TUC Europe 2012 – Old names back, competition starts

The European preliminary stage of the Thomas and Uber Cups started one day later than its Asian counterpart, with some old names back in the picture: the top Dutch are […]

The European preliminary stage of the started one day later than its Asian counterpart, with some old names back in the picture: the top Dutch are now back in the team after a long lasting trial with their Federation, while Ella Diehl was back on the court after she gave birth only weeks ago to her second daughter.

Raphael Sachetat. Photos (live from Amsterdam): Badmintonphoto/ Arthur van der Velde

The Dutch had created the buzz by launching a badminton flashmob in Grand Central Station in Amsterdam, to take the attention on the upcoming competition, but it was on Tuesday – Valentine’s Day – that the real show started with no fewer than 59 teams ready to take the challenge and try to qualify for the Thomas and Uber Cup final stage to be held in Wuhan, China, next May. Under the live cameras of BadmintonEurope TV, the best Europeans are there to shine, not only to win a trip to China, but also to get what is now called the European men’s and women’s team gold medal .

Denmark is the clear favourite in the men’s competition, even if its best player Peter Gade has stayed home to focus on his training towards the Yonex All England. His compatriots Jan O Jorgensen, Viktor Axelsen and Hans Kristian Vittinghus together with experienced doubles pairs should manage to win a competition they’ve won many times in the past. They are to take on Scotland on Wednesday and Sweden Thursday in their Group 1 match.

Pang, Palyama and others back in orange

One of the most pleasant surprises of the kick-off day in Amsterdam was the sight of players such as Eric Pang and Dicky Palyama back in their national team, after a very long dispute with their Federation and their sponsors. The problems seem to be now underway to be resolved and the best Dutch players can now compete in front of their home crowd – they beat Hungary 5-0 to celebrate this new beginning, and are likely to top Group 5 with Austria and Slovakia left to beat.

Another good sight was the welcome back of Ella Diehl, who had left the courts in 2011 to give birth to her second daughter Lea. The Russian, whose team came in as 4th seeds, was back in competition for the first time since giving birth and still managed to get a point with a win over Slovakia’s Zuzana Orlovska 21-16, 22-20.

“It was very tough to play back at this level, but it also felt very good to be back,” claimed the former top Russian shuttler.

Scottish miss opportunity to beat long term rivals

After Jenny Wallwork and Imogen Bankier had made the headlines back home for entertaining a “Twitter War” (see this article), all eyes were turned towards the match between arch-rivals Engand and Scotland in the Uber Cup. The two girls – who fight for a sole mixed doubles spot for the Olympics with their respective partners – were not to cross swords on court as Bankier was not fielded for this match, even if she was on the start list of the team. It might have made a difference as the Scots came just one point short of sending back home the 6th seeds of the competition.

After Susan Egelstaff saw off England’s Nicole Cerfontyne (runner-up to Elizabeth Cann in the recent English Nationals), and Christy Gilmour beat Sarah Walker, Scotland was one point away from the tie victory. And their third shuttler Linda Sloan had no fewer than 4 match points to close it up but England’s heroine Kate Robertshaw managed to pull it back with an amazing 17-21 21-12, 26-24 victory. The English doubles then took the last two points for a final 3-2 victory over their long-time rivals.

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Live stream (BadmintonEurope.Tv)

Raphaël Sachetat

About Raphaël Sachetat

Raphael is the Chief Editor of Badzine International. He is the founder of the website together with Jean François Chauveau. After many years writing for the BWF and many publications around the world about badminton, he now leads a team of young and dynamic writers for Badzine.