asAustria’s Irina Olsacher remains unbeaten through two tournaments in 2020 after she lifted the Women’s B singles title at the Luxembourg Open Challenger.
Elsewhere, there was a Men’s B title for Great Britain’s Matthew Haynes as he played his first international tournament in four years. There were other titles for Jan Michalek (Men’s C), Lucas Steyer (Juniors U21), and Thomas Veith (Seniors +40).
Women’s B Singles: Olsacher Makes it Back-to-Back Titles
Just last month Irina Olsacher won her first Women’s B Singles title in Austria. Now she has a second to add to her collection.
The Austrian triumphed in a four-player box league, winning all three matches comfortably to take home the gold in style.
Olsacher began with a +16 win over Turkey’s Dolunay Soykan. Soykan equipped herself well in her first racketlon tournament in two years but was no match in the end for the young Austrian. The top seed got her second win as she defeated Switzerland’s, Dara Ladner.
Olsacher’s badminton was crucial throughout the weekend, dropping just eight points across her three sets. The title was sealed on Sunday as she dispatched U16 Girls World Champion Alexandra Ogram. The win marks Olsacher as a serious contender in the Women’s B division and it will make her one of the favourites ahead of the World Doubles Championship and IWT Czech Open.
Soykan took the silver medal after she beat Ogram and Ladner was forced to retire. Ogram headed home with the bronze medal. However, she deserves a special mention as the player to have travelled the furthest to get to the tournament without flying, in keeping with the new FIR climate change policy.
Men’s B Singles: Haynes Wins All-British Final
The Men’s B was a fascinating draw that saw many fiercely competitive matches. The final w be fought between British pair Matthew Haynes and Keith Lesser.
The latter was the No.4 seed but faced a real battle to make it to the final. Belgian’s Jonathan Rucquoy proved his biggest test en route to the final. Rucquoy had already knocked out top seed Guus Van De Burgt but could not take out a second seed, Lesser eventually winning by six points.
Haynes had a similarly tough journey. Playing in his first international tournament in four years, Haynes needed three wins to reach the final. Beat Ladner, Jean Michot and Thomas Knaack were all defeated by Haynes who dropped just one set in those matches.
In the final, it was Haynes who took the early advantage. A 21-17 table tennis win backed up by a 21-13 badminton win left him 12 up. However, Lesser hit back with a 21-4 squash win to lead heading into tennis. Haynes proved himself a solid tennis player though. A 21-9 tennis win was enough for him to seal a +7 victory and a first international title in six years.
Rucquoy finished third as Knaack was forced to retire.
Men’s C: Jan Michalek Wins Dramatic C Grade
The Men’s C had an extremely open feel to it and that proved to be the case, with just two of the seeds reaching the semi-finals. Czech Republic’s Jan Michalek was one of the men to take advantage. He took out top seed Graham King and No.4 seed Laurent Dan Rueff to advance to the final on his racketlon debut.
The semi-final against Rueff was particularly tense, with Michalek winning by just two points in a dramatic match. Having already defeated the No.1 and No.4 seed, it was only fitting that Michalek should win the title by taking out another seed.
Slovakian third seed Milos Kucecka was Michalek’s opponent in the final. Kucecka, the more experienced player, looked like he was on course to lift the title as he led by five heading onto the tennis court. However, Michalek produced a crushing 21-6 tennis result to seal a title on his debut.
Lauren Dan Rueff took the bronze medal back to Switzerland after his opponent, Sean Roe, was forced to withdraw. A word also for debutants Julian Kai Makino and Richardo Gomes Moreira. From Japan and Portugal retrospectively, it is always pleasing to see new players from countries that have not historically had many racketlon players.
Seniors +40: Thomas Veith Triumphs in all-German Final
Competing in just his second international racketlon tournament, Thomas Veith was hugely impressive in the Seniors +40 Singles. Veith won his opener over France’s Stephane Ayache before taking out Luxembourg’s home favourite Anthony Nightingale in a tight semi-final.
In the final, Veith would take on the top seed, Manfred Grab. No.6 in the Seniors rankings, Grab is an experienced competitor and showed it in the semi-final where he snuck through by a single point.
The final itself was extremely competitive through the first three sports. So much so that the two Germans were tied heading into tennis. Veith dominated the tennis though, a 21-6 victory seeing him clinch the first title of his international racketlon career.
Dirk Skock ensured it was an all-German podium as he edged Nightingale in the bronze medal match.
Juniors U21: Steyer Blows Opponents Away to Win Juniors
Remember the name Lucas Steyer because he could be a racketlon star. The young French player blew away his competition on the way to the Juniors U21 title.
Steyer dropped just two of his 12 sets and scored 255 points to 130 across his three matches, almost twice as much! The junior beat fellow FrenchmanJules Monnaye by +40 before delivering +51 and +34 victories against Irish players Evan Roe and Alec Schmidt.
Monnaye took silver after also beating the two Irish youngsters. A slender one-point victory for Evan Roe ensured he took home the bronze medal with Schmidt just missing out.
A huge congratulations to everyone who took part in the Luxembourg Open Challenger, especially the medallists.
The full results from the Luxembourg Open Challenger are available here.
Interested in playing racketlon? All our tournaments are open to players of all ages and abilities. Check out the FIR World Tour and Challengers page here to enter any of our tournaments.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer
Image Credit / Duncan Stahl