Table Tennis Wales National Coach Stephen Jenkins says that Charlotte Carey has ‘reached another level’ after a stunning performance at the European Singles Qualification Tournament (21-25 April), during which she twice beat higher world ranking players and came close to beating a player ranked 88 places above her.
In her last qualifying tournament ahead of this summer’s Olympic Games, Charlotte took the enormous pressure in her stride and played brilliantly throughout the competition, which was held at Odivelas in Portugal.
Having been given a first-round bye in the knock-out stage, Charlotte had little trouble beating young Slovenian Katarina Strazar in the second round in straight games.
Charlotte then came from two games down to beat Debora Vivarelli, despite the Italian being ranked at 71 in the world – 80 places higher than the 24-year-old from Ebbw Vale.
Charlotte’s winning run continued when she then beat Tatiana Kukulkova of Slovakia, who is ranked at 139 – meaning that she topped Group B and progressed to the next round.
Here in the quarter-finals, Charlotte came up against Portugal’s China-born Jieni Shao, who is ranked number at 63 in the world.
And Charlotte came close to recording a major upset, having staged an incredible comeback from 3-1 down.
Charlotte won two games in a row and had four match points against Shao, ranked 88 places above her, as she took a 10-6 lead in the seventh game. But her opponent levelled the match at 10-10, winning four points on the trot before Charlotte had her fifth match point.
But then at 11-11, Shao won a disputed point to take the lead – from which she went on to win the game and end Charlotte’s outstanding winning run.
Having come so close to what would have been one her he biggest victories to date, Charlotte had to dig deep for one remaining chance of qualifying for this summer’s Olympics.
Incredibly, Charlotte had to pull off another amazing fight back. This time playing Bulgaria’s Polina Trifonova, she had to come from 7-2 down in the sixth game to win it 11-9 and set-up another deciding game.
Despite playing brilliantly in yet another seven-game thriller, the loss to Trifonova means that Charlotte’s dream of qualifying for Tokyo is sadly over – although it was a heroic effort that everyone at Table Tennis Wales is incredibly proud of.
“Charlotte played at a level I have never seen before and there are so many positives to take away from this tournament,” says Table Tennis Wales National Coach Stephen Jenkins.
“Mentally and physically, she has reached another level and it’s only a matter of time before she breaks into the top 100 WR for a second time in her career.
“This tournament has been a platform to achieve bigger things and as a team we will now prepare for the other majors this year.
“In the longer term, we will look at how Charlotte is in the best shape to peak for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
“Overall, we are all extremely proud of her efforts at this Olympic qualifier and we can’t wait to see what she does next.”