Seeded 3/4, Norway was placed in group D along with Jersey, Romania and Luxembourg. With a busy schedule on the first two days, two matches each day, we opened the tournament with a strong performance on very bouncy courts and warm conditions, against Jersey on Wednesday morning, taking the first win 3:1. Jesper, Andreas and Gard winning their ties and Trym having a shaky start to the event.
Afternoon match against very strong Romania had Håkon, Jesper and Trym all recording solid performances and winning 3:0 while Gard struggled to repeat his morning form and went down 0:3. Total win of 3:1 put us in a lead position going into our last group match on Thursday morning.
Performance against Luxembourg in the last group stage match was sealed with a 4:0 victory (Trym, Jesper, Andreas, Håkon) and team Norway advancing to Quarterfinals in the afternoon.
Luck of the draw put us in the top half where we met Slovenia, the host nation. Trym Secured the first point by winning 3:0, Andreas took the win against a very strong number #3 with a 3:1, which meant Gard and Jesper only needed one game each to secure a team win. Both Jesper and Gard sealed the victory and put Norway into the semifinals on Friday morning.
Semi-final match saw us draw Israel, the top seed, which we hoped to meet in the final, so the semi-final clash was a big one for us. Both Trym and Gard went on court at the same time, played well and got close to game balls but it wasn’t to be, Israel took a 2:0 lead in matches and they needed only one game to secure the team win. Jesper was first on court and fought hard against a very strong opponent, unfortunately, Israel was too strong on the day and we were sent into the 3rd place play off on Saturday.
Final match of the European Championship was against Croatia, a strong team with a very solid string 1 and 2. Trym and Jesper went on court first, and after an hour of tense matchplay both lost 2:3. Even though we lost the first two matches, those 2 games in each match will prove valuable later on.
Gard and Andreas stepped on court after and proved why team Norway was considered one of the top seeds. The depth and quality of our players throughout the team is what gave us the advantage as both Gard and Andreas showed tenacity and grit to win their matches 3:0 and 3:0 and this way secure a bronze medal.
From the coaches perspective, men´s ETC this year delivered. Great performances from all the men throughout the whole event. Two first time players in the team, Jesper Phillips and Andreas Meling Knoph. This is a good sign for Norway squash, of good quality development within the country.
Congratulations to the team, their home clubs for investing in them, their personal coaches, for their development over the years, and families and friends for showing support over social media throughout the event!
We look forward to 2023 event in Gibraltar where we aim to be promoted to division 2.