European Teams 2007

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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 game
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 Riccione

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 in hands.

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,” said Anjema.

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 Buit.

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 consolation.

“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 and France

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 faces England.

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 try.

Day 1:
France Suffer From Injury Setback

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."

Record Entry
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 final.

"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 Adriatic coast.

"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 B: [2] FRANCE, [3] WALES, [6] GERMANY, [7] SPAIN
Pool D: [10] DENMARK, [15] AUSTRIA, [18] ITALY, [23] ISLE OF MAN, LATVIA
Pool F: [12] FINLAND, [13] BELGIUM, [20] UKRAINE, [21] GIBRALTAR

Women's qualifying pools:
Pool A: [1] ENGLAND, [4] FRANCE, [5] DENMARK. [8] SPAIN
Pool C: [9] WALES, [12] SCOTLAND, [13] BELGIUM, [16] NORWAY, [17] SLOVAKIA
Pool D: [10] IRELAND, [11] ITALY, [14] AUSTRIA, [15] FINLAND, RUSSIA




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England women - champions in 2006

 . The battle of

  . Crunch for Wales
    and France

  . Crunch for Wales
    and France

  . Injuries Hit France
  . England Team

  . Lengthorn Debut
  . Record Entry

England women - champions in 2006

  . Injuries Hit France
  . England Team

  . Lengthorn Debut
  . Record Entry


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