Qualification dropouts Larsen and Metter come back strong as U23 lucky losers
The Americans, at their first international event, had to wait until the last second to see if Nigeria would show. The African team was stuck in customs at the airport and for long it was not clear if they would get a visa.
“We did not know what was happening till the coin toss, if we were playing or not”, Larsen explained. “But we came ready to play no matter what happened. I think that really helped us, that we were thinking about playing.”
Metter: “We were a little disappointed about losing in qualification, but it’s better to be reserve than nothing, we took our chances and we got here today and we just came ready to go, like we were going to play anyway. We had a 75 percent of getting in and we got the shot.”
Not only did the girls get to play, they defeated the number one seeded Polish team Gruszczynska/Baran on centre court while they were at it. Gruszczynska won the U21 in Umag last year with Katarzyna Kociolek, but neither that or the home advantage prevented the Americans from winning 2-0 (25-23, 21-12).
“We came out just so pumped and so excited to play and that translated in our game”, Larsen reflected. “We worked really hard and kept fighting and we ended up on top.”
In their second match of the day they booked another straight win (21-16, 21-10) against the Finnish team Lahti/Parkkinen. Metter: “We were passing well, setting well and just giving each other good calls. Kelley’s blocking was awesome, it was easy to play defence behind.”
“It was a great day”, Larsen concluded, “especially coming of not knowing if we are going to be in it and beating the number one seed and taking care of business on this court too, against Finland. So that was big for us and we are super pumped and we will get some sleep and food and be ready for tomorrow.”
Polish lucky losers not so lucky
In the men’s competition Polish team Kacper Kujawiak and Dawid Popek were also put on the reserve lucky loser list after five qualification teams already got in as lucky losers. Kujawiak and Popek were to stand in for the Nigerian men’s team. And they did, also at the last moment.
“I was very happy”, Popek said. “This is a big chance for us. Yesterday we played quite good against Denmark, but lost, so we wanted another chance. They gave us a 70 percent chance. Waiting was difficult but we wanted to play really bad.”
But unlike the American girls they were not able to make a mark in main draw. The Polish lost 2-1 (21-18 ,19-21, 15-10) to Brazil’s 3rd seeded Allison/Guto Carvalhaes and also 2-1 (19-21, 21-15, 15-13) against Swiss team G.Kissling/Beeler.
They did have chances of winning in both matches. “But our side-out was not good”, Popek said. “Also, this was our first event together and we are both defenders so there was a lot of adjusting. But we will try to keep playing our best and see what we can do.”