Table Tennis: Holt on a new plateau

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Despite eventually going down to the former European champion, Bettine Vriesekoop of the Netherlands, Andrea Holt scored the most notable triumph of her career when she beat the reigning European champion from Sweden, Marie Svensson, to become the first Englishwoman for 15 years to reach the English Open final at the Thornaby Pavilion, Cleveland yesterday.

Unfortunately the England No1 then found the top seed too experienced, too patient and too clever, and Holt was beaten 21-6, 23-21, 21-13 in the final.

Nevertheless these were uplifting performances by the 24-year-old Lancastrian. On Saturday Holt beat the third-seeded Elena Timina, the Russian who led her country to the European team title last April, and yesterday she beat the second-seeded Svensson 8-21, 21-15, 24-22, 21-18 in a thrilling contest.

The Swede's fierce forehand loop penetrated Holt's defences easily in the first game. After that, though, she mixed up the spins, tried to pin Svensson on the back-hand and risked more attacks herself. After Holt had saved a game-point at 19-20 in the third game she knew she could win.

Against Vriesekoop she had only one brief hope - a game- point in the second game at 19-20 but Holt missed it by putting a backhand chop into the net.

Results, Sporting Digest, page 28