GB squads land tough draws in debut FIP Euro Seniors

Today (June 12th) sees the start of the debut FIP European Senior/Super Senior tournament in Alicante, Spain, with countries including GB and Ireland represented. The group draws were made last night – The Bandeja Chief Writer Robert Mitchell has been talking to the GB teams about their groupings.

GB men’s seniors head coach John Leach has admitted that the draw for the European Senior Championships couldn’t be any tougher for his teams.

The Seniors have been drawn in Group A with top seeds Spain and Denmark plus unknowns Poland. GB Super Seniors have been bracketed with second seeds Sweden plus Finland and dark horses The Netherlands. Play starts at 4pm today.

John’s selection will be further complicated by the fact that he has some players competing in the ‘open’ event running in tandem with the team championships, with those players on court this morning.

Going back to his roots: Swedish Brit Bjorn Schroder with his fellow countrymen at the FIP championship.

The seniors open their campaign against Poland and the supers face the Netherlands. Team matches start at 4pm today.

“In the seniors we haven’t played Poland before, they weren’t in the world cup last year but are a nation that’s growing very rapidly,” John said. “It will be a real test. In the supers I think Holland are one of the dark horses but we have a strong team and we have to just focus on what we are doing. It isn’t Spain so there is an opportunity there, no doubt about it!”

Spanish draw

Turning his attention to the challenge of facing red hot favourites Spain in the seniors, with John himself set for a starring role at 45+ and GB ace Richard Brooks making his debut at 40+, he said: “It’s always nice to play Spain but it’s also quite surreal that we always seem to draw them! But I think the players will enjoy playing that one as they are the team you judge yourselves against. It doesn’t really matter who they have in their squad, they will have players who have been at the top of the game and will pose a severe test to our boys. The other two teams are matches to be won and on paper they are an opportunity.”

Turning his attention to the Supers, John said: “With the super seniors we have drawn Sweden from pot one who finished second in Vegas, so that is a tough challenge but also Holland and Finland, for me that is the toughest group in the seniors. But it’s an opportunity and we have to embrace that.”

Tough draw for GB ladies too

The ladies event starts tomorrow for the GB teams, with the Seniors side drawn with Spain and Ireland and the Supers facing Sweden and Portugal.

Seniors captain Libby Fletcher said her side was ready to embrace the challenge but admitted a victory in their opener against Ireland was essential: “We are relishing the opportunity to compete against Spain but the first match against Ireland is a must win as it sets the tone.

“The Super seniors (opening against Portugal tomorrow) is a tough one with Italy and Portugal both being strong but we are determined to show the improvements we have made and it’s just fantastic to have such a strong team of players over both categories to take on the challenges we face this week,” added Libby.

Seniors star and former Grand Slam tennis player Jo Ward is particularly enthused about facing top seeds Spain: “It’s an exciting draw. We are here for two reasons – we want to qualify and go as far as we can but also test our skills against other teams. 

“Personally I’m really pleased that we get to go on court against the Spanish; in tennis terms what tennis player would not relish the prospect to go on court with Serena Williams and it is all comparable. For me being new to the world of padel and competing against the Spanish it just really excites me and all the players.” 

The Bandeja wishes the GB men and ladies the very best of luck in the tournament 🔥 💪🏼