Elriani Saves England In Dramatic World Quarter-Final
1 Oct 2004
In a dramatic last quarter-final of the night in the Women's World Team Championship at the Frans Otten Stadion in Amsterdam, England stalwart Linda Elriani fought back from 0/2 down in the deciding match against hosts Netherlands to win the tie for the second seeds and prevent England from finishing outside the top four for the first time in the history of the tournament.
England, five-times former champions, will now face New Zealand for a place in the final, while the other semi-final will feature favourites Australia, the defending champions and seven-times winners of the title, against fourth seeds Egypt.
In far from ideal preparation of the important tie ahead, the England team arrived at the venue only minutes before the first match was due to start, as the result of a road accident on the route from the team hotel. Team No1 Cassie Jackman, ranked two in the world, quickly lost the first game against her opposite number Vanessa Atkinson and was 0-6 down in the second before making her first reply.
Atkinson, pumped up for the clash after losing disappointingly to New Zealand No1 Shelley Kitchen 24 hours earlier, wrapped up the match 9-0 9-6 6-9 9-6 in 46 minutes - much to the sheer delight of the near capacity centre court crowd.
The third string clash quickly brought England back into contention as Fiona Geaves despatched Dutch No3 Karen Kronemeyer 9-0 9-1 9-3. When the rapidly-improving Dutch No2 Annelize Naude forged a 2/0 lead in the decider against Elriani, it looked as if a major upset was on the cards.
The determined 32-year-old from Eastbourne stuck to her task, however, and ultimately pulled back the deficit to claim an impressive 8-10 2-9 9-4 9-4 9-1 face-saving victory in 68 minutes.
"I was NOT going to be the one to be responsible for England's worst ever finish in the these championships," said Elriani, the world No6 who has now extended to eight matches her unbeaten run against Naude, ranked 17 places lower.
"There's nobody better than Linda to be in that position for you," said a relieved England national coach David Pearson afterwards. "It's not easy coming from a string of matches where you win easily, into a high-pressure situation like tonight's. But what it shows is that we are a strong team - and in fact it's just the kick we needed for our next match tomorrow."
England's semi-final opponents New Zealand breezed to a 3/0 win over surprise quarter-finalists USA, the tenth seeds. Shelley Kitchen followed her fine win over Vanessa Atkinson in the previous round to beat five-times US champion Latasha Khan 9-7 9-2 9-1 - before squad No3 Jaclyn Hawkes fought back from two games down to defeat Michelle Quibell 5-9 7-9 9-3 9-3 9-0 in 45 minutes.
Top seeds Australia were untroubled by opponents Malaysia, the fifth seeds - first string Rachael Grinham crushing the Malaysian No1 Nicol David 9-1 9-2 9-3 before team-mate Amelia Pittock put the tie beyond Malaysia's reach with a 9-2 9-1 9-0 victory in just 23 minutes over Tricia Chuah.
Fourth seeds Egypt suffered a poor start against Ireland in the other quarter-final when squad No1 Omneya Abdel Kawy squandered a 6-1 lead in the fifth and final game of the opening match to go down 9-1 1-9 7-9 9-1 9-6 to the Irish top string Madeline Perry. Egypt's momentum was restored when Engy Kheirallah and Eman El Amir secured straight games wins in the remaining two matches to give the fourth seeds a 2/1 win.
 AUSTRALIA v  EGYPT
 ENGLAND v  NEW ZEALAND
5th - 8th place play-offs
 MALAYSIA v  IRELAND
 NETHERLANDS v  USA
9th - 12th place play-offs
 CANADA v  BELGIUM
 SOUTH AFRICA v  HONG KONG
13th - 16th place play-offs:
 FRANCE v  SCOTLAND
 SWITZERLAND v  DENMARK
 AUSTRALIA bt  MALAYSIA 3-0
(Rachael Grinham bt Nicol David 9-1, 9-2, 9-3 (30m); Natalie Grinham bt Sharon Wee 9-2, 9-1 (13m); Amelia Pittock bt Tricia Chuah 9-2, 9-1, 9-0 (23m))
 EGYPT bt  IRELAND 2-1
(Omneya Abdel Kawy lost to Madeline Perry 1-9, 9-1, 9-7, 1-9, 6-9 (53m); Engy Kheirallah bt Aisling Blake 9-0, 9-2, 9-5 (32m); Eman El Amir bt Anna McGeever 9-6, 9-3, 9-3 (32m))
 NEW ZEALAND bt  USA 3-0
(Shelley Kitchen bt Latasha Khan 9-7, 9-2, 9-1 (31m); Tamsyn Leevey bt Louisa Hall 9-2, 5-9, 9-7 (27m); Jaclyn Hawkes bt Michelle Quibell 5-9, 7-9, 9-3, 9-3, 9-0 (45m))
 ENGLAND bt  NETHERLANDS 2-1
(Cassie Jackman lost to Vanessa Atkinson 0-9, 6-9, 9-6, 6-9 (46m); Linda Elriani bt Annelize Naude 8-10, 2-9, 9-4, 9-4, 9-1 (68m); Fiona Geaves bt Karen Kronemeyer 9-0, 9-1, 9-3)
9th - 16th place play-offs:
 CANADA bt  FRANCE 3-0
(Runa Reta bt Maud Duplomb 9-7, 9-1, 9-3 (28m); Melanie Jans Burke bt Celia Allamargot 9-3, 9-6 (18m); Marnie Baizley bt Soraya Renai 9-2, 9-4, 9-6 (26m))
 BELGIUM bt  SCOTLAND 3-0
(Kim Hannes-Teunen bt Susan Dalrymple 9-3, 8-10, 9-0, 9-3 (35m); Katline Cauwels bt Frania Gillen-Buchert 9-7, 9-7 (28m); Annabel Romedenne bt Louise Philip 9-6, 9-3, 9-4 (36m))
 SOUTH AFRICA bt  SWITZERLAND 2-1
(Claire Nitch bt Manuela Zehnder 9-0, 9-0, 9-2 (23m); Tenille Swartz bt Gaby Schmohl 5-9, 9-2, 9-0, 9-2 (29m); Karen van der Westhuizen lost to Olivia Hauser 5-9, 9-0, 9-10, 10-8, 2-9 (66m))
 HONG KONG bt  DENMARK 3-0
(Rebecca Chiu bt Ellen Petersen 9-2, 9-2, 9-1 (22m); Karen Lau bt Line Hansen 9-1, 8-10, 9-5 (24m); Annie Au bt Ditte Nielsen 9-4, 9-0, 9-1 (30m))
17th - 19th place play-offs:
 GERMANY bt  AUSTRIA 2-1
(Kathrin Rohrmueller lost to Pamela Pancis 4-9, 6-9, 4-9 (19m); Karin Beriere bt Birgit Coufal 9-2, 9-0, 9-1 (21m); Carola Weiss bt Ines Gradnitzer 4-9, 3-9, 9-5, 9-3, 9-3 (50m))