EURO TEAM CHAMPS 2016 – Denmark reigns supreme

Danish shuttlers made their way to the top of the podium in both the men’s and women’s events at the European Team Badminton Championships in Kazan on Sunday. By Don […]

Danish shuttlers made their way to the top of the podium in both the men’s and women’s events at the European Team Badminton Championships in Kazan on Sunday.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Mikael Ropars / Badmintonphoto (live)

With only one upset as of the quarter-final stage at the 2016 European Men’s and Women’s Team Badminton Championships, all was decided by Saturday in terms of who would represent Europe at the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals in May.  That only left Denmark battling to preserve the prestige of owning the best teams on the continent.  Germany, the last nation to deny Denmark any team titles, had seen both of its teams eliminated at the semi-final stage by the defending champions but first-time finalists France and Bulgaria were not to be trifled with either.

If five straight European titles in the men’s team event were not cause for confidence in the Danish camp, then the fact that they were fielding players ranked from #26 to #3 in the world against a French team with no one above #35 would have done the trick.  Still, that made the situation ripe for an upset and that’s exactly how finals day began.

Brice Leverdez (pictured above) of France brought back just enough of that magic he showed in the 2014 Thomas Cup Finals to spring a surprise on World Championship bronze medallist Jan Jorgensen.  After dropping the first game, Leverdez led from start to finish in the second and closed out the third as well, winning both 21-16.

Nor did things seem to be improving once world #8 Mads Conrad-Petersen / Mads Pieler Kolding took to the court.  They dropped their first game to world #58 Bastian Kersaudy / Gaetan Mittelheisser before getting it together and winning the next two handily.

Viktor Axelsen had little trouble with Thomas Rouxel and in the second men’s doubles, Ronan Labar, playing without Baptiste Careme, with whom he had won the Dutch Open in 2014, was not in a position to challenge Denmark’s third pair.  Labar and Julien Maio went down quickly to Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen (pictured above) and Denmark earned a sixth straight title.

Bulgaria all out of surprises

Bulgaria’s ladies were riding high as they came into the finals.  They were the only unseeded team in the semi-finals and they managed a second win this week against second-seeded Spain, even with all but one player doing double duty.

Saturday had to be especially exhilarating for Stefani Stoeva (pictured right).  After Beatriz Corrales had put Bulgaria on the back foot by turning the tables on veteran Nedelcheva, Stefani had earned two points for her team in the semis by winning her rematch with Linda Zetchiri against Spain’s Marin and Corrales, who had beaten them in round robin play.

The youngest player on court in the finals, Stoeva once again came through with a point for her team, beating Mette Poulsen at third singles to keep Bulgaria in the final.  However, the challengers needed more than that to take the title.

In fact, it seemed like a foregone conclusion when Anna Thea Madsen (pictured left) took the second point by beating Petya Nedelcheva, the former world #10.  Even with Stoeva’s win, once the singles were concluded, it was the mighty Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl who were waiting to finish it off with an easy doubles victory and the world #4 did just that.  They won in two games against the scratch pairing of former European Championship runner-up Nedelcheva and reigning European Games gold medallist Gabriela Stoeva.

All of the semi-finalists from these championships will be representing Europe at the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals in May in Dongguan, China.  Zetchiri and Nedelcheva are slated to get right back into competition, at the Austrian Open this week.  However, most of the finalists will have at least a week off before playing in the German Open while others will wait until the Superseries gets underway for 2016 with the All England in early March.

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Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @