After a two week break the Badminton Europe circuit travels to Latvia this week for the Future Series rated Yonex Latvia International. The tournament takes place in Jelgava, about 40km south west of Riga, and represents an opportunity for some European young guns to test the waters at senior circuit level.
Team France has sent a sizeable squad of very young players to Jelgava to gain valuable experience at senior level. Included in the French travelling party are European U17 stars, Arnaud Merkle (main picture during 2016 European U17 Championships), Leo Rossi Thom Gicquel and Samy Corvee while Toma Junior Popov, the young Frenchman who made his senior debut for France this year, will be an outside bet to make the podium.
Lambert, Huet, Ferrier also travel as part of the French u17 team and are not only players to watch this week but also for the future. Juliet Moinard, who looks to be another real prospect for France moving forward, played the the European U15 championships in Kazan three months ago and like the rest of her French compatriots will look to gain some valuabe senior experience this week in Latvia.
Scattered throughout the draws are a handful of players from other countries who impressed earlier in the year at the European U17 championships. Danylo Bosniuk is a strong and skillful player from the Ukraine with Italy’s Fabio Caponio another one looking to gain some valuable senior experience. Czech U17 Tereza Svabikova will be another one to watch coming through qualification in the women’s singles.
Sefere & Pope with chances in singles
The vastly experienced Kristine Sefere (pictured above playing at the recent European Championships) will shoulder much of the responsibility from a home perspective this week in Jelgava. The Latvian is seeded 4 for the women’s singles and if she can get by England’s Lydia Powell in the opening round she might have a real shot at the podium. Sefere will be supported by Ieva Pope in singles but both girls will need to be at their top level to have a chance of a home win.
Sefere also teams up with Niks Podosinoviks in the mixed doubles and the Latvian pair are top seeds in the mixed event. Sefere and Podosinoviks performed well at the recent European Championships in France but again will have to be on guard if they are to take the title with some hot competition from a series of Russian pairs who will be ready and able to pounce if the top seeds show any signs of weakness.
The Yonex Latvia International kicks off tomorrow Thursday with qualification rounds in all but the women’s doubles and to view all draws click HERE
Article and archive images by Mark Phelan for Badminton Europe