European Team Championships 2007
DAY 4: Finals Day:
Double Dutch For English
England duly won both the men’s and women’s titles at the Europen Team
Chamionships in Riccione without dropping a match playing the Netherlands
in both finals.
The Dutch men had never been in a European team final before and getting
there could be regarded as the main achievement of the championships.
England were always going to be out of reach with a side of James
Willstrop, Nick Matthew, Lee Beachill and Adrian Grant.
Grant put England comfortably ahead with a win over Tom Hoevenaars but
Willstrop had a brutal encounter with the Netherlands no.1 Laurens Jan
Anjema going to four games over 95 minutes. In hot humid conditions he
finally came through to put England two matches up.
“That was some match,” said Willstrop. “I was out on my feet after the
second game. Physically I was in bits. I was praying to get some air in.”
Matthew was not as long delayed by Luis Buit to confirm the inevitable and
Beachill put on a quick two game exhibition with Dylan Bennett to round
things off with a little fun.
The Dutch women made the final but that was the end of their expectations.
Even former world champion Vanessa Atkinson was no treat, England’s no.1
Tania Bailey winnign in straight games in 34 minutes. With Alison Waters
having beaten Margreit Huisman for four points it was England title again.
Vicky Botwright made in interesting against Annelize Naude in the second
winning it 10-8 after winning the first 9-0 but that was a dead rubber.
1/2 England beat Netherlands 4/0
3/4 France bt Wales 3/1
5/6 German bt Ireland 3/1
7/8 Sweden bt Scotland 3/1
9/10 Denmark bt Switzerland 3/1
11/12 Spain beat Finland 2/2 (8-6 on games countback)
1/2 England beat Netherlands 3/0
3/4 Denmark bt Germany 2/1
5/6 Ireland bt Switzerland 3/0
7/8 France beat Spain 3/0
9/10 Wales beat Italy 2/1
11/12 Belgium beat Czech Republic 3/0
The Battle of the
The Netherlands will play England in the final of the European Team
Championships having tied with France on points in dramatic scenes at the
Italian National Squash Centre in Riccione.
This clash was held at two different locations with the 1 and 3 strings
being played on the glass court in the Marquee tennis courts centre while
the 2 and 4 matches where played in the new seven court National Centre.
There was much rushing back and forth to find out scores and do
calculations but basically it went like this.
No.1 string Laurens Jan Anjema won the first game, and it proved crucial,
it was all crucial in the end, and won the match against Renan Lavigne
10-8, 9-2, 9-1 (in points 28-11). Inside the squash centre no.2 string
Lucas Buit went down to Frenchman Jean-Michel Arcucci 7-9, 4-9, 2-9 (or
13-27 on points).
Dutch youngster Sebastiiaan Weenink put in a tired performance again
Romain Tenant to go down 3-9, 5-9, 0-9 (8-27) and Dylan Bennett was up on
Julien Balbo on the glass court.
The envelopes came out, figures were scribbled and it transpired that if
Bennett won 3/0, and it looked as if he could, the Netherlands would have
76 points. France had 65 points and needed 11 to match the Dutch total and
12 for a win.
The atmosphere was electric with every point contested fiercely, the
players pushing, complaining and the referee well employed. Bennett went
ahead 9-5, 9-3 and the third became desperate. Bennett was right there are
Balbo hit the nick and was refused a let for the Frenchman to get another
valuable point 2-3. A stroke gave him another one when Bennett was ahead
4-2 (with the French needing just one more point for secure the win.) Then
in climatic scenes with every point screamed to a conclusion, players
barging, complaining, blocking, and fighting to find the place the
opponent couldn’t return from, Bennett slowly reeled in the points. Balbo
had another chance at matchball 8-3 with a stroke but finally Bennett took
it 9-3 to emotional scenes.
Bennett’s fist shot in the air, the Dutch surged on court. Balbo left head
The points were 76 apiece. The match was tied with the ruling that the
first string match was to be the decider and that was won by Anjema.
“I was more nervous watching that match than I have ever been playing,”
Buit was in agreement. “In 21 European championships I a have never
experienced anything like this.”
“Bennett was very steady. I’ve never seen him play like that. He likes
playing a lot of shots.”
The Dutch men are in the final for the first time.
In the second semi-final England beat Wales 4-0.
Scot in top eight
Ireland bt Switzerland 2/2
on ggames count-back
Sweden bt Spain 31/ on points count-back
Scotland bt Finland 2/2 on pints countback
Germany bt Denmark 3/1
Day 3 of the European Team Championships, semi-final day, but also the
crucial first round of the men’s 5-12 play-offs. These eight teams, the
third and fourth placed teams from Pools A (Ireland and Scotland) and B
(Germany and Spain), and the winners of the other pools, C (Sweden), D
(Denmark), E (Switzerland) and F (Finland) vie for a top eight position.
One win would give it to them, along with the honour of being in the top
two pools, rather like a podium positon and theoretically the opportunity
of winning the whole event the following year. Those that go into the
relegation group 9-12 do not have that possibility however illusionary,
given England’s stranglehold on this event, that may be.
SCOTLAND, without the popular big-hitting John White for the first time
since he has donned the kilt as his national dress (Scots excuse the pun),
was absent and the advantage he gave the team, whatever his personal
performances, of pushing the stronger players down the order was not
there. Scotland, won just one match, Clyne beating the unfortunate Lucas
The Scots however came good in the knock-out stage against the Swiss. Olli
Tuominen, put the Finns ahead with a 3/0 win over Harry Leitch, Alan Clyne
ground away on the adjacent court and eventually overcame Matias Tuomi 3-1
to level things up. In endless play Stuart Crawford put the Scots ahead
with a 3-1 win over Erno Teitti and then Chris Small secured the points to
give the Scots the tie win while Mika Monto got individual result – small
“This is the third year in a row we have lost at this stage – on points,”
said the Finish Manager.
Scots Manager, Roger Flynn, was delighted. “We have a strong team of good
hearted boys but no man there yet,” he said.
IRELAND too won on countback, beating the Swiss 9-8 on games. At one match
all Ryan came back from two games down and 8-2 down to take the third.
Meanwhile Arthur Gaskin, battled against Marco Daetwyler on the adjacent
court and got two vital games before losing it. The 37-year-old Ryan
continued his resurrection to beat new Swiss cap John Williams, a former
Australian rep, 9-4 in the fifth ten minutes short of the second hour.
“Never in doubt,” said Ryan with a laugh. “When I was down I just thought
I’d hang in and sneek a set.”
He sneeked the match much to the Swiss’s frustration. A nice win to have
in your 21st European Championships. “I don’t feel to bad. I’ll keep going
until I don’t get in the team.”
Crunch for Wales
England men (and women) will win these championships at a
canter, it was always going to be so, although the French with Thierry
Lincou and Gregory Gaultier could have huffed and pufedf, but even with
brilliant performances at numbers one and two, they could not have blown
England’s dominant house down. England have had, and have here, the
strength in depth to take the title whatever. However without their top
two, even the impression of a challenge from the French is not there, and
the winners are a forgone conclusion.
So that leaves the real battle for honours to the runners-up slot and
strangely that could be settled on the second day of the championship. The
top two teams from each of the men’s top two pools go through to the
semi-finals – crossover semi-finals.
England have topped their pool with the Netherlands, who scored wins over
both Scotland and Ireland, both 3/1, to play the top points winner from
Pool B. Both Wales and France in that Pool have been unbeaten. Wales beat
both Spain and Germany 3/1. France beat Germany 3/1 and the Spanish 4/0.
Fittingly the final pool match in Pool B is between these two countries.
The winner avoids England in the semi-finals and thus has to beat the
Netherlands to make the final and earn the runner-up title. The loser
In the end the big match of the
night turned into a damp squib. Welsh No.2 David Evans slipped and hurt
his archilles in the first game again Jean-Michel Arcucci, played on, lost
it 9-2, and didn’t appear for the second. One pointto France.
Welsh no.1 Alex Gough was battling against Renan Lavigne on an adjacent
court. He lost the close first 9-7, got the news of Evans misfortune and
dispirited didn’t try too hard and lost 9-7, 9-2, 9-0.
“I slipped and hurt my archilles. I tried to play on but couldn’t,” said
Evans. “It’s disappointing. Wales were depending on me and Alex to win to
give us a chance.”
“I don’t know how it will be,” he said referring to his ankle and the
prospects of playing.
Two 3/0 wins and basically France were through. Romain Tennant didn’t try
to give Ricky Davis a 3/0 win and in the end it was close on points 68 to
65. France were in the final but what should have been the match of the
night turned into a series of miss matches were the participants didn’t
France Suffer From Injury
France, who finished in the top four in both the men's and women's events
last year, suffered a major setback on the eve of the 2007 European Team
Squash Championships in the Italian resort of Riccione when Gregory
Gaultier, Thierry Lincou and Isabelle Stoehr - ranked 4, 5 and 17,
respectively, in the world - were forced to withdraw from their nation's
squads as a result of injuries.
The French women's team, seeded four, immediately felt the effect in the
opening tie in Pool A when they went down 2/1 to fifth seeds Denmark -
veteran Dane Ellen Petersen and team-mate Line Hansen beating their
opponents in straight games and only fourth string Celia Allamargot
salvaging some French glory by beating Denmark's Marie-Louise Feddern 9-5,
9-4, 9-1 in 16 minutes.
The fourth seeds will need to reverse their fortunes in their next tie
against Spain, the No8 seeds, in order to keep alive their hopes of
maintaining a place in the top eight for the eighth year in a row.
Despite the absence of their two star players, the men's team representing
France - runners-up to favourites England for the past seven years - were
in impressive form in their opening tie in Pool B against seventh seeds
Spain. Long-time French international Renan Lavigne was the inspiration
behind the squad's 4/0 win. Leading his team for only the fourth time, the
32-year-old world No33 beat the Spanish top string Borja Golan - ranked 13
places higher - 6-9, 9-7, 2-9, 9-7, 9-3 in 65 minutes.
Team-mates Romain Tenant, Julien Balbo and Jean-Michel Arcucci all
recorded straight games wins to give France an unexpectedly healthy start
to their 2007 campaign.
England, favourites in both the men's and women's events, cruised to
comfortable opening day victories - James Willstrop, Peter Barker, Adrian
Grant and Nick Matthew ensuring a 4/0 win over 8th seeds Scotland in the
men's event, and Laura-Jane Lengthorn, Vicky Botwright and Alison Waters
dropping only nine points in their 3/0 rout of 8th seeds Spain in the
women's Pool A tie.
Hosts Italy, seeded 18 in the men's event, delighted local fans at the
FIGS National Squash Centre in Riccione by upsetting 15th seeds Austria
4/0. Coached by Englishman Marcus Berrett, the team is looking to break
into the top eight for the first time since 2001.
Perhaps the most notable individual achievement was made by Dutch veteran
Lucas Buit. Nine-times the champion of his country and now just two months
away from his 40th birthday, Buit is making his 21st appearance in the
European Championships for the Netherlands. Playing at second string, Buit
defied the odds to beat last month's West of Ireland Open champion John
Rooney as the fourth seeds beat fifth seeds Ireland 3/1.
Lengthorn England Debut
Lancashire's Laura-Jane Lengthorn has been selected to make her senior
England debut in next month's European Team Squash Championships in Italy.
Yorkshire's world No7 James Willstrop and Lincolnshire's world No4 Tania
Bailey will lead the men's and women's teams, respectively, in defence of
their titles in Riccione, from 2-5 May.
The two five-player squads, announced by England Squash, are:
Men: James Willstrop (Yorkshire), 23, from Pontefract; Nick Matthew
(Yorkshire), the 26-year-old world No8 from Sheffield; Lee Beachill
(Yorkshire), the 29-year-old world No12 from Pontefract; Adrian Grant
(Kent), the London-born 26-year-old world No15 from Halifax; and Peter
Barker (Essex), the 23-year-old world No18 from Upminster.
Women: Tania Bailey (Lincs), 27, from Stamford; Vicky Botwright (Lancs),
the 29-year-old world No5 from Manchester; Alison Waters (Middx), the
23-year-old world No9 from London; Jenny Duncalf (Yorks), the world No11
from Harrogate; and Laura-Jane Lengthorn (Lancs), the 23-year-old world
No12 from Preston.
"We have two strong squads and are confident that we can retain our titles
in Italy," said National Coach David Pearson, who will be accompanying the
players, with Assistant National Coach Paul Carter, in Riccione.
"If they field their top line-up, we would expect to meet France again in
the men's final - for the eighth year in a row. Undoubtedly they are a
strong squad, but we feel our strength in depth will continue to give us
the edge," added Pearson.
While England's men have held the European Team title for the last 14
years successively - and all but three years since the inaugural men's
event in 1973 - England's women are looking to win their 30th successive
title, having never been beaten in the history of the women's
championships since 1978.
"The fact that we've never lost the championship puts extra pressure on
our women's team - but, again, we feel confident with the squad we have,"
added Pearson. "We are particularly pleased to be welcoming Laura to the
team for the first time after the great year she's had."
A record 27 nations - from Russia to the Isle of Man -
will contest the 2007 European Team Squash Championships in Riccione, on
the coast of northern Italy, from 2-5 May.
Croatia and Latvia will be making their debut In the Men’s championship,
while Russia will be competing in the Women's event for the first time.
England are seeded to retain both the men's and women's titles in the
annual European Squash Federation (ESF) event. Whilst the favourites
have held the men's trophy for the past 14 years in a row, England are
unbeaten in the history of the women's championship, since 1978, and are
aiming for the 30th successive crown!
England are expected to meet second seeds France in the
men's final for the eighth consecutive year. Netherlands, second seeds
in the women's event, are predicted to reach their fifth successive
"The ESF is delighted to be bringing the European Team Championships to
Italy for the first time," said ESF President Chris Stahl. "We are
assured of a stylish event to be held at the new National Centre which
has only been open for 12 months in one of the main tourist areas on the
"I know that players, officials and spectators will enjoy a feast of
squash involving some of the top players in the world using the
excellent facilities of the Sports Complex and at the nearby Schilling
Squash and Gym Club."
Men's qualifying pools:
(with seedings in brackets) are:
Pool A:  ENGLAND,  NETHERLANDS,  IRELAND,  SCOTLAND
Pool B:  FRANCE,  WALES,  GERMANY,  SPAIN
Pool C:  SWEDEN,  CZECH REPUBLIC,  ISRAEL, NORWAY, CROATIA
Pool D:  DENMARK,  AUSTRIA,  ITALY,  ISLE OF MAN, LATVIA
Pool E:  SWITZERLAND,  HUNGARY,  SLOVAKIA,  RUSSIA,
Pool F:  FINLAND,  BELGIUM,  UKRAINE,  GIBRALTAR
Women's qualifying pools:
Pool A:  ENGLAND,  FRANCE,  DENMARK.  SPAIN
Pool B:  NETHERLANDS,  GERMANY,  CZECH REPUBLIC, 
Pool C:  WALES,  SCOTLAND,  BELGIUM,  NORWAY, 
Pool D:  IRELAND,  ITALY,  AUSTRIA,  FINLAND, RUSSIA