England Retain Title In Dramatic European Junior Final
24 Mar 2008
In a dramatic climax to the 25th staging of the European Junior U19 Team Championships in the Norwegian city of Stavanger, England upset top seeds France 2/1 to win the European Squash Federation event title for the 23rd time.
The team championships proved to be highly competitive, with 15 teams battling it out over four intense days - with favourites France hoping to achieve a 'grand slam' after winning both the earlier individual titles, but facing determined opposition from second seeds England, third seeds Switzerland, and Germany, the fourth seeds.
"In an inspired change of strategy, England rested their squad number one Adrian Waller and fielded a revised team of Joe Lee, Neil Cordell and Victoria Lust for the final against France," commented ESF Technical Director Martin Wren.
Joe Lee, the recently-crowned British Junior champion from Surrey, opened proceedings in the final - taking on in-form Frenchman Gregoire Marche. The 18-year-old from Aix-on-Provence arrived in Norway fresh from his first triumph in a PSA Tour event in Austria - then claimed an unexpected triumph in the men's Individual championship before extending his unbeaten record through the team event.
But Lee, son of former England Junior international Danny Lee, was in impressive form against Marche, defeating the European champion 9-1, 9-2, 9-6 in 46 minutes. "Joe was in total command over Greg in what was an object lesson in how to play squash," added Wren.
Yorkshireman Neil Cordell faced France's Lucas Vauzelle in the second match - and battled for more than an hour against his 17-year-old opponent to win 9-7, 9-6, 9-5 in 64 minutes to secure the coveted title for England.
"Neil and Lucas played a really hard match with Neil making fewer mistakes but also deserving to win by his ability to get back to basics when it mattered - playing tight wall shots in order to recover seemingly poor situations," explained Wren.
England team manager David Campion was delighted with his team's performance: "The squad worked really hard throughout the event and conducted themselves extremely professionally. We were completely aware of how strong France were - and, to their immense credit, Joe and Neil produced the goods when it mattered in the final.
"The competition in this event gets stronger every year - but we were focussed throughout and handled the situation really well," added the jubilant Campion.
In the play-off for third place, Germany upset Switzerland 2/1 - but fourth-placed Switzerland were able to celebrate their first finish in the top four since 2002.
Wales beat British rivals Scotland 2/1 in the play-off for fifth place. "Wales deserve special mention - finishing fifth overall with a very young squad, all of whom are eligible to play next year," added ESF delegate Wren. "Two of the squad, Tesni Evans and Sam Fenwick, are only 15 years old!"
But Scotland's sixth place finish also represented their best result for more than ten years.
"The European U19 Championships played over the past nine days in Stavanger have proved to be an outstanding success," stated Martin Wren. "A success for Stavanger who are celebrating the title of European City of Culture, 2008; a success for the hard working organisers, for the players, coaches and supporters; and for ESF for whom this is the flagship Junior event.
"The Championships were organised by Norges Squash Forbund, and ESF owe a huge vote of thanks to President Mike Off, General Secretary Reidun Ribesen, as well as John Eriksen and the army of volunteers who helped make these Championships so successful. Thanks, too, to Jens Kragholm, the Championships Referee from Denmark.
"In summary, this was an excellent event, thoroughly enjoyed by players and supporters alike. The ESF is proud that this event has provided a platform for European junior squash at the highest level and we look forward to more of the same when the event is hosted by Germany next year," Wren concluded.
3rd place play-off:
 GERMANY bt  SWITZERLAND 2-1
Florian Silbernagl lost to Nicolas Mueller 5-9, 0-9, 2-9
Raphael Kandra bt Reiko Peter 4-9, 9-1, 9-1, 9-6
Sina Wall bt Jasmin Ballman 9-4, 9-3, 9-0
5th place play-off:
 WALES bt  SCOTLAND 2-1
Hywel Robinson bt Lyall Paterson 9-5, 9-3, 9-2
David Haley lost to Christopher Ferguson 5-9, 5-9, 8-10
Natalie Pritchard bt Lisa Aitken 3-9, 9-3, 9-3, 9-3
7th place play-off:
 CZECH REPUBLIC bt  NETHERLANDS 2-1
Petr Martin bt Rick Penders 9-4, 9-0, 9-4
Roman Svec bt Tim van der Pluijm 9-0, 9-0, 9-4
Klara Janoskova lost to Milou van der Heijden 9-5, 5-9, 5-9
9th place play-off:
 BELGIUM bt  DENMARK 2-1
Sam van Brusselen bt Casper Grauballe 9-6, 5-9, 9-3, 9-3
Robin Schreurs lost to Philip Tran 7-9, 10-9, 2-9, 3-9
Toke van Wesemael bt Sally Skarrenborg 9-5, 7-9, 9-5, 9-0
11th place play-off:
 SPAIN bt  FINLAND 2-1
Carlos Cornes Ribadas lost to Henrik Mustonen 0-9, 0-9, 1-9
Damian Arosa Rodriguez bt Ville Hiltunen 9-7, 9-3, 9-0
Carla Fernandez Vazquez bt Nina Saari 9-1, 9-0, 9-0
13th place play-off:
 SWEDEN bt  IRELAND 2-1
Christoffer Ohlsson lost to Neil Martin 6-9, 9-7, 9-4, 2-9, 4-9
Johan Detter bt Colm Dolan 9-7, 9-2, 9-1
Eira Mooney bt Sarah Corcoran 9-2, 9-7, 9-3
15th place play-off:  NORWAY bye