Lubin in Poland has become one of the main stays of European continental championships this past few years. After organising the Polish International from 2012 to 2014 the organisers signed a four-year commitment with Badminton Europe to organise and host 4 major continental tournaments which commenced with the European Juniors in 2015.
The fantastic and new RCS arena was a fitting stage last year for the U19’s and the same arena with same organisers, who will have left no stone unturned in preparation for the European U17 championships, gets underway this coming week.
The team event starts on Thursday with a total of 32 teams entered from across Europe with Denmark heading the field as hot favourites. Can any other nation take them down? Only time will tell but the RCS arena has witnessed upsets before in its short life in badminton. Remember 2015 when Spain took the U19 team gold beating Denmark in the final. The Danes will surely be out to rectify that result and get things back on track as U17 champions.
Just as in senior team events England, France, Germany, Russia and Turkey will be looking to upset the odds and take team gold as all the players use the team event as optimum match preparation for the individual event which starts on the 21st March.
Senior experience may prove pivotal
The individual event has some familiar names and that familiarity will mark these select players as the ones to beat in Lubin.
The Boys singles sees recently crowned European U15 champions Harry Huang from England test his credentials up a weight at U17 and the Scottish Grimley brothers have fond memories from this very arena last year and will feature in both doubles and singles this week. Ireland will look to Nhat Nguyen (pictured) as a seeded player this week. The young Irishman has already his first senior cap under his belt playing third singles in Kazan a few weeks ago.
Top seed and hot favourite for the girl’s title is Maryna Ilyniskaya (main picture). The Ukrainian has looked impressive on her few outings on the senior circuit this season and looks like a real star for the future. Standing in her way will be Sara Penalver. The Spaniard has probably played more senior badminton in the past year than junior and like Nguyen in boy’s singles will have gained so much experience from her performances for the senior Spanish team in Kazan a few short weeks ago.
U15 runner up Vivien Sandorhazi from Hungary will certainly have the physical capacity to trouble Penalver with both due to meet as early as round three but experience should see Penalver through but not without a real fight.
2014 U15 singles champion, Alexandra Boje (pictured) has passed the chance of adding the 17’s singles title to her 15’s success. The talented Dane lines out in both girls and mixed doubles and will be medal favourite in both. Turkey have the top seeds in the girl’s doubles and half of that partnership, Bengisu Ercetin, won U15 gold in Kazan last month. Powerful players, the Turks will be a serious match for the Danes in Lubin.
Denmark as usual will be hunting all five titles and across the board have realistic chances to do just that. Boje will be looking for the double in both mixed and doubles and it will fall to the French, English and a handful of others to prevent them from doing just that over the coming 10 days in Lubin.
Badminton Europe will be on hand and live for the entire team and individual event and will stream all the action live as well as covering the daily action via social media with extensive photo galleries and written article.
To watch all the live action from the team event starting Thursday click HERE
For all draws for the 2016 European U17 team championships click HERE
For the 2016 European U17 individual draw click HERE
Article and Images by Mark Phelan for Badminton Europe