There was a feeling of déjà vu in Belgium as 2018 champions Christine Seehofer and Morten Jaksland both retained their King of Rackets titles.
Seehofer defeated Zuzana Severinova to win the Women’s A singles title for a fourth straight year in Belgium.
In the Men’s A, Morten Jaksland reclaimed the title after his opponent, Kresten Hougaard, was forced to pull out through injury.
Seehofer’s King of Rackets Winning Streak Extends to Four Years
It’s not unfair to say that Christine Seehofer has a remarkable record at the King of Rackets. In 2015 she fell in the final to Zuzana Kubanova. Since then, the World No.1 has won 12 straight singles matches at the King of Rackets, winning four titles and playing tennis just three times.
2019 was another remarkable year for the Austrian. After defeating Germany’s Amke Fischer on Saturday, she found herself facing a second German, Silke Altmann, in the semi-finals.
Altmann had come through two tough battles to reach this stage, first overcoming Lieselot De Bleeckere and then 4th seed Anna-Klara Ahlmer. Seehofer was another level though and the Austrian completely outclassed Altmann.
Seehofer stormed through the opening two sports, 21-4 and 21-8, to effectively end any slim chance that Altmann had. The German managed 17 in squash but Seehofer was already through to the final.
The second semi-final brought us arguably the match of the day as Zuzana Severinova took on Astrid Reimer-Kern. The two met a fortnight ago in the final of the IWT Berlin Open, with Reimer-Kern winning before tennis. This match was a different story.
In Berlin, Reimer-Kern managed to win the badminton 21-12, ending the challenge for Severinova. However, the Czech youngster reversed this result in Belgium, winning the badminton 21-14 to force Reimer-Kern to try and get 14 in tennis to win.
As one of the best tennis players on tour, Severinova always has a chance to battle back in tennis. However, when Reimer-Kern raced to a 5-0 lead, things were looking bleak for Severinova. With the wind making conditions tough Severinova finally adapted, battling back to take the tennis 21-10 and move forward into the final.
The final itself was something of a procession. As has become the norm in recent years, Seehofer was simply too strong for her opponent. The Austrian raced through the first two sports, opening up a huge 30 point lead into squash.
If Severinova is to take some solace from the final it’s that she managed to win the squash, the first time she has achieved this in their last four meetings. However, a 21-16 victory was not enough to force tennis and Seehofer picked up the title for the fourth time.
It caps off a remarkable weekend for the World No.1 who also retained her Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles World Championship titles with Bettina Bugl and Dan Busby respectively.
Jaksland Retains Title as Kresten Hougaard is Forced to Withdraw
It wasn’t the way he ever wanted it to happen, but Morten Jaksland followed Christine Seehofer in retaining the King of Rackets crown.
Jaksland more than earned his place in the final, emerging victorious in a fierce semi-final against Cornelius Radermacher. Ironically, the two were due to meet in the third-placed play-off in Berlin but illness forced both to withdraw.
The match was worth the wait. Radermacher triumphed in both of the first sports, winning 21-19 and 21-11 to move 12 ahead. Fans watching on were expecting Jaksland to battle back in the second two sports but there was a twist as Radermacher produced a brilliant squash display to get 17.
That left the German needing 14 in tennis. As we’ve become accustomed to seeing, Jaksland eventually wrestled control of the tennis though. Rademacher reached three pretty quickly but Jaksland pulled ahead, powering through the German’s defences with some impressive groundstrokes and net play.
Jaksland stormed the second half of the tennis, winning 21-8 to book himself into the final once again.
In the other semi-final Kresten Hougaard took on rising youngster Luka Penttinen. Despite both being prominent members of the World’s Top-10, it was their first meeting on the FIR World Tour.
The two fought a high-energy, entertaining match as the pendulum swung back-and-forth throughout. Hougaard took the table tennis and squash while Penttinen won the badminton. Only needing eight in tennis, the Dane was able to advance, although he did lose the tennis 8-9.
However, Hougaard was hurting. He had sustained injuries to his foot and chest during the quarter-final win over Luke Griffiths. The match against Penttinen had simply worsened both and he wisely decided to withdraw from the final to prevent further damage.
While a sad end for the tournament and fans, no one will begrudge Hougaard from protecting his body and we all wish him a speedy recovery.
For Jaksland that is a third trophy of the season as he continues to hunt down the World No.1 spot. It was not the only success of the weekend as he also became Men’s Doubles World Champion, alongside Kresten Hougaard funnily enough.
There was a pleasing mix of nationalities on the podium among the other categories in Belgium, showing the diversity of racketlon talent. Poland’s Michal Kurek won the Men’s B title, defeating Damien Andre in a fierce final. That’s Kurek’s second Men’s B title this month and will surely pave the way for him to move up into the Men’s A category in the future.
Melodie Parrot won the Women’s B for France, triumphing over Germany’s Maxi Karg in the final. Parrot, who competed in the Women’s A Doubles, impressively upset No.2 seed Stine Krogsoe, No.5 seed Anouk Dois and No.4 seed Beatrice Dommasch en route to the final.
Switzerland were on the podium for the Men’s C as unseeded Cyril Hohl beat Torsten Kuntz in the final. Talented Czech junior Davis Ersil snatched the Men’s D title, defeating Tim Van Herbruggen in the final. Nicolas Van Den Branden won the Belgian Only Men’s E category.
GB Junior Success
As has become common in the last 12 months, the junior podiums saw plenty of British players. Breakout star Luke Griffiths won the U16 title over David Ersil, as fellow Brit Angus Howard snatched third-place. Another Brit, Ross Wilson, triumphed in the U21 category.
The U13 title was won by Germany’s Tom Sach who fought off the challenge of three young Belgians. Meanwhile, World No.4 Zuzana Severinova understandably dominated the Girls U21 to wrap up the title.
As with the graded categories, the senior event champions were from an eclectic mix of countries. Dutchman Alwin Krist triumphed in the Seniors +45 over Anders Akesson. Meanwhile, Hungary’s racketlon stalwart Peter Sakovics triumphed once again, this time defeating Alan Plater in the Seniors +55 category.
Reigning +65 World Champion Steen Hesselbjerg added another trophy to his collection as the Dane took the +65 title in Belgium.
It was a welcome return to competition for Racketlon Hall of Famer Lilian Druve as the Swede took home the Women’s +45 title. The Women’s +55 title was won by Germany’s Carola Von Heimburg, who defeated Anneli Druve in the final.
A huge thank you to Hilde and her fantastic team in Oudenaarde who, as always, put on a brilliant four days of Racketlon. We cannot wait to return in 2019.
The full results from the King of Rackets are available here.
To recap the final day of competition, check out Sunday’s Live Blog.
The World Doubles Championship tournament report is available here.
There is a selection of FIR World Tour tournaments open for entry here. All tournaments are open to players of all ages and abilities.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer