This year’s Emerald Cup took place in Feldkirch, a beautiful medieval city in the western Austrian state of Vorarlberg on the border with Switzerland and Liechtenstein. 16 teams between the four countries of Austria, Germany, Ireland and Ukraine took part in the one bounce doubles and triples tournament. The level of futnet was by far better than last year's tournament in Dublin and even though the English and Danish both dropped out with very short notice the tournament was a resounding success. This also gave the opportunity to FTC Feldkirch teams to participate, a chance which they took very well.
The organisation and the facilities in Feldkirch were second to none. Although the hosts Austria had lost one of their most promising players, Samuel Proll through an ACL tear, the future looks very promising for Austrian futnet. Alongside Nicco Haspil in doubles and triples was a great new Austrian player called Elias Eder. He's a very promising player and he played a great match against Ireland A in particular. Overall their partnership was very strong and it is a good sign for Austrias future hopes.
In the morning 6 teams took part in the triples tournament which saw Ukraine and FTC Feldkirch 1 breeze into the semifinals in Group 2. Group 1 was a different story as Austria 1 and Ireland's only triple team got through on points difference as FTC Feldkirch 2 were unlucky to progress.
In the semi finals Ireland took on Ukraine. In the first set the Ukrainians experience and skill blew the Irish away 11-1. In the second set Ireland led 9-7 before a well placed timeout unnerved the Irish enough to edge past them 10-12.
Nico Haspl and his teammates made it through to the final of the triples tournament by beating the Austrian 1 team. This was a very interesting result and one that fills Austria's futnet future with hope. Austrian president Thomas Lercher should be delighted to see such tight games between the Austrian sides and it will now give him a headache when it comes to picking the squad for the World Championships in Cluj-Napoca in Romania next year.
Ultimately Ukraine took the final in a close game with some great rallies, blocks, spins and and smashes. When it comes to describing Ukraine it is hard to find any flaws in their game and they very rarely make mistakes. Grom's spin, Mashtalir's positioning and serve, Usychenko smash and Vilienkins experience make Ukraine a really strong team and very hard to beat.
The doubles tournament was a tighter affair with the format being best of 2 sets which made the draw a possibility. Between the two groups there were some brilliant games with and again some upsets. Notable performances from the group stages include -Giradi, Muller, Haspl, Koch, Lercher.
FTC Feldkirch again were very unlucky not to progress the semi final and just missed out on by drawing with Ireland A and lost out because of points difference (10-12,7-11). Ireland and Ukraine both shared success in their groups and all four teams progressed to the semi finals.
Between all four games between the different Ukrainian and Irish outfits it was Ukraine that took victory. On four separate occasions Ireland were within 2 points of taking a set from Ukraine. As Ukraine are placed within the top 10 in the UNIF futnet rankings this was a positive result for the Irish who themselves have improved over the past 2 years by jumping 6 places in the world rankings in recent times. The Sheegars, O Mordha and Mulrooney all had solid performances in Feldkirch but ultimately they had no answer for the Ukrainians power, experience and intelligence.
In the final it was the younger batch of Usychenko and Grom who took the final 2-0 in a cagey affair. Honestly Ukraine are just a level above the current Austrian and Irish players but both countries have hope for the future. Congratulations to the fantastic Ukrainian team and hopefully there will be another new winner next year.
The Emerald Cup was a great success and we want to sincerely thank all the Austrian and German players who helped organise the event and we really appreciate all the effort they all put into the tournament. The question remains though....will the 2018 Emerald Cup be held in Feldkirch, Dublin or maybe Kiev?
There is no definite answer although there has been a conversation that suggested that the tournament will be held in March/April next year and the decision will be made over the next month or two. Together we hope to attract more countries of a similar level to take part in the tournament.
Well done Austria for such a brilliantly organised tournament and thank you for everything!
More pictures can be found on FTC Feldkirch facebook page.