Day THREE

European Team Championships 2008  

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Fri 2nd, Day THREE
It's England v France
and England v Netherlands again

It's England v France in the men's final for the eighth time in nine years and England v Holland in the women's for the sixth time in a row.

England breezed past surprise semi-finalists Germany to reach their 16th successive final, and France disappointed the large crowd as the avenged last year's semi-final loss to Holland.

Laurens Jan Anjema put up a great fight against Gregory Gaultier, but eventually went down in five games by which time the cause was lost and the last two matches were played as 'dead rubbers'.

England's women have never failed to reach the final, and tonight was no exception as they beat France with some ease.

Laura Lengthorn wasted no time in despatching Coline Aumard, and while Isabelle Stoehr battled well, Vicky Botwright was too strong as she too won in straight games.

Hosts Holland will join them after Karen Kronemeyer beat Laura Mylotte in style and Vanessa Atkinson won a hard-fought 3/0 win against Madeline Perry.
  


Day Three GALLERY

  
Check the results page
for full draws & results
  

Men's Highlights

Men's Semi-Finals:

England 4-0 Germany
  James Willstrop 3-1 Simon Rosner      3/9, 9/1, 9/3, 9/5 (48m)
  Adrian Grant 3-0 Patrick Gaessler              9/0, 9/2, 9/0 (32m)
  Lee Beachill 3-0 Tim Weber                      9/1, 9/0, 9/1 (20m)
  Joey Barrington 3-0 Moritz Dahmen           9/0, 9/2, 9/3 (29m)

France 4-0 Netherlands
  Gregory Gaultier 3-2 LJ Anjema   4/9, 9/3, 9/3, 7/9, 9/5 (87m)
  Renan Lavigne 3-0 Tom Hoevenaars          9/1, 9/1, 9/4 (40m)
  Thierry Lincou 2-1 Dylan Bennett              4/9, 9/0, 9/0 (38m)
  Julien Balbo 2-1 Lucas Buit                              9/7, 9/1 (27m)

Old friends reunited ...

You hang around all day waiting for the semi-finals and then two come along at once! Despite the fact that the showcourt had been standing empty for two hours, both men's semi-finals started at 17.00 with four courts in use.

England wasted no time in seeing off surprise semi-finalists Germany, the only setback being James Willstrop's first-game loss to Simon Rosner.

Willstrop recovered to win in style, by which time Adrian Grant had already won, conceding his first points of the tournament.

Lee Beachill swiftly wrapped it up, and Joey Barrington was almost as ruthless in despatching his Bundesliga team-mate.

Meanwhile the packed crows were cheering on their hero Laurens Jan Anjema, who gave new world number two Gregory Gaultier a real run for his money. Gaultier took the fifth easily enough, by which time Renan Lavigne had already won and Thierry Lincou was well on the way.

When the French team knew they were safe it was decided to truncate Lincou's match and the fourth rubber, saving energy for tomorrow's showdown.

They missed each other last year, but tomorrow should be a real cracker, and the 2-1-4-3 playing order for once favours the French.

"He got a really good start, and although I didn't do much wrong I just couldn't get it back. He's improving all the time, and against someone like him on these courts it's never going to be easy, it's just so hard to finish a rally.

"I know I keep going on about it, but I think squash needs to move on from playing on this type of court and play on glass courts wherever we can.

"Sometimes it feels like we take two steps forward, with the scoring , courts and promotion, and then one step back. People want to be entertained, they don't want to watch endless hand-in, hand-out and long rallies up and down the wall.

"I'm gutted to drop those two points!

"Seriously though, it's this types of match where you have to concentrate otherwise you just make it hard for yourself.

"That's what we're good at, getting on with it and finishing the job, being fresh for the final ..."

Men's 5-12:
Switzerland 3-1 Denmark     Wales 3-1 Ireland

"After the heartbreak of last year when I had several match balls to beat Derek Ryan and put us into the top eight after an absence of four years, we finally did it.

"It's important for us, and it affects our funding, so we're very pleased, now we'll see how high we can get."

Jethro just falls short

Wales bounced back from their loss to Germany to keep themselves in the top eight with this win over the Irish.

It could have been 4-0, but Jethro Binns, having found himself 8-0 down in the fifth to Arthur Gaskin, couldn't quite complete the comeback as he lost 9/5 in a marathon 94 minutes.

Women's Highlights

Women's Semi-Finals:

England 2-0 France
  Laura Lengthorn-Massaro 3-0 Coline Aumard  9/0, 9/0, 9/4 (17m)
  Vicky Botwright 3-0 Isabelle Stoehr               9/3, 9/7, 9/6 (35m)
  Alison Waters 3-1 Camille Serme            7/9, 9/0, 9/2, 9/4 (39m)

Netherlands 3-0 Ireland
  Karen Kronemeyer 3-0 Laura Mylotte             9/0, 9/2, 9/4 (20m)
  Vanessa Atkinson 3-0 Madeline Perry           9/2, 10/9, 9/3 (39m)
  Annelize Naude 2-1 Aisling Blake                   2/9, 9/5, 9/5 (28m)

Dutch set up another English date

For the sixth time in a row it will be England and Netherlands in the women's final.

The English team brushed aside France, with Laura Lengthorn opening up with a comprehensive win over Coline Aumard, who was making her European Teams debut. Isabelle Stoehr threatened to prolong the match as she led 6/3 in the third, but Vicky Botwright put memories of her opening day loss aside as she went on to clinch the match.



Karen Kronemeyer got the Dutch off to a great start, overpowering Laura Mylotte, and when Vanessa Atkinson took a game and a 6/1 lead over Madeline Perry it looked all over. Perry fought back though, saving three game balls (although Vanessa was disappointed no to get a stroke on the second one), eventually conceding the game 10/9 on a stroke.

That was pretty much the match as Atkinson eased through the third to the delight of her team-mates and the crowd. "I hate playing dead rubbers," said Annelize Naude ... with a big smile on her face ...

"Madeline's been out for a while but she showed against Vicky that she's back to her previous standard, so I knew it was going to be hard.

"The second was crucial, I was feeling tired but after one hard rally towards the end I saw the look in her eye that told me she was suffering too, and from 2/0 down it's always very hard to recover.

"This was like a final for us, we had a bit of an easy ride last year with a few teams having injuries, but we knew we'd have to work really had to make the final again this year."

"It's nice to get a good result against a strong player. Losing to Madeline could have knocked your confidence but thankfully we play in a good team and there's always someone to make up for you. We work well together and we try to build on our losses.

"Really looking forward to the final now ..."

Women's 5-11:
Belgium 2-0 Switzerland, Germany 2-1 Italy, Wales 2-1 Spain,

Three little crackers

Three tremendous women's matches for the places immediately outside the top four, with three nailbiting climaxes.

Belgian Bonus

Belgium got off to a good start when Annabelle Romedenne beat Gabi Hegi 9/7, 10/8, 9/2, and looked to be cruising to victory when Kim Hannes went 9/1, 9/7 up against Olivia Hauser.

The slim Swiss fought back though, taking the next two 9/3, 9/6. The decider was close all the way, Kim earned a match ball at 8/7, Olivia saved that to earn one of her own at 9/8. "This is agony for a coach," said the watching Swiss coach Mark Woodliffe, "it's worse than watching my father!".

Eventually Kim took it 10/9 to the joyous relief of the Belgian squad.



German grit

Germany too looked to have their match in the bag. Katherina Witt had won in straight games, so had Manuela Manetta to level the tie, and Sina Wall was 2/0 up against Sonia Pasteris.

The little Italian is a real fighter though, and she came back to win the third easily, then saved two match balls at 8/6 in the fourth. The place erupted at 8-all when Sonia slipped, then played a winner from a sitting position to earn a game ball of her own.

She levelled it, but Sina was on top again in the fifth, and all the noisy, nervous energy of the Italians was to no avail.



Welsh Wizardry

Last ones through were the Welsh. Again it went to the decider - Xisela Aranda beat Stacey Preece 3/0, Deon Saffery levelled it wit a 3/0 win over Elisabet Sado, so it came down to Natalie Pritchard and Stela Carbonell.

The Welsh girl went 2/1 ahead, and as both players virtually ground to a halt in the fourth, earned herself a couple of match balls. Stela wasn't moving too quickly now, but given the chance she was putting the ball away crisply, and Natalie wasn't helping her own cause with a few unforced errors.

So there we were, at 2-all and all to play for. The decider was a 9/4 triumph for Welsh determination over Spanish style, but both girls gave their all and the crowd enjoyed it all immensely.

"That was soooooo tough, I'm knackered, but I did it for Birthday Girl Gemma Davies," said an exhausted Pritchard after the match.

So, it's Belgium v Germany and Wales v Denmark (who got a bye) in the 5/8 semi-finals while the losers bizarrely play a round robin for the remaining places.


Sina hits it straight back ...

Sonia gratefully accepts ...

Game ball !!!

and the crowd just loved it ...

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