Sibley hurt by England’s failure to make top 20

Kelly Sibley
Kelly Sibley

Leamington’s Kelly Sibley was disappointed to see 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 17th to 32nd, England started in good style with a 3-0 win over Finland.

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, coming from 2-0 down to beat Angeliki Papadaki 3-2 (8-11, 9-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-9) but, after the next two matches were shared, she on the wrong end of an 11-4, 11-4, 13-11 scoreline against Aikaterini Toliou. Greece took the deciding rubber to win it 3-2.

The former Lillington Free Church player won both matches against Belgium as England triumphed 3-1 to finish second in the group but lost her two rubbers in the positional play-off defeat to Slovenia.

Victory at a canter against Chiara Colantoni (11-3, 11-2, 11-7) helped claim a 3-2 win over Italy to set up a final match against Lithuania for 21st position 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.”