An upset free weekend across Europe
Date: 11/10/2014 12:21 PM
Published by : Manuel Røsler
The past weekend saw 28 teams across 7 groups compete for just 7 spots in the first ever qualification pool for the newly formatted European mixed team championships of which the finals will take place in Leven, Belgium at the beginning of February 2015. As expected the top seeded teams came through each of their groups but not without a few scares along the way.

The Netherlands breezed through Group one winning every single match and only dropping two games the whole weekend against Slovenia, Lithuania & Faroe Islands. Similarly Scotland, who sent the strongest team possible to Prague for their group 2 qualification campaign, rarely had to extend themselves in topping the group ahead of hosts Czech Republic, Switzerland and Latvia.

Full results of group 1 and group 2.

France had a very early scare on day one of group as Brice Leverdez lost his opening singles match to Israel’s Misha Zilberman but that was the only banana skin for the French and served to focus the French minds as they eventually ran out easily winners of the group ahead of Austria, Israel and Belarus.

Group 4 had the most drama in a final group shootout between hosts Estonia and near neighbours Sweden on Sunday. Estonia got the best possible start taking the opening men’s and women’s singles courtesy of Raul Musts victory over Henri Hurskainen and Kati Tolmoff’s win over Ellinor Widh. That proved to be as good as it got for the host as Sweden came back to take the final three matches to take the tie 3-2 and top the group and guarantee their spot amongst the elite 12.

Full results of group 3 and group 4.

Group 5 was always billed as the group of death and Spain’s first day 3-2 win over Turkey sent Carolina Marin’s team on their way to the top of the group. With not a single 5-0 whitewash the whole weekend, The Spanish certainly did not have it all their own way. 23 games won and 14 lost was the final story for the Spanish and while Turkey finished a distant second on points their 19-14 win loss ratio shows how close the Spanish came to leaving Iceland empty handed.

Group 6 was billed as a two horse race between Ireland (pictured) and Bulgaria. In the end even Bulgaria were unable to thwart the home nation as the Irish finally put to bed the ghost of many 3-2 final group game defeats. Ireland’s 4-1 defeat of Bulgaria on the final day summed up the host’s dominance.¨

Full results for group 5 and group 6.

“We were not about to let this chance pass us by especially on home court” said Irish number 1 Chloe Magee. “We have had so many near misses in group stages before and always came away on the wrong side of 3-2 defeats, the French match in Russia 18 months ago was still fresh in our minds. I think the way we played this weekend was testament to the hard work being put in and our desire to succeed”.

The final group, as predicted in our group preview, did come down to final women’s doubles in the final match on the final day between Poland and Finland. Finland looked to have the beating of the Poles as Lindholm & Nystrom took the opening game off the Wojtkowska sisters. The experience of Agnieszka Wojtkowska came to fore when needed and the Poles pulled off the impossible taking the doubles in three games to top the group and advance to Leuven in February.

Full results for group 7.

The Netherlands, Scotland, France, Sweden, Spain, Ireland and Poland now advance to the finals where they will join Belgium (hosts), Germany (Reigning Champions) Denmark, Russia and England as the top three ranked teams in Europe.

Article by Mark Phelan. Image by Ben Phelan (courtesy of Badminton Ireland)
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