After an extremely enjoyable weekend of water polo, the Netherlands are top of the European delegation heading to the World League Super Finals later this summer – which also includes Spain, Italy and Hungary.
There were some great contests over the past three days at the Acidalio Lorenzo Swimming Pool in Santa Cruz de Tenerife which included close games between Italy and the Netherlands, Hungary and Spain, the Bronze medal match between Italy and Hungary and of course the final, in which the Dutch conquered the Spanish.
The women’s World League was added to the International water polo calendar in 2004 to build on the rising global interest and increasing standards in the women’s game, and events like this one in Tenerife, with packed crowds full of hopeful youngsters, serves to show how high the level of the women’s game has become.
It is always an honour to report on the incredible athletes who participate in these events – and we have seen some outstanding performances over the last three days from some of the world’s top players in the form of their lives. In front of a home crowd, Bea Ortiz, Annie Espar, Elena Ruiz and Paula Leiton put in stellar performances for Spain, while the obvious talent of Simone Van de Kraats, Sabrina Van der Sloot and Ilse Koolhaas for the Netherlands were this weekend supported by the growing prominence of players like Bente Rogge and Lola Moolhuijzen.
Elsewhere, the Italians secured a highly significant result for their international programme under the stewardship of the newly appointed Carlo Silipo – with Claudia Marletta, Valeria Palmieri, and Roberta Biaconi all stepping up for the Setterosa. Although Hungary were disappointing with 2 defeats from 2, its hard not to argue that they have the 2nd best goalkeeper in the world in the shape of Alda Magyari, while Kamilla Farago, Krisztina Garda and Natasa Rybanska continue to have huge impacts whenever they play.
Its a reality check for the Greeks, who once again showed much promise, but fell short when the chips were down. There was no shame to lose to a quality Spanish side on the first day, but at some point this group of players will need to prove they can win games like this if they are to achieve their height of their potential. The big plus for Alexia Kammenou this weekend was at centre – with the Olympiacos duo of Eleni Xenaki and Maria Myriokefalitaki both dominating their defenders.
Much credit also has to go the work of Emilien Bugeaud with the French national team. They absolutely held their own against a vastly more experienced Greek side today. The very experienced Louise Guillet was in inspired form for Les Bleus in under the Santa Cruz sun, while Ema Vernoux remains one of Europe’s most exciting young prospects. They have a European Championships in Split to look forward to as they work, step-by-step, to build towards the Paris Olympic Games in 2024.
Australia, Canada, the United States and Brazil are the other four teams to qualify for the World League Super Finals, following the Intercontinental Cup competition earlier this year.