EURO TEAM CHAMPS 2014 – Danes take both in Basel

When the rest of the world are having their attention towards the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Basel in Switzerland welcomed Europe’s crème de la crème for the European Men’s […]

When the rest of the world are having their attention towards the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Basel in Switzerland welcomed Europe’s crème de la crème for the European Men’s and Women’s Badminton Team Championships. Without much surprise, Denmark ensured their supremacy over the continent, taking home both trophies.

By Tarek Hafi, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Switzerland welcomed the whole European circuit in its gigantic hall, usually decorated to hold the annual Swiss Open, a former Superseries tournament, now a key event on the Grand Prix Gold circuit.

After a week of tough battles, the continent has now established the favourites among its representatives who will be travelling to India in May to stake Europe’s claim with the world’s best teams at the Thomas and Uber Cup finals.

Reigning with nearly complete totalitarianism in continental play for several decades now, Denmark strictly followed the traditions and is now shipping the trophies back to Copenhagen. However, the competitions didn’t start smoothly for the Scandinavian kingdom which, on the men’s team side, had to run for the title without their top ace, Jan O Jorgensen, who suffered a high fever and is now being treated at home.

Denmark’s women’s team, which is still looking for a worthy successor of Camilla Martin and Tine Baun, launched a whole new, young team, led by the up-and-coming Line Kjaersfeldt, to take on its European rivals.

Despite being amputated of their best singles player, the Danish men’s team was clearly a step higher during the whole competition. The final, which set them opposite their most dangerous opponents, England, saw the favourites on the back foot from the very start.

The two very good friends off-courts, Hans-Kristian Vittinghus and Rajiv Ouseph (pictured above) proposed a high-level encounter, with the latter earning the opening point for his country in two straight games, even though the Dane hadn’t lost a match since 2008 against Ouseph.

My own performance today wasn’t great, but I was also up against a guy who played great. Credit to Rajiv Ouseph for his performance. I tried with everything I had, but didn’t make it happen today. Still very happy though,” commented Vittinghus on his Facebook page.

Luckily for Denmark, Carsten Mogensen and Mathias Boe set the record straight against threatening pair Chris Adcock and Andrew Ellis, who had actually won their last encounter, last February, against the then-world-#1 Danes, also at a European Team Championship.  The Korea Open champions gained the final point after an hour and three minutes of play, thus setting the score at one match all.

This left the quite unknown Toby Penty to face the giant Dane Viktor Axelsen.  As expected, Axelsen left no chance to his opponent, grabbing a second point in two straight games. The relatively new pair of Mads Conrad-Petersen and Mads Pieler Kolding (pictured above) were more than eager to prove the coaches were right to have paired them up and beat the more established pair of Langridge and Mills to conclude the encounter 3-1 against a very dangerous England team.

Men’s team final result: Denmark 3, England 1
MS1: Hans-Kristian Vittinghus lost to Rajiv Ouseph 13-21, 16-21
MD1: Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen beat Chris Adcock / Andrew Ellis  21-17, 19-21, 21-14
MS2: Viktor Axelsen beat Toby Penty 21-13, 21-8
MD2: Mads Conrad-Petersen / Mads Pieler Kolding beat Chris Langridge / Peter Mills  21-15, 21-19
MS3: Emil Holst vs. Ben Beckman (not played)

Danish double through singles

A few minutes later, their female counterparts, stepped on the court, against Russia. The girls from the east, probably fired up with the Sochi feelings, tried to copy their Winter Olympic team compatriots, who are now second on the medals ranking list, but couldn’t keep up the pace with an even more fired up Denmark team, eager to show how well they can do without Tine Baun.

Line Kjaersfeldt led the charge by outshining Natalia Perminova, looking focused and confident with her game. The young Dane took only half an hour to gain a first, leaving the job to her ladies singles team-mate Sandra Maria Jensen taking on Russia’s legend Ella Diehl (pictured below), who still didn’t seem fit enough to fight with her opponent’s ardour.  Jensen sent her former world top-ten opponent packing in straight games as well.

In fact, the crowd did not even get a glimpse of women’s doubles as the last match to be played  was the third ladies’ singles with 16-year-old Mia Blichfeldt (pictured above), very nervous against Anastasia Chervaykova. The young player found the inner strength to pack up things in only thirty eight minutes and give to Denmark the title lost two years ago against Germany.

Women’s team final result: Denmark 3, Russia 0
WS1: Line Kjaersfeldt beat Natalia Perminova  21-17, 21-14
WS2: Sandra-Maria Jensen beat Ella Diehl  21-13, 21-16
WS3: Mia Blichfeldt beat Anastasia Chervaykova  21-16, 21-19
WD2: Line Damkjaer Kruse / Marie Roepke vs. Olga Morozova / Nina Vislova (not played)
WD1: Christinna Pedersen / Kamilla Rytter Juhl vs. Ekaterina Bolotova / Anastasia Chervaykova (not played)

Click here for complete, detailed results

About Tarek Hafi