AFTER sweeping aside the Netherlands 3-0, England’s table tennis stars paid tribute to the fans who roared them to victory at the Mountbatten Centre.
British No1 Paul Drinkhall and his team-mates Danny Reed and Andrew Baggaley put on a fine show to delight the 450-strong home crowd.
Drinkhall believes the Portsmouth public have set the bar for future events.
The London 2012 Olympian said: ‘It was a great turn out and I think the spectators really enjoyed it.
‘They were really good support.
‘I was very surprised – normally we get 100 or 200 people.
‘I hope that if we do have another home game in the future then, wherever it is, a lot of people can come like this.’
Drinkhall, 22, crushed Ewout Oostwouder 3-0 in the first match.
Next up for England was national doubles champion Reed, who beat Dutch No1 Casper Ter Luun.
The university student battled back after losing the first game to win in four.
He then joined Drinkhall in praising the partisan crowd.
Reed, 22, said: ‘I was happy to win with the crowd watching.
‘That’s probably our biggest crowd for a European league match for a long time.
‘To hear the roar when you win a point is something we want more of as table tennis players in England – it’s nice that Portsmouth can lead the way.’
Reed added: ‘A lot of kids were here and I think we inspired a lot of them to get into table tennis.’
Baggaley, a late replacement for the injured Liam Pickford, completed the rout for England as he out-fought Rajko Gommers in four action-packed games.
The 29-year-old Olympian is the most decorated British athlete in Commonwealth Games history.
His wealth of experience proved to be too much for his aggressive 17-year-old opponent.
After sealing England’s targeted whitewash of their lower-ranked opponents, Baggaley also gave special mention to the fans.
He said: ‘It was a fantastic crowd, I am really happy for table tennis that there was a big crowd like that.
‘I think it is really encouraging to see a lot of people supporting our England team.
‘It was a polite and educated crowd as well, in between points they were not making any noise, which was good to see.
‘It was an amazing atmosphere.’
England now face important away matches in Bulgaria and Czech Republic in 2013.
They are aiming to secure qualification to the Championship division of the Joola European Championships that takes place in Schwechat, Austria, October 4-13, 2013.