European Championships

Youth is taking over the Continental scene

On the penultimate day of the play at the GAZPROM European Team Championships in BT Arena in Cluj, four best teams at the tournament play for their position in the finals.

Portugal – Germany 1:3

Germany was the first team to book the place in the final. They avenged their defeat against Portugal in Nantes. Portugal reached the final last time.

Despite the shaky start and victiory of YU Fu against Sabine WINTER (11:4, 11:7, 8:11, 11:5), Germany took the control in next three matches. Nina MITTELHAM overcame SHAO Jieni (7:11, 9:11, 12:10, 7:11), whilst Chantal MANTZ proved too strong for Ines MATOS (7:11, 5:11, 14:16). YU Fu failed to repeat the success in the match against Nina MITTELHAM (11:9, 8:11, 11:13, 6:11).

“Last time, at the European Championships, we lost against Portugal so we expected a very challenging match for us. We came now with a young team and a quite different compared to the previous on, without our top star Petrissa SOLJA and HAN Ying. We do not have much experiences playing at this level, so we are so happy that we managed to win this match. Sabine played the first duel and she did not play at her best. When I played the second one against SHAO, I was under a lot of pressure knowing that I have to win it. I started really good, I had two match points in the third game but I lost it. In the fourth game I was down 1:5, but I managed somehow to come back and to win 3:1 giving Chantal MANTZ a good position for the third match. Against Fu YU I knew I could win. Last week I did it already, but it is always difficult for me to play against her. Her services are so difficult to receive. Today I managed quite good the receiving,” said Nina MITTELHAM

Chantal MANTZ was very happy. Against MATOS she saved two match balls.

“I’m feeling amazing, I’m also very proud of my team, we all played very good, we were fighting to win this and it’s also a dream that we are now in the final. Against MATOS I was just playing and fighting and wanting to gave us the lead of this match. I was just playing, not thinking that I could lose.”

Sweden – Russia 0:3

Two opening semi finals showed that youth is taking over the European scene. Young Russia's stars added another huge milestone in their career. For a first time, Russia will have the team in the final of the Men's Event at the Continental Championships. Last time USSR acheived it, it was in 1968.

On the way of rewriting history books, Russia beat another favorite – Sweden. In the opening dulel Lev KATSMAN entered the satge first and overcame Truls MOREGARD (10:12, 11:7, 7:11, 11:7, 7:11).

“My heart almost stopped at the end. My mind was blocked, I bearly could made a sound when it was all over. It was a very close match. I won the first game, then Truls came back... then I won the third game but again he recovered. In the last game I was 7:9 down then it was 9 all, he took the lead by 10:9; he was only one point away to win the game ahd the match against me. Emotions were running high. Miraculously, I saved this match point and closed the game 13:11. I played my game and stick to my tactics until the end,” said KATSMAN

Maksim GREBNEV beat Anton KALLBERG to widen the gap (8:11, 9:11, 8:11)

“I never played against KALLBERG before It was a quite tight match, all the games ended so close at 9 and 9 points. I entered into the court with a very strong will to win a point for my team. From the tactical point of vew I felt that my backhand is better than his so I tried to get advantage of this. I did my best to avoid playing too many short balls because Anton is mastering this kind of play. I also did my best to stay as close to the table as possible,” said GREBNEV

Vladimir SIDORENKO showed his class against Jon PERSSON (11:9, 1:11, 10:12, 11:6, 11:13)

“The third match was very important for my team. If I lost it the match could go either way, but still I got confidence in GREBNEV. I told to myself to be focused and to play for each point. I won quite a lot of points with my services,” said SIDORENKO.

Romania – France 3:0

Romania will fight for its third consecutive crown in front of home crowd tomorrow in Cluj. In the semi final they overcame France in straight matches.

“In last 20 years France never beat my team in neither youth nor senior categories, but this time was very close. I choose “dangerous” composition. If Bernie has lost we will be in very big trouble,” said coach Viorel FILIMON.

Elizabeta SAMARA started the match and she beat Prithika PAVADE (11:9, 11:8, 4:11, 11:7).

“I’m glad that I could secured first point for Romania, for the team. The match against Prithika PAVADE was really difficult. I knew that before since I’ve played against her at the European Championship this year in Warsaw. The first match against her it’s always a very difficult battle but if you know how to read her and her game it’s possible. Of course she is a revelation, she is the new tennis star. She already gives a lot of problems for every player and she beat almost all of them but I’m very happy that I managed to win in the key moments. My experience and mental strength prevailed,” said SAMARA.

Bernadette SZOCS faced YUAN Jia Nan and in thrilling five games succeeded (11:6, 8:11, 5:11, 13:11, 11:9).

“It was a very important point for us. I had to win because if I didn’t manage to achieve this victory, I think it could created a problem. I fought even when she had 2-1, 9-2 and 10-8. I fought until the end and I managed to bring this important victory for our team.I didn’t got afraid in any second and I felt that I am really in a very good shape and I didn’t wanted to afford myself to lose any single one match here, at my home. Because I felt I was in a really good form I knew I had to reverse the match in our favor and to bring the victory for the team,” said SZOCS.

Daniela MONTEIRO DODEAN sealed the encounter in the duel against Pauline CHASSELIN (13:11, 11:9, 11:4).

“It was a complicated match because I knew her, we had practice in the club and I also played against her in France League. I knew the she evolved in the last time but I was really good prepared and I could read her service game, what she could play and yes I’m glad that in the end it all ended well. The opening game was crucial she made a lot of variations in rhythm, “ said DODEAN.

Denmark – Germany 0:3

Germany has only one more hurdle on its way to the 10th title. They booked their place in the final after the victory over Denmark. In the opening duel Benedikt DUDA overcame Jonathan GROTH (8:11, 4:11, 9:11), whilst Patrick FRANZISKA secured the victory against Anders LIND (7:11, 11:13, 5:11). Tobias RASMUSSEN lost to Dang QIU (2:11, 5:11, 11:6, 10:12).

“My match against LIND wasn’t as easy as it seems to be. In the second game Lind was leading 6 – 3 and 9 – 7 but I managed to win the second set 13 – 11. I think that the second game was a crucial one. After I won this I knew that I have to keep fighting and I saw that he got a little bit negative and I managed to won the third 11 - 9. As I said before the second set was the most important otherwise the match could go totally the other direction,” said FRANZISKA.

DUDA said:“The match I played against GROTH is so far the best match I played during these Championships. I played very well, I was constantly focused on each point. This is my first winning against Jonathan and I am so happy of my performance. We played some matches in the German Bundesliga, I always lost my matches against him, sometimes I lost close sometimes I lost easy. Winning against him gave me a lot of confidence.”