On the 2nd June, crowds descended once again on Oudenaarde, Belgium, for one of the widely renowned favourite events on the Racketlon World Tour. Whilst the weather forecast might have put fear in the hearts of Hilde and her ever-present, well-drilled organisational team (credit: KOR), nothing was able to put a dampener on what was surely to be as good an event as ever at the popular Sportcentrum Recrean venue.
With 175 players entering from 21 different countries, making up the 277 entries across 25 categories, the 458 matches gave rise to a tight schedule, often with players putting on a show late into the night, much to the delight of the crowds enjoying their large spaghetti bolognaises and Belgian beers.
All results are online on fir.tournamentsoftware.com
Austrian domination repeats in the elite while local hero wins yet more hearts
Lukas Windischberger and fellow elite Austrians Michi Dickert, Christine Seehofer and Bettina Bugl showed they had not come to this tournament to be beaten, not allowing anyone from any other nationality to take the top spot in an Elite category, and not for the first time this year either having done the same in Vienna in January.
Lukas showed he was able to overcome both the disappointment of a tough loss in England and also a groin injury from the first day of doubles, arising from Ray ‘Baloo’ Jordan not clearing the ball properly on the squash court, by taking yet another title on arguably his breakthrough year. He had to overcome some difficult matches vs. Paul Sach and country friend and foe Michi Dickert, before taking on the home favourite Peter Duyck in the final. Peter, having pleased the masses with a notable win over Morten Jaksland in the quarter-final, put up a fantastic fight in his first KOR final since 2011 in front of a partisan crowd, but it wasn’t to finish with a fairy-tale ending as Lukas proved too strong in the middle two sports, needing just 4 in the tennis to seal the victory (final scores 11-21, 21-8, 21-6, 4-11).
Pre-tournament favourite Chrisi Seehofer also lived up to her seeding with a hugely impressive tournament victory, not dropping even a sport or needing to play tennis on her route to the title, beating the ever-dangerous Silke Altmann in the final 21-4, 21-12, 21-16.
Gadé fights off fatigue for stunning win in Men’s C
Following an active night on the dancefloor at the players party, passionate Frenchman Josselin Gadé proved that he is well able to balance business with pleasure with a stunning, nerveless victory in the Men’s C event.
In front of the ever-growing French entourage present at the tournament this year, Josse recovered from a heavy 21-4 defeat in badminton following his 21-15 table tennis win vs Anthony Duthuillé (who came through his semi-final with the unbelievable scoreline of 0-21, 21-0, 21-0, 1-3 vs Simon Puthoste), by gaining some last ditch points in the squash to lose 21-17. This left his opponent needing just 7 in the tennis, but Josse was not to be beaten – some great tennis led him to an early lead, the pressure clearly not telling, and enabled him to close out a disciplined 21-3 victory and take the tournament victory!
A strong showing in the seniors
A number of strong performances in the +45s saw Achim Berkemeier take home the title, beating favourite Richard Middleton in fierce battles in both the group stage and the final.
Duncan Stahl also demands a mention having struck gold in the Seniors +40, proving there is still ‘life in the old dog’ following his transition into the early clutches of middle age towards the back end of 2016.
Event fraught with injuries
Throughout the dramatic weekend, an injury was also seen, ranging from wild swinging squash rackets splitting eyebrows upon to more significant muscular tears, but notable mention must go to Michael Bauer, who not only suffered a knee dislocation on court but then proceeded to administer his own first aid and pop his lower leg back where it belongs.
Another successful year at The King
As always, a huge thanks from all who attended must go to Hilde Van Onderbergen and the team for putting on another fantastic King Of Rackets. The weather held off well to provide only very few of the forecasted rain droplets, and all players were sent back to their various countries with at the very least sore muscles as battle wounds.
Hope to see you all next year!