mia picking up a very impressive singles win. This left the girls competing in the consolation event. This was where the girls really showed great potential for the future. Having been given a bye in the first round the girls recorded impressive wins; 3-1 over Hungary and 3-2 over Sweden to set up a final encounter against Germany. At this stage the girls were tired but they put up a good fight against a strong German team, in the end they lost out 0-3.
The Boys were placed in a tough group with Sweden, Germany and Hungary. First match against Hungary the boys won 3-1 with 2 wins from Owen and a doubles win. This happened again in the second match against Germany which set up a group decider against Sweden – unfortunately the boys lost out in a close match 2-3 with Owen winning 1 single and again the boys proving there worth winning the doubles. With the top 2 teams going through to the main draw, all was not lost.
They quickly regrouped and beat Romania in the last 32 with the usual scoreline 3-1; again Owen winning 2 and combining with Thomas to take the doubles. In the last 16 the boys faced a strong German team and although giving it a real go they lost out this time 1-3. Losing there first doubles in this match was a crucial moment. Still a very good performance from the boys especially as Thomas is only 2004 so playing two years over his age – huge potential for this team.
Mia O’Rahilly Egan
Played in the 2002 singles. Placed in a group of 3, Mia lost her first match 3-1 against a Slovak girl but won her second match 3-0 against a Hungarian. With the Hungarian beating the Slovak in the other it meant that Mia won her group on count back. The reward was a place in the main draw. In the last 32 Mia lost 3-0 to Phan of Hungary but had good chances in the first two sets. Good performance from Mia in her first international event.
Played in the 2002 singles. Placed in a group of 3, Natasya lost out 3-0 against a strong Slovak girl in the first match. Second match playing against a Hungarian girl Natasya was down 0-2 before fighting back to lead 9-7 in the 5th but unfortunately lost out 11-9. In the consolation Natasya lost again the one of the many strong Slovak girls 3-0. The tournament was a good experience for Natasya who has another year at this level.
Playing in the 2002 boys singles, Owen who is very experienced at this level was in a group of 4 and he showed his talent, beating a Swede 3-1, Hungarian 3-1 and Bulgarian 3-0 to top the group.
In the main draw Owen progressed to the last 8 with impressive wins over Malakhhau of Belarus 3-0 and Hammerfeldt of Sweden 3-0. In the last 8 he faced the German, Rinderer. The level of the match itself was very and high although Owen lost out 1-3 he was right in there with a chance. It has to be mentioned that the German went on the win the title. Good performance from Owen in every aspect over the 3 days.
Playing in the 2004 singles, Thomas won his group with a 3-1 win over a Hungarian and a 3-0 win over a Czech player. In the main draw, Thomas had a bye in the last 32. In the last 16 he faced Drenea of Romania. In a very close match Thomas lost out 1-3. This event will have been a great experience for Thomas who is so young.
On a whole the overall results were very good. As the coach on duty I was very impressed with how professional these young players conducted themselves at the tournament. If they learned something from the event its to continue to practice as much as they can at home to hopefully make these results even better in the future.