EURO MIXED TEAMS 2011 – Big four into last four

As expected, the big four nations in this year’s European Mixed Team Championships advanced to the semi-final stages of the competition with very little trouble. Not one tie was taken […]

As expected, the big four nations in this year’s European Mixed Team Championships advanced to the semi-final stages of the competition with very little trouble. Not one tie was taken the full 5-match distance at the semi-final stage and three of the four ended in clear 3-0 victories.

By Mark Phelan.  Photos:  Badmintonphoto (Live in Amsterdam)

With the field now whittled down to the best 8 teams in the competition, one could be forgiven for thinking that the normal dominance of all the big nations as shown in the group stages would have come to an end. With 8 teams now getting so close to achieving a European medal, surely the quarter-finals would throw up some nail biting final match shoot-outs to decide the 4 semi-finalists.

Today’s semi-finals in Amsterdam gave us the complete opposite. In the four team ties played, only England dropped one match as they defeated Bulgaria, the only non-seeded team left, 3-1 to move into the semi-final. Linda Zechiri was sent out in the women’s singles once again for Bulgaria and she gained an expected first point with a win over Kate Robertshaw in 2 games. Carl Baxter (pictured top left) gained a valuable first point for the English as he blew Bulgarian Kisyov off the court 21-9, 21-7. That gave the English the momentum they needed and when Wallwork and White dispensed of the threat of Nedelcheva and Popstoykova,  it was just a matter of the English taking the much expected men’s doubles point they needed, through Clark and Langridge.

Tournament favourites Denmark unleashed the big guns today at quarter-final stage with the tournament introduction of Jorgensen, Baun (pictured), Boe and Fischer. Both Baun and Jorgensen took a game to find their way in the tournament before easily taking care of Kurdelska and Pazcek respectively in two games each to give the Danes a 2-0 lead. The women’s doubles proved to be a tough battle for Juhl and Ropke (pictured) who lost the first game to Augystyn and Zieba before fighting back to take the match in the deciding game to send the Polish team home.

“I had a rough first set today but fortunately I managed to close it out. The second set was much better and I was happy to get my game working. I have just arrived in Amsterdam today so it will take me a little time to settle but the support from behind the court is amazing which makes just that bit easier to slide right into the team,” said Jan O Jorgensen (courtesy of Badminton Denmark).

Germany continue their impressive run and once again proved their medal credentials with another clean sheet as they literally routed France 3-0. Juliane Schenk (pictured) was particularity impressive today as she cruised to a 21-4, 21-3 win over Perinne  Le Buhinac and at one stage the score in the second game read 18-0. The Germans’ form is unquestioned now in this tournament and they have strength throughout and must be fancying their chances against Russia tomorrow.

The Russians themselves won an uneventful tie on the TV court and matched the Germans’ 3-0 win with a victory over home nation the Netherlands. The Dutch were never really at the races in this tie and the Russians had the job done and dusted in just over an hour and a half with Ella Diehl (main article image) taking the tie for Russia with a 2-game win over Patty Stolzenbach.

The semi-finals now see Denmark play England and Russia take on Germany and if team predications are as expected we should see some interesting matches between Jorgensen and Ouseph as well as the men’s doubles between Denmark and England no matter what pairs the respective coaches send out to battle. On the other side, a much-anticipated battle between Schenk and Diehl appears mouth-watering especially as both train at Germany’s national centre in Mulheim and know each other inside out. A woman’s doubles match-up between Sorokina and Vislova against Marinello and Michels also adds a bit of bite to the occasion and this will prove to be a very close tie no matter what order the teams are sent out.

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About Mark Phelan