England men were denied a second successive final at the European Men’s Teams Championships in Kazan, Russia as France shocked the second seeds 3-2 on Saturday.
Leading 2-1, France, who have never medalled at the biennial event, staged a fine recovery to win the final two rubbers and set up a gold medal contest with favourites Denmark on Sunday. England men will leave with a guaranteed bronze.
“It’s very disappointing,” said Jakob Hoi, England’s head coach. “We stepped on court with expectations of beating France and now we will have to wait two years to try again.”
Brice Leverdez, the French number one, got the underdogs off to the perfect start as he came from behind to beat previously unbeaten Rajiv Ouseph 10-21, 22-20, 21-8 in a 58-minute tussle.
According to Hoi, Ouseph’s defeat “shook the team”. Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge needed to stamp their authority into proceedings and they duly delivered a convincing 21-11, 21-9 win over Bastian Kersaudy and Gaetan Mittelheisser, a pair they had lost to recently in Sweden.
Toby Penty, pictured, backed up that win with a fine singles' victory over Lucas Corvee 21-9, 14-21, 21-16, leaving England one win shy of successive finals.
But the higher-ranked pairing of Peter Mills and Tom Wolfenden lost out to Ronan Labar and Julien Maio 21-19, 21-17 to take the semi-final into a deciding rubber.
Lucas Claerbout raced to the opening game against Sam Parsons, ranked 57 places below the Frenchman at world number 139, before the Englishman staged a comeback in the second.
However, Claerbout held on to win 21-12, 25-23, leaving Hoi to praise Parsons’ “effort and fighting commitment”.
England's bronze medal did mean that the men's team secured their place at May's Thomas Cup in China.
Meanwhile, Denmark ran out 3-0 winners over Germany in the first semi-final as star singles’ players Jan O Jorgensen and Viktor Axelsen, as well as doubles pairing Mads Conrad-Petersen and Mads Kolding put the tie beyond the Germans.
Looking to the future
Congratulations also go to our U15 squad who enjoyed some superb results at the U15 European Championships at the weekend.
Harry Huang secured the gold medal in the men's singles, adding another in the men's doubles alongside Rory Easton.
There was more success in the mixed doubles as David Hong and Hope Warner claimed the bronze medal to ensure the future looks bright for our English young guns.
Full results here.
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