Denmark Women Celebrate Return To Top Four In Riccione

4 May 07

Denmark is assured of a place in the women's top four for the first time for four years after clinching second place in Pool A on the final day of qualifying in the European Team Championships in the Italian resort of Riccione.

Relying exclusively on a three-player squad throughout the tournament, the fifth-seeded Danish ladies romped to a 3/0 win over eighth seeds Spain to finish ahead of injury-beset fourth seeds France.

Led by world No40 Line Hansen, the only full-time player in the team, the Danes also includes former WISPA Tour players Marie-Louise Feddern and Dr Ellen Petersen, the stalwart making her 12th appearance in the championships since making her Danish debut in 1994.

Denmark will face Pool B winners Netherlands in the semi-finals. Netherlands, the second seeds and runners-up in the championships for the past four years, enjoyed straightforward 3/0 wins over both Germany and Czech Republic to make the last four.

Favourites and defending champions England cruised to victory in Pool A and will face Pool B runners-up Germany, the third seeds, in the other women's semi-final.

Belgium, the 13th seeds, upset ninth seeds Wales 2/1 in Pool C to emerge unbeaten after two days. The surprise nation in the play-offs for 5th to 12th places will take on Spain, the No8 seeds, in a bid to secure a top eight finish for the first time in three years.

The semi-finals in the men's event will feature the same four teams for the fifth year: Favourites England will meet third seeds Wales, and second seeds France - who finished at the top of Pool B despite the absence through injury of its two star players Gregory Gaultier and Thierry Lincou - will take on Netherlands, the fourth seeds.

Hosts Italy, the 18th seeds, finished in second place in Pool D after comprehensively upsetting higher-seeded Austria 4/0. Their opponents in the 13-20 place play-offs will be Israel.