25 Mar 2017

Poland and Switzerland win European Qualification

News Article

Photo: Angelo Leite Momentum PhotographyNalani Buob and Karin Suter (SUI)

Poland and Switzerland will play in the men’s and women’s World Groups in Sardinia in May after winning the men’s and women’s events at the 2017 BNP Paribas World Team Cup European Qualification in Vilamoura, Portugal.

Poland gained a comfortable 2-0 victory over Greece in the men’s semifinals as Tadeusz Kruszelnicki and Kamil Fabisiak earned straight sets wins over Giorgos Lazaridis and Stefanos Diamantis, respectively, to end Greece’s hopes of a repeat win in the European Qualification.

Austria had a tougher route to the final and needed to go to the doubles rubber in its semifinal against Hungary, which featured an opening singles rubber between Martin Legner and Laszlo Farkas, who have the experience of 12 Paralympic Tennis Events and numerous World Team Cup appearances for their countries between them.

In the event Legner won 61 63, but Roland Nemeth brought Hungary level after edging past Nico Langman 76(4) 64. Former world No.1 doubles player Legner subsequently partnered Langman to beat their respective singles rubber opponents 61 64 to given Austria the overall semifinal victory 2-1.

With rain continuing to delay the schedule heading into Saturday’s last day of competition, both singles rubbers in the men’s final took place simultaneously.

It’s more than ten years since Kruszelnicki and Legner both reached career bests at No. 3 in the men’s singles world rankings and they have played each other almost 70 times internationally. Their latest head-to-head in the opening single rubber of the final went the way of Kruszelnicki, who extended his record of not having lost to Legner since 2014 after securing a 60 64 victory.

"He is a very smart player and I was expecting a great fight, but the truth is that today I played very well and it was two great weeks for me, after having been unemployed for about four months," said  Kruszelnicki, won the Vilamoura Open to finalise his preparations for the European Qualification.

Thereafter Fabisiak sealed a 2-0 victory and top seed Poland’s place in the men’s World Group after defeating Langman 62 61.

"I had lost with Nico in the last confrontation between us and I was somewhat apprehensive. It's a great win for me," said Fabisiak, who joined Kruszelnicki in not losing a rubber during the week.

"We were used to entering directly into the World Team Cup finals but this year they changed the organisation of the World Group and we had to come to play this European Qualification. It was not easy at all and we were even experiencing some problems a few weeks before the tournament started, but it was very important for our players to have been able to play in the Vilamoura Open Futures the previous week to this qualifier," said Polish coach Rafal Helbik.

Switzerland completes women’s victory over Sweden

With Switzerland and Sweden level at 1-1 after the singles rubbers in their round-robin tie earlier in the week, Switzerland held a healthy advantage in the doubles before heavy rain in Vilamoura brought a premature end to that tie.

However, with both countries already through to face each other in the designated final, the conclusion of the round-robin tie was eventually abandoned and they met again on Friday, with Karin Suter and Rebecka Bellander ensuring that both singles rubbers were equally split once again.

Former world No. 6 Suter, who has previously led Switzerland to the women’s World Group final at the ITF’s flagship wheelchair tennis team event, comfortably won her opening singles rubber against Sanna Klindt 60 62 before Bellander replied with a 63 63 victory over world No. 1 junior Nalani Buob.

However, as had looked the case in the first contest between the two nations earlier in the week, the deciding doubles rubber proved somewhat one-sided and youth and experience combined to give Buob and former Paralympic doubles bronze medallist Suter a 61 60 victory over Bellander and Klindt.

"It was a difficult qualification because all our victories, one over Belgium and two over Sweden, were always stamped in doubles. But we have two very experienced players, Gabriela Buehler and Karin Suter, who has played many World Team Cups, and a young woman, Nalani Buob, who won the Junior Masters this year, "said Thomas Gerber, Switzerland’s captain

After securing the overall victory 2-1, Switzerland will now contest the women’s World Group for the 20th time in Sardinia in May.

Greece finishes third in men’s event. Portugal claims tenth

After winning the men’s event at the European Qualification three times in the previous four years, Greece finished third this year after a thrilling conclusion to the third place play-off against Hungary. Diamantis and Lazaridis won the crucial doubles rubber 46 61 (10-6) after a deciding match tiebreak.

Fifth place went to Israel following a 2-0 victory over Russia, while Switzerland’s men secured a 2-0 victory over Romania in the play-off for seventh place.

Croatia denied host nation Portugal in the ninth place play-off, Croatia winning 2-0 as Portugal finished tenth on home soil.

Last year Portugal beat Estonia in their final classification play-off and Estonia finished 11th in 2017 after another tie that came down to a match tiebreak in the deciding doubles rubber. Viljar Villiste and Mait Matas beat Lithuania’s Vytautas Mateika and Aleksandr Olechnovich 26 64 (10-8) to give Estonia its first win of the week in Vilamoura.