Team France top of podium again. Photo: Ben Phelan (LIVE)
Merkle inspires France to back to back titles
Date: 9/11/2018 2:11 PM
Published by : Mark Phelan
Team France defeated Denmark 3-2 in the final of the team event at the European Junior Championships this afternoon adding the 2018 title to the title they won in Mulhouse in 2017. 

Arnaud Merkle proved the glue that bound the French win taking points in both the mixed and men’s singles but it was the opening mixed doubles that was to prove the key to the destination of the title. 

In truth Denmark were always going to rely heavily on the female side of their team while the French new they had the men to beat anything Denmark could throw at them. With the mixed doubles as the opening match the title was always going to hinge on the outcome of that match. 

France played a large gamble throwing Merkle into the opening mixed and it proved to be a gamble that would pay off. Merkle alongside 17 year old Juliette Moinard took the match in three games beating Sebastian Gronbjerg and Amalie Magelund. 

- This was a big risk for us but I knew that we could win this match. We knew we had to win it to have a chance to beat Denmark today. We did it and I knew then the team would do the rest said Merkle after the win. 

As expected Denmark levelled the score line with Line Christophersen dominant in the women’s singles. Arnaud Merkle was back on court probably quicker that he expected and took a long time to get his engines up to speed in his singles match against Magnus Johannesen. 

The young Dane let 13-7 early on as Merkle failed to fire but the ‘French Power’ as Merkle calls it soon took over and the Frenchman brought the first set home 21-19.

Merkle pushed on in the second set and cruised to a 21-8 win to give team France a 2-1 lead in the tie. 

- It was difficult for me at first as I was still in mixed doubles mode and had to have a talk to myself at the interval to get things going. I’m happy I did as we knew we had to win it. 

Denmark once again came back at the French winning the women’s doubles thanks to the prowess of Freja Ravn and Amalie Magelund. The Danes beat Huet and Moinard easily in two sets. 

At 2-2 the overall result was to hinge on the final men’s doubles. 17 year old Kenji Lovang (pictured above), fresh from playing against legend Lee Yong Dae last week in Barcelona, was in outstanding form and ably supported by the dynamic William Villeger the French pair blasted their way to a two set win to land the title for France. 

Pride and passion were key points in this success. Our team never stopped believing and we knew once we won the mixed the destination of the title would come down to the final men’s doubles. 

This is huge for France and it proves that the win last time was no once off thing. That is what we wanted to do. We want to show that French badminton is on the up and we want to keep following the dream.

Congratulations to France on their success and to Denmark taking silver with Russia and Germany taking the bronze medals. 

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