Table Tennis: England's double medal haul

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND'S women failed to reach the final last night but had already ensured the country's best European Championships for 14 years by reaching the semi-finals at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham yesterday, writes James Leigh.

Their 4-1 defeat by Russia contained the most exciting match of the tournament, Andrea Holt saving eight match points to beat Elena Timina - and their 4-1 victory over The Netherlands in the morning made certain both England's men's and women's teams would get a medal for the first time since 1980.

Against the Russians, Holt was heroic, chopping and pushing so that the first game lasted more than 15 minutes, thus causing the 12-stroke expedite rule to be invoked.

Holt, usually the more frequent attacker, should have been favoured by this, but she nevertheless lost the first game and went 20-15 down in the second game. The noisy crowd lifted her as she saved the match points and after Holt had won that second game with a lucky edge, Timina wore a fatalistic look.

Holt got a yellow card for kicking the ball away in disgust and Timina collapsed in despair on the table after sending a smash into the crowd. From

11-11, the Russian began to fret and Holt's forehand loop acquired better timing and accuracy to help her to an extraordinary 19-21, 27-25, 21-17 success.