Golden weekend for Serbia and the Netherlands
Serbia won the men’s event while the host Netherlands topped the women’s field in the European Junior (U19) Water Polo Championships, held parallel in two Dutch cities, Alphen and the Hague.
Serbia’s reign at senior level is unquestionable, the men’s team won the last seven titles on offer since 2014, including Olympics in August. Now their juniors showed that the future might not differ that much either as they came first at the age-group continental showcase held in Alphen.
In the final they beat Italy 12-9 – a bit more balanced match after the 12-3 rout in the prelims –, after prevailing in a tough quarter-final against Greece (12-10) and a great battle with the Russians (9-6). The Italians’ journey to the last game was a bit bumpier as they beat Hungary in the QF (the last 3:40 minutes of that match had to be replayed, at first it ended 12-12, then Italy won 13-10) and managed to eliminate the Spaniards after a penalty shootout in the semis. The bronze went to Spain who thrashed the Croats in the quarters (12-3) and beat Russia for the third place (12-6).
Among the women the host Dutch did an outstanding job and beat Spain in the final 9-7. Earlier the host team overcame Hungary in the quarters and Greece in the semis, winning 7-5 in both matches. The Spaniards also had a couple of tough encounters, they bettered Russia in the QF (15-13) and won a thriller against Italy in the semis (9-8). The bronze medal match between Greece and Italy also brought sheer excitement, at the end the Greeks clinched the medal with a 10-9 win.
Final rankings – European Junior Water Polo Championships, U19
- Serbia, 2. Italy, 3. Spain, 4. Russia, 5. Greece, 6. Croatia, 7. Hungary, 8. Netherlands, 9. Montenegro, 10. Georgia, 11. Germany, 12. Romania, 13. Turkey, 14. Malta, 15. Slovakia, 16. Azerbaijan
Women (The Hague)
- Netherlands, 2. Spain, 3. Greece, 4. Italy, 5. Russia, 6. Hungary, 7. Germany, 8. Serbia, 9. Great Britain, 10., Croatia, 11. Slovakia, 12. Israel, 13. France, 14. Romania, 15. Turkey, 16. Bulgaria
Image – Kees-Jan van Overbeeke. More here