This year’s European Junior team and individual event will see team Denmark once again installed as favourites to leave the RCS Arena in Lubin with a large haul of medals. The last few years have been rocky for the mighty Danes with mixed results in team events. At one point in early 2013, Germany held three of the four major team events in Europe. That imbalance was redressed when the Danish Juniors lifted the European junior team event in Ankara in 2013 and on paper the Danes will once again be clear favourites to retain the title in Lubin.
Denmark will call on experienced duo of Blichfeldt and Andersen in women’s singles, with both having two years senior competition behind them, and the two most exciting juniors in Europe at the moment in men’s singles Gemke and Antonsen leading the charge from a male perspective.
The strength in depth and senior mentality of the Danes will be too much for all other nations to handle in the team event but England will look to redress the disaster from Turkey two years ago after failing to medal. This time around the English juniors will feel quietly confident about their collective chances in Poland as they too have players that have senior experience with Lane, Pugh, Powell, Hopton, Banergee and Vendy all possessing the armouring to at least make Denmark work for their gold medal.
France and Germany will bring the fight to England & Denmark but also watch out for a young, determined and unseeded Scottish team, who like the English and Danes, have strength in depth in their team with a reasonable volume of senior badminton experience under their collective belts. The Scots can certainly cause some upsets for sure in the team event.
The individual events represent the best opportunity for some of the smaller nations to cause some upsets and make the podium.
In the women’s singles all the athletes will look to do what Spain’s Carolina Marin did in 2011 in Finland and ultimately follow in her footsteps to world domination after winning European Junior gold.
The Danes will once again be the ones to chase down with Mia Blichfeldt, Irina Amalie Andersen and the new kid on the block Julie Dawall Jackobsen being headed hunted by the rest of Europe. But like previous editions of the European Junior individual event the women’s singles has a strong field with plenty of top players looking to pounce should the Danes fail.
Croatia’s Maja Pavlinic, now training and living in France, is a real threat for the gold medal. The Croatian is vastly experienced both and junior and senior level. Like 2011, Spain have a real contender for gold in the tall Clara Azurmendi while Germany will hope Yvonne Li can medal with a favourable draw.
Germany’s Max Weisskirchen is the top ranked junior man according to rankings and will look to follow in the footsteps of 2011 champion Fabian Roth and go back to back for Germany. But don’t be fooled by rankings in this instance as the clear favourites to lift the men’s singles title with be Danish duo Rasmus Gemke and current European U17 champion Anders Antonsen. France will hope Junior Popov can bring his circuit form to Poland and podium while the Dutch will look to Alex Vlaar to break the dominance of Denmark.
On current form Ben Lane & Sean Vendy will be favourites to lift the men’s doubles after their run to the final of the recent ‘A’ grade German Junior. The young English pair put is some sterling performances in Berlin against Asian opposition. England has had a rich tradition in junior men’s doubles with Coles & Nottingham the most recent English champions in 2011. The biggest threat to the English as always will come from Denmark with Bond & Eipe likely finalists. Elsewhere Alimov & Kozyrev will look to make the podium for Russia and go one better than their silver medal at the European U17 event last year in Turkey.
The women’s doubles is probably the most open of the five disciplines with any one of five pairs in with a realistic chance of claiming the top step of the podium. The European juniors of 2015 could prove to be a magical week for Croatia’s Maja Pavlinic as she has a real possibility of winning two medal for Croatia. A viable contender for gold in the women’s singles and an even bigger threat in the women’s doubles alongside Katerina Galenic. The current European U17 champions will without doubt be one of the pairs to beat in Poland.
Hopton & Powell look real medal contenders for England and the English could possibly have two pairs on the podium with Pugh and Banergee offering up an equally realistic chance of a medal. France will probably feel that Anne Tran & Delphine Delrue represent their best chance of a medal. The French had a fine run to the final of the Dutch junior only a month ago against Asian opposition and Tran of course is now a seasoned senior player.
Turkish duo Inal & Yavuz will be looking to assert their position as top pair in the European junior ranking list and a bronze medal, to go with the U17 bronze from 2014 is a realistic target for the Turks. Add into the mix a host of Danish pairs capable of winning any junior event it becomes clear that the women’s doubles draw is certainly an open book.
As well as being one of the big favourites for the men’s doubles title, Ben Lane will also harbour ambitions of mixed doubles success alongside partner Jessica Pugh. The English had an early exit at the recent German junior which will only serve to galvanise their title push in Poland.
German duo Weisskirchen & Janssens will represent German’s best chance of a gold medal while Dutch pair Ruben Jille and Alida Chen will feel gold is in their sights after beating two Danish pairs at the German Junior. Alimov and Davletova have podium ambitions for Russia and if you are looking for a pair to have an outside punt on for a mixed medal in Poland look no further than Adam Hall and Julie MacPherson from Scotland.
Article by Mark Phelan. Twitter: @markphelanGPM