Photo credit: Mark Phelan
Qualifications: Day 1
Date: 11/11/2016 11:21 AM
Published by : Emma Lollike
Group 1
The first day in Karviná, Czech Republic began at noon with the tie between France and Luxembourg. After a tight first game of women´s singles between Katia Normand (FRA) and Stefka Hargiono (LUX), the French player took over the control of the game and won 22-20, 21-4. Katia´s team followed her example and stormed to a 5-0 victory, eventually without losing a single game in the whole tie. From the very beginning France, the highest seeded team in the group, left no one in doubt about their goals for the weekend. 

The second tie of the day was more equal. The Czech Republic took the lead thanks to a solid win in mixed doubles. A highlight of the day – the men´s singles between Israel´s Misha Zilberman (WR 53) and Czech Republic´s Milan Ludík (WR 72) followed. Supported by a crowd of more than 200 spectators, the local favourite fought bravely. However, in an exciting battle he wasn´t able to find a successful key to the speed and variation of his Israeli opponent. The tie was levelled to 1-1. The Czechs then took the lead back thanks to Kristina Gavnholt´s win in women´s singles against an only 15 years-old(!) Dana Danilenko. The men´s doubles offered a very dramatic show to the spectators where this time Israel was close to levelling the match. But the Czechs took this match in three sets, pulling the victory to their side. The women´s doubles only confirmed the victory of the home team; Czech Republic: 4, Israel: 1. 

Day 1 of Group 1, ends with France taking the lead thanks to a better score than the Czech Republic. Israel and Luxembourg occupy the third and the fourth place respectively. 

The matches from group 1 are live streamed here.

Find results and schedule for the matches here.

Furthermore, Badminton Europe’s Instagram will, tomorrow, be giving you all the action from Karviná.

Group 2
In Sofia, everything was set up in the new built (February 2016) “Badminton Center Europa”. A private centre where the national team is training daily.

Like every day until Sunday, two team matches were played; Estonia against Lithuania first - followed by Bulgaria against Faroe Islands. 

In a pretty quiet atmosphere, Estonia and Lithuania started the competition of the day:

After an Estonian mixed double in total control, Raul Must showed, as expected, that he plays in a speed above his opponent -  controlling the match all the way through. 

Most thrilling match of the day, was the women’s singles that followed; Getter Saar (Estonia) against Akvile Stapusaityte (Lithuania). First set was close and both players were showing a lot of determination. Saar was having a 14-11 lead but gave her opponent a chance to come back, and finally lost 18-21, in first set. Saar, then started the second set tense and gave away 4 points in a row. An advantage that Stapusaitytekept until 18-14. From that moment, Saar showed what she was capable of, and she finally wins this second set 24-22. Stapusaityte got too comfortable and maybe too relaxed at 20-15, in the decider. And Saar showed, once again, her fighting spirit and came back to 21-21, just to finally lose 23-21. 

The men’s and women’s double that followed, could not change the fact that Estonia had the upper hand. And Akvile Stapusaityte’s victory would be the only one for Lithuania in this tie.

Raul Must seemed to enjoy the atmosphere – “I think it’s more relaxed, and more fun to travel with the team matches, I’m used to travel alone so it’s a little different, more emotional” Raul explains. “My goal is to win my match and support my team mates but I don’t meet so many good players as I do on my individual tournaments (…) I prepare the same, I knew that Navickas from Lithuania was not coming so globally I was more relaxed” he added to explain the differences between his individual preparation and the team matches one.

Second tie was launched with more spectators as the Bulgarian hosts were playing against the less experienced team in the group, the Faroe Islands. 

The Bulgarian mixed pair stayed focused all the way through, giving the first point to their team with the match concluded: 21-8, 21-6. The following two singles, left Bulgaria in the lead: 3-0.

Bulgaria finished the job, having only lost one set in the men’s double. Stefani Stoeva of Bulgaria was satisfied to be winning on home soil: “It’s amazing, finally here in Bulgaria we have a special badminton hall and it’s really nice that we can show so many people what badminton is and then maybe lead them to start playing” – “We were in France before this competition, training as usual with our coach and club (IMBC92), but last Sunday we came back and we were able to practice with the team, it’s really nice that the team was practicing and having few days all together” she added - and finally concluded by telling that the Bulgarian team had good chances to qualified and hoped “that everyone will play 100%”.

Results from the group can be found here, including the schedule for day 2 in Sofia.

Group 3
Team Ireland cruised to a 5-0 win over Norway in their opening match of the group 3 qualifier on home soil in Dublin, with both Chloe and Sam Magee taking two points each to spearhead the Irish whitewash. Scott Evans produced a decent performance to take down the biggest Norwegian threat, in the form of Marius Myhre, to kill off the Scandinavian challenge in match 2 of 5. In the final match of the day, Sara Boyle and Rachel Darragh, who made their team Ireland senior debut two years ago in the same hall at mixed team qualifier phase, rounded off the rout winning the women’s doubles to give Ireland the best start possible in Dublin.

“It is always great to come home and play team matches for Ireland in front of our home supporters” said Evans. “The singles was tough for me as I now concentrate on mixed doubles but I knew that I would be playing for this tournament so still practised a bit in preparation for this weekend” said Chloe Magee in her first competitive singles match since the Rio Olympics.

In the second group match, Austria were pushed to a deciding mixed doubles against Hungary after the Hungarians won the men’s singles, thanks to Gergely Krausz, and women’s doubles to level the match at 2-2. In the deciding rubber the experience of Roman Zirnwald and Elizabeth Baldauf pulled the Austrians through after both had won their earlier women’s singles and men’s doubles. 

After day 1 in Dublin its Ireland who looked the strongest team with a depth across all five disciplines, and will be favourites now to go on and win the group. 

Link to table and results here.

Group 4 
The qualifications of Group 4 kicked off at 2pm in Medvode, Slovenia, where Scotland as the top seed of group was facing Latvia in the first match. 

Starting with two easy wins in mixed doubles and men’s singles, the Scots showed they were here to fight for the top spot.  

Latvia’s women’s singles player, Ieva Pope, tried her best to steal a game from Holly Newall, but the young Scot secured the win for her team with a 21-8, 21-18 victory. 

Without losing a game, Scotland finished day 1 with a clear dominance, a 5-0 win. They are up against the hosts from Slovenia in the second round, tomorrow at 5pm local time.  

In the second tie, Matevz Bajuk/Tina Kodric was supported by the home crowd, and didn’t make it too easy for world ranked 67 Schaller/Burkart to start the tie with a win. The more experienced Swiss duo finished the game: 21-17, 21-16. After the good start, the Swiss were ready for more. Their dominance in both men’s and women’s singles eliminated the chance of the Slovenians to win their opening tie on home soil. 

Bajuk/Krapez managed to succeed in men’s doubles after both lost their first matches earlier in the tie. Cheered on by all the spectators, Setina/Stankovic tried their best to win another match for the team, but the Swiss women’s doubles were just too strong to beat.  

Playing with only four players didn’t create a big problem for Switzerland in the end, as the Burkart/ Schaller/ Bonny/ Jaquet quartet finished the day with a 4-1 victory against the hosts.

Day 2 starts at 12pm tomorrow with Switzerland vs. Latvia followed by Scotland vs Slovenia at 5pm. 

The results of Group 4 can be seen here.

Group 5
In Uppsala, the home of the national training centre, the brand-new venue, IFU Arena, was hosting its first badminton event. 

In the tie between Portugal and Finland, Bruno Carvalho & Sónia Goncalves, got the best start in the tie’s mixed doubles. But found themselves overtaken by Anton Kaisti and Jenny Nyström, as they lost 12-21, 8-21. Eetu Heino and Airi Mikkelä worked hard and won their men’s and women’s single in two quick sets, respectively. 

In the men’s double, Bruno Carvalho and Tomás Nero won Portugal’s first set in the tie against Finland. And for a quick moment, faith was restored on the Portuguese team. But after the three sets they had to give in to Henri Aarnio and Ilkka Heino with the score: 21-14, 19-21, 21-10. From then, it seemed almost impossible for Portugal, and the last match in the tie was a rather quick win for the Finnish women’s double. Final score in tie: 5-0, in Finland’s favor.

Amanda Högström and Nico Ruponen gave the hosts a great head-start as they took the first match: 21-14, 21-11, when Sweden played Slovakia in the second tie. Men’s single-player Henri Hurskainen, 30, is a household name in Swedish badminton and got a lot of cheers from the home crowd. He had no problem when taking the first set: 21-8. And even though Slovakia’s Milan Dratva fought back in the second, Hurskainen lived up to his name, winning 21-15.

With a 2-0 lead, it was now or never for Slovakia. Enter – Martina Repiska. After a close first set, 19-21 in Elin Svensson’s favor, Repiska took the lead in the second with the score 19-18. And from there she finished the set without hesitattion: 21-18. In the decider, the ladies had to take it all the way to 22-20 before a winner was found – and the winner was, ultimately, Swedish.

From there, the Swedish team did not look back and could secure the victory with two more wins in men’s and women’s doubles. 

5-0 to the Swedish hosts, that must settle for a second place in group 5, for now. Finland rules the group, due to a better score.

Find results and schedule for tomorrow here.

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