Thursday, February 12, 2009

Team England name beat Scots to reach last eight

TEAM ENGLAND booked their place in the quarter-finals of the European Team Championship at the Echo Arena in Liverpool tonight with a 4-1 win over Scotland.

The 2008 runners-up and second seeds, watched by Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe, will now face eighth seeds Ukraine in the last eight tomorrow night.

The English pairing of Robert Blair and Gabrielle White got the Center Parcs supported home side off to the perfect start against Blair's former team-mates. In a match that lasted just under 30 minutes, the English mixed doubles duo had to work hard in the first game but finally defeated Watson Briggs and Imogen Bankier 22-20 21-11.

Bankier is Blair's mixed doubles partner on the international circuit but he said: "It wasn't too hard playing against Imogen, but it wasn't under normal circumstances. It's more difficult playing against your own country, it's a difficult situation.

"I have played with Gabby before, but we were a bit confused. There were things she may have expected me to do and things I expected her to do, but we didn't do it so we got in a bit of a muddle. The second set was quite comfortable and we got more used to each other's style of play".

Two-times English National champion Rajiv Ouseph had to work to overcome 19-year-old Kieran Merrilees 21-13 21-18 in the men's singles.

However, Scotland's Commonwealth bronze medallist Susan Hughes ensured that Dan Travers' team avoided a whitewash in an entertaining duel with England's Elizabeth Cann. Hughes, who beat Cann in their Melbourne play-off and also beat her in the Dunfermline Open in January, kept Cann on the back foot throughout the match and eventually ran out 21-12 15-21 21-17 victor.

Scotland continued to battle valiantly after they took a game off England's National champions Anthony Clark and Nathan Robertson but eventually went down 21-13 22-24 21-7.

In the other game in Group 8, Wales' Matthew Hughes received his 100th cap and marked the occasion in the men's doubles by winning 21-11 21-15 with partner Martyn Lewis. However, it was to be in vain as Wales lost the match 3-2 against the Czech Republic with Kristina Ludikova the standout performer for the Czechs.

Denmark did not hold back against Ireland in the final match of Group 1, winning 5-0. Ireland's Chloe Magee had game point early on against Nanna Brosolat Jensen but the Dane, ranked 46 in the world, rallied back to earn a 24-22 21-15 victory.

Germany ended their last round of group games in emphatic fashion after also securing a 5-0 whitewash against Sweden.

Despite some rigid Bulgarian resistance Poland successfully qualified from Group 6 and will now play Netherlands in the quarter finals tomorrow.

All eight seeds are through to the quarter-finals, starting at 6pm.

(1) Denmark v (7) France
(3) Germany v (6) Russia
(4) Poland v (5) Netherlands
(2) England v (8) Ukraine