European Youth Championships 2014 – Team Events report

An Ireland squad of 11 players across four teams competed this week at the European Youth Championships in Riva Del Garda, Italy.  The Team competition took place from 11 to 15 July. Below is a summary of Irish performances in the team events.

Junior Boys :  Ryan Farrell, Tom Davis and Alan Walsh.

The Junior Boys were initially drawn in a group containing Spain, Greece and Jersey. They suffered two 0:3 losses to the seeded Spanish and Greek teams before claiming a 3:0 victory against Jersey with all 3 players recording wins against regular 6 Nations opponents. From there, the Boys were in the bottom half of the event, playing for places and were drawn in Group Q against Bosnia, Iceland & Kosovo. The Irish Boys recorded wins over Kosovo and Iceland, only dropping one set in the process. That set up a group decider against Bosnia,  who were just too strong, despite Ryan Farrell pushing Bastolic all the way in a five set thriller. Down to the last play-off matches where Farrell and Walsh both claimed good victories to record two wins for Ireland against Luxembourg but unfortunately it was not enough and the team lost out 2:3. Last up then was Lithuania, regular opponents for Ireland at this level. This was an exciting match-up, with three of the matches going to 5 sets. Davis has had a busy Summer across multiple European events and showed great maturity to close out the match for the Irish 11-9 in the 5th to ensure the team finished the event with a win. The Junior Boys finished the event in 33rd place (from 39 teams).

Junior Girls  : Hannah Lynch-Dawson, Chloe O’Halloran and Emma Ludlow.

Drawn in a strong looking Group E, the team struggled with early momentum, losing out to Switzerland, Belgium and Estonia. Lynch-Dawson and O’Halloran managed to record solitary wins for the Irish as confidence took a hit moving into next phase of the event.  Into Group P and Bosnia, Austria and Armenia were the opponents. First up was Bosnia and this went all the way to a decider with Ireland losing out 2:3 at the finish. Next up was Austria and O’Halloran selected at Number 3 gave the team a chance with a win over Diendorfer but this was not enough as Austria recorded a 3:1 win. Finally a match against Armenia were the Girls were desperately hunting for their first win of the event. Again it went all the way to 2:2 with O’Halloran and Lynch-Dawson registering wins but the deciding match proving difficult again with the overall match ending in 2:3.

The final play-off match saw the team lose out 2:3 in a very close match to finish the event with some good memories, but without the win that perhaps their play deserved. The Junior girls finished 32nd out of 32 teams.

Cadet Boys :  Alexander Gillen, Evin McGovern and Brian Dunleavy.

Big performances by Alexander Gillen gave him two wins over Spanish opponents Soria and Perez, with both ranked in the top 100 in Europe at this level(Perez at 38 is a notable scalp) for the French based Irish international. Gillen also recorded two wins over ranked Finnish opponents and he will be happy with his own performances at the group stage.  The team overall had 3 losses putting the team into the bottom half of the draw.

Into the second phase and a 1 :3 defeat to Slovakia, with Gillen recording the sole win over European No.57 ranked Peko. The team were delighted to then claim their first match victory 3:0 over Estonia with all 3 squad members notching wins. The Boys then lost out in close matches to Montenegro and Wales to finish the tournament 36th from 42 teams.

Cadet Girls : Katie McGlone and Rebecca Finn.

The Cadet girls got off to a good start winning 3:2 win against Georgia with McGlone taking both singles and Finn closing out the deciding game.  Things got more difficult from that point with a 0:3 loss to Group winners Crotia, and a 1:3  defeat to Israel with McGlone recording the only win.  That set up a match with Norway where the girls went down 0:2 but fought a titanic battle to win the doubles for 1:2.  However McGlone then lost the next singles in 5 sets to leave the girls in 4th position from 5.  In the second phase they claimed a 3:0 win over Greece and fell to a 3:1 loss to  Finland. This left them fighting for 29-32 spot in the event and the girls battled hard and showed really good quality to claim two straight 3:0 wins over Luxembourg and Bosnia to secure 29th place out of 36 teams.