England Youth return from Europe Cup with three titles

ENGLAND youth players will return from Turkey today, hopefully not too disappointed at what could have been, after contesting the 2019 Europe Youth Cup at Etap Altinel Hotel, Ankara, over the last three days.

England captained by Plymouth’s Keelan Kay, were one of 13 countries represented and it was a busy first day for both our boys’ and girl’s teams.

The boy’s pairs competition opened proceedings and the two England pairings did well to top their respective groups.

SUPPORT: The England Youth squad who competed in the 2019 Europe Youth Cup in Turkey show their support for Prostate Cancer UK: From left to right: Beau Greaves, Shannon Reeves, Brad Phillips, Keelan Kay (team captain), Leighton Bennett, Mitchell McCarthy.

Keelan Kay and Brad Phillips headed group two with victories over Austria (3-0), Netherlands (3-1) and a 3-1 defeat of last year’s winners Keane Barry and Killian Heffernan representing the Republic of Ireland.

Leighton Bennett and Mitchell McCarthy were in a three-team group and won both their matches when beating Denmark (3-2) and Hungary (3-0).

Those performances put both pairings into the last 16 and Bennett and McCarthy pulled out a 3-1 victory against the Scottish duo of Nathan Girvan and Kyle Walker, but they could not replicate that form in the last eight and went out 3-1 to the Gibraltar pairing of Sean Negrette and Justine Hewitt.

But in the other half of the draw Kay and Phillips made the semi-final with wins over Germany B (3-0) and Hungary A (3-2).

Their opponents in the last four were Jurjen van der Velde and Luke van der Kwast representing the Netherlands and the English boys, despite having to go the full distance were disappointingly edged out 3-2.

The singles, played as a round robin, were also contested on the opening day and England did not have the best of starts when Mitchell McCarthy lost both his group matches.

Brad Phillips took second place in his group which was good enough to put him into the last 32 where he unfortunately lost 3-0 to the Republic of Ireland’s Keane Barry.

Keelan Kay topped group 16 winning both his matches 3-2 and 3-1 respectively and followed it up with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Scotland’s Connor Mitchell.

In the last 16 he was taken the full distance by Gibraltar’s Craig Galliano before meeting Marcel Bus of the Netherlands in the last eight.

The format changed to the best of three legs per set, best of three sets, but it was the Holland marksman that progressed when edging Kay 2-1.

Big things were expected of Leighton Bennett and he topped his round robin group when defeating David Zàruba (Czech Republic) and Connor Mitchell (Scotland) 3-2 and 3-1 respectively.

In the round of 32 Bennett overcame Germany’s Robin Radloff 3-1 before ending the hopes of Dutch thrower Danny Jansen 3-0.

Bennett then defeated Welshman Connor Hopkins by two sets to nil to take his place in the semi-finals alongside three players from the Netherlands.

Bennett’s opponent was Luke van der Kwast but he was brushed aside two sets to nil to move into the final against another Dutchman Jurjen van der Velde.

Bennett took the opening set 2-0, aided by a leg in 17, before van der Velde levelled by taking the second.

Bennett restored his advantage by winning set three 2-1 but lost the opening leg of the next set.

Unperturbed, the 13-year-old from Lincolnshire levelled in 16 before taking the next in 20 to be crowned the new youth European singles champion (pictured top with bronze winner Keelan Kay).

England girls also started their assault on the opening day and Shannon Reeves and Beau Greaves won their way to the last eight of the pairs after finishing second in their group.

They defeated the Czech Republic and Denmark both 3-0 and overcame Austria 3-1 before going down 3-0 to group winners Scotland.

In the last eight they had a morale-boosting 3-0 success against Christina Schuler and Suzan Atas from Germany and now faced the Dutch pairing of Lerena Rietbergen and Rosanne van der Velde for a place in the final.

Once more they produced the goods and defeated the Dutch duo to set up a final against Scotland’s Sophie McKinlay and Chloe O’Brien.

Played over the best of seven legs, the England duo won the early exchanges to go 2-0 up, only for Scotland to level at 2-2.

Shannon and Beau then edged in front with a 16-darter only for their opponents to level for the second time.

Both pairings threw nervously in the deciding leg, but it was Shannon Reeves who hit the winning double to give England the European pairs title (pictured above).

In the girl’s singles Shannon could only manage one victory before finishing fourth in her round robin but it was a different matter for Beau Greaves.

She topped her group with four wins from as many starts, dropping just one leg in a 3-1 victory against Tabla Brank (Austria) before easing into the quarter-finals with 3-0 successes against Viktòria Laczi (Hungary), Chloe Byrne (Republic of Ireland) and Denmark’s Anick Sonnichsen.

In the last eight Beau defeated Scotland’s Sophie McKinlay 3-1 which set up a semi-final against Hungary’s Tamara Kovàcs but disappointingly she crashed out 3-0.

In the boy’s team event, England were up against Turkey and Hungary in their group but defeated both of them by a 9-3 margin to progress to the last eight where another 9-3 success ended the hopes of Wales.

In the semi-final England face a strong side from the Republic of Ireland and lost 9-4 and the Irish went on to prove their credibility when they beat the Netherlands 9-8 in the final.

England boys finished in second place overall to a very good team from the Netherlands, but England’s girls went one better and took their title, when pushing Holland into second place by a five-point margin.

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