(Photo: Badminton Europe)
Estonia make history: We cannot believe it
Date: 11/1/2020 1:06 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
Estonia is the surprise package at the 2020 European Junior Championships and the team have written themselves into the history books by making it to the semifinals for the first time. 

After successfully working their way out of Group 4, where they defeated Ukraine, who on paper were the favourites to follow France out of the group, they faced Spain in the quarterfinal today. 

Spain, who topped Group 3, after a stunning 3-2 victory over Serbia, were riding high from the emotional scenes witnessed yesterday. Despite this, they had to dig deep against a plucky Estonian team. 

Ruben Garcia/ Candela Arcos scored a strong opening win, 21-13, 24-22, against Oskar Männik/ Ramona Üprus. 

Tauri Kilk, who has only lost to Christo Popov in the singles thus far, levelled the score at 1-1, with a straight-game victory, 21-18, 21-15, against Miguel Esteve. 

Lucia Rodriguez, who played a vital role in Spain’s big win yesterday, was up next in the singles. However, Catlyn Kruus was able to mirror the result in the previous singles match, and win 21-18, 21-16. 

Nerves all round
With Estonia needing just one more win to achieve something no Estonian team has done before, Spain, the 2015 champions, had to fight to force a decider, and that they did. Jacobo Fernandez, along with Ruben Garcia, who was victorious in the mixed doubles, took on Oskar Männik/ Mario Kirisma. 

In keeping with the rest of the matches, they scored a two-game win, 21-18, 21-16. However, the first game was perhaps a little closer than it should have been according to Garcia. 

-In that first game we were nervous, but in the second game we are calmer and we were able to play so good. 

The importance of the win is clear for the Spanish duo. 

-It is a really good feeling because if not for that win, Spain is out. We are very happy for this win and we count on our team now for a victory. 

This set up a repeat scenario from the day before against Serbia, with the women’s doubles deciding on who will be celebrating at the end. However, this time Candela Arcos/ Lucia Rodriguez were not able to deliver the result.
Catlyn Kruus, who was victorious over Rodriguez in the women’s singles, played with Ramona Üprus, who sought revenge against Arcos from the mixed doubles. They did it for Estonia. Winning convincingly 21-15, 21-10, creating history for the small nation just across the Baltic Sea from Finland. 

-We can’t believe it, it is absolutely incredible, they said together. 

Despite the dominant performance, Kruus and Üprus admitted feeling the nerves under the pressure of the occasion.  

-My hands were shaking in the game. We were nervous and knew they were strong opponents, but also knew that we could win. 

They face Denmark in the semifinal later, but in their minds, it’s a win-win situation now for the Estonian team. 

-We are just trying to play our best game. We are already so happy to be here! 

Top seeds cruise into the semifinal
Denmark made quick work of their neighbouring rivals, Sweden, wrapping up the 3-0 win in less than two hours of play. Magnus Johannesen defeated Filip Karlborg 21-13, 21-16. 

The match of the tie was between Benedicte Sillassen and Edith Urell. The Dane had four match points in the deciding game but managed to allow Urell to pull it back to 20-20. 

-I was very nervous when I had 20 because I am just a person who gets a bit shaky when it gets close. But my coach just reminded me to focus on one rally at a time and that I have nothing to lose as I can only surprise. 

This win gave Denmark the opportunity to secure the victory with the men’s doubles, and William Boe and Mads Vestergaard took that chance with both hands against Gustav Bjorkler/ Filip Karlborg. After the match, they valued this result and the win by Sillassen. 

-We thank Benedicte in the women's singles as it is important we get this win quite fast. 

Denmark will now face Estonia in the semifinal at 16:00 (local time)

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