Five come through Junior play-offs to join squad

Author:
Paul Stimpson

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Five England Junior players have been added to the squad for the European Youth Championships after earning their place through a series of play-offs over the weekend.

Jasmin Wong and Mari Baldwin came through the girls’ competition and Amirul Hussain, Louis Price and Joe Cope made it through the boys’ event.

Both competitions started with a group phase – the girls in one round-robin group and the boys in two.

The two girls who qualified were those who finished in the top two positions in the group – Wong topping the standings with eight out of eight, ahead of Baldwin and Amy Marriott.

Wong was taken to a deciding set three times – by Millie Rogove and Anaya Patel, who both led 2-1 and also by Baldwin, who led 2-0 but saw Wong recover to win 3-2 (10-12, 6-11, 11-4, 14-12, 11-6).

The top three were joined in the knockout stage by Rogove, who was fourth on countback ahead of Patel and Erin Green. The match between Rogove and Green had a notable scoreline of 3-1 (20-22, 11-7, 11-8, 20-18) in Rogove’s favour, while Patel edged Rogove 13-11 in a decider and Green beat Patel in the fifth.

Scarlett Anders, Rebecca Savage and Lauren Loosemore completed the standings.

In the qualification matches, Wong defeated Rogove 3-1 (11-5, 12-10, 7-11, 11-5) and Baldwin recovered a 2-0 deficit to defeat Marriott in a tight match 3-2 (9-11, 12-14, 12-10, 11-8, 11-9).

Marriott then overcame Rogove in another close contest to end in third place thanks to a 3-2 (11-7, 11-7, 7-11, 8-11, 12-10) victory.

Boys’ Group 1 saw Ben Piggott top the standings, ahead of Price on countback as both boys finished with four wins from five.

Hussain was third and Toby Ellis fourth, with Josh Weatherby and Robert Pelc following. One of Weatherby’s two victories saw him come from 2-0 down to beat Piggott 3-2 (12-14, 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7). In the battle between the top two, Piggott also battled back from two down to come out on top 3-2 (11-13, 3-11, 11-4, 18-16, 11-8). Ellis won two five-setters – against Pelc and Weatherby.

In Group 2, Cope won all six matches but nobody else won more than three – Felix Thomis, Thomas Rayner and Naphong Boonyaprapa all going through with three wins. Rhys Davies, Maxim Stevens and Olly Cornish all won two each to complete the group.

Cope’s tightest match was against Boonyaprapa, who he beat 14-12 in a decider. Rayner won two five-game matches, against Thomis and, from 2-0 down, against Davies. The latter opponent also lost in five to Boonyaprapa but beat Cornish in a decider.

In the quarter-finals, Piggott came from two games down to defeat Boonyaprapa 3-2 (9-11, 11-13, 11-6, 11-3, 11-5), while Hussain overcame Thomis 11-8, 11-9, 11-7. The two winners met in a qualification match, and it was Hussain who made it into the squad with a 3-2 (11-7, 9-11, 3-11, 11-8, 11-9) victory.

In the other half of the draw, Price beat Rayner 3-1 (11-6, 10-12, 11-2, 11-6) and Cope defeated Ellis in three (7, 10, 8). Price then got past Cope (11-9, 11-8, 12-10).

Piggott and Cope met in the final match to decide third place and it was Cope who emerged victorious, coming from behind to win 3-2 (11-9, 9-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-7).

The five join Charlotte Bardsley – who qualified automatically – in the Junior squad, along with Connor Green, Jakub Piwowar, Anna Green and Maliha Baig, who previously qualified through the Cadet play-offs.

The squad for the competition in Croatia in July may include additional wildcards and will be finalised in the coming days.

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