LEAMINGTON’s Kelly Sibley has spoken of her disappointment after seeing history repeat itself as England’s women finished 22nd at the European Championships in Russia.
Playing in the second-tier Challenge Division for countries ranked 17-32, England started in good style with a 3-0 win over Finland with Sibley contributing with a 3-0 victory over Anna Kirichenko (11-8, 11-8, 11-7).
But, as they had at last year’s event in Lisbon, Greece proved England’s downfall with an identical 3-2 scoreline.
Sibley made the perfect start after coming from 2-0 down to beat Angeliki Papadaki 3-2 (8-11, 9-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-9) and, after the next two matches were shared, Sibley was back on court against Aikaterini Toliou.
But this time she found herself on the wrong end of an 11-4, 11-4, 13-11 scoreline and Greece took the deciding rubber to win it 3-2.
Sibley then won both matches against Belgium by beating Lisa Lung 3-0 (11-8, 11-9, 11-3) and Nathalie Marchetti 3-2 (11-3, 11-7, 7-11, 7-11, 11-6) as England won 3-1 to finish second in the group.
The first positional play-off was against Slovenia, and Sibley lost the first rubber 3-1 to Alex Galic (4-11, 9-11, 11-3, 4-11). Her 3-2 defeat to Manca Fajmut (11-6, 7-11, 5-11, 11-1, 8-11) then sealed the match result.
England bounced back to beat Italy 3-2, with Sibley winning at a canter over Chiara Colantoni (11-3, 11-2, 11-7) but losing to Denisa Zancaner in four sets (11-6, 8-11, 6-11, 5-11).
That set up a final match against Lithuania for 21st and 22nd positions and, with Sibley left out of the starting line-up, England lost 3-1.
“I’m a little bit disappointed overall,” said Sibley, who competed alongside Karina Le Fevre, Maria Tsaptsinos and Lois Peake in a team missing Commonwealth Games silver medallist Tin-Tin Ho through injury.
“To lose to Greece again 3-2 like we did last year is very disappointing but then I thought we bounced back quite well.
“The same day we had a very important match against Belgium where I thought we picked ourselves up and played very, very well.
“I’m personally very disappointed with the match against Slovenia to lose 3-1. I thought we had a great chance to take it through to finish in the top 20.
“So I’m a bit disappointed but I thought the team did well under the circumstances, really.”