On the final day of the team event, Ireland had their hardest of all the matches coming up against France. It proved a tough competition and Ireland, but they fought well through some tough matches. They lost out 4-1 in the end after Rachael and Rebecca Woods put in a good performance to beat Ganci/Vallet 21-17 12-21 21-18 and take a point off France. The team now will rest up and get some practice in ahead of the individual event starting on Saturday.
Day two of the team matches saw Ireland come up against Slovenia. This was a close contest where some good team performances saw the match come down to the mixed doubles where Slovenia narrowly came out on top. Ireland took points in the women's singles when Niamh Gannon beat Brajkovic 22-20 19-21 21-18. Niamh went on to take the ladies doubles alongside partner Alex Troy. They beat Vracar/Pipan 21-14 17-21 21-13 to take the match to 2-2. In the mixed doubles Troy/Staunton lost out to the stronger pair of Brajkovic/Smrkolj and the tie finished up 3-2.
Ireland began their campaign in the European U17 Team Championships today with a tie against Ukraine on Court 6 in the Sterboholy Arena.
Ireland knew that this Ukrainian team would be tough opponents but rallied together for their team chant which received applause from spectators in the hall!
First up for the Irish in the boy's singles was Daniel O'Meara who faced Danylo Shevchenko. Despite a nervy start O'Meara gained composure after the break in the first set and earned himself several good points following some clever serve variation. Daniel fought hard in the second set also but was unlucky with some unforced errors at pivotal points. Overall he showed great attitude and fighting throughout the game and gained invaluable experience at this level.
Rachael Woods took to court for the girl’s singles against Valeria Rudokova, who is seeded 9 in the girl’s singles for the individual event. Rachael showed her intent from the start, with several strong smashes finding the lines, in a game that was played at an incredibly high tempo. The game had team-mates and coaches on the edge of their seats as the girls went into the third set and final set. Each girl had to work patiently and tirelessly to outsmart and out-maneuver her opponent in a game that went to a tie-break. Rachael was unfortunate to lose out on this occasion but has proved that she can compete with the very best at this age in Europe.
Daniel took to court again alongside Michael Staunton in the boy's doubles encounter. The boys started extremely well, playing with aggression and skill especially in the forecourt. Michael and Daniel began to let nerves creep in with some mistakes in their serve and return of serve in the build-up to the break in the first game. Once settled, the boys fought hard in the second half of this set showing great determination and teamwork to win a string of points. The boys continued to work hard in the second set and were unlucky with several shots finding the wrong side of the line. The very composed Ukrainians took this match also in the end.
Rebecca Woods and Rachael Woods faced Arina Marushchak and Daria Poida in the girls doubles. The Irish girls got off to an excellent start in what was a ferociously contested first 5 exchanges between the pairs. The Ukrainian girls were relentless in their attack and solid in their defence which the Wood's twins found difficult to break the run of points that their opponents gained as a result of this.
Niamh Gannon and Mark Kinnerk played in the final game of the match in the mixed doubles against Rozhkov and Rudukova. Again the Irish started very well in the first set, with Niamh commanding the net and killing off net exchanges following vigorous rallies. However, despite showing determination and fight the Irish pair were unable to match the consistency of their opponents and lost out on this occasion.
Despite the loss, coaches Mark and Aisling feel that there are many positives as well as learning opportunities to take from this encounter. The players will take their learning into their final group matches against Slovenia and France. Ireland will face Slovenia tomorrow at 8 am Irish time. We wish to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their well wishes so far in this tournament.
Report by team coach Aisling Ryan.
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