Host Success and Historic Moments: World Champs Open Singles

We’ve sadly reached the end of our World Championship reports but we couldn’t end without addressing the biggest categories of all – the Open Singles. With draws stretching as high as 64, this is the ultimate challenge for all racketlon players. Whether a B, C, D or E player – the World Championships was the perfect venue to test yourself against peers from around the World.

Without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Men’s B: Cencig Soars in Men’s B

One of the most recognisable names in the Men’s B draw, Frenchman Loic Cencig was always going to be a hot contender. That said, with a B grade littered with regular A grade players, this was to be no easy task.

Cencig battled through to the semi-finals with relative ease where Hans Sherpa awaited him. Sherpa had beaten a pair of seeds, No.3 Tommi Laine and No.7 Uldis Dzirkalis on his way and was making his presence felt. In the semi-final, he won the first two sports to take the lead but Cencig came alive in the back half, storming the squash before taking the tennis to reach the final.

In the final Cencig found himself against Joerg Kanonenberg, a player who just two days previously had been battling in the World Cup final. Kanonenberg also had an impressive run through to the final, defeating Adarsh Narayanaswamy and unknown Brit David Edgar in the latter two rounds. In the semi-finals, he played the Danish giant Malte Thyregod. Kanonenberg prevailed in their semi-final but only thanks to a superb tennis set.

As with the semi-final, it was the squash that won it in the final for Cencig. The Frenchman was five down heading in but a 21-5 squash victory effectively sealed the title. An extraordinary year for the Frenchman who also won the World Doubles Championships B grade title – he did the Double!

Malte Thyregod defeated Hans Sherpa to snap up the bronze medal.

Women’s B: Dommarsch Battles To Well-Earned Gold

Few players can boast to have come through more tight matches than Beatrice Dommarsch. The German’s route to the final saw her win her matches +4, +3 and +6, defeating Maria Aumann, top seed Stine Krogsoe and Anita Voelkel in the process.

With pre-tournament favourites Matilda Parslow and Maxi Karg both suffering narrow early losses, the draw opened up and Hana Rabova was the player to take advantage. Rabova has herself impressed on the circuit this year and demonstrated that on the biggest stage. The Czech player beat Katarzyna Myslek, Lindsay Farge and Irina Olsacher as she advanced to the biggest final of her career.

Surprisingly, given her route to the final, the match ended up being something of a one-sided affair. Dommarsch dominated from the start. The German – enjoying playing on home soil – edged the table tennis 21-18 before coming alive in the middle two. She won 21-7 and 21-8 to win the title before tennis. Well earned after the number of nervy tennis matches she had been forced to play throughout the competition.

Anita Voelkel beat Irina Olsacher to claim the bronze medal, her second individual medal of the games after winning silver in the Women’s +40s.

Men’s C: Engstrom Improves on 2018’s Men’s D Gold

The largest draw in the tournament, 64 players took part in the Men’s C. After six rounds of racketlon action, it was perhaps little surprise to see a familiar face on top of the podium. Last year he won the Men’s D title. One year later, Jonas Engstrom is back and this time he’s snapped up the Men’s C.

The Swede almost fell at the quarter-final stage though. 15 points down to Thorsten Baumer before tennis his dream looked over. However, Engstrom passed a sensational test of nerve to win 21-5 and advance to the semi-finals. In the semi-final, he’d face the popular Belgian (and after-party DJ extraordinaire) Jonathan Rucquoy. Despite Rucquoy’s TT head start, it was the Swede who would return to a World Championships final.

Despite not winning a table tennis set all tournament, Switzerland’s Philipp Peter reached the final utilising his strengths at the other three sports. While Peter strolled through the draw, his semi-final opponent Marek Hruza did not. Hruza won not one, but two matches by one point, his quarter-final match being sealed on a gumi-arm against Valentin Haas.

Engstrom’s tennis had been his saviour in the quarter-finals and it did the same job in the final. Trailing by 10 before the tennis it looked an uphill battle. Once again though, the Swede proved remarkably solid, winning tennis 21-4 to seal another racketlon World Title. If the trend continues, we’re looking at the 2020 B Grade World Champion. Hruza beat Rucquoy to claim bronze.

Women’s C: Badminton Boosts Lange to Title

Boasting a full 16 players in the draw, the Women’s C category saw a number of enthralling matches throughout the category. With Lisa Hubbard participating, it was also the only draw at the World Championships to feature an Australian.

With the No.1 and No.4 seeds both falling to British juniors in the opening round, it was clear that it was going to be an exciting and intriguing draw. Germany’s Carina Lange was the woman to emerge from the top half of the draw, winning three tight matches against Pooja Shah, Alexandra Ogram and Storte Becker to reach the final – her badminton doing most of the damage.

In the bottom half of the draw, it was Cherisse Lau who reached the final. The Brit backed up her win over No.4 seed Nicole Bohn with wins over Sushmita Panigrahi and No.2 seed Valerie Nesenhoner. The final was a step too far for the young Brit though. Lange dominated proceedings from the start, winning the table tennis 21-14, badminton 21-9 and squash 21-4 to seal a superb World Title.

Men’s D: History as India Scoop First Open Categories Gold

India have officially arrived on the World Tour and it was a privilege to watch. Not only did Abhinava Kashyap Akshinthala win the gold medal but he did it without lifting a tennis racket from his bag. Much like last year’s E grade winner Michal Kurek, Akshinthala is clearly already ready to test himself at a higher level, demolishing the field in Leipzig on his World Championships debut.

His closest match came against fellow Indian and eventual bronze medallist Varinder Singh. Singh went on to beat Filip Cygankiewicz to land two Indians on the podium – a historic moment for Racketlon India.

It was a good category for Austria too, with Daniel Csuk the other player to reach the final. Csuk really had to battle his way through a number of tough matches, utilising his squash and tennis strengths to beat five players on his way to the final. Like Akshinthala, Csuk was making his international racketlon debut and hopefully we’ll get to see more of him on Tour in the future.

Men’s E: No Messing with Messell

The Men’s E is a category close to my heart, as the category I first played Racketlon at during the 2014 World Championships in Guildford, UK. Often the category for first-timers, it is a starting point for many long racketlon careers. One of those might just be World Champion Anders Messell.

Messell defeated two seeds on his way to lifting the trophy. In his second match, he beat top seed Victor Solomon. After a narrow victory in the semi-final, Messell would face another seed in the final in the form of Andreas Ziemer. No.3 seed Ziemer impressed with two victories before tennis in the lead up to the final, but could not compete with Messell.

The Dane dominated the first two sports and, despite Ziemer’s fightback in the squash, it was too-little-too-late. Messell needed just 10 in the tennis and he got it as the pair drew 10-10. Germany’s Daniel Jensen took bronze after beating Bob Tink in the bronze medal match.

That, at last, concludes our reports from the 2019 Racketlon World Team and Singles Championships. 37 categories previewed and reviewed. Enormous congratulations to everyone who left Leipzig to a medal. To those of you who didn’t get your hands on a medal this time around, I hope to see you all in Rotterdam in August 2020 battling once again to be crowned a Racketlon World Champion.

Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer

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