It was a perfect weekend in France for World No.1s Christine Seehofer and Morten Jaksland as they roared to victory at the IWT French Open.
Jaksland defeated fellow countryman World No.2 Kresten Hougaard in the final, a great sign for Denmark ahead of the World Team Championships.
In the Women’s final, Seehofer saw off a spirited display from Amke Fischer as she sealed her 90th consecutive singles victory.
Elsewhere, there was a third Women’s B title of the season for Matilda Parslow who continues to build on a superb year. The Men’s B, C and D were all won by unseeded French players, as was the Women’s C singles.
Men’s A: Top Half
As the top seed, Jaksland kicked off the tournament with a match against Damien Andre. Though the Frenchman won the badminton 21-19, Jaksland was always in control, winning the match +20.
Wildcard Koen Hageraats was his opponent in the quarter-finals after Hageraats strolled past Anthony Duthuille. The Dutch player made a ferocious start, taking the table tennis 21-1 to open up a huge lead against the World No.1. Jaksland battled back though, winning the next two sports 21-5 and 21-7. A 12-4 tennis win secured a place in the semi-finals for Jaksland.
The second quarter was struck by withdrawal as Arnaud Genin, Jaksland’s Sportyfriends Copenhagen teammate, could not play his first-round match. That gifted Sylvain Ternon a bye through to the quarter-finals. Ternon would face Christian Wiessner after the German defeated Nikola Mikac in the opening round.
Wiessner won three of the four sports against Ternon but still lost in the quarter-final. Ternon’s 21-3 badminton scoreline opened up enough of a lead that Wiessner could never recover, and Ternon advanced to his first semi-final of the year.
Jaksland took the table tennis 21-16 in the semi-final but found himself eight down as Ternon won the badminton 21-8. Jaksland then turned the match in his favour again with a 21-7 squash score. His spot in the final was sealed with a comfortable 16-5 tennis victory.
Men’s A: Bottom Half
World No.2 Kresten Hougaard opened his campaign against Ray Jordan, coming through that match with relative ease for the second time in a month. In the quarter-finals, Hougaard took on Germany’s Cornelius Radermacher. Radermacher had beaten Hougaard back in August at the IWT German Open.
He would not be beaten twice though. The Dane strolled to victory over Radermacher, needing just one point in tennis to reach the semi-final.
There was a shock in the other quarter. No.4 seed Duncan Stahl was forced to retire in his tennis set against Christian Schaefer, putting the Swiss player into the quarter-finals. Another Brit was beaten in the first round. Richard Middleton fell in the first round, Simon Vaclahovsky getting the better of the +50 World Champion.
Vaclahovsky couldn’t make it back-to-back wins though. The German was leading Schaefer heading into tennis but was demolished 21-4 to put Schaefer into the semi-finals to play Hougaard.
Hougaard brought his best game to the semi-final. The World No.2 crushed Schaefer with a +27 victory before tennis. Hougaard would now face Jaksland for their third final of the year.
The duo were neck-and-neck throughout the contest. Hougaard won the table tennis 21-16 before Jaksland responded with a 21-17 badminton win. Hougaard snatched a slender 21-19 squash set to take a +3 lead into tennis.
Tennis is Jaksland’s best sport though and the World No.1 was able to secure a vital 21-11 win. The victory over Hougaard sees Jaksland lift his 7th title of the season, a superb achievement in a true breakthrough year.
Women’s A: Seehofer Survives Scare
Christine Seehofer is on the path to history. After winning the title in France the World No.1 is now on 90 consecutive singles victory – although that came close to ending this weekend.
Denmark’s Stine Jacobsen was the woman who almost brought Seehofer’s run to a halt as they met in the group stage. Seehofer initially won the table tennis 21-12 but was pegged back as Jacobsen stormed the badminton 21-9. A 21-16 squash win left Seehofer ahead by only by two points, ensuring a full set of tennis was needed
It got pretty nervous for Seehofer when the match made it to deuce. However, she was able to win the crucial final two points to win by four points overall. A second win against Margaux Randjbar ensured that Seehofer would advance to the final.
Group B saw a familiar face return to the FIR World Tour in Natalie Paul. The German put up a strong fight on her return but faced a tough task against the in-form pair of Anna-Klara Ahlmer and Amke Fischer. Paul suffered two narrow defeats, losing by eight to Ahlmer and three to Fischer.
In the end, it was Fischer who advanced to the final to face Seehofer. The German impressed as she defeated Ahlmer before tennis.
There would be no repeat scare in the final for Seehofer. Although she dropped the table tennis 21-16, Seehofer flourished after that. She battled to competitive wins in badminton and squash before ensuring she lifted the title with a 14-3 tennis victory. Jacobsen took bronze after beating Ahlmer by five points.
Women’s B Singles: Parslow Collects a Third 2019 Title
One name to watch out for at the World Championships is Matilda Parslow. The Brit has been superb in the Women’s B grade throughout 2019 and left France with her third title.
Parslow opened with two matches against unranked French women. First, she made light work of Sophie Lechemolle before taking out Aurelie Haurant in the semi-finals. 21-2 squash victories in both matches were the foundations of her strong results.
It was an all-seeded final as No.1 seed Parslow was joined by No.2 seed Maxi Karg. Karg had also battled past two French players, reaching the final for the loss of just one set. Parslow established a real pattern in all three of her matches. Win the table tennis, lose the badminton, then produce a crushing squash result.
This happened in the final to ensure that she needed just six point in the tennis for the title. Parslow made it to six with plenty of room to spare to complete the perfect World Championship preparations.
Men’s B Singles: Debutant Heim Storms to Title
The 32-player Men’s B draw was packed with familiar names. However, it was the French debutant Vivien Heim who blew them all out of the water to win the title, without lifting his tennis racket.
Heim was superb throughout the tournament but particularly impressed in the semi-finals and finals where he took out two racketlon regulars. Heim played his namesake, Korbinian Heim in the semi-final, destroying the German 21-7 and 21-1 in the first two sports to open up enough of a lead to win before tennis.
In the final he was equally devastating against Adarsh Vikram Narayanaswamy. The Indian has been one of the biggest breakthrough players in 2019 but could do nothing to prevent Heim from strolling to the title In the end, the Frenchman won by +26 before tennis, an eye-catching scoreline. Hopefully, we’ll see Heim back taking on the A-grade players soon.
Men’s C Singles: Cocriamont Battles to Debut Win
There was a second French debutant at the top of the podium in the Men’s C. Lauren Cocriamont fought through five matches to win the title – albeit having a harder time than Heim.
Perhaps Cocriamont’s toughest match came in the quarter-finals, where he took out top seed Graham King winning by just 10 points.
In the final Cocriamont faced another Frenchman in Sylvain Burri. It was Burri who took a hard-fought lead, winning the first two sports 24-22. However, Cocriamont won the squash and tennis to eventually win by +15, getting his hands on a first FIR World Tour trophy.
Women’s C Singles: Colombi Beats Mariette for Title
Perrine Colombi held off the challenge of Julia Mariette in the decisive match in the Women’s C singles. Colombi, who was trailing by seven after a heavy 21-3 badminton loss, fought back to win the final two sports and take the title by five points.
Men’s D Singles: Mathieu Le Caignec Sneaks the Category
This tournament was all about French success and Mathieu Le Caignec is another example of that. The unranked Frenchman battled through four rounds after a walkover in the first round. Every match was a ferocious contest, especially the semi-final against Gael Gautier where he won by a single point.
In the final, Le Caignec was too strong for No.5 seed Laurent Pepin, winning by 19 after impressive table tennis and squash results.
Seniors: Durand and Harvey Win Titles
There were two Seniors categories at the IWT French Open; +40s and +50s. France’s Eric Durand took the +40 title, defeating current +50 World Champion Richard Middle by just four points in a close affair.
The +50 crown was won by Ed Harvey. The Brit and No.2 seed defeated Volker Sach in the final as he prepares to mount a challenge at the World Championships next month.
The full results from the IWT French Open are available here.
Information about the 2020 FIR World Tour is available here.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer