Seehofer remains queen of Rackets after hat-trick in Oudenaarde
Some racketlon players will call it the Wimbledon of Racketlon. Yes I am talking about the legendary King of Rackets tournament that takes place in the Recrean sports center in Oudenaarde, Belgium. This year the 27th (!) edition was played and for many players it is an absolute must go on the racketlon world tour. This year the tournament weekend even kicked off early on Thursday evening as the Recrean could proudly open two brand new padel tennis courts just to make this venue even more racket friendly.
Busy doubles Friday
As usual Friday was mainly about doubles and mixed as the tournament was kicked off from 10 am with the early rounds of mixed. In the mixed elite nobody could touch the Austrian super team of Seehofer and Windischberger who ended up winning without playing tennis. Paul/Jaksland came second after tight encounters with Eisler/Busby in the first round (+1) and De Bleeckere/K. Hougaard who later took the bronze. Mixed B was won by experienced Altman/Manners that probably could have caused some trouble for many of the elite teams as well.
In the women’s elite doubles four pairs fought it out between them and again Austria was dominating as Seehofer/Bugl ended up winning 14-8 in the tennis against De Bleeckere/Paul in the final. Bronze went to Izzy Bramhall and Nicole Eisler.
Men’s elite doubles was a classic encounter between Denmark and Austria in the final where the new doubles team of Schöpf/Windischberger ended up winning after reaching 9-14 in the tennis against K. Hougaard/Jaksland in a final that finished past midnight! Bronze went to Junillon/Graenicher (formerly Hampl) after a close match with Barnes/Du Noyer.
Seehofer defends her crown
12 women entered for the women’s elite class making it the biggest women’s elite class this year. With only a few players missing from the top 10 in the world ranking the draw looked to be the strongest of the year so far. Combined with the top players we also saw some new and improving players so it was all set to see some top racketlon matches in the women’s elite.
The semifinals were clear evidence of the quality in the draw. Izzy Bramhall played Chrisi Seehofer in the top half and Natalie Paul played Bettina Bugl in the bottom half. Chrisi proved to be too strong for Izzy after winning the first two sports 21-9 21-3 and reaching 13-21 in the squash. Natalie reached 19-21 in the table tennis against Bettina Bugl which in the end was too small of lead for her to hold on to after losing badminton 9-21 and squash 16-21. Natalie closed it out by reaching 7-7 in the tennis.
In the end nobody could stop Chrisi Seehofer as she completed her hat-trick in Oudenaarde by winning her final against Natalie Paul before tennis. Chrisi ended up winning the first three sports leaving them just short of the tennis court. Bettina Bugl completed the Austrian/German podium in the women’s elite by beating Izzy Bramball in the battle for bronze losing only the squash set.
Women B was won by Russian Maria Morozova that looked strong the whole weekend also playing a good mixed B doubles with Nicolas Lenggenhager only losing out to experienced Altman/Manners. In total of 38 women played an open singles class across A, B and C class which is very strong, encouraging numbers for women’s racketlon.
Jaksland is the new King of Rackets
Continuing great form from the Nüssloch Open the Dane Morten Jaksland made his best result so far by winning the King of Rackets crown. The men’s elite draw looked strong and had 9 out of the top 10 ranked players in the world going for the prestigious title. Most remarkably was seeing former King of Rackets champion Kasper Jønsson showing up after a break since the European chamionships 2017. Jønsson played Danish team mate Kresten Hougaard in a 2 hour marathon match in the quarterfinal which Kresten ended up winning after struggling to get the 10 points he needed in tennis.
Semifinals was matches between Lukas Windischberger and Morten Jaksland in the top half and Kresten Hougaard and Dan Busby in the bottom half. Jaksland played the match of his racketlon career until 10-13 in the squash where Lukas unfortunately twisted his ankle and was unable to continue. Kresten managed to stay in front of Dan for the whole match losing only the squash set to setup an all Danish final.
In the final the doubles partners and good friends fought out a very hard match with Kresten opening a lead in table tennis after 21-11. Morten pulled back the lead in the middle two sports to make it +1 going in to his best sport tennis. This was too much for Kresten to pull back and Morten claimed his biggest win so far after 21-4 in the tennis.
France dominating men B and C
The last couple of years we have seen more and more French racketlon players emerging and this weekend the hard worked payed off as they won prestigious King of Rackets title in men’s B and had a finalist in the men’s C.
The B class was won by a new face Nicolas Lemercier beating German squash specialist Simon Vaclahovsky in the final (+8). In the C class, The Swedish player Sami Sidia overcame Frenchman Olivier Jaoui (+6).
Germany vs. Great Britain in the senior classes
The age classes was mainly battled between Germany and GB as Heike Voigt took women’s +40 in front of Jo Shelley while Jo got her title in the +50 on an all GB podium.
Duncan Stahl took victory in the men’s +40 in front of Thomas Knaack (silver) and Jermaine Manners (Bronze). In +45 Michael Holzinger took the title in front of Uli Schlepphorst. Only in the seniors +50 had a none German/GB winner as Belgian all-star Adolphe Fernandez-Diez took yet another King of rackets crown in front of Volker Sach. Closing out the age classes we saw Bruce Shepherd win against Danish Thomas Ostenfeld Larsen.
Morten Jaksland / FIR Delegate
Photo credit: Inge Omey