England’s hope of booking a place in the semi-finals of the European Mixed Team Championships were dashed in Copenhagen this afternoon when they lost their final group clash with Germany 3-2.
It was a bitter disappointment for an off colour team hit by illness and injury.
Not since 2004 in Geneva has England failed to finish in the top three at these team championships, which date back to 1972.
Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith gave second seeds England the right start with a solid 21-17 21-15 victory over Marvin Seidel and Isabel Herttrich.
But when team captain Rajiv Ouseph went down 21-18 26-24 against Kai Schaefer it was obvious that things were not going to plan. He clearly wasn’t well but typically didn’t make excuses.
Ouseph said: “I don’t feel 100 per cent but still he played well so credit to him. I wasn’t playing well in the whole match but to come back and almost sneak the second game (he had two game points) was a bit frustrating but that’s how it is.”
When Chloe Birch missed three game points at 20-17 in the opening game of her women’s singles against Yvonne Li things started to look ominous.
She went down 27-25 21-18 to leave Ellis and Chris Langridge facing a must-win match against Mark Lamsfuss and Marvin Seidel. The England pair had won all three of their previous meetings - but the Germans had the momentum.
Backed by a drum-beating fan club in the Frederiksburg Hallerne to roar them on, Lamsfuss and Seidel closed in on a 21-18 21-10 victory.
All that remained was for Smith and Birch to take the women’s doubles 21-17 21-17 against Herttrich and Linda Efler but by then the chance to avenge that opening day defeat by Russia in tomorrow's semi-finals had gone.
There’s no denying that the 3-2 defeat hurt but Ellis gave a frank appraisal. He said: “Everyone was honest; As a team I would say we haven’t performed today. Collectively as a team the performances have been a lot lower than we can produce.
If you do that against any team, but especially against one of the better teams in Europe, you will get punished.
“We have had a couple of setbacks – Gabby not being here – but we haven’t performed. Maybe you can put that down to the Christmas break and maybe not having many tournaments in January.
Maybe we weren’t match sharp although we have been training well.
“If you are not sharp you will lose to people you shouldn’t, it’s as simple as that. We have loads of tournaments coming up so the team will now be looking to do well in the YONEX All England and the others.”
Langridge admitted: “It was disappointing. The performances haven’t been good enough. You can call it justice. They were better than us, so they won. If you lose and you play well you can accept it. But a lot of us haven’t played to our level today, not even close. You are talking 50 or 60 per cent."
Then he reflected on what might have been: “Realistically, if we had had a full team we could have challenged Denmark for the title. Our team is that good.”
Sadly that was not the case this afternoon.
By William Kings
Photo credit: BadmintonPhoto
England 2 Germany 3
Mixed doubles: Marcus Ellis & Lauren Smith bt Marvin Seidel & Isabel Herttrich 21-17 21-15
Men’s singles: Rajiv Ouseph lost to Kai Schaefer 21-18 26-24
Women’s singles: Chloe Birch lost to Yvonne Li 27-25 21-18
Men’s doubles: Marcus Ellis & Chris Langridge lost to Mark Lamsfuss & Marvin Seidel 21-18 21-10
Women’s doubles: Birch & Smith bt Herttrich & Linda Efler 21-17 21-17