It was a successful week for Team JOOLA at the European Championships in Munich, Germany with two bronze medals in the Mixed and Men’s Doubles, and a record broken.
Pistej Takes Bronze in the Mixed Doubles
Lubomir Pistej was first to land on the podium with partner Barbora Balazova. The iconic mixed doubles pair medaled in the event for the third time, having won silver in both 2013 and 2020. In Munich they bowed out in the semifinals, but the road to bronze was an exciting one.
In the round of 32 the pair narrowly survived a big challenge from the mixed pairing of Martin Andersen and Ines Matos. Pistej and Balazova clutched out the deciding 5th game by the tightest of margins, 17-15.
In the last 16 it was a clean 3-0 sweep over the German duo of Sabine Winter and Benedict Duda, a strong performance to lead them into the quarterfinals.
In the last 8 teams it was another incredibly close match against Spain’s Alvaro Robles and Maria Xiao. This time the Slovakian pair trailed 2-1, just managing to close out the fourth game 13-11. The first four games were all won by just 2 point margins. In the fifth they were able to push the limits and earn a guaranteed medal spot in the semifinal.
In the semifinal they would be stopped by the French pair of Emmanuel Lebesson and Wan Jianan.
A well earned bronze medal and an exceptional result to add a third medal to an impressive partnerships career.
Pistej also posted an exceptional win in the Men’s Doubles rounds with Aleksandr Karakasevic. The two trailed 9-3 in the deciding game to the partnership of Liam Pitchford and Jonathan Groth, before launching an incredible comeback to take the match.
Habesohn Breaks Record to win Men’s Doubles Silver In the Men’s doubles it was a nailbiting road right from the beginning. Daniel Habesohn, paired with long-time partner Robert Gardos, were put under pressure by the young guns from the first match. Top European youth players Iulian Chirita and Daniel Berzosa were the challengers, and held a 2-1 lead in the match. The two-time European Champions were not about to be ejected in the first round and found their resolve, winning the last two games convincingly to advance.
They would have to survive two further 5 game duels in the round of 16 and quarterfinal, the first against Czech Republic’s Sirucek and Martinko, the second against the strong German pairing of Dang Qiu and Benedict Duda. Against the Czech pair it was 16-14 in the final game, while with the German’s they led 2-0 and survived a comeback effort.
A 3-1 victory against the Lebrun brothers of France in the semifinal would take them into their 5th European Championships final, a new record for any doubles pairing. In the gold medal match they would lose out in four games to the reigning World Champions from Sweden – Mattias Falk and Kristian Karlsson.
A brilliant fight to survive many close encounters and reach a 5th final together. Habesohn now holds 3 silver and 2 gold medals in the European Championship men’s doubles event.
Surjan Upsets European Games Champion
One of the most outstanding results in the singles field was that of Sabina Surjan, who created one of the upsets of the tournament by ousting Portugal’s Fu Yu from the draw. Surjan had to win two matches in the group stage, and a further 2 matches in the preliminary singles draw to setup the Round of 64 showdown with Yu.
7th seeded Yu is the reigning 2019 European Games champion, and a three time European Championships singles medalist. The first four games were won by 2 point margins with Yu holding a 2-1 lead after the first three.
In the best of 7 contest, Surjan made her mark by winning the 4th to draw the match at 2-2 and then proceeding to dominate the remainder of the match. The 5th and 6th games would both fall 11-4 for Surjan, sending her into the round of 32.
The 22 year old Serbian doubled down on the result by winning her next match 4-0 against Karoline Mischek, eventually losing in the round of 16 to Shao Jieni.
Tatiana Kukulkova also reached the Women’s Singles last 16, with an excellent victory over Ukraine’s Tetiana Bilenko, a world class defensive player. The round of 32 match ended with a 4-1 win for Kukulkova.
Congratulations to all our JOOLA players and teams on their exceptional results at the pinnacle competition on the European Continent!
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I returned home after almost a month of table tennis competition in Asia under my belt. Another great opportunity to reflect on everything I experienced