Photo: Stuart BarracloughDavid Mottin and Cyrille Lamy (FRA)
It was a perfect start for France on the opening day of the European Beach Tennis Championships as both of their men’s and ladies’ pairs progressed to the last 16 on Friday.
"The girls had the easier matches," joked French captain Raphael Jannel, adding; "but they are better than us. We expect them to reach at least the semifinal."
Third seeded twins Marie-Eve and Mathilde Hoarau led the onslaught, showing no mercy to the hosts as they breezed past Emma Parnes and Gemma Sgariglia 60 60. In the other half of the draw their compatriots Manuela Amiard and Pauline Bourdet let just one game slip away as they despatched Spaniards Miranda Carolina and Santana Grimanesa 61 60.
A less extreme scoreline but an equally decisive performance from their male compatriots made it a clean sheet for the French. Cyrille Lamy and David Mottin managed to see off the No. 12 seeds in a three set classic 64 16 64.
"We felt the pressure," admitted Mottin. "It was a psychological match. It's a dream to be here [representing France] but all the matches are very tough."
"The French team is very strong," summised their opponent Martin Schmidt. "They played really confident."
Captain Jannel and partner Jeremy Pont kept the Israeli’s at bay, winning 64 64 to set up a quarterfinal meeting with second-seeded Italian pair Luca Cramarossa and Luca Meliconi.
"We have only played [Meliconi/Cramarossa] once before at a Roland Garros exhibition and it was very difficult," said Jannel on their next round opponents.
With the men’s and ladies’ World Champions in their team, it was business as usual for the Italians as they looked untroubled in any of their men’s or ladies’ matches.
Cramarossa and Meliconi ended the dream for Brits James McCabe and Richard Wheeler 62 61 but McCabe said the pair were "happy with our performance. We played well and it is better to go out against the strongest opponents."
The Russian ladies lost just one game between them to move into the last 16 while last year’s German runner up Dorothee Berreth and Carina Blank joined them.
Natasha Khan and Sophia Marks from Great Britain provided the stereotypical British nail biter, complete with a second-set comeback, but the match ultimately ended in heartbreak for the locals at the hands of the Dutch duo Margot Van Doorn and Fleur Van Haasteren as the girls in tangerine took the match 60 57 61.
Full results can be found here.