Thursday, February 12, 2009

England win again to set up decider with Scotland


Team England’s Andrew Smith and Helen Davies were clinical in setting up yet another victory for the hosts at the European Team Championship at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.

England No 1 Smith (Hampshire) was ruthless against Wales’ Irwansyah in the men’s singles, outplaying his opponent 21-8 21-10.

Meanwhile the Wirral’s Davies was not to be outdone and also put in a superb performance winning 21-13 21-17 against Harriet Johnson.

The 22-year-old, watched by Mum Liz and Dad Phil (who was seeing her in action for the first time), admitted: “I was nervous at the start but my coach had told me that I had to attack her before she attacked me.

“It was a good learning experience and, of course, it’s always good to win.”

With England 2-0 up it was left 2004 European men’s doubles silver medallists Anthony Clark and Nathan Robertson (both Notts) to clinch the winning lead as they defeated Matthew Hughes and Martyn Lewis 21-12 21-5.

Jersey’s Mariana Agathangelou and Yorkshire’s Jenny Wallwork took the women’s doubles and Chris Adcock and Gabby White won the mixed doubles as England made it straight-games victories in all five matches.

Tomorrow night Team England, who are supported by Center Parcs, tackle the Group 8 decider against Scotland. They were in action against the Czech Republic on the adjacent court.

The Scots got off to a good start through Watson Briggs and Imogen Bankier, who beat Petr Koukal and Martina Benesova 21-10 24-22.

And when Kieran Merrilees took the first game against Jan Vondra in the men’s singles, the Scots’ tails were up.

But the 19-year-old could not resist Vondra’s strong fightback and he levelled the match 15-21 21-13 21-16.

However, Commonwealth bronze medallist Susan Hughes took charge of her match with Kristina Ludikova to put the Scots back in front after a 21-16 21-12 win and Briggs returned to the court with Andrew Bowman to win the men’s doubles against Vondra and Pavel Florian 21-10 22-20 to give Dan Travers’ team a winning lead.

It was then left to Bankier and Jillie Cooper to finish the job 21-14 21-16 against Ludikova and Benesova for a 4-1 win.

In Group 6 seventh seeds France were dealt a scare when they came up against a fired-up Portuguese outfit. The French were in good spirits after their first win however Portugal’s Pedro Martins was out to spoil the party in the men’s singles.
Martins’ determination, speed and energy proved to be the deciding factor against Brice Leverdez as he left the court with a deserved 21-19 11-21 21-13 win.

That levelled the scores after France won the opening mixed doubles. But Pi Hongyan put the French ahead and they never looked back as Baptiste Careme added a men’s doubles win to his mixed doubles victory and France then won the women’s doubles to make it 4-1.

Switzerland comprehensively defeated Cyprus 5-0 in the other Group 6 match.

The Netherlands’ Patty Stolzenbach showed no mercy for her opponent Mor Bitterman in their 5-0 win over Israel in Group 5.

Stolzenbach won 21-3 21-1 in the women’s singles in 12 minutes, the shortest match of the Championship, as Holland surged to a 4-0 lead before Israel snatched the last rubber through Misha and Svetlana Zilberman, who defeated Jorrit De Ruiter and Isle Vaessen 11-21 21-16 21-19.

In Group 5 Austria went down 4-1 to Belgium with Nathalie Descamps leading the way with a mixed doubles and a women’s singles win.