Team Fleming Miss Out on Swedish Final But Still Plenty to Celebrate
Scottish youngsters Team Fleming gave their skip an early 25th birthday present by feeding off wins over two of the world’s leading rinks to produce their best ever tournament performance in reaching the final of the Stockholm Ladies Cup,
They went into the competition very much among the outsiders, since 12 of the other 19 competitors in the event were above them in the world rankings, including domestic rivals Team Muirhead, who have already reached the final of two tournaments in Canada this season but just missed out on the play-offs this time around after finishing with a 50/50 record in the qualifying stages to finish third in their pool.
By contrast Fleming’s progress through their pool was serene as they opened up by beating Switzerland’s reigning and two time world champions Team Feltscher 6-4 in their opening match then Russia’s current European champions Team Sidorova 5-3. They subsequently saw off one of the local Swedish challengers Team Lundman 6-4 before a commanding 9-4 victory over Japan’s Team Matusamara took them into the last eight with a 100 per cent record.
In their quarter-final meeting against the other Japanese rink, Team Ogasawara, they started well in setting up a 4-2 lead early on and even after conceding a three at the fifth end to fall behind, responded regain the initiative with a two at the next, then held their nerve to complete a 7-6 win with a single at the final end.
In the semi-final they looked to be in trouble when they slipped 3-1 behind after Korea’s Team Kim stole a shot at the fourth, but twos at both the fifth and seventh turned the momentum around and, after forcing their opponents to take a single in the eighth, they again set up the opportunity for skip Hannah Fleming to round things off at the extra end, her double take out with the final stone taking them into the final.
After six successive wins they were unable to make it a perfect run with what would have been a magnificent seventh, losing out to Swedish rink Team Hasselborg in the final after falling behind early on, but coach Nancy Smith was delighted with the way they performed.
“They exceeded expectations in terms of outcomes this weekend,” she said.
“They had a good practice ahead of the event and had a confidence boost at the start and worked really well together as a team and as a result were able to make the shots.
“This is a culmination of great team work and a positive attitude and mindset of four girls with a lot of potential and a ton of self-belief behind themselves now. They have achieved valuable qualifying points this weekend which was a long term goal for the season and ahead of the Euro Play-downs the team will continue training hard and keep doing what we are doing – there are no secrets it is just about hard work.”
Their performance has added an extra element of interest to those Play-downs in which they are the only challengers to Eve Muirhead’s rink who have dominated the domestic scene and skip Hannah Fleming, who turned 25 the day after the final, said it had given her team of Vicky Wright, Alice Spence and Jen Dodds a timely lift.
“We are very pleased with the result, we gained in confidence with every game we played and it showed to us that we can compete with the best teams,” she said.
“We worked really hard to get to the final and it was the first ladies final at a CCT event for all of us and it will hopefully be the first of many.
“We have the Euro Play-downs to look forward to against Team Muirhead and Eve is world class and in any event she is always going to be there or thereabouts, so we are not going to get ahead of ourselves, but this weekend has given us the reassurance of what we can achieve.
“We will head home and go back and focus on what we need to work on and continue the hard work, but this has given us a boost and we know we can do it.”
PHOTO: Tom J Brydone