Sports in brief - 2012-02-23

  • 2012-02-22

Estonian tennis player Kaia Kanepi has this week withdrawn from a third consecutive tournament as she continues to battle with a shoulder injury believed to have been sustained during her second round loss to Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova at the Australian Open in January. Following an injury-stricken 2011 in which the 26-year-old spent two months on the sidelines overcoming Achilles tendonitis, it appeared that the current world no. 29 had finally put her injury woes behind her. She reached the semi-finals in her last Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tournament of the year in Moscow, Russia. She started the year with a bang, defeating three top-20 players on her way to winning the biggest title of her career to date, the Brisbane International in Australia. Kanepi’s latest injury means that currently no Baltic women are featured on the WTA tour, with Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova also experiencing an enforced break as she recovers from a right elbow injury. The extended period away from the court has already seen the 21-year-old’s world ranking balloon out from 94 at the beginning of the year to its current position of 193. Meanwhile, in the world of men’s tennis, Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis is in action this week, competing in the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis, USA.

With the absence of main rival Lietuvos Rytas, Zalgiris Kaunas have made short work of completing a three-peat in the LKF Cup, defeating Pieno Zvaigzdes 99-62 in front of a home crowd on Saturday night. With Vilnius-based club Lietuvos Rytas opting out of competing in the annual home-and-away knockout competition (in which themselves and Zalgiris are granted direct access to the final four), it came as no surprise to anyone to see Zalgiris claiming the trophy following a one-sided finale to the tournament. Zalgiris qualified for the final after defeating Kedainiai/Triobet 87-73 in Friday’s second semi-final. Earlier in the evening Pieno Zvaigzdes held on in a thriller, coming back from seven points in arrear at the start to the last quarter to defeat Rudupis 68-67. Zalgiris captain Paulius Jankunas was named final four MVP after leading the green machine with 14 points in the final. In the six years since the Cup was reinstated as an annual fixture on the Lithuanian domestic basketball calendar, Zalgiris has won the tournament four times and finished as runners-up on the other two occasions. Lietuvos Rytas pulled out of the competition following a disagreement between club management and the Lithuanian Basketball Federation over broadcasting rights to the finals weekend of the tournament.

The Estonian men’s football team is set to make Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) history this year by becoming the first nation to play an official match against every other team in UEFA jurisdiction. The feat will be achieved on June 5 when Estonia travels to Le Mans to take on the only European team left for them to play, France. Speaking to the Estonian Public Broadcasting Service, President of Estonian football Aivar Pohlak highlighted importance of the achievement. “The fact of being the first European football nation who has played an official national game against all other UEFA members is definitely important for us,” Pohlak said. “It demonstrates the fact that since we regained our independence we have been a very active football country.” The Tarmo Ruutli-coached side is coming of the most successful campaign in the nation’s history after last year the team made it through to the final stage of qualifying for the main draw of the European Championships for the first time in the country’s history. This year the team will begin its attempt to qualify for the World Cup set to take place in Brazil in 2014, with matches against Romania, Turkey, Hungary and Andorra beginning on September 7.