The sun came back to Veenendaal on Wednesday and it felt good. Some rescheduling had to take place, as a few pitches had suffered from the heavy downpour of the day before, but on the whole things went pretty smoothly, given the exceptional basic quality of the fields in this magnificent sports complex.
"In doubt, layout!", as they say. Photo Maruša Lešnik.
France is the only nation with a team still in contention for the title in each division at this stage, while Germany and the Czech Republic (!) have three potential winners, and Italy two.
In the girls U17 category, the semifinalists are already known: Austria, the Czech Republic, France, and Germany are still contenders for first place, while Italy and the Netherlands will compete for fifth. Stay tuned for our report on the quarterfinal game between the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, whose outcome was heart-wrenching for the host nation but certainly not something to be ashamed of for the Dutch girls, who put up a really good fight until the very last minute. While Austria and Germany do seem to be slightly superior to the other four this year, winning their games with wider margins, all six nations can be proud of sending a team in this division per se, a remarkable achievement in itself in terms of the development of the sport of Ultimate.
Both semifinals are scheduled to take place at 9:30. Austria will play France on field 3 while Germany and the Czech Republic battle it out on field 5. In the other divisions, not all fields are clearly assigned at the time of writing, but you may refer to the games schedule page of this website.
Italy and France are in the semi-finals of the U17 w division. Photo Maruša Lešnik
The open U17 division had also reached the in-or-out phase today. Belgium got GB out of the top four in what has to be considered an upset and will play against France – a game that was already played o Tuesday and ended clearly in favor of the French, while the other berth in the final will be up for grabs between Italy and Germany, a completely new match-up for this year’s tourney and a pretty balanced one. Austria, the Czech Republic, Great Britain, and Ireland complete the top eight.
U20w: In the big clash of the quarter finals, Russia won the universe point against Germany 14-13 after an amazing comeback from 10-6, and are now looking at a semifinal against the Czechs, a formidable opponent who only conceded once so far, to the unbeaten Netherlands. In the other semifinal, the hosts will be facing France, a classic match-up in junior women’s championships, and one in which anything can happen, even though the only remaining team of the host country is a clear favorite.
Ireland are looking strong in the U20 men's division. Photo Maruša Lešnik
U20m: Ireland and Italy have powered through the pool phases without losing a single game. They will play quarterfinals against Switzerland and the Czech Republic, respectively. Germany will face Latvia, who overcame Poland, while Sweden, with an impressive 8-1 record, will have to deal with the French. Latvia is the refreshing news of this tournament, coming back to international junior competitions after a 3-year gap stronger than they ever where. The general level of play in this division is rising everywhere, it seems, and from one year to the other, with generations of players aging out, the hierarchy is liable to be radically upset: neither GB nor Austria, the top two seeds in this tournament who finished third and fourth at last year’s Worlds behind the USA and Canada, were able to make it to the top eight in this year’s. Make no mistake: they will be back.
Both Sweden and Latvia survived Tuesday's flooding rain and will be in the quarter finals of the men's U20 division. Photo Klára Matejková