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England’s men through to last eight at European Team Championships

There were mixed feelings for England at the 2020 European Men’s and Women’s Team Championships in Lievin, France.

The men’s team advanced to the quarter-finals where they will meet Netherlands after a clean sweep of victories in the group.

But the women’s side agonisingly missed out on a place in the last eight after finishing runners-up.

The men’s team got their campaign off to a superb start as they defeated Estonia 4-1 on Tuesday – but they had to come from behind.

Toby Penty took the first game 21-13 only for Raul Must to win the next 21-17 and the decider 21-15 but Alex Lane got England back on track with a 21-14, 21-15 victory over Karl Kert. Ben Lane teamed up with Sean Vendy to put England in front, winning 21-13, 21-14 against Kristjan Kaljurand and Raul Kӓsner.

David Jones then edged Mihkel Laanes in three games before Marcus Ellis and Gregory Mairs beat Kert and Hans-Kristjan Pilve 21-11, 21-11.

England then proved too strong against Greenland, running out 5-0 winners. Penty (21-7, 21-10), Jones (21-8, 21-9) and Harry Huang (21-12, 21-4) sent their side on their way before Vendy and Tom Wolfenden, and Lane and Mairs completed the rout with triumphs in the doubles.

England were on a roll and they continued that momentum on Thursday when they saw off Sweden 4-1 to finish top of Group 2 with Penty starting off with a three-game victory, Lane lost 21-19, 21-17 to Jacob Nilsson but Huang hit back by beating Andy Tsai 21-11, 21-12.

And there was more joy in the doubles as Lane and Vendy saw off Joel Hansson and Melker Z-Bexell 21-15, 21-12 before Marcus Ellis and Wolfenden overcame Nilsson and Ludvig Petre Olsson 21-9, 21-12. 

The women’s team would have been hoping to add to England’s success, but they were hit by an opening-day 4-1 defeat to France.

Chloe Birch lost 21-14, 21-13 to Qi Xuefei before Jenny Moore and Victoria Williams were also beaten and France then moved 3-0 in front after Marie Batomene downed Abigail Holden 21-13, 21-18.

Birch and Lauren Smith beat Delphine Delrue and Anne Tran 21-18, 21-16 to get England on the board but Freya Redfearn fell to defeat. 

England did not get off to the best of starts against Israel with Holden losing 21-23, 21-17, 21-11 to Ksenia Polikarpova but they came back firing with Pamela Reyes and Grace King both winning in three games.

There was also double delight for Moore and Williams (21-5, 21-13) and Birch and Smith (21-9, 21-9) and England then put themselves in with a chance of progressing to the quarter-finals after thrashing Belarus 5-0.

But it was not enough to send England who came second in Group 3 through, as Scotland took the best runners-up spot.