Netherlands mark coach's birthday with UC Finals spot
The Netherlands will join Denmark in the Uber Cup final tomorrow after their win over Sweden, while Sweden's Thomas Cup team will try to resist the Danish boys in spite of a good opposition by outsiders Germany. Dutch coach Martijn van Dooremalen couldn't dream of a better birthday present from his ladies' team. It took only four matches to see the Dutch advance to the final, thanks to a determined Karina De Wit. The 88th ranked De Wit played a solid third singles against much better ranked Caroline Erickson (34), coping well with the pressure in her first Uber Cup appearance. "We hoped to win Judith's match and both doubles, but this is a very good surprise." said Van Dooremalen (pictured after team's victory). Judith Meulendijks was the first on court to bring the winning spirit to her ever-cheering team. After being led in the first game, she caught up to 9 all, then rounded it up 11/9. Lifted by this good start, she trounced Margit Borg 11/3 in the second one. Former Russian player Mariana Andrievskaya took back Sweden to even up one all, beating Brenda Beenhakker in 25 minutes. It took even less time - 15 minutes - for Dutch pair Jansenn/Van Den Heuvel to get rid of Persson/Lundin. In spite of very few ranking difference between the two, the Dutch won 15/1 - 15/4 giving their team the lead before Karina De Wit wrapped it up. Ahead 3/1 in the tie, the fifth match wasn't played due to a new regulation in the Thomas and Uber Cups. "We're still aiming at the best and even if the pressure is off because we are already qualified for the Finals in Kuala Lumpur, we'll put our top team against Denmark for the final." said Van Dooremalen. The Danish girls didn't even wait for the fourth game to take their spot in the final, showing once again that they are way above the others. England couldn't match a team with best two girls and two pairs in the top 15 in the world. Statistics sometimes lie, but not this time as Camilla, Rikke, Helene and Mette wrapped it up in just enough time to mention it. Camilla Martin's drop shots drove Julia Mann crazy and it looked as if there wasn't much to do for the English leader, beaten 11/2, 11/4. Donna Kellogg and Gail Emms, not England's usual best pair, gave some resistance to Rikke Olsen and Helene Kirkegaard, back together after Rikke played with Camilla on Wednesday. Mette Sorensen didn't have to push her talent to beat Justin Willmott 11/3, 11/0 making it 3/0 for the Danes. In the Thomas Cup, Denmark was expecting strong opposition against England, and had set their best team for the first time. "We want to show that we are still the best European team here, and we'll do what we can to prove so." said Poul-Eric Hoyer-Larsen. After Peter Gade left no chance to Peter Knowles, the heat was on court number 3 as some of the best men's double's teams were opposed. World 7th England Simon Archer and Nathan Robertson faced 8th ranked Jesper Larsen and Jens Eriksen for a match that kept all its promises in terms of high jumps, incredible defence shots and suspense. A first game saw the English save four game points before winning in overtime. Denmark took the second one, setting the match to a decider game. Archer's sense of the game added to Robertson's fast drives made the winning recipe for a 17/16, 8/15, 15/6 final win. Hoyer (pictured) put back Denmark in the lead after defeating training partner Darren Hall. "I knew this would be a tricky match as we train together and know each other so well. After the match, Darren told me that there would be a revenge next year in the final of the veteran tour as we both will turn 35 next year" said a laughing Hoyer. Michael Sogaard and Jim Laugesen gave the deciding point to Denmark. Germany offered strong resistance to Sweden. Oliver Pongratz had raised the team's hopes after an amazing victory over Thomas Johansson 15/7, 15/11. But the Swedes won the next three matches, with a very intense last double between Bergstrom/Andersson and German pair Mohr/Tesche that settled Sweden's victory after a thrilling last game. Tomorrow is a crucial day for England in both the Thomas and Uber Cups, with teams playing for third place and a ticket to Kuala Lumpur. Denmark will want to show its superiority over European badminton, both in the men's and women's categories.