(Photo: Alan Spink)
England made to work hard for their win
Date: 12/12/2020 7:31 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
The second and third most successful nations in European Mixed Team Championships history, England and Sweden, faced off in the final match of Group 1.  

This perhaps should have been a match to decide who qualifies from the group but following Sweden’s 3-2 defeat to Estonia on day one, it was just pride at stake. 

In the mixed doubles, world number nine and reigning European Games Champions, Marcus Ellis/ Lauren Smith, made no mistake against Melker Z-Bexell/ Johanna Magnusson. Following their straight-game victory, Marcus spoke about despite not reaching the podium last year, they are bringing a lot of confidence to Finland next year. 

- On our day we can take on anyone. There is no one we need to be frightened of!

Burestedt plays a blinder
Centre of Excellence player, Felix Burestedt, stunned his opponent, Harry Huang, with the speed and accuracy he came out with in the opening game. Huang, with former European Champion Rajiv Ouseph behind him, came up with a new approach in the second game, but Burestedt was prepared for this.

-I noticed quite early that he tried to be a little more offensive and tried to dictate the frontcourt a little bit more, playing shots downwards so he can come high. I was getting a lot of chances from the backcourt in the first game, and they were trying to limit that in the second. 

Burestedt, was not worried by the this and eventually won the match comfortably. Clearly delighted with this performance, the Swede is now looking forward to a bit of a rest over Christmas. 

-I am going back to the Centre of Excellence now, and I think I will have a little bit of league in Denmark, and then I will take a holiday. It’s been a crazy long training period now so my body needs a bit of a rest now. 

Rematch of World Junior Championships marathon
In the closest match on paper, young talent Freya Redfearn and Ashwathi Pillai meet again after their three-game clash at the 2018 World Junior Championships in Markham, Canada. Pillai came out on top then, but this time she was able to do it in two. 

This meant that with the scoreline of 2-1, Sweden was one win away from a major upset. 

Reliable doubles
Ben Lane/ Sean Vendy knew they had to win, and after an even start, their class shone through. Following the match, their coach, Nathan Robertson, former Olympic silver medallist and World Champion in mixed doubles grinned towards them and said. 

-Very well played… after 11. 

The duo admitted that they took a little time to get going, but when they did, it was once way traffic. Lane stated that having a must-win match helped with this. 

-You always play a little bit better when there is something on it. 

Smith/ Birch ensure three wins for England
Chloe Birch/ Lauren Smith had the responsibility of finishing off the tie and decide which way it would go. The sisterly duo, Moa Sjoo/ Tilda Sjoo, gave it their all to try and get that dream win, but the European Games silver medallists were too strong. 

- We relish the pressure and have the desire to get that win for the team. We are really glad that we put in a good performance and showed that in that game to win the tie 3-2, Birch said. 

With three wins, England is going to Finland for the European Mixed Team Championships Finals! Speaking about what we can expect from England next year, Birch adds.  

-We are always going out there to fight and do the best we can. Last time our performance wasn’t what we expected. I think we were quite gutted as a team to come away from those championships feeling that we had not performed. We have a good mixture of youth and experience in the team, so hopefully, that will really gel in the finals in Finland. 

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