• European Team Championships 2010 • 27-Apr 01-May • Aix en Provence • 





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TODAY at the EuroTeams .. FINALS:

Men's Final:
England 4-0 France
An 18th successive title for England ...
James Willstrop 3-2 Thierry Lincou   7/11, 11/1, 8/11, 11/5, 11/7 (82m)
Nick Matthew 3-0 Gregory Gaultier                    11/9 ,11/9, 11/6 (53m)
Daryl Selby 3-0 Mathieu Castagnet                   12/10, 11/7, 11/1 (35m)
Peter Barker 2-0 Renan Lavigne                                11/6, 11/5 (18m)

Women's Final:
France 1-2 Netherlands
It was a long time coming, seven losing finals in a row, but finally the Dutch are champions of Europe .... congrats !!!

Camille Serme 1-3 Vanessa Atkinson         11/9, 7/11, 3/11, 5/11 (34m)
Isabelle Stoehr 3-2 Annelize Naudé  9/11, 12/10, 9/11, 11/8, 11/8 (65m)
Maud Duplomb 0-3 Orla Noom                             5/11, 8/11, 7/11 (22m)

Dutch take first title as England's men continue to reign supreme

It was an historic day at the Val de L'Arc sports centre in Aix en Provence as the European Team Championships saw new women's champions crowned, ending a 32-year domination of the event by England, who had won every event since its inception in 1987.

Netherlands, who conquered England in the semi-finals after losing to them in the last seven finals, met hosts France, who had themselves beaten the Dutch in their final pool match two days ago to reach their first-ever final.

However, on the Glass court in front of a packed audience, the Dutch team truned the tables to become champions of Europe for the first time. Vanessa Atkinson scored the first point for the Dutch, beating Camille Serme, but France's Isabelle Stoehr came through a five-game thriller to beat Annelize Naudé and level the match for the French.

Orla Noom was dominant in the decider though, beating Maud Duplomb in straight games to claim the historic victory.

France was also represented in the men's final, where they had lost to England in nine of the last ten years. Despite the fervent home crowd, the result was the same with England running out 4-0 winners to claim an 18th successive title.

France knew they needed to win at the top of the order, but when James Willstrop outlasted Thierry Lincou in a thrilling five-game 82-minute match and Nick Matthew beat Gregory Gaultier in straight games at number one, the writing was on the wall for the French.

Daryl Selby duly wrapped up the title with a straight-games win over Mathieu Castagnet and Peter Barker won the dead rubber against retiring French captain Renan Lavigne to secure an emphatic win for England.
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Willstrop survives French test

James Willstrop gave England the perfect start as they set out in defence of their European Teams title, but my, didn't he have to work hard for it.

Thierry Lincou is known as a slow starter, but he was fired up and playing his best squash from the outset today, always leading the first game and taking it after 19 minutes of tough, tough play.

The second was a strange one, with the Frenchman tinning frequently and seemingly a yard off the pace. James played well, but not that well. Perhaps Thierry was saving himself, for he came out for the third in the same way he started the match, again leading from the off and again holding on to it again to regain the lead.

The last two were Willstrop's though. There were some fantastic rallies, which got the crowd even more excited, but the closest Thierry got was when he pulled back a four-point deficit to level at 7-all in the fifth. James was having none of it though, and four points later it was the English who were cheering the loudest.

"I was pleased with that," said the winner. "His level seemed to drop after those tough first and third games, I could feel it as soon as we went back on court, I was pretty consistent throughout. If you beat Thierry in front of a crowd like that you know you've played well."


Matthew so solid

Gregory Gaultier just couldn't find a way past Nick Matthew today, no matter how hard he tried.

The Englishman was solid as a rock, as he has been this past year or so, putting his opponent under constant pressure, giving him nothing, and putting it away when the chance arose. Both played well, and the rallies were as long and as tough as you'd expect at this level, and in front of this crowd - the first game took was 26 minutes.

But it was Matthew who pulled three clear at the end of the first, and although Gaultier saved two game balls he couldn't do it a third time.

In the second it was 9-all before Matthew applied the finishing touches, and you could feel the passion being drained out of both Gaultier and the crowd.

The start of the third was tight, but from midway through the dam burst, it was all Matthew, the finish coming quickly to leave England needing three more games to be certain of another title, and France in need of a miracle ...


Selby seals it, Barker makes it four

Daryl Selby made sure that the miracle didn't happen, although Mathieu Castagnet certainly tried his best to prevent another England victory over France in the final.

The young Frenchman led the opening game 4-1, saved a game ball at 9-10 but couldn't stop Selby taking the next three points.

The Essex man eased away from the middle of the second and was in complete control in the third, clinching an 18th successive title for England.

Last up, a best-of-three dead rubber between Peter Barker and Renan Lavigne.

French captain for many years, Lavigne is retiring after this event, and in commemoration of the many fierce battles he has led the French team into against England, winning captain Nick Matthew presented Renan with a signed England team outfit at the end of the presentations !



Revenge is sweet for Vanessa

Just two days ago Camille Serme beat Vanessa Atkinson at the Set Club to send France on their way to an upset victory over the Netherlands, but today on the glass court the Dutch number one gained her revenge in the opening match of the final.

Spurred on by a passionate and noisy crowd at Aix's Val de L'Arc sports centre, Serme took a great start, led the first game 6/2 and closed it out after 12 minutes.

It was Atkinson on top thereafter though, her greater experience on the glass court, and in these situations, seeing her through. Serme, almost certainly feeling the pressure, started making more and more unforced errors, and fell 7/1 behind in the second and third games, no coming back from there.

The fourth was tighter, Atkinson getting nervous now too, but from mid-point the points started going Vanessa's way, and the first point was soon in Dutch hands.

"That sort of match, playing for your country, it was more nerve-wracking than my world open final!

"The crowd were so noisy, I just had to try to block them out and play my game, but playing in such an atmosphere has to lift you.

"In the end I think it came down to my experience against an up and coming player just out of juniors. She played the same sort of game as the other day, but hitting it low and hard doesn't work as well on a glass court, and I was finding the corners better than last time.

"She was making errors too, when I was feeling it physically she'd give me a couple of points which gave me a lift."

Isa saves the day

So, a decider it's to be ... but it could have been different, France's Isabelle Stoehr had to come from behind to deny the Netherlands the title both so desperately crave.

The match was mainly about Isa - Annelize played steadily pretty much throughout, but when she put anything loose Isa would attack it, normally on the volley, mostly to good effect, but with enough errors to keep everyone on the edge of their seats.

Annelize kept ahead for the latter part of the first to take the lead, and held game ball at 10-9 in the second too. Isa saved it with a volley kill, then hit two more winners to level matters.

Three game balls in the third proved enough for Annelize, although again Isa saved two of them with winners, tinning on the third.

Isa took the final two games both 11/8, but gave the crowd some nervous moments along the way as she built good leads in both - 9-4 and 7-2 respectively - but almost squandered them with nervous errors.

Still, she came through in the end and the crowd went wild. Joy, or relief, she was asked immediately afterwards .... "both, I think," was the reply.


Orla wins it for the Dutch

The Dutch couldn't have wished for a better start in the decider. Orla Noom, striking the ball well as she does, raced into an 8-1 advantage over Maud Duplomb, and although the Frenchwoman pulled two points back, Orla soon took the lead.

She almost contrived to throw away a similar start in the second. Looking in complete control at 6-1 she allowed Maud back into it, and at 8-all it was in the balance. Three winning shots later it was double advantage to the Dutch.

The third was close all the way, nothing between then up to 7-all, but Orla found the shots, and the nerve, to close it out.

You have to feel for the French, but after losing seven finals in a row to the English before finally beating them yesterday, you have to conclude that the Dutch deserved it. Well played girls, well played ...



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