The 2021 FIR World Tour came to a perfect end in the Lanzarote sunshine with almost 50 players battling for titles at the IWT Club La Santa Open.
Anthony Duthuillé, Kirsten Kaptein, Juho Vuorinen, Michael Skytte Pedersen, Thomas Olsson, Patrick Moran and Störte Becker all won amateur and senior titles.
There was a particularly special gold medal for Noel Mathew, who won the Men’s C Singles on his international racketlon debut after travelling over from New York.
Men’s B Singles – Duthuillé Lives Up to Billing as Top Seed
Lanzarote produced one of the tightest draws we’ve seen this season, with every main draw Men’s B Singles match going to tennis and featuring a winning margin of no more than 20 points. Two matches were won by just one point – including a gummiarm – while there were also +2 and +4 victories.
Anthony Duthuillé had no such issues as the No.1 seed though. Dominant on the badminton and squash courts, the Frenchman rolled to the title. Patrick Moran was his first victim in the quarter-finals after the American defeated Club La Santa local Jon Spinks by a single point.
Jack Bishop had taken out one Frenchman when he defeated Bertrand Carlier in the quarter-finals by two points. He couldn’t make it two though, with Duthuillé rolling to a +19 victory to book his spot in the final.
No.2 seed Michael Skytte Pedersen was his opponent in the final. The Dane had enjoyed a bye through to the quarter-finals before taking out Sam Barker comfortably in his first match. His quarter-final against Taavi Suorsa was truly one of the most epic matches of the weekend.
Suorsa had beaten No.3 seed Guus Van De Burgt and Johnny Bispham earlier in the day. He’d also beaten Pedersen just a few months before in Rotterdam in a tough match. In the end, their semi-final in Lanzarote went all the way down to a gummiarm after a high-quality tennis set that lasted over 45 minutes. It was Pedersen who triumphed in the gummiarm, securing himself a final against Duthuillé.
After losing table tennis 21-9, Duthuillé dominated the rest of the final. He won the badminton 21-6 and squash 21-13 to leave him needing just 11 on the tennis court. The Frenchman got the points with ease to get his hands on the first Men’s B Singles title of his career.
The bronze medal was won by Taavi Suorsa after the Finn defeated Jack Bishop.
The full Men’s B Singles results are available here.
Men’s C Singles – Perfect Debut for Mathew
While three of the four seeded players made the semi-finals in the Men’s B Singles, it was a very different story in the Men’s C. The quarter-final stage saw several upsets. Kieran Shelley took out top seed Graham King while fellow Brit Graeme Barella defeated No.4 seed, Vincent David. Noel Mathew was the other player to eliminate a seed, with the American debutant beating Germany’s Thomas Neupert.
Mounir Benheddi was the last seed remaining in the tournament after he survived a test from Matthew Page in the quarter-finals. The two semi-finals were matches of the absolute highest quality.
On his debut, Mathew took on Kieran Shelley in a topsy-turvy contest. Mathew looked well in control when he led by 23 points after badminton. Shelley refused to go down without a fight though, winning squash 21-2 and leading 18-15 in the tennis. Three points from Mathew saw him reach the 18 he needed on the tennis court to book a magnificent final on his debut.
The other semi-final also featured a debutant in Graeme Barella. The British table tennis expert found himself against Benheddi and also had a thriller. The topsy-turvy match ended on a gummiarm. Despite Barella winning the tennis 21-9, it was Benheddi who triumphed to advance into the final.
The final itself belonged to Noel Mathew. The American opened up a 20 point lead after 21-11 victories in both table tennis and badminton. A narrow squash loss did little to dent his run to the title as Benheddi couldn’t complete a tennis comeback. It was a long journey over to Lanzarote for Mathew but one that was worth the time as he heads back to the USA with a Men’s C Singles title.
Graeme Barella won the battle of the Brits for the bronze medal, beating Kieran Shelley by eight points.
The full Men’s C Singles results are available here.
Women’s +40 Singles – Kaptein Holds Off Shelley Challenge for Second Singles Title in Three Weeks
At last month’s IWT Czech Open, Kirsten Kaptein ended a three-year wait for a singles title. Now, less than a month later, she’s collected a second of the season.
The Women’s +40 Singles ended up being a four-player shoot-out after Maureen Thompson was forced to withdraw before the tournament. That left Kaptein joined by Jo Shelley, Susan Rutschmann and Störte Becker.
Dominant Saturday performances from Shelley and Kaptein over Rutschmann and Becker left the Brit and the Dutch players fighting for the title on Sunday morning.
While Kaptein has been the Women’s Seniors World No.1 as recently as this year, Shelley is in superb form and continued that in the final against Kaptein. An underdog before the match started, Shelley recovered well from a 21-5 table tennis loss. The Brit won the badminton 23-21 and squash 21-11.
Kaptein is one of the FIR World Tour’s most experienced players though and she used that to full advantage on the tennis court. The Dutch player dominated in the Lanzarote sunshine, winning 18-8 to earn a second Women’s Seniors Singles title of the season.
Becker finished third after beating Rutschmann in the bronze medal match.
The full Women’s +40 Singles results are available here.
Men’s +40 Singles – Vuorinen Outshines Four Player Box League
It’s been a heck of a month for Juho Vuorinen. After winning the Men’s +45 Doubles World Championship title last month, the Finn has now got his hands on a first career singles title at the IWT Club La Santa Open.
To get his hands on the trophy, Vuorinen had to beat two Germans and a Dutchman in a four-player box league. The Netherlands’ Mark De Bruin was his first victim. Vuorinen beat De Bruin by 15 points, winning every set apart from squash.
He followed that up by defeating Thomas Neupert and Marc Langholz. The first German suffered a defeat before tennis, while Langholz pushed Vuorinen close on Sunday morning, forcing him to require 11 points on the tennis court.
Despite suffering the biggest result to champion Vuorinen, Neupert beat both De Bruin and Langholz to win the silver medal. De Bruin completed the podium after beating Langholz on Saturday afternoon by eight points.
The full Men’s +40 Singles results are available here.
Men’s B Doubles – Olsson and Pedersen Battle to Hard-Fought Title
Scandinavia’s finest Thomas Olsson and Michael Skytte Pedersen teamed up and landed in the Men’s B Doubles draw as the No.2 seeds. Their campaign began with a straightforward victory over debutant Graeme Barella and Marc Veldkamp.
Their semi-final against Noel Mathew and Patrick Moran was a much tougher affair. The American duo pushed the Scandinavians close, winning the table tennis and only trailing by seven points before tennis. Ultimately, Olsson and Pedersen triumphed by six points to book their spot in the final.
The final ended up being a showdown between the two-seeded pairs. Jack Bishop and Johnny Bispham were impressive on their return to the FIR World Tour, opening with a win over Mounir Benheddi and Anthony Levasseur.
The semi-final against Gregor David and Vincent David was a tougher affair. The Brits trailed by six points after badminton but swung the momentum of the match with a destructive 21-3 squash win to guarantee their place in the final.
The final itself was won on the badminton court. While Bishop and Bispham won the table tennis 21-17, Olsson and Pedersen swung the momentum with a 21-10 badminton win. The Scandinavians expanded their lead with a 23-21 squash win a won the title with a 13-12 tennis victory.
It was an excellent weekend for Pedersen in particular. The Dane reached two finals, winning gold and silver in Lanzarote. American pair Mathew and Moran took the bronze after beating the David brothers in a comfortable victory.
The full Men’s B Doubles results are available here.
Mixed B Doubles – First Mixed Doubles Title for Becker and Moran
With only one of the seven pairs in the draw having two ranked players, this was one of the most open Mixed Doubles draws we’ve had this year.
That was proven in the first round with three relatively tight matches. Green Team duo Kathrine Lysdahl and Jon Spinks were the first into the semi-finals as they beat Jennifer Schmitz and Marc Langholz. Awaiting them in the semi-final was top seeds Jo Sheley and Kieran Shelley.
In the bottom half, Michael Skytte Pedersen made another semi-final alongside Lykke Nielsen. The Danish pair beat Susan Ruschmann and Noel Mathew before tennis. Störte Becker and Patrick Moran produced an impressive result in the first round, beating No.2 seeds Nadine Winckler Mørk and Sam Barker.
Both semi-finals were won by under 10 points. Lysdahl and Spinks were the first to progress. They upset the top-seeded Shelley’s after leading by 19 points after badminton. The British duo couldn’t do enough to battle back, eventually losing by eight points. They were joined in the final by Becker and Moran, who rolled into the final after a tennis set shoot-out against Nielsen and Pedersen.
In the final, Becker and Moran won despite getting beaten 21-5 at badminton. Luckily for them, their 21-16, 21-12, 21-10 victories in the other three sports was enough to repair the damage and see both of them get their hands on a first Mixed Doubles title each on the international circuit.
The battle for bronze was won by Jo Shelley and Kieran Shelley. The British pair edged up Nielsen and Pedersen by six points.
The full Mixed Doubles results are available here.
The full report from the elite categories at the IWT Club La Santa Open is available here.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer