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19.12.07

England's tough draw in European men's and women's team event

England have been given a tough task to qualify for the Thomas and Uber Cup finals in Jakarta next May when they tackle the European men's and women's team championships in Almere, near Amsterdam, from February 12-17.

The men's team, seeded second behind Denmark, are likely to face seventh seeds Russia in the in the last eight if they advance - as is expected - from a Group B containing Lithuania and Finland.

In the semi-finals they could then face sixth seeds Holland or fourth seeds Poland while in the top half of the draw holders Denmark would expect to face third seeds Germany.

There are 30 teams competing in the men's event while 27 tackle the European women's team championships.

Second seeds England are also in Group B in the women's event and will face Sweden and Spain. But if, as expected, they emerge from the group stages they are likely to face the sixth seeds Netherlands, the hosts and holders, in the quarter-finals. Top seeds Germany, runners-up two years ago, have a bye in the quarter-finals if they come through Group A against Iceland, Wales and Italy.

Ties are played over the best of five matches - three men's singles and two level doubles.

The tournament referee is England's Keith Hawthorne.

DRAW:

European men's team championships:

Group A: Denmark, Israel and Scotland

Group B: England, Lithuania and Finland

Group C: Germany, Hungaary, Norway and Estonia

Group D: Poland, Belgium, Portugal and Bulgaria

Group E: France, Greece, Sweden and Italy

Group F: Netherlands, Slovakia, Ukraine and Ireland

Group G: Russia, Iceland, Turkey and Spain

Group H: Czech Republic, Switzerland, Austria and Wales.

Quarter-finals:

Winner of Group A v Winner of Group E

Winner of Group C v Winner of Group H

Winner of Group F v Winner of Group D

Winner of Group G v Winner of Group B

European women's team championships:

Group A: Germany, Iceland, Wales and Italy

Group B: England, Sweden and Spain

Group C: France, Austria, Switzerland and Ukraine

Group D: Russia, Belgium, Ireland and Finland

Group E: Denmark, Czech Republic, Estonia, Belarus

Group F: Netherlands, Turkey, Portugal and Poland

Group G: Bulgaria, Scotland, Lithuania and Slovakia.

Quarter-finals:

Winner of Group A bye

Winner of Group D v Winner of Group E

Winner of Group B v Winner of Group C

Winner of Group F v Winner of Group B

Losing semi-finalists play off for the third Thomas and Uber Cup qualifying place