Wales' women walk through first Uber matches
The first stage of the world team championships, the Thomas (men) and Uber Cups (women) got under way yesterday in Sofia, Bulgaria, and New Delhi, India, simultaneously. The total number of national teams at the start line is 92 with the majority competing at the Sofia venue. In each competition the top three teams from each venue will join the current holders China, women) and Indonesia (men) and hosts Malaysia, for the final stage to be played in Kuala Lumpur in May. In the Uber Cup competition in Bulgaria, Denmark, England and Sweden are expected to join holders China, hosts Malaysia and the three qualifiers from New Delhi. Each tie consists of five matches, three singles and two doubles. There are expected to be few major upsets at this first stage but the form book may be upset by Wales, led by world number 15, Kelly Morgan, who have former England internationals Jo Muggeridge and Felicity Gallup on the team. This gives the Welsh three experienced singles and one strong doubles with Morgan able to make up a strong second doubles. Having beaten Mexico 5-0 today, Wales meet Czech Republic and Kazakhstan in their group before moving to the semi-final stage where they will meet three-seeded Sweden. It is a long haul for the Welsh women against all the odds as they start at the beginning of the competition and would need to play nine ties this week in order to qualify for the final stage. "Playing for England I have never lost a match against Sweden and our team are very positive about playing them this time. We must take things match-by-match but what I would really relish is the chance to play against England" said Muggeridge. Her wish may come true if Wales beat Sweden as they would need to defeat either England, Denmark or Netherlands to book a place in the final eight teams in Malaysia in May.