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Svensson, Blankenzee cap off 30th EYC with victory in Masters

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Defending champion William Svensson of Sweden and Denise Blankenzee, Netherlands, capped off the 30th European Youth Championships with victory in boys’ and girls’ masters match play.

After seven days of competition the EYC concluded on Easter Sunday at Tali Bowl in Helsinki, Finland. For the fourth consecutive year, Sweden led the medal tally, this time with three gold and three bronze medals.

In the girls’ gold medal match, all-events bronze medalist Blankenzee (left) defeated singles champion Megan Dicay of Denmark, 2-1, to win the first gold medal for The Netherlands in this Championships.

In a low-scoring opening game, Decay escaped with a 166-164 win. Blankenzee struck eight times in the second game to level the match with a 246-203.

She started the deciding third game with a strike, but then suffered back-to-back open frames to give Dicay (left) an early 24-pin lead as the Dane alternated strikes and spares in the first four frames.

Both players started a string of strikes in the sixth frame. When Dicay’s string ended in the 9th frame with an open, Blankenzee added two more strikes in the 9th and 10th frame to seal the 2-1 victory with a 214-205 win.

In the semi-finals Blankenzee came back from being down 0-1 to defeat Mathilda Tidbeck of Sweden, 2-1. She finished a close match with back-to-back victories, 220-209 and 223-215.

The other semi-final match was a re-match of yesterday’s singles finals with Dicay and all-events champion Maria Koshel of Russia squaring off. Koshel, who swept her opponents in the two previous rounds, won the first game, 214-200, but Dicay rebounded with 228-215 and 204-184 wins to advance.

Dicay took the silver medal. Tidbeck and Koshel (l-r) received bronze medals.

Deja-vu for all-events champion Niko Oksanen in the boys’ masters finals. As in last year’s EYC the Finn, who received a first-round bye, was eliminated in the Round of 16 by the No. 24 seed. Joppe Belmans of Belgium rallied from a 0-1 deficit with back-to-back wins to shut out Oksanen, 2-1.

Defending masters champion Svensson (left), who barely made the cut to the top 24 finishing in 23rd place in all-events, and Belmans mowed down the field defeating three higher seeded players to meet doubles champion Oleksandr Nechypaiev of Ukraine and Ziga Zalar of Slovenia in the semifinals.

Nechypaiev ended Belmans’ run with a 233-180 win in the deciding third game for a 2-1 victory. Svensson ousted Zalar, who had one of three 300 games in this Championships (Oksanen and Jonas Dammen of Norway had the others), 2-1, including a 252-189 win in the decider.

In the gold medal match, Nechypaiev (right) struck on five of his first six shots in the opening game and stayed clean for the rest of the game to take the early lead with 222-203. After struggling early in the game, Svensson got locked in and finished with a five-bagger.

The rest was downhill from here. The two-handed right-hander struck 10 times in the second game to level the match with a 273-189 win and again struck 10 times in the decider to wrap up the title with a 258-193 win. Svensson averaged 225 for 13 games today and has a 9-0 won-lost record in EYC masters match play.

Nechypaiev took the silver medal. Zalar and Belmans (l-r) received bronze medals.

It was the third gold medal for Sweden which led the medal tally with three gold and three bronze medals. The Swedish boys were the only team, which earned multiple gold medals (team, singles and masters. Russia led the girls’ medal tally with 1 gold, one silver and two bronze medals.

Half of the field (14 of 28 countries) medaled in the 30th edition of the premier youth event in Europe. Other gold medal winning countries were Sweden, Finland, Russia, Netherlands, Denmark, Ukraine, England and Belgium. Other medalists include Norway, Slovenia, France, Slovakia, Germany and Czech Republic.

The 30th European Youth Championships was held from April 8-17, 2017 at Tali Bowl in Helsinki, Finland.

The Championships drew 146 players, 94 boys and 52 girls, from 28 member countries of the European Tenpin Bowling Federation (ETBF) – Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, and the host country Finland.

Up to four boys and four girls per country who must not be born before September 1, 1998 bowled in separate divisions for gold, silver and bronze medals in five disciplines: Singles, Doubles and four-player Teams, All-Events and Masters.

The 2017 EYC was played on a 41-foot lane conditioning pattern with 25.485 mL volume oil total.

Singles, Doubles and Team preliminaries featured six games with the top 4 advancing to the medal round. No. 1 bowled No. 4 and No. 2 took on No. 3 in the semi-finals. The winners bowled for gold and silver while the losers shared the bronze medal. All matches were decided in one game.

The three players with highest 18-game total of the Singles, Doubles and Teams preliminaries earned the medals in All-Events. The top 24 in All-Events determined the Masters champion in single-elimination match play in best-of-three games format. Top 8 players received a first-round bye.

Photos courtesy of Seija Lankinen.

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Author: Herbert Bickel
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