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Poland knocks out reigning U21 world champion to reach semifinals

Katarzyna Kociolek (diving) and Jagoda Gruszczynska made it to the final four in Umag
Umag, Croatia, June 22, 2013 – Poland’s Katarzyna Kociolek and Jagoda Gruszscynska knocked out reigning world champion Nina Betschart and her partner Nicole Eiholzer to reach the final four at the U21 World Championships in Umag. The Swiss team took the game to a tiebreak after losing the first set, but Poland eventually won 21-17 11-21 15-12.

Both teams booked straight wins in the second elimination round after they had advanced as pool winners. Switzerland came back strong in the second with 21-11. “We did not stand a chance”, Kociolek said. “We did not have any power, we just stopped playing. This was the worst ever set.”

“In weather like this to play a tiebreak is really hard. I was glad we only had to play two matches today, if this was our third, we would not have made it.” At 11-11 Poland took the lead and Gruszscynska cashed in the first match point with a kill block.

For Betschart, who won the event in 2011 and 2012, the elimination meant she was not going to set a new record by winning three U21 titles in a row.

Poland meets Austria in semifinal

In the semifinal on Sunday Kociolek and Gruszscynska play Katharina Schützenhofer and Lena Plesiutschnig. The Austrian girls upset Australia’s Mariafe Artacho and Jessyka Ngauamo earlier on Saturday in two sets. In the quarterfinals Anna Behlen and Yanina Weiland were no match for the Austrians, though the German girls had eliminated Brazil’s top team Taina and Eduarda in the second round.

“We won against Germany in the pool as well, so we used the same strategy again and just played our own game”, Plesiutschnig said. She just recently returned to the sand, after surgery in January on a dislocated shoulder. “We used the U23 as a preparation and finished fifth.”

Schützenhofer gained some World Tour experience with Barbara Hansel while Plesiutschnig was injured, but is glad her partner is back. They have been playing together for three years and they operate like a smooth machine. “Our communication is really good on the court”, Schützenhofer said. “We love to play together. We are really good friends, outside the court as well.”


The Austrian pair looks forward to their match against Poland. “We never played this combination before, but we know Kociolek well. We lost to her and Baran in the final at the U19 in Umag in 2011”, Schützenhofer said. “So we definitely want to win this time.”

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