The SWT GRAWE sidebyside 15. Austrian Open begins on Friday with 10 juniors, seniors and amateur categories taking place across the weekend.
The tournament is taking place in Graz, Austria, with over 60 players from all around the world taking place. While the elite draws have already been previewed, it’s time for us to have a look at every single junior, seniors and amateur category to see who else could be going gold in Graz.
Men’s B Singles – Mixture of Experience and Youth in Draw lead by Ladner
With players from India, Afghanistan, Slovenia, Hungary, Germany and Switzerland joining seven from Austria, it’s set to be an explosive Men’s B Singles draw.
Experienced Swiss player Beat Ladner is the top seed while Germany’s Christian Borner, Bastian Bohm and Afghanistan Lotfullah Yusufi make up the other seeds. Ladner’s first-round opponent, Jakob Rosenberger, is one of five players competing in their first international racketlon tournament.
The other debutantas are Leo Hoertinger, Saso Poljansek, Benjamin Radl and Hans-Peter Ess. Like Rosenberger, Ess has a tough draw as he begins against No.2 seed Christian Boerner. Poljansek and Radl are taking on each other while Hoertinger opens against Afghanistan’s Salem Qorbani.
After winning the Men’s C Singles at the IWT Swiss Open earlier this year, Bastian Bohm is an intriguing name in this draw. The young German opens his campaign against Hungary’s Balint Puskas, who is competing at the Men’s B level for the first time.
Given that none of the players in this draw has a Men’s B title to their name, this is an enormous opportunity for someone to make a huge breakthrough. Will it be one of the youngsters like Bohm or Leon Sam? Will one of the seeds take the title? Or will a rookie have an unforgettable debut?
The full Men’s B Singles draw is available here.
Women’s B Singles – Vancurikova and Sakovics Headline Draw
Six women are taking part in the Women’s B Singles, with a plethora of titles between them. Zuzana Vancurikova is the top seed in the draw, while Virag Sakovics lands as No.2. Experienced Swiss star Dara Ladner is joined by newcomers Maria Jose Gomis, while Paulina and Clarissa Steiner fly the flag for Austria.
As the two seeds, Vancurikova and Sakovics each received a bye straight through to the semi-finals, leaving the other four battling to join them. Having already snatched a Women’s B Singles title this year, at the IWT Swiss Open, Ladner is a leading contender, and she opens against newcomer Paulina Steiner.
Clarissa Steiner, who finished as the runner-up in this category two years ago, opens against the debutant Gomis. The Spaniard was a late entry to the draw and little is known about her. Could she provide a big shock in the opening round, or will Steiner take another step towards returning to the final? The winner of that match will advance to take on Sakovics, who is chasing a first Women’s B Singles title in several years.
The full Women’s B Singles draw is available here.
Men’s C Singles – Debutants Joins Juniors in Fun Draw
The Men’s C Singles draw is a delightful mixture of talented juniors, debutants and returning players. Eight in total are in the draw, with Balazs Doeboerhegyi taking the No.1 seeding. The Hungarian opens against Klaus Schruf, who is returning to the FIR World Tour for the first time since 2014.
Afghanistan’s Mostafa Kazemi is the No.2 seed and takes on Leon Steiner in the opening round. Steiner has agreed to step in as a last-minute alternate, completing a ferociously busy weekend for the young Austrian. He is also taking part in the Juniors U16 and U21 Singles, as well as the Men’s B Doubles.
The four Austrian players have all avoided each other in the first round, meaning the other two matches also feature an Austrian versus another. Robin Sam is taking on debutant Pavel Stok in the top half of the draw. At the bottom, Mathias Schilling takes on Thomas Neupert, with a spot in the semi-finals guaranteed for the winner.
The full Men’s C Singles draw is available here.
Juniors U13 Singles – Four Austrians Fight for Glory
Speaking of Mathias Schilling and Robin Sam, both are also competing in the Juniors U13 Singles. The two are the seeds in this category, with Schilling No.1 and Sam No.2
Schilling is the only player to have played on the FIR World Tour before, having taken part in this tournament two years ago. Robin Sam is also joined by another Sam. Romeo Sam makes his debut on the world tour, as does Sebastian Janser.
It’s fantastic to see four more young talents coming out of Austria, as the country continues to build on its legacy as one of the greatest producers of young talents. Good luck to the four juniors competing across the weekend.
The full Juniors U13 Singles draw is available here.
Juniors U16 Singles – All Austrian Eight Player Showdown
Speaking of Austria’s high-quality array of juniors, another eight are in action in the Juniors U16 Singles. Romeo Sam and Sebastian Janser, as well as competing in the U13 category, are also playing here.
Janser opens against No.2 seed Leon Sam, while Sam takes on the extremely busy Leon Steiner. Three of the other four players are also doubling up – competing in both a Men’s category and a Juniors category.
The only one to be focusing on just one singles category is No.1 seed, Alexander Wagner. The young Austrian begins his campaign against Jakob Rosenberger, with the winner of that taking on the winner of Steiner vs Sam.
The final match in the opening round of the Juniors U16 Singles is Leo Hoertinger against Benjamin Radl. With both also taking part in the Men’s B Singles, how will they fare with competing on multiple fronts?
The full Juniors U16 Singles draw is available here.
Juniors U21 Singles – Harca Headlines Four-Player League
Fresh from his Men’s A Singles win two weekends ago, Florian Harca is straight back at it. As well as contesting the Men’s A singles here in Graz, Harca is also taking part in a four-player Juniors U21 Singles category.
Joining Harca in this league is fellow Austrian Leon Steiner, Germany’s Bastian Bohm and Matthew Davidson. Bohm has recently won the Men’s C Singles title at the IWT Swiss Open but trails Harca 3-0 currently in their head-to-head.
Steiner, meanwhile, is making his international racketlon debut so we eagerly look forward to seeing how he gets on. Harca’s biggest challenger probably comes in the form of Matthew Davidson. The two youngsters have not met on the singles court yet, but Davidson does hold a 2-0 head-to-head doubles lead, albeit with one of those wins coming alongside Luke Griffiths.
Davidson finished fourth in the Men’s A Singles at the IWT London Open earlier this year, and also pushed Dan Busby close in a domestic UK tournament recently. Could he grab himself a second career junior singles title or will Harca live up to his billing as top seed?
The Juniors U21 Singles draw is available here.
Seniors +40 Singles – Weigl Leads Draw Packed with Familiar Faces
From talented juniors to talented seniors now as we focus on the Seniors +40 Singles. Home favourite Marcel Weigl leads the draw as the top seed, receiving a bye through to the semi-finals.
There’s a battle between two current world champions in the first round. Men’s +55 Singles world champion Richard Hobzik collides with +65 world champion Graham King. Weigl will await whoever comes through that battle.
The bottom half sees two matches between German and Austrian opponents. No.2 seed Thomas Wagner takes on Thomas Neupert in the “Thomas Derby”. The second German-Austrian showdown sees Christian Boerner take on Austria’s Oliver Bodem. This is the first meeting between both pairs, with Bodem and Neupert both relatively new to the international scene.
It will be fascinating if Wagner and Weigl both live up to their seedings and progress to the final. The two have met five times on the singles court, with Weigl winning four but Wagner winning the most recent, three years ago at this very tournament.
The full Seniors +40 Singles draw is available here.
Seniors +50 Singles – Can anyone stop Sakovics?
Peter Sakovics is back! The Hungarian legend begins his season in Graz in the Seniors +50 Singles draw. The current +50 World Champion opens his campaign against Switzerland’s Beat Ladner, with the winner taking on either Frank Bohm or Saso Poljansek.
The bottom half of the draw is headlined by Radu Ionescu. The Romanian is joined in the bottom half by Austrian pair Michael Steiner and alternate Peter Stoisser. The fourth player in this section is Spaniard Jose Antonio Perez Turpin.
Ionescu opens against Stoisser, who has stepped in as a late alternate to help the draw. This leaves Turpin making his debut against Tournament Director Michael Steiner. The big question, as it is with every category he enters, is can anyone stop Peter Sakovics from collecting yet another Seniors Singles crown?
The full Seniors +50 Singles draw is available here.
Men’s B Doubles – 12 Pairs Battle for the Crown
With no Men’s C Doubles at this year’s tournament, the Men’s B Doubles is full of talent, with 12 pairs all taking part. German duo Patrick Oettl and Simon Vaclahovsky are the top seeds in the draw with Austrian father-son duo Alexander and Thomas Wagner taking the second seed.
The four seeded pairs all receive a bye through to the quarter-finals, which means that No.3 seeds Sam Barker and Radu Ionescu, as well as Christian Borner and Nihit Kumar Singh also get to sit out the first round.
There are five all-Austrian pairs, with two of them colliding in round one. Sebastian Janser and Jakob Rosenberger take on Markus Schneider and Alexander Wallner. The social media dream team of Peter Robic and Alex Rieck open their campaign against Graham King and Saso Poljansek.
The other two matches see all-Austrian pairs take on all-Afghan pairs. Ahmad Jafari and Lotfullah Yusufi take on Oskar Schuur and Kristian Seiner with the winner taking on Borner and Singh. Meanwhile, Mostafa Kazemi and Salem Qorbani meet Leo Hoertinger and Benjamin Radl, with the Wagner’s awaiting the winner.
Will it be the four seeded pairs in the semi-finals or could we see some shocks along the way?
The full Men’s B Doubles draw is available here.
Mixed B Doubles – Powerhouse Pairs in Mixed Doubles Draw
A couple of familiar faces are teaming up once again as they go in search of the Mixed B Doubles title in Austria. Zuzana Vancurikova is back with regular partner Richard Hobzik as they look to defend the title they won here two years ago.
The two were hugely impressive on that day, knocking out the likes of Bernhard Pilsz, Elisabeth Seehofer and Anthony Duthuille. If they’re to make it back-to-back titles then they need to first overcome the Hungarian pair of Virag Sakovics and Balazs Doeboerhegyi.
The second semi-final pitches Swiss pair Dara Ladner and Beat Ladner against home pair Clarissa Steiner and Leon Sam. The Ladner’s have already had success relatively recently, winning the Mixed B Doubles title at the Luxembourg Open Challenger back in early 2020. Could they be the pair to end the run of Vancurikova and Hobzik?
The full Mixed B Doubles draw is available here.
Watch at least the semi-finals and final from every single category this weekend on Streamster.tv:
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer
Image Credit / Alex Rieck