Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Estonia push Sweden on Day One in Liverpool

Sweden were given a scare as the European Team Championship got under way this afternoon at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.

The 1992 and 1994 champions were in danger of an early defeat as world
No 45 Kati Tolmoff won her women's singles against Sophia Hansson 21-8 21-12 to follow up Raul Must's men's singles win over Henri Hurskainen 21-10 16-21 21-15.

Estonia had lost the opening mixed doubles but the two singles wins put them 2-1 up – and in the men's doubles Ants Mangel and Raul Kasner took the first game before Joel Johansson-Berg and Johan Kasperi hit back to level the match with a 19-21 2-18 21-11 win after 41 minutes.

That left the women's doubles to come and Tolmoff and Karoliine Hoim took the first game 22-20 only for Emma Wengberg and Elin Bergblom to turn the tables by taking the next two games 21-16 21-17 and give Sweden victory after the first session's longest match of 42 minutes.

Fourth seeds Poland, who could face second seeds Team England in the semi-finals if they both progress through the group stages and the quarter-finals, easily overcame Lithuania 4-1 in Group 6 helped by wins for world No 9 Przemyslaw Wacha in the men's singles and the experience of doubles stars Michal Logosz (with Wojciech Szkudlarkczyk) in the men's doubles and Robert Mateusiak and Kamilla Augustyn in the mixed.

Their only reverse came when Anna Narel lost the women's singles to Akvile Stapusailyte 21-19 21-18.

Fifth seeds Holland, who will meet Poland in the quarter-finals if they both come through their groups, had no trouble brushing aside Austria 5-0 in Group 5 although Peter Zauner and Michael Lahnsteiner made Jurgen Wouters and Koen Ridder work for their 21-17 28-26 in the longest match of the contest – 32 minutes.

In the other Group 5 match Belgium were too strong for Israel and also won 5-0.

Two-time European women's singles champion Xu Huaiwen clocked up the fastest win to date In the Group 3 contest between third seeds Germany and Slovakia, taking just 16 minutes to power past Zuzana Orlovska 21-7 21-9 as the Germans won 5-0.