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February 21, 1998 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - Sweden is going to the Thomas Cup Finals scheduled for Hong Kong in mid-May and the English men's team has to stay home. That is the outcome of the Swedish 3-2 victory over the English in this afternoon's third place playoff at the European Zone qualifying tournament for the world badminton men's team championships (Thomas Cup) Finals. Sweden joins semifinal winners Denmark and Netherlands as the three qualifiers from the preliminary competition at Sandefjord, Norway.

The Swedish women, though, did not succeed in their bid to get to the Uber Cup (world women's team championships) Finals. Forced to play without key player Marina Andrievskaia, they lost to the Dutchwomen 2 to 3 in the third place playoffs held this evening. The Danish and the English women's sides had qualified yesterday with semifinal wins.

Andrievskaia tore a knee ligament yesterday while playing the opening singles against Donna Kellogg of England. She is Sweden's current top women's singles player and is also half of the top Swedish women's doubles tandem.

Andrievskaia's teammates though had their chances today against the Dutch. After Margit Borg had dropped the opening singles to Judith Meulendijks 2-11 and 7-11, Karolina Ericsson and Catrine Bengtsson had staked Sweden to a 2 matches to 1 advantage with gritty victories. Ericsson came back to beat Brenda Beenhakker 9-12, 11-5 and 12-10, and Bengtsson took out Lonneke Janssen in another comebacker, 8-11, 11-3 and 11-4.

The makeshift Swedish doubles entries though did not have enough to clinch victory. Forced to recombine their pairings due to the injury to Andrievskaia, the Swedes fielded Johanna Holgersson and Jenny Karlsson in the first doubles and Catrine Bengtsson and Kristin Evernas in the second doubles.

Holgersson and Karlsson gave it their best against the regular Dutch pairing of Erica van den Heuvel and Monique Hoogland. The Dutch ladies took the first game 15-6, but the Swedes fought back and claimed the second 15-8. In the decider, Holgersson and Karlsson made it exciting for a while but could not pull off enough winners and hold off van den Heuvel and Hoogland from a 15-12 win.

Sweden's ticket to the Uber Cup Finals now hinged on the second doubles, but Nicole van Hooren and Lotte Jonathans beat Bengtsson and Evernas 15-10 and 15-12 to dash Sweden's hopes and to send the Dutch women's sides into the Finals.

In the men's team third place playoff, a Swedish coaching decision to split the veteran doubles combination of Peter Axelsson and Par-Gunnar Jonsson was a key to their 3-2 win over England. The Swedes matched Axelsson up with Henrik Andersson for first doubles and Jonsson with singles veteran Jens Olsson in the second doubles. It was these two doubles tandems that came through for Sweden.

In the opening singles, Rikard Magnusson of Sweden lost to English champion Darren Hall 9-15, 15-9 and 6-15. Henrik Bengtsson then beat Colin Haughton 15-12 and 15-6 to tie up the playoff at one match apiece. In the third singles, Thomas Johansson was defeated by Peter Bush in three 5-15, 15-9 and 7-15.

England was now in command, needing only for their top doubles pair of Simon Archer and Chris Hunt to take it to the scratch combination of Axelsson and Andersson. But the Swedes surprised Archer and Hunt with their quickness and their power in the first game as Axelsson and Andersson raced to a commanding lead quickly and took the game 15-3. In the second, Archer and Hunt settled down and seemed to have solved the Axelsson-Andersson puzzle, but the Swedes did not back down and managed to finish the English pair off 15-12.

The Thomas Cup Finals berth had come down to the second doubles, where the Swedish coaching staff had laid a trap for the English with the veteran and Cup-tested Jonsson and Olsson matched against the less-experienced Julian Robertson and Ian Pearson. The Swedish veterans did not falter. They beat the English pair 15-8 and 15-7 to send Sweden into the Finals.

In the relatively meaningless meeting between the men's team semifinal winners, powerful Denmark blanked the Netherlands 5-0. Poul-Erik Hoyer-Larsen beat Jeroen van Dijk 15-8 and 15-10, Kenneth Jonassen defeated Dicky Palyama 15-9 and 15-12, and Martin Lungaard-Hansen beat Gerben Bruijstens 15-12 and 15-7 in the singles. In the doubles, Michael Sogaard and Jon Holst-Christensen beat Dennis Lens and Quinten van Dalm 15-8 and 15-4, and Jens Eriksen and Jesper Larsen defeated Norbert van Barneveld and Jurgen van Leeuwen 15-8 and 15-4.

The Danish women did the same to England in the matchup of the women's team semifinal victors. Camilla Martin beat Julia Mann 11-2 and 11-7, Mette Pedersen defeated Rebecca Pantaney 11-7 and 12-10, and Mette Sorensen beat Sarah Hardaker 11-1 and 12-10 in the singles. In the doubles, Majken Vange and Ann Jorgensen defeated Nicola Beck and Joanne Davies 12-15, 15-9 and 15-2, then Marlene Thomsen and Rikke Olsen blasted Joanne Goode and Donna Kellogg 15-5 and 15-7.