Day one of the Racketlon World Team and Singles Championships saw Germany snatch the only gold medal available.
In a three-team box league in the Seniors +40, Germany dominated both Finland and defending champions Switzerland to kick the tournament off in style.
In the other Seniors Teams events, Great Britain and Denmark have both put themselves in with a chance of retaining their +55 and +65 titles respectively. However, defending +45 champions Germany suffered a blow with a narrow one-point loss to the Czech Republic.
While most of the reigning Seniors Singles champions won on the opening day, there were two that did not. Anita Voelkel suffered a heavy defeat to top seed Silke Altmann in the Women’s Seniors +40 while Vlastimil Kolar shocked Bruce Shepherd with a +3 win in the +60s.
+40 Teams – Germany Lift Title
After falling just short in 2018, Germany returned with a vengeance. In truth, the German team never looked like losing either of their matches again Finland or Switzerland. In fact, across the two matches, they won nine of their 10 individual matches, a remarkable achievement. Finland’s Tommi Laine was the only player to get a win off a German, as he edged out Ottmar Neidhardt by four points.
Silke Altmann was particularly outstanding, not dropping a set across her two women’s singles matches.
+45 Teams – Defending Champions Germany in Trouble?
This five-team box league arguably produced the match of the day as the Czech Republic upset defending champion Germany by a single point.
A tight match from start to finish, it came down to a tennis set between Milos Posposil and Michael Holzinger. In the end, Posposil, despite losing the set to Holzinger, earned enough points to ensure the Czech team got the win which has left them top of the table overnight.
The Czech’s, who also beat Sweden, are joined at the top of the table by Great Britain. The British team crushed both Sweden and Czech Republic II and now face a Thursday showdown with both the Czech Republic and Germany with one of those three taking home the title.
+55 Teams – GB Survive Scare to Reach Final Three
A complex nine-draw left three groups of three teams with the winner from each group advancing to another group of three. Keeping up?
Defending champions Great Britain advanced out of Group A but suffered a fright in their opener against Finland. The Finnish outfit actually led heading into tennis but the Brits were able to rally to reach the final group.
Germany and Hungary are the two teams who will join Great Britain in Thursday’s shootout for gold. Germany had to battle past Denmark and the Czech Republic while a kind draw left Hungary against Great Britain II and Germany II.
+65 Teams – Defending Champs Denmark Roar into Semis
Denmark looked every bit the defending champion on Wednesday as duo Steen Hesselbjerg and Graham Cain bulldozed their way into the semi-final. The pair were imperious, dismantling Sweden and Germany for the loss of just four sets.
In the other group, Great Britain produced two solid performances to also qualify for the semi-finals unbeaten. GB will face Sweden in the semi-finals while Denmark will take on Finland.
Best of the Singles Action
With the early rounds of all the Seniors Singles taking place on Wednesday there were a lot of matches so we’re going to try and pick out some of the biggest results.
The +60 singles saw perhaps the biggest shock of the day as defending champion Bruce Shepherd was eliminated by Czech Vlastimil Kolar. Shepherd, who battled back from a 21-3 table tennis loss and was leading in the tennis at one point, was bitterly disappointed to fall by three points.
The +60s also saw a World Championships match between a Canadian and American as Dany Lessard faced Steve De Luca. Lessard triumphed in that match to progress to the semi-finals.
The other defending champion to lost was Anita Voelkel in the Women’s +40s. However, her loss came as less of a surprise as he fell to fellow German and Seniors No.3 Silke Altmann.
While defending +45 champion Ashutosh Avinash Pednekar came through round one unscathed, top seed Ulrich Schlepphorst was not so lucky. The German fell to Sweden’s Henrik Huldschiner. No.2 seed Marcel Weigl also suffered an early exit but survived a scare to edge out Britain’s Jeremy Krzyyniak by two points.
In fact, the +45s saw a number of close matches. No.4 seed Marco Genzel snuck past Pontus Olofsson by +1 while No.6 seed Rafal Szlazak fell by five points to Martin Bartos. There was a great win for India’s Varinder Singh on his international racketlon debut as he beat No.3 seed Anders Akesson by three points.
Richard Middleton and Steen Hesselbjerg both looked mightily impressive in their start to the title defence in the +50 and +65 respectively. Jo Shelley also got off to a winning start in the Women’s +50 Singles, winning two matches on Wednesday in the five-woman box league.
What’s Coming Up on Thursday?
Thursday sees the open categories enter the fray as both the singles and teams get underway for them. The entire group stage of the FIR World Cup will be contested on a frantic Thursday. Meanwhile, we’ll also see the conclusion of the Seniors +45, +55 and +65 Team categories.
Day two’s World Championships live blog will begin at 10:00CET.
Catch up on some of the action from day one on the Live Blog.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer