(Photo: Badminton Europe)
Russia are the European U17 team champions
Date: 9/7/2021 4:51 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
After four days of battle cries and great clashes in the team event at the European U17 Championships, we were down to two. Russia and France. The number one and two seeds. 

Russia scored a historic win over reigning champions Denmark in the semifinal, making sure that a new champion is crowned in Slovenia. 

France had a scare against their neighbours Spain in the quarterfinals, but then cruised through the Czech Republic to book a spot in the final. 

Lanier gets things going
Kicking things off for France was their star player, Alex Lanier. In a tactical move from Russia, they Gleb Stepakov played, slotting in their top weapon Daniil Dubovenko into the men's and mixed doubles. Lanier was not phased by this and got the job done, winning 21-12, 21-14.

-I am so proud to bring the first point for France and that we have the lead, but the men's doubles will be an important match. It will be a close one, Lanier predicted. 

Russia bounce back
It was expected that Russia would bounce straight back in the women's singles. Galina Mezentseva has been solid for her team and faced France's Floriane Nurit. It looked like it would be one way traffic after the first game, finishing 21-10 for Russia.

However, Nurit dug in and forced a decider with a 21-19 second game. This made onlookers have a re-think about the predicted winner and increased the volume in the venue. The final game was close all the way but Mezentseva held her nerve well to take it with a 21-16 win, leveling the tie. 

-It was a fantastic match. Very tough and aggressive. It was an important win for my country, said Mezentseva.

Men's doubles thriller
Daniil Dubovenko/ Gleb Stepakov were then tasked to give Russia the lead in the tie. On paper, the Russian pair had the edge over Alex Lanier/ Baptiste Labarthe, but it was a fierce battle throughout. 

-We won this crazy match. It was so hard. We overcame our nerves and the Russian team is good, so we hope to win, the pair said together. 

The French duo had the momentum going into the decider, but the Russians did not give up easily. Both pairs produced some scintillating badminton, but it was Dubovenko/ Stepakov who stayed calm and took the win, 21-19 14-21 21-19.

De ja vu in the women's doubles
With Russia just one win away from the title, it was looking good for them. Traditionally strong in women's doubles, they were the favourites. Maria Lezzhova/ Galina Lisochkina    took on Malya Hoareau/ Camille Pognante and got off to a flying start with the first game. 

It was a colossal performance from France, overturning the match and winning 18-21, 21-13, 21-19. Levelling the match for France, it was all to play for! 

Russia lift the team trophy
Daniil Dubovenko returned to the court for the mixed doubles, partnering Daria Kharlampovich. Likewise, Baptiste Labarthe returned with Herveline Crespel. The Russians got off to a solid start. The French threatened to once again force a decider, but this time Dubovenko/ Kharlampovich did not allow this to happen and they were able to secure the title, 21-15 22-20.

Russia's first team victory since their successful Polonia Cup years over 18 years ago. The team charged the court and celebrated with the pair. 

-We are very happy with the win. I am a little tired but it was worth it. Thank you to my Russian teammates for the support, Dubovenko stated happily. 

Watch the matches on

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