Swedish players dominated at the IWT Swedish Open, winning nine of the 11 non-elite, juniors and seniors singles categories.
Finland’s Joel Pennanen and Britain’s Jo Shelley were the only non-Brits to win titles as they took the Men’s and Women’s B titles.
Helene Jernbeck, Peter Niska, Sam Golam, Tobias Myhre, Par Gunnar Mattsson, Mikael Jonsson, Bengt Norstedt, Lennart Eklundh and Jonas Engstrom all won titles for Sweden.
Men’s B: Pennanen Gets Revenge Over Boden in Blossoming Rivalry
It was a welcome return to open category action for Piers Boden as he reached the Men’s B final. However, he would not walk away with a title as Finnish No.2 seed Joel Pennanen beat him in a competitive match as they two met for the third time this year.
Boden had looked impressive on his run through to the final. The Brit won his first two matches – against Ulf Svensson and Pontus Olofsson, without needing his tennis racket. The tennis racket did make a brief appearance in the semi-finals against Jonas Engstrom but only so he could pick up two points to reach the final.
The route to the final was less straightforward for Pennanen. The Finn cruised through his opener against Erik Botvidson but needed a big comeback to win his quarter-final match against Johan Rosenberg after losing the table tennis 21-3. He also had to battle back against Jesper Hedlund in the semi-final but did so to win +17.
The final ended up being one of the weekend’s closest matches across all four sports. Boden took the early start with a 21-16 table tennis victory. Pennanen struck back though, winning the badminton 22-20 and squash 21-19 to cut Boden’s lead to a single point. A full game of tennis would decide the winner. With Boden running out of steam it was Pennanen who hung tough, winning 21-12 to lift his second Men’s B title in a row.
Jonas Engstrom took third place after beating Jesper Hedlund courtesy of a crushing 18-4 tennis win.
Women’s B: Shelley Defends Women’s B title
Jo Shelley lived up to her billing as the top seed, defending her IWT Swedish Open Women’s B title in style. The Brit held off the competition to win all three of her matches for the loss of just two sets.
Shelley opened against close friend and countrywoman Dianne Baker. Shelley ran through that match without dropping a set. The scoreline was even more impressive in her second match against Mie Kjellser as she won +37.
The crucial match would end up being a showdown against Denmark’s Nete Yom Knudsen. It was Knudsen who took the early lead with a 21-9 table tennis win. Shelley came roaring back, winning the badminton 21-10 before almost certainly sealing the title with a 21-2 squash win. Knudsen may have won the tennis 22-20 but it was too-little-too-late, with Shelley already confirmed champion.
Third place went to Mie Kjellser as she produced a superb comeback against Dianne Baker. Trailing heading into the tennis, Kjellser won 21-10 to beat Baker by just two points.
Men’s C: Niska Edges Backstrom in Thriller
Arguably the match of the weekend came in the Men’s C final as Peter Niska edged fellow Swede Magnus Backstrom in a thrilling final. Both players had to come through four rounds to reach the final.
Despite appearing on the FIR World Tour for the first time since 2016, Niska was hugely impressive. He strolled through his first three matches needing his tennis racket for just two points. His semi-final was a closer affair as he led by just two heading into tennis. However, a crushing 21-2 win over Fredrik Tor Groth sealed his spot in the final.
It was an even-more simple ride for Backstrom as he won his first four matches by over 30 points, not dropping a single set in the process. Backstrom continued that run in the final, winning the table tennis 21-12 and following that up with a 21-17 badminton triumph. However, Backstrom lost his first set of the tournament when Niska won the squash 21-8 to make the scores dead-level heading into tennis.
The players remained neck-and-neck throughout the tennis set, leading to an epic climax. Eventually, Niska secured the trophy with a 24-22 tennis win, prevailing in one of the longest and toughest matches of the entire IWT Swedish Open.
Women’s C: Helene Jernbeck Wins on Debut
It was a debut to remember for Sweden’s Helene Jernbeck as she won a title on her FIR World Tour debut. Jernbeck was competing in a four-player box league with three other debutants; Elina Byckling, Kristina Botvidson and Johanna Rasimus.
It was Jernbeck’s second match against Rasimus that ended up being the decisive win. Rasimus actually lead before the tennis after winning the badminton 21-5 – Jernbeck’s only set loss of the weekend. However, Jernbeck completed the comeback with a 21-9 tennis win to triumph by eight points.
Rasimus finished second with Byckling taking the bronze medal.
Men’s E: Epic Semi-Final Win Paves Way for Golam’s Maiden Title
The seven-player Men’s E draw was made up exclusively of first-timers, with Sam Golam becoming the eventual champion.
Golam very nearly didn’t make it to the final to face Hakan Sabel, after a remarkable semi-final against Oberg Andreas. Andreas needed just seven to win the tennis or six to force a gumiarm. However, Golam held his nerve on his racketlon debut, winning the tennis 21-5 to produce a stunning comeback.
Golam’s tennis once again proved decisive in the final. Golam lead by +19 before the tennis but did not need to worry, as he crushed Sabel 21-6 to pick up his first FIR World Tour title.
Kristian Gahn claimed the bronze medal after beating Andreas +19.
Seniors+40: Points Difference Proves Crucial for Myhre’s Title
The calculators came out on Sunday as three players finished joint-top of the Seniors +40 box league with two wins. Tobias Myhre, Manfred Grab and Anders Akesson all won twice and lost once, meaning the tile would be decided by points difference.
Most matches in this four-player box league were close apart from Myhre against Niklas Hagerbrand. The +26 win proved crucial for Myhre as this big winning scoreline lifted him into gold. Top seed Manfred Grab finished agonisingly close behind in second despite beating Myhre. It was a missed opportunity for Grab who lost to third-placed Anders Akesson by just one point.
Seniors +45: Mattsson Wins Second Seniors Title of the Year
Par Gunnar Mattsson beat Henrik Huldschiner in the Seniors +45 final to lift his second Seniors singles title of the year. Mattsson was carried to the title by his impressive squash, winning his three sets 21-6, 21-4 and 21-4.
The No.2 seed opened with a win against Par Lindholm before taking out Magnus Aberg in a hard-fought semi-final. Huldschiner had begun with an eye-catching win over Anders Akesson before backing that up with a win over Magnus Backstrom in the semi-finals.
The final was competitive through the first two sports, with Mattsson trailing by two points after the badminton. However, a 21-4 squash win swung the pendulum in his favour and he duly capitalised with a 9-7 tennis win to take the gold medal.
Magnus Aberg left the Enskede Rackethall with a bronze medal after overcoming Magnus Backstrom in the third-place match.
Seniors +60: Title for Norstedt on Racketlon Return
An opening-round gumiarm victory helped Bengt Norstedt on his way to the Seniors +60 title. Making his return to World Tour racketlon for the first time in three years, Norstedt’s campaign almost ended in his first match against Janne Elmhag.
The duo played out a dramatic gumiarm which Norstedt won. The Swede then booked his place in the final with a far more comfortable win over Markku Merta. In the final, Norstedt took on Staffan Myrdal, who had strolled out of Group B with two comfortable victories.
The final was a close affair, to begin with, with Norstedt edging the table tennis and badminton 21-18 and 21-17. A dominant 21-8 squash win left Norstedt needing just a couple of points in tennis for the title, something he achieved with ease.
Elmhag battled back from losing that early gumiarm to clinch the bronze medal after beating Gunnar Ljung.
Seniors +70: Reigning World Champion Eklundh Strikes Again
Reigning +70 World Champion Lennart Eklundh fought off the challenge of Claes Beckman to pick up his first trophy since becoming World Champion. Eklundh was forced to rely on his tennis in the final after finding himself trailing by seven beforehand.
Eklundh held his nerve against Beckman, winning the tennis 21-11 to secure his latest title and provide himself with a confidence boost ahead of his World Championship defence in November.
Juniors U21: Engstrom Beats Top-10 Players to Lift Title
Jonas Engstrom battled his way to a hugely impressive Juniors U21 title, defeating Men’s B champion Joel Pennanen in the process.
Engstrom won his two matches by just +6 and +4, proving how hard-earned his gold medal was. In the match against Pennanen, he had to battle back from a 21-8 table tennis loss. Eventually, a 21-12 tennis win completed the +6 comeback win.
Against Oskari Laiho is was also his tennis that came to the rescue. Laiho led by eight heading into tennis by Engstrom remained solid, a 21-9 tennis win sealing both the victory and the tile.
Pennanen finished in second with Laiho completing the podium.
The full results from the IWT Swedish Open are available here.
The report from the elite classes is available here.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer