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European Team Championships 2008  

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England aiming for another double

England have won a men's and women's Euro Teams Double every year since 1993 and will be favourites to do it again in Amsterdam. But the French men are back to full strength this year, England are missing Nick Matthew, and the Dutch - seeded two after reaching last year's final - will be up for it too.

In the women's event England have never lost, and here it looks as though the Dutch will again present the strongest threat to their dominance.

With all the teams in the record entry battling for places there will be hard-fought matches from 9am on the first day right through to the final playoffs ...  stay tuned!!!
  
Last Call for Lucas
Howard Harding reports

As players made their final preparations for the biggest ever European Team Squash Championships - which get underway tomorrow at the Frans Otten Stadion in Amsterdam - it was revealed that Dutch star Lucas Buit will be retiring from the national team after making a record 20th successive appearance in the event for his country.

The 40-year-old from Amsterdam made his Dutch debut in the 1989 championships in Helsinki - since when he has never missed selection for his beloved Netherlands, making more than 150 appearances!

Furthermore, Buit has won a record nine national championships in addition to winning a number of PSA titles in an illustrious career which has made him one of the most successful Dutch players of all-time!

"He's been a fantastic role model for Dutch players for such a long time - he will be sorely missed when he gives up playing for the Netherlands," said Dutch men's team manager Peter Berden.

Dutch national coach Sjef van der Heijden - who is also retiring after the championships - joked: "If I wasn't retiring, I'd make him stay on until he fell over!"

Buit, who last year won the British Open Over-40 championships in his Masters' debut (and travels to Liverpool to defend it straight after this event) felt that there had been a number of highlights in his outstanding career:

"My first Nationals win will always stand out - but then so did the ones after that! But playing for the Dutch team always seems to bring the best out in me - I had some of my best results in a Dutch shirt - beating players like Chris Walker, Alex Gough and Julien Bonetat.

"I didn't start playing until I was 15 - so perhaps that explains why I've been able to keep going for so long.

"It just feels right to be playing my last matches for Holland here at the club where I coach every day. It would be the perfect end if we could be playing in the final stages of the championships, here on 'my' court.

"And then I would love to take over as Dutch National coach - I think I am ideally qualified for the role."

Buit played his part in the Dutch men's team winning the silver medal in last year's championship - their best-ever finish.

Seeded two this year, Netherlands hope to meet defending champions England again in the 2008 final - this time on home soil.


More Buits to come ...

 

Record Entry for Amsterdam
Preview from Howard Harding

Netherlands will host the biggest ever European Team Squash Championships when the 2008 event - featuring a record 28 nations competing in the men's event and 19 in the women's - takes place at the Frans Otten Stadion in Amsterdam from 30 April to 3 May.

The men's championship welcomes Serbia for the first time - and also Portugal and Luxembourg, returning to the event for the first time since 1999 and 1997, respectively.

The women's event boasts the biggest entry since 2000 - and hails first-timers Ukraine, while also welcoming back Greece for the first time since 1989.

The 2008 staging marks the ninth time the prestigious Championships have been hosted by Netherlands - more times than any other country.

England, defending champions in both the men's and women's events, are seeded to retain their titles - the men's squad for the 33rd time since the inaugural event in 1973, and the women's having held the title unchallenged since 1978.

England's men's squad will be led by world No4 James Willstrop, supported by world No10 Peter Barker, No11 Lee Beachill, No14 Adrian Grant, and - making his international debut - Joey Barrington, ranked 28 in the world. In the absence of Tania Bailey, who is recovering from knee surgery, the England women's team features world No6 Jenny Duncalf, No8 Vicky Botwright, No11 Alison Waters and No12 Laura Lengthorn-Massaro.

But, after finishing as runner-up in both events last year, hosts Netherlands will be hoping to make a long-awaited breakthrough on 'home soil'. Seeded two, and looking for first-time success in both events, Netherlands will present a men's squad led by world No19 Laurens Jan Anjema, with Dylan Bennett, Tom Hoevenaars, Piedro Schweertman, Rene Mijs and 40-year-old nine-time Dutch National champion Lucas Buit.

Former world champion Vanessa Atkinson leads the Dutch women's squad which has finished in second place each year since 2003. Supporting the world No10 will be world No18 Annelize Naude, Karen Kronemeyer, Orla Noom and Dagmar Vermeulen.

Strong contenders in the men's event in Amsterdam will be France. Runners-up to England for seven years in a row since 2000, France contested last year's championship without injured Gregory Gaultier and Thierry Lincou. This time the pair - ranked three and seven in the world, respectively - are back in action and will compete alongside team-mates Renan Lavigne, Julien Balbo and Mathieu Castagnet.
 

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