Danes looking strong across doubles disciplines
Medvode Badminton Club plays host this week to the 2016 edition of the Slovenian International. Team Denmark will send a strong team to Slovenia and, while a traditional powerhouse across all five disciplines, look extremely strong in the three doubles events this coming week.
The mixed doubles throws up some of the more interesting battles with English pair Pugh & Lane as top seeds. The English will need to arrive in Slovenia 100% prepared as their very first match is against one of the most interesting pairings for this event, Alexander Bond and Julie Dawall Jakobsen of Denmark. The English will of course know the Danes from their junior days but not in this combination in mixed doubles.
Bond was the recent winner of the Dutch International alongside Ditte Soby Hansen on that occasion and Jakobsen herself is a winner this season on the senior circuit albeit in singles. Nestled on the same side of the draw is experienced Czech pair Bitman and Basova but with a total of 6 pairs in the main mixed doubles draw, team Denmark look like the force to beat.
Like the mixed event, the women’s doubles has a certain level of intrigued attached to it. Denmark are not as heavily represented as in the mixed but in Sara Lundgaard and Josephine Van Zanne (main picture) just might have the pair that can upset the seeds this week.
Top seeds are Ukrainian pair Zharka and Voytsekh but just to reach a semi-final the Ukrainians will have to get through probably two Danish pairs. Ones to watch in the top have of the draw will also be English duo Chloe Birch and Sarah Walker who have a relatively easy draw to the medal matches while English team mate Jessica Pugh teams up with Cheryl Seinen as the English/Dutch pair hunt their second win of the season following their Hungarian International success.
Top seeded Irish men’s doubles pair Sam and Joshua Magee (pictured above) will have a real battle on their hands to lift their first title of the season. The 2015 European Games bronze medallists should ease through the early rounds but once the quarter final hits likely opponents from Denmark will lie in wait all the way to the final.
The Irish will be thankful that Eipe/Bond (DEN), Lane/Vendy (ENG) and a probable outside bet for gold this week the Croatian/Danish combination of Durkinjak/Overgaard are all in the same quarter with the best coming through for a potential medal match against the Irish.
In the bottom half of the draw another improving Danish pair worth watching are Sogaard and Bay-Smidt. The giant Danes will be certainly ones to figure come the medal shake up.
Singles chances for rest of Europe
The Danes will once again figure in the singles events in Medvode but the individual events represent genuine opportunities for the rest of Europe to throw a spanner in the Danish works.
The Finnish quartet of Heino, Aarnio, Lehikoinen and Koljonen pose enough of a threat to fancy their chances in men’s singles while Kieran Merrilees continues his comeback from injury and will be confident after a run to the Dutch final and a decent showing at the Europeans in France.
England’s Chloe Birch (pictured above) has good memories of decent performances in Slovenia in the past and as top seed and supported by Huser (SUI), Voytsekh (UKR) and Zaitsava (BLR) will take the fight to Denmark. Jakobsen and Dahl will look to build on their career defining senior seasons while fellow Dane Irina Amalie Andersen will be Birch’s biggest threat in the early part of the tournament.
The action gets under way on Thursday with qualification round and to view all draws for this week’s Slovenian International click HERE
Article and archive images by Mark Phelan for Badminton Europe