In Sports News: the Czech women’s tennis team edges Belgium in Charleroi to reach its first Fed Cup final in 23 years; famous football club Slavia balances on edge of abyss over unpaid wages; Czechs make their mark in the NHL playoffs.
The Czech women’s team has reached the final of the Fed Cup for the first time in 23 years, defeating their Belgians 3:2 in their best-of-five semi-final in Charleroi. The Czechs and Belgium were tied after the first day and tied after four matches on Sunday afternoon: it all came down to the last doubles between Czechs Iveta Benešová and Barbora Záhlavová-Strycová against Yanina Wickmayer and Kirsten Flipkens. Originally the Czechs were to play Mestach and Van Uytvanck, but the Belgian captain made changes ahead the final match to try and keep the Belgian team’s momentum going. Only the gamble didn’t pay off: the Czechs ended up winning in straight sets 6:4, 6:4, to book their place in the final against Russia. After the final point, here’s what the Czech team captain Petr Pála had to say:
“Of course it wasn’t easy: it was a difficult, nervy, and close match. Ahead of Sunday I said I would be fine if we were tied at 2:2 because I was confident we could win in the Doubles. But it wasn’t easy: our players had to come back from behind but when they did there was no longer any doubt.”
The women’s team will face Russia in the final at the beginning of November. Back in 1988 in their last finanl the Czech team won (with players like Jana Novotná and Helena Suková) won, defeating the Soviet Union.
Czech newspaper Lidové noviny has reported that one of Prague’s most famous football clubs, Slavia, is teetering on the edge of an abyss, threatening to lose its spot in the country’s top league and to fall to the third league over serious financial difficulties. According to sources, Slavia has until the end of April to find 10 million crowns in unpaid player wages. Forward Stanislav Vlček confirmed for the daily that players were last paid in December, adding that younger members were borrowing money from family to make ends meet. He also said players had considered boycotting the team’s match on Monday but decided not to in solidarity with the club’s general manager, Miroslav Platil. Slavia’s owner is trying to find a buyer for the famous club, but negotiations with interested parties reportedly collapsed.
League leaders Plzeň scored three goals, one off of a penalty, against Příbram on Friday to secure their first-ever win there to strengthen their spot in the standings. Plzeň are looking fairly comfortable at 58 points – six more than second-place Sparta. At the weekend Sparta beat Mladá Boleslav 2:1.
In hockey, Czech players have been making their mark in the NHL playoffs, underway since last Wednesday in North America. Last Friday, Washington Capitals goalie Michal Neuwirth earned his first-ever NHL playoff shutout stopping 22 shots by the New York Rangers. Washington won the game, the second of the series, 2:0 after also winning the opener. But Game 3 on Sunday the Rangers struck back, first going ahead on a goal by Václav Prospal, then scoring the winner on Neuwirth with less than two minutes remaining in the 3rd period. Brandon Dubinsky beat the Czech goalie with a cheeky floating shot that dropped in over his shoulder. The final score was 3:2.
In other action, Czech forward Martin Erat on Sunday notched up one goal and one assist to help the Nashville Predators win 4:3 over Anaheim. The Predators now have a 2:1 lead in their best-of-seven series.
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