Toma Junior Popov tipped for two titles in Mulhouse
Europe's u19 elite decend on Mulhouse
Date: 4/5/2017 4:12 PM
Published by : Mark Phelan
It’s that time in the calendar again where the cream of Europe’s U19 talent come together for 10 days of competition to see who will be crowned the kings and queens of European junior badminton for the coming two years. 

10 intense days that cover both the team competition as well as the five individual disciplines will test not only the badminton skills of the players but also their mental capacity to hold it together for the duration of the tournament. 

This year’s event is hosted by the city of Mulhouse in eastern France and as is always the case the French Federation are sure to put on a shoe that will have the competitors talking about well into their senior careers.

The team event is as always an us against them with Spain as the reigning champions but Denmark once again the team to beat in Mulhouse. Team France will have big desires on the team trophy and on paper have a serious wealth of talent to not only test the Danes but to actually have justifiable desires on the top step of the podium. 

Popov (main picture), Delrue and Gicquel will lead the French lines and will bring a big fight to Alexandra Boje and the rest of the Danish team. England, Germany, Turkey & Spain make up the seeded teams and it will of course be interesting to see how these teams manage their energies in the team competition with the draining individual competition to follow. 

To view all the draws for the 2017 European Junior Team Championships click HERE

No time to rest as individual follows hot on heels of team event

As soon as the team competition ends the big task for the coaches of the medal winning teams is to always get their warriors ready for the individual event which follows hot on the heels of final of the team competition. Indeed that same afternoon the individual event starts so there will be no time for post podium celebrations. 

Again the home nation have serious desires on three gold medals and in all honestly that outcome is a real possibility. 

Popov and Merkle lead the seedings in the men’s singles with likely banana skins in the form of Ireland’s U17 Euro champ Nhat Nguyen, Jan Louda (CZE), Bosniuk (UKR), Carraggi (BEL) & Torjussen (ENG) the gold medal is not going to come easy. Take into account the competition is a 128 strong draw means that most will need to win seven consecutive matches to win the title. 

In the women’s singles seasoned senior Julie Dawall (DEN) leads the seedings. The Dane has Penalver (ESP), Li (GER), Sandorhazi (HUN) in her half of the draw. The real joker in the pack will be the unseeded Swede Emma Karlsson who is also in Dawall’s side of the draw.

Like Dawall the second seed, Clara Azurmedi of Spain, comes into the event as a seasoned senior and a finalists in two senior circuit tournaments as recent as December 2016. The Spaniard will be a real contender as long as the team event does drain her as it clearly did two years ago in Lubin. 

Hungary’s Reka Madarasz is another powerhouse in the bottom half of the draw but again the unseeded European U17 champion from Denmark Line Christophersen (pictured above)is the one to watch. A potential senior champion of the future the Dane has what it takes to reach the very top of the ladder in the sport. 

Twists and turns guaranteed in doubles events

The doubles events at this year’s European Junior championships are full of intrigue. Team France will hope they can take a men’s singles gold and add a men’s doubles and mixed title to complete the hat trick. 

Popov teams up with Thom Gicquel in the men’s doubles as top seeds. Let’s not forget that the French were the last men standing from a European perspective at the world juniors in Spain in 2016. Rossi & Baures will ably support their top seeded compatriots and have also impressed in their senior outings this season. 

Irelands Reynolds & Nguyen will look to back up their U17 bronze but a lack of senior competition since their medal in Lubin last year may just work against them. After all most of the other seeded pairs have been sparing it out on the senior circuit this past twelve months. 

Danes Eriksen and Thogersen will feel no pressure from a mid-field unseeded starting position and of course the Grimleys from Scotland have made the transformation from talented boys to feared men and it would be no surprise to see them with a medal around their neck. 

In the women’s doubles there are some monster battles from the very outset giving the complication seeding structure of the event. Only 1 of the three pairs of Boje/Dawall (DEN), Ercetin/Inci (TUR) and Jille/Van Der Aar (NED) will make it past the third round as they are all drawn in the same quarter. A matchup between any of these pairs would have been a worthy final. 

Whichever pair makes it through that tough quarter will most likely have a quarter final against French podium favourites Delrue & Heriau. Again another top level match worthy of a final. Others to watch are the unseeded Danes Magelund & Ravn and of course top seeded Swedes Magnusson and Karlsson (pictured above). 

Finally the mixed doubles is a little bit more cut and dried. Cut and dried in so far as there are probably 4 pairs instead of 10 who will claim the title. While Poles Smilowski & Swierczynska are a top pair and top seeded it is hard to look beyond the pairs of Alimov/Davletova (RUS) & Gicquel/Delrue (FRA) as the outright favourites to lift the title. 

Both pairs are now seasoned and feared senior partnerships with the Russians (pictured above) already winning on the senior circuit (Estonian Int Jan.2017) and the French have been very close to senior success with a host of semi-final and final appearances. 

Danes Lundgaard and Magelund will feature and an early third round battle between English duo Hemming & Liew and the fancied French will have the undivided attention of the arena. 

All the action starts on Friday with the group stages of the team event and you can watch selected matches from the TV courts via our YouTube channel HERE

To view all previous winners of the European Junior Championships click HERE

To view draws for 2017 European Junior individual event click HERE

Article and archive images by Mark Phelan for Badminton Europe

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