By Grania Shankley
Our Scotland men’s team rounded off their European campaign with a 4-1 win against Slovakia in their final games of the year.
In the opening game it was point-for-point between Joshua Apiliga and Milan Dratva (of Slovakia), however it was Josh who prevailed and found his rhythm winning the first set 21-17. Perhaps the biggest cheer of the match came when the shuttle was launched north by Dratva only for Josh to smash it to ground with home in sight (at 19-15).
Snatching the second set was Dratva, who picked up the pace with a series of cute net shots and clinical smashes (8-21). The third and final set was again chess-like, with nothing to separate the two but fine margins and calls of ‘out’.
At 15-15, It was world ranked no. 133 Dratva (Josh ranked at 533) who again lifted his game with a run of unstoppable smashes to breakaway and win the match in the third 21-15.
The second singles game of the day saw Callum Smith take on Sebastian Kadlec. The opening set was fairly even leading into the break (11-10) .
Callum carried the edge to win the first set with his sharp movement, powerful smashes and a few trick shots for good measure! (21-15). In the second Callum looked comfortable and took the set 21-9 in a match lasting 26 minutes.
It was a positive start for Matthew Waring in the third and final singles match for Scotland – cheered onto court by his team mates from the sidelines. After Friday’s thrilling 3-setter, Matthew again stepped up to the challenge, seeing off Pavalik in the first (21-12).
Matthew set the pace again in the second and at times it was lightening quick – picking up the shuttle ready to go for the next as soon as it hit the floor. Head Coach Ingo Kindervater looked impressed as he watched on and smiled.
For his second senior Scotland game, Matthew really did look the part, dispatching his opponent with a score of 21-12 21-13 in 26 minutes to give Scotland a 2-1 lead overall.
For the Grimley brothers it was business as usual. A match that can be characterised by synchronised team work and discipline against the Suchy brothers – who at times let our big sighs and held their hands on their hips!
Within 26 minutes Matthew and Christopher Grimley again showed us just why they have won back to back titles at the Irish Open and Welsh International… and long may their win streak continue.
Last on court and eager to get going was Jack Macgregor and Adam Pringle. The pair came flying out of the traps with Jack firing powerful smashes left, right and centre!
The well versed pair, 16-4 up in the first, looked confident taking every point in their stride. In the second it was more of the same from the Scots, seeing off Sebastian Kadlec/Richard Pavlik in just 17 minutes (21-4 21-9).
All round, a brilliant display from Scotland against top European opponents. A huge team effort to beat Slovakia 4-1 on the day, showing plenty of promise for a youthful team who are full of passion, confidence and power!
Group 5 Standings
In Group 5, Sub Group 1 Ukraine have finished top and in Sub Group 2 it’s Belgium. The two will go head-to-head tomorrow in a showdown that will see the winner book their place to Poland in next year’s final.