By Malcolm Willstrop
The European Club Team Championships
brought together a collection of players who represent all that is
good about the game.
The presence of world no.3 James
Willstrop and world no.4 Nick Matthew illustrated the importance of
the tournament – as did the presence of David Palmer and the likes
of Derek Ryan and Simon Parke.
With established clubs such as
Paderborn, Colets and Pontefract mingling with the leading clubs
from less established countries, the picture was complete.
The setting was more or less perfect
as well, since Riccione, a lovely holiday resort, was a welcoming
club and the weather was beautiful.
The women's final was, appropriately,
between the two best-supported teams, Pontefract and Mulhouse, the
latter being the scene of the recent Men's World Team Championship.
England pair Emma Beddoes and Lauren
Briggs, who is about to call it a day, were first on and Beddoes was
always in control in a comfortable 3/0 win for Pontefract.
Second on were Kirsty McPhee, the
Pontefract captain, and Kathrin Hauck. Three close games went
Mulhouse's way, the crucial factor being which girl attacked first.
So the outcome depended on the match
between Deon Saffery and Laura Pomportes. It was a fitting decider,
with Saffery just having one shot too many for the French girl, who
battled throughout. Saffery’s success gave Pontefract their seventh
win in the event.
Meanwhile in the men’s final, holders
Worms looked favourites to beat Mulhouse and so it proved.
Parke, after a long and demanding
match with Richie Fallows in the semi-final against Colets, was
unlikely to trouble Davide Bianchetti. Although the Yorkshireman
battled hard, he was always up against it, his best chance being a
disqualification. However, the Italian had, for him, minimal
altercations with the officials and was a comfortable 3/0 winner.
The Nick Matthew-James Willstrop
match promised much and delivered three high-quality games, in which
Matthew controlled matters, playing close to his best in winning
3/0, although the scoreline did scant justice to Willstrop's
Palmer, therefore, needed one
game against Mathieu Castagnet to settle the outcome and it wasn't
long in coming.
So Worms retained their title in
style and left Mulhouse with the consolation of having produced two
Men: 1. Black and White RC Worms
(Germany), 2. Mulhouse (France), 3. Paderborner (Germany), 4. Colets
(England), 5. Helsinki Senators (Finland), 6. Fitzwilliam (Ireland),
7. NV Squash Union (Austria), 8. Sandweiler (Luxembourg), 9.
Herlev-Njorten (Denmark), 10. Szegedi Tisza (Italy), 11.
Petroholding (Ukraine), 12. Edinburgh (Scotland), 13. Castle
(Belgium), 14. Hafrsfjord (Norway), 15. Vaduz (Liechtenstein), 16.
Mcwill Harrow (Poland), 17. Riccione (Italy).
Women: 1. Pontefract (England), 2.
Mulhouse (France), 3. USC 2000 Graz (Austria), 4. Moravska Slavia
Dream Team (Czech Republic), 5. Go Ahead (Hungary), 6. Espoo
(Finland), 7. Malaka (Poland), 8. Riccione (Italy), 9. Stockholm
(Sweden), 10. Sutton (Ireland).