New faces joined some familiar names on the podium at the IWT Malta Open. There were titles for regular champions Michal Kurek, Esther Dubendorfer and Matthew Davidson while there was a debut title for India’s Kedar Nadgonde.
Men’s B Singles: Kurek Continues Men’s B Domination
There’s now a very real chance that this is the last time we see Michal Kurek competing at the Men’s B level. The Pole lifted his fourth Men’s B title of the season, following success in Austria, Belgium and Germany.
In order to reach the final, Kurek had to overcome another promising junior from Great Britain. Matthew Davidson won the Men’s C in Malta a year ago and had stepped up to the B this year.
Davidson did cause Kurek problems, winning the badminton to lead by three heading into the squash. However, the Pole showed his dominance, winning the squash 21-9 to leave himself nine up heading into tennis. Unfortunately for Davidson, the tennis was just as one-sided, with Kurek rolling out a 13-6 winner.
There was success for a different British teenager in the other half of the draw. Ross Wilson overcame an early table tennis deficit to shock top seed Roland Pichler, winning by +20 after winning the three final sports.
In the final though, Wilson was no match for Kurek. The Pole dominated proceedings from the beginning. He strolled through the table tennis 21-10 and followed that up with a 21-17 badminton win. The decisive blow came in the squash, with Kurek winning to five and securing the title in the process.
Davidson took third place after defeating Pichler by 10 points in the bronze medal match.
Men’s C: Rucquoy Lives Up to Top Seed Billing
At the IWT Malta Open in 2018, Jonathan Rucquoy was beaten in the final by Matthew Davidson. One year later and the Belgian finally got his hands on the trophy.
The Men’s C went perfectly to seeding, with top seed Rucquoy beating No.4 seed Graham Cain in the semi-finals. In the final, Rucquoy would face the No.2 seed David Ersil. Ersil had reached the final after a hard-fought victory over Swedish No.3 seed Alexander Jaatmaa.
The final was a one-way affair. Rucquoy used his table tennis talents to open up a 13 point lead and never looked back. That lead was only extended with a 21-12 badminton win before a 21-9 squash set sealed the trophy for Rucquoy.
After winning the Men’s C Doubles here a year ago, Rucquoy now has his hands on his first FIR World Tour singles trophy. True to seedings, No.3 seed Alexander Jaatmaa took bronze, beating Graham Cain for the medal.
Men’s D: Nadgonde Takes Trophy on World Tour Debut
It’s been a good month for Racketlon in India. Earlier this month it was revealed that the first CHA Indian Open would be taking place in 2020. Now, it has a champion on the FIR World Tour.
Playing in his first FIR World Tour event, Kedar Nadgonde had to battle to win the Men’s D title.
After fighting his way out of Group D – including a two-point win over Bob Tink – Nadgonde found himself in the final against another debutant, Sweden’s Jesper Lofgren. Nadgonde lost the table tennis to 16 but wrestled control of the match with a brilliant 21-2 badminton win.
The Indian player backed that up with a 21-14 squash win to leave him needing just one in the tennis. There were a few nervous moments as Lofgren moved 8-0 ahead in the tennis. However, Nadgonde achieved the one point he needed, sealing a title on his debut.
Juniors U21: Davidson Shines in U21s
Heading into Sunday, Matthew Davidson had already set himself up perfectly for the title. Competitive wins over Ross Wilson and David Ersil ensured he just needed a win over Will Gregson to take home gold.
Gregson did make the better start to the match, winning the table tennis 21-10 and still leading after badminton. However, Davidson pulled away in the final two sports, winning squash 21-15 and tennis 21-10 to ensure he would be crowned champion.
Wilson won the battle for second place, fighting off Ersil on Sunday to leave Ersil with the bronze and a British one-two.
Seniors +40: Hobzik Holds Off Battling Kleiber
Much like Davidson, Richard Hobzik had set himself up for the title with an impressive three wins on Saturday. In order to ensure the Czech player took the title though, he had to beat Frank Kleiber.
Kleiber refused to go down without a fight, knowing a win would put him in contention for the title. The German raced into a 17 point lead with a stunning table tennis performance. Hobzik though, retaliated with a superb middle-two sports. 21-7 and 21-10 badminton and squash wins left him needing 14 in tennis for the title.
Although Kleiber managed to stay with him for much of the tennis, in the end Hobzik had enough to reach 14 and secure the win. That win, coupled with an Ulrich Schlepphorst win over Lee Gregson left Hobzik with gold, Schlepphorst with silver and Kleiber with bronze.
Seniors +60: King is King in Malta
Graham King won his first two matches on Saturday to ensure it was just a single win he needed on Sunday. King would take on Ray Ryan in a shoot-out for the title.
In the end it was smooth sailing for the experienced Swiss star. King won the table tennis 21-10 before following that up with a 21-7 badminton victory. The match was sealed with a 21-12 squash win although Ryan did win the tennis set 21-13.
Women’s A Doubles: Seehofer and Bramhall Dominate Doubles
Christine Seehofer and Izzy Bramhall teamed up for the first time ever to dominate the Women’s A Doubles in Malta.
With the tournament beginning on Friday and carrying over into Sunday, the pair had two days to wait to win their title. Bramhall and Seehofer would face Amke Fischer and Stine Krogsoe in a battle for the trophy.
They hadn’t lost a set in the first match but against Fischer and Krogsoe they dropped the badminton 21-12 after winning the table tennis 21-8. That four-point lead grew massively as Seehofer and Bramhall won the squash 21-9. A handful of points followed in the tennis and Seehofer and Bramhall clinched the title.
The full results from the IWT Malta Open are available here.
The elite tournament report is available here.
The Friday tournament report is available here.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer
Image Credit / Duncan Stahl