FRANCE 1-2  ENGLAND
Melissa Alves 3-1 Sarah-Jane Perry 7-11, 11-8, 11-2, 11-6 (43m)
Coline Aumard 1-3 Lucy Turmel 11-9, 6-11, 6-11, 3-11 (37m)
Camille Serme 0-3 Jasmine Hutton 4-11, 5-11, 4-11 (24m)
One thing is sure: France was not THAT overjoyed Kong Kong beat England yesterday. No offence to HK, but it’s sort of better to play a 5/6 seed than a T3 in the quarters. And as I know my English players, boys or girls, an unexpected defeat is like a red shirt to a bull. It gives them wings and fire power. And it didn’t fail. Those who lost yesterday won today, “et avec la manière”, with panache…
Still, in front of Mum, French Melissa had also wings too today. Not too pleased about herself in the event, today, it all clicked into place against a Sarah-Jane heavily bandaged on the knee. Melissa, calm and collected – can’t believe I’m writing those words, who are you and what have you done with my Melou – imposed her game after losing the opener offering a lovely Christmas gift to the English, 5 strokes (I kid you not) and 3 tins: 8 points, only 3 to score for SJ.
But that sort of washed the nerves out for the French, and not a stroke against her nor an error in the second, 4 for SJ, 11/8 France. It was Christmas again in the third, but from SJ to Melissa this time, 6 unforced errors from the English, 11/2 France.
The fourth was close up to mid game, 5/5, but after that the French zoomed to 10/5, SJ saved one match ball with a stroke, another great rally, and a stroke decided the match, 11/6 France.
“The pressure I felt was coming from the fact that we had a fantastic number one for 10 years who won all the important matches for us. And this time round, it was up to me, and against England, nothing less!
“I know it’s not over, but I wanted so much to do well for the Worlds, as I missed out of the Europeans [Melissa was injured], and I wanted to show that I deserve my number one spot, that I can get a point for my team, and put them on the right tracks. So, yes, I am chuffed.
“I think I played rather well, SJ is a top 10, so from a personal point of view, it’s so good for my confidence to win such a match against such a player. Also, when you are number one and playing first, it’s good to win to put your team mates in the right mood!
“But you know, France/England will always be France/England, it’s just something else!
“I have been working so hard on my game, and although I had doubts during the season, I know I am on the right tracks, that I am playing OK, that I’m training fine, and that one day, hard work has to pay off. I am just glad it paid off today.
“It’s a big win for me, I was down 1/0 but Phil [Philippe Signoret] was perfect, so reassuring, and the girls, supporting me, and my mum and my best mate, the French Federation who was here too, and those people in France that send us little messages. Thanks to all….”
With the energy that came from Melissa, Coline started very well for France. The first game was stop start with a few too many calls, bumping into each other, either of them happy with the other one, and making sure to make that message clear to the ref that came on court off mic to try and calm things down.
It was Coline that close up the first game on her second attempt, 11/9.
The second game was probably crucial. Lucy was up 4/1, the pace was very fast, and Coline was finding some lovely counterdrops that were crispy right above the tin. The contacts between them were getting more frequent, and at 6/6, it was anybody’s game really. But younger legs and a good game plan from Lucy (make the ball very low at the front) paid off, 11/6, games were one all.
At the end of that one, a bit of mind game, both camps asking the ref to calm the physical energy from the other camp. Again, the ref on court, for a little chat :”you want to see my bruises”, explained Coline, while Lucy was trying to stay focus on the match by hitting the ball.
The next two games saw the English young talent taking more and more confidence with her front game, and was able to find numerous winners, just a bit too far away from the now retired Coline! A logical result, 3/1 to Lucy, but Coline will be happy with her performance today.
So it all came down to Camille Serme, retired after getting an injury she couldn’t shake off to make the difference, as she often did in the past. But today, Jasmine was just too fast, too accurate, too sharp, just too good for the French former world number two.
Philippe Signoret (Coach to France)
“Of course disappointed. Melissa gets a superb win, and it’s always a shame when one girl gets a good win, but that the team doesn’t get the win. Cam has experienced it so many times, wining her match, and losing with the team. But hats off to Melissa today.
“After that, we knew that Coline who is now retired and coaching in Mauritius, the lack of competition was going to be hard to overcome.
“Now, for Cam’s match, I was worried that Jasmine pace and speed would be a problem for Camille. She is not used to that pace at all anymore, and Jas plays at such a pace…
‘French girls know how much I admire Jas, I’m always praising her to my girls, Marie, Enora… I love the English girl’s game, and I believe she’ll go very far. Tonight, she proved it, and unfortunately for us, she confirmed all the good I thought of her! She volleyed so well, picked up the pace, and for Camille, it was just too fast.
“But no regrets, we came with a lovely team. Some told us we should have let the match go yesterday, to play HK instead of England. But I hate that kind of idiotic remark. And for today, Jasmine, just too good.”
David Campion, coach to England
“That was an unbelievable performance from Jazz, on many levels. To come in under pressure and know that it’s on her, that’s the best she’s ever played, by a country mile. To do it in that situation, against Camille Serme, a legend of the game.
“She really took it to her and didn’t let up at all. We all know what she’s capable of, she’s done that in phases. But she went out and and to do that for three games, to hold it together and produce that level. That was an incredible performance. I’m so pleased for Lucy and Jazz after going in at 1-0 down, for them to come in and deliver under that kind of pressure, wow, I’m just absolutely thrilled.
“We’re absolutely delighted and we’re going to have a crack at USA now. I’m really proud of them. Gina was a big loss and to be there, in the semis, fighting away is something they should all be proud of.”