It was a huge weekend for Anna-Klara Ahlmer in Bucharest as she completed a successful Triple Crown. The Swedish star won the Women’s Singles, Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles titles.
Elsewhere, Austria’s young star Florian Harca made his major breakthrough, winning the Men’s A Singles. There were also singles titles for Mohammed Tarik Koubaa and Marius Illie, with the latter winning the Men’s B Singles by just one point in the final.
Women’s Singles – Ahlmer Rolls to Title Without Tennis
Anna-Klara Ahlmer travelled to Romania with high expectations. In the end, she comfortably lived up to her billing as the No.1 seed at the Romanian Open Challenger. The World No.3, cruised through her first group match against Gaelle Wavre, winning 21-11, 21-7, 21-6. Her spot in the final was guaranteed after Irina Sanderson, unfortunately, withdrew, gifting Ahlmer a walkover.
Group B also saw a runaway winner as France’s Myriam Enmer rolled into the final. The French star impressed as she took down both Madaline Illie and Katrin Maldre by +22 and +20 respectively. Enmer’s tennis was key against Maldre. Needing 16, she turned in a hugely impressive 16-2 victory to set up a showdown with Ahlmer.
In the end though, the final was a one-sided affair. Ahlmer is one of the most experienced players on the Tour and showed every bit of her class as she rolled to a +30 victory before tennis. The Swede won the table tennis 21-8 to set up a healthy lead before edging the badminton 22-20. The title was secured when she won the squash set 21-6, sadly depriving us of what would have been a high-quality tennis set.
That is now a four elite singles title for Ahlmer who looks to hunt down World No.2 Zuzana Severinoa and mark herself as a top contender for the World Singles Championship in October.
For Enmer, that’s a second runner-up medal at the elite level as he continues to rise the ranks and close in on a spot in the Top 20. Katrin Maldre completes the podium after a slender +6 win over Gaelle Wavre.
The full results from the Women’s A Singles are here.
Men’s A Singles – Harca Survives Semi-Final Scare to Secure Maiden Title
After Lukas Windischberger’s singles retirement a few years ago, Austria has been searching for a new contender to lean on at the top of the men’s game. In Florian Harca, they may have found it.
Harca is one of racketlon’s brightest young talents and he took a huge step up last weekend in Bucharest by claiming the Romanian Open Challenger Men’s A Singles crown. He had to do it the hard way though.
Despite five Romanian players lurking in the draw, four of which were extremely inexperienced, it was regular players that Harca had to defeat in order to claim glory. His weekend began against Switzerland’s Nicolas Champod, with Harca recovering from a 21-7 table tennis loss to win +17 with a 10-5 tennis set victory.
By far his toughest match of the day came in the semi-finals where he faced No.1 seed Nicolas Lenggenhager. The Swiss player had reached that stage off the back of a crushing win over Molnar Gergely, spearheaded by a pair of 21-2 results in badminton and squash. Lenggenhager produced similarly impressive results against Harca, taking the badminton 21-10 and the squash 21-7 to leave him needing nine for a spot in the final.
Instead, it was Harca that produced a mesmeric tennis set. The young Austrian held his nerve and kept a cool head to win 21-7, beating Lenggenhager by a single point to advance to the final. Once there, he found himself against Mohammed Tarik Koubaa.
The Moroccan No.2 seed had cruised through to the final after winning both of his two opening matches before tennis. His first victim was Eric Durand before Koubaa then dismantled Bogdan Ilie, the Romanian who had shocked Christian Borner to progress to the semi-finals.
While Harca won all four sports in the final, it was a brutal match. His 21-12 table tennis result was key as it opened up a gap that Koubaa simply couldn’t close. Harca once again showed his mental grit in the next two sports, edging the badminton 24-22 and the squash 21-19. That 13 point lead left the Austrian needing just nine in tennis, a feat he achieved with relative ease to get his hands on a first-ever elite singles trophy. I would be very surprised if it was the last of his career.
For Koubaa it was another close loss as he continues his bid to be the first player from the African continent to get his hands on an elite singles trophy. Lenggenhager also awaits his first trophy after reaching his second final in three years but will take home the bronze medal after defeating Ilie.
The full results from the Men’s A Singles are here.
Men’s Doubles – Swiss Success as Champod and Lenggenhager Dominate
While Harca got the better of Lenggenhager in the singles, it was a different story in doubles. Lenggenhager was partnered with Nicolas Champod for the second tournament in a row after the pair triumphed at the IWT Swiss Open in the Men’s B Doubles.
The pair not only won but did it without lifting their tennis rackets out of their bag. Bogdan Ilie and Horia Naumescu were their opening round victims before Radu Ionescu and Ersoy Korer bit the dust in the semi-finals. In the final, the No.2 seeds took on top seeds Florian Harca and Graham King. They had battled past Dan Gongu and Marius Ilie first, before later taking out Eric Durand and Peter Robic.
In the final, it was complete domination from Team Nicolas. The Swiss pair were clinical throughout, initially sealing the table tennis 21-9 before backing that up with a 21-10 badminton win. There would be no fightback from Harca and King. The Swiss pair took the squash 21-12 to get their hands on an elite doubles title for the first time ever.
Not only have the pair made a major breakthrough but they’re also forming a strong partnership ahead of the World Doubles Championship in November. Could they be a contender in Prague?
The bronze medal in this category went to Ionescu and Korer after they battled past Durand and Robic.
The full Men’s Doubles results are available here.
Women’s Doubles – Ahlmer’s First Step to the Triple Crown
A day before sealing the Women’s Singles title, Anna-Klara Ahlmer secured her first title of the weekend in the Women’s Doubles. Ahlmer was competing alongside Myriam Enmer and the two blew apart the rest of the field.
The two other pairs in the tournament saw three Romanian hopefuls. Ana Maria Anghel partnered with America’s Katrin Maldre while Madaline Ilie and Irina Sanderson also paired up.
Ahlmer and Enmer rolled through both of these matches, dropping just one of the six sets they played. The duo won the table tennis 21-7 and squash 21-1 on either side of a 21-17 badminton set loss against Ilie and Sanderson. When Maldre and Anghel beat Ilie and Sanderson in the next match, it was a shoot-out between those two for the final.
Ahlmer and Enmer dominated from start to finish. A seven-point gap was opened up after a 21-14 table tennis win. Two 21-8 set victories followed in badminton and squash, securing Ahlmer’s first title of the weekend and Enmer’s first elite-level title of her career.
The full Women’s Doubles results are available here.
Mixed Doubles – Ahlmer and Koubaa survive Tense Semi-FInal On Way to Title
Ahlmer’s Triple Crown run nearly came derailed in the Mixed Doubles as she and Mohammed Tarik Koubaa completed a huge comeback in their semi-final against No.2 seeds Gaelle Wavre and Nicolas Lenggenhager.
The Swedish-Moroccan pair found themselves trailing by 15 points at the halfway stage, after losing the table tennis 21-14 and the badminton 21-13. Then came the fightback. First, they won the squash 21-14, closing the gap to just eight points. Following that was a huge tennis performance, as the pair won 21-10 to eliminate the all-Swedish pair.
In the final, they took on Myriam Enmer and Nicolas Champod. The newly-formed pair had cruised through their opening two matches, first beating Irina Sanderson and Tiberiu Iacomi before then taking out Katrin Maldre and Graham King. Impressively, both wins came before tennis.
The final slipped away from Enmer and Champod though. After initially taking the lead with a 22-20 table tennis set, Enmer and Champod began to get overpowered. Ahlmer and Koubaa quickly took the lead themselves with a 21-13 badminton set victory. That lead was then consolidated when they cruised to a 21-8 squash win. That left them needing just three points on the tennis court, something they achieved with ease to complete the Triple Crown for Ahlmer.
That’s a sixth mixed doubles title for Ahlmer, drawing her level on the all-time list with Christoph Krenn and Silke Altmann. It was a huge day for Koubaa, whose title saw him win a mixed doubles crown for the first time. Wavre and Lenggenhager took the bronze after defeating Maldre and King.
The full Mixed Doubles results are available here.
Men’s B – Marius Ilie Battles to Dramatic Men’s B Title
While a lot of the elite categories saw relatively one-sided matches, the Men’s B was a complete free-for-all, with an array of crazy scorelines and results. You just knew the title was completely up for grabs after defending champion Turlea Mihai Razvan was forced to withdraw before the tournament began.
Marius Ilie began his campaign by eliminating the top seed Peter Robic. The win, coming by just eight points, was spearheaded by an impressive 21-4 table tennis win. Table tennis was his saviour in the semi-final as well, where he won 21-7 which eventually helped him to a +5 victory over France’s Damien Thiery.
In the final, he took on Daniel Lapadat. The fellow Romanian had already taken out Olivier Soubeyrand and Petru Cotruta in two tight matches. The final would ultimately be the closest match of the tournament though.
Lapadat raced to an early lead, winning the table tennis 21-18 and the badminton 21-14. Ilie closed the gap to a single point after taking the squash 21-12. What followed was a tennis set of the highest order. After ebbing and flowing from start to finish, Ille eventually took the title thanks to a 22-20 tennis set. Incredible drama after two days of Men’s B action.
Petru Cotruta joined Ille and Lapadat on the podium after a slender +3 tennis victory over Damien Thiery.
The full results from the Men’s B Singles are available here.
Seniors +40 Singles – Koubaa Delivers Masterclass for Second Title
It really was a hugely impressive weekend for Mohammed Tarik Koubaa. After taking home a gold in the Mixed Doubles and a silver in the Men’s A Singles, the high-flying Moroccan romped to the Seniors +40 Singles title without having to pick up his tennis racket.
After receiving a bye through the first round, Koubaa beat Eric Durand in the quarter-finals by +28 before tennis. His toughest match of the category came in the semi-final against No.4 seed Ersoy Korer. The Turk was the only player to grab a set off Koubaa, winning the badminton 23-21. That did not matter in the grand scheme of things though. Koubaa won the table tennis 21-3 and squash 21-14 to triumph before tennis.
In the final, Koubaa took on local star Teodor Ristea. The Romanian had produced a trio of stunning results to reach that stage. First he took out Marc Noel before following that up with wins over Daniel Lapadat and Graham King. It was the semi-final win over King that stands out most. Ristea was +24 points down after the badminton but won the final two sports 21-7 to mastermind a +4 win overall.
The fairytale run for Ristea didn’t end with a title though. Koubaa was absolutely ruthless in the final. He won the first two sports 21-3 and 21-4 to stifle any chance of an upset. He quickly got the eight points he needed in squash to seal his first Seniors title. Is Koubaa one of the favourites for the title at the World Singles Championship?
Korer completed the podium after a heavy win over King.
The full results from the Seniors +40 Singles are available here.
“We Beat the Times, We Beat the Odds, and We are Proud of This”
Following the hugely successful return of racketlon to Romania, tournament organiser Radu Ionescu had the following to say:
“Imagine, think, propose and delivered! The concept of Blitz Tournament proposed in the last FIR AGM by Romanian Federation, integrated by FIR as Racketlon Lite Tournaments, did happen on 11-12 of September in Bucharest. Short notice, little time to organize, fast decision making for participants and all these ends up in a cosy, pleasant and exciting event with happy participants.
With Graham King as a one-man show, a player in countless disciplines, 70% job of tournament director (get Graham if you can!), multiple medalist and FIR Delegate, the tournament was a success. Even in the hard time we live, using a European Racketlon Union covid concept, we succeed to put together a viable racketlon tournament.
The main gain of the tournament where about 10 Romanian players man and women who will certainly follow up in several other tournaments. We beat the times, we beat the odds and we are proud of this! We will be your dedicated hosts for the next year edition of Romanian Racketlon Open.”
The full results from the Romanian Open Challenger are available here.
Interested in entering an international racketlon tournament? We still have five open for entry between now and the end of the year. Every tournament has entry categories for all levels of players, from elite players to complete beginners and for juniors and seniors. Find out more about the FIR World Tour here and enter a tournament today.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer
Image Credit / Peter Robic