LUXEMBOURG, 2 June 2003 - The qualification process for the 2003 Women’s Senior European Championships will enter its final stage this week, when the deciding matches in all three qualification pools are scheduled. Twelve teams are fighting for the last eight vacancies. After the matches played last weekend, Poland, Ukraine, Rumania and Germany already claimed a ticket for the Final Round in Turkey, so there are only four places left.
The twelve teams in the A-category of the Women’s Senior European Championships were drawn into three pools of four teams more than a year ago. The pool winners, the numbers two of each group and the two best-ranked third-placed teams will qualify for the Final Round. Host Turkey, defending Champion Russia, 2001 runner-up and World Champion Italy and 2001 bronze medalist Bulgaria are directly qualified.
In Pool 1, almost everything is clear after the teams played five of the six matches. Ukraine is the unbeaten leader in this group after defeating Romania 3-2 on Saturday. This was enough for the semifinalist of the 2001edition to book a place in the Final Round. Despite the 2-3 loss, Romania is also sure of playing in the Final Round. the Czech Republic, the number three in this group, has to defeat Romania on Sunday to have a chance of finishing as one of the best-ranked third-placed teams. Hungary is out of contention after five straight defeats.
In Pool 2, the four participating teams decided to play two tournaments instead of home and away matches. Last year, Netherlands booked three straight-sets victories and is therefore the favorite to win this group. Serbia & Montenegro, who are trying to make it to the Final Round for the first time, is currently ranked second and France and Greece are the other two teams in this group. The second tournament of Pool 2 is scheduled from June 6-8 in Serbia & Montenegro.
Poland have already claimed a place in the Final Round having guaranteed a top-two finish in Pool 3. The Polish team defeated Germany (3-1) and Croatia (3-0) recently and have a superior set ratio. Germany, who has the same 4-1 win-lose record as Poland, will also qualify because even if Slovakia overtake Germany this weekend, Germany will always be one of the two best-ranked third-placed teams.
The Women’s European Championships will be played from September 20-28 in Turkey. The twelve participants will be drawn in two pools of six teams. The preliminary rounds will be played in Ankara and Antalya. The semifinals and finals will take place in the Ataturk Hall in Ankara. The drawing of lots for the Women’s Senior European Championships is scheduled for June 24 in Ankara, Turkey.