A jam-packed day of racketlon action was dominated by both Great Britain and Germany, who each took home at least five gold medals in the Juniors and Seniors Singles categories on day three of the Racketlon World Championships.
Great Britain’s Jermaine Manners was undeniably the star of the day after playing back-to-back Seniors +40 and +45 Singles finals and winning both. Bethany Pye and Jo Shelley also led all-British podiums with Great Britain winning eight gold medals in total.
Germany also had a hugely strong day, winning five gold medals. Silke Altmann and Anita Voelkel scooped up gold medals in the Women’s Seniors, while Thomas Knaack defended his Seniors +55 Singles crown. Ylvie Zahn also defended her Girls U13 Singles title while Bastian Böhm battled hard to the Juniors U18 Singles crown.
It was a historic day for India, as they won two singles gold medals at the same World Championships for the first time. Ashutosh Avinash Pednekar romped to the Seniors +50 Singles title in an emphatic fashion. Making her international racketlon debut, Aadirai K A fought past a pair of Germans to win the Girls U16 Singles.
Juniors U21 Singles
The most high-profile showdown of the day came in the Juniors U21 Singles final where Luke Griffiths took on Florian Harca. The latter had cruised into the final, while Griffiths had faced a real semi-final scare against Matthew Davidson, winning by eight points in the end after leading by just one at the halfway stage.
Harca won the table tennis but Griffiths had the momentum before the tennis, leading by 12 after the middle two sports. Previously, Griffiths has won the Juniors U13, U16 and U18 Singles tiles. After a 10-8 tennis victory, he became the first-ever player to win in every Juniors age group. He also extends his lead at the top of the list of all-time Juniors after his latest success. More silverware could await when he goes in the Boys Doubles and Mixed Doubles on Sunday.
Having just missed out on the final, Davidson finished with a bronze medal.
The full Juniors U21 Singles results are available here.
Girls U21 Singles
Clarissa Steiner and Cherisse Lau both left last year’s World Championships with titles. Steiner was crowned the Girls U18 Singles World Champion while Lau won the Women’s C Singles. So it seemed fitting that they met in the final here, vying for a gold medal again.
The match played out remarkably similar to the Juniors U21 Singles final. Steiner edged the table tennis but the momentum swung in the middle two sports with Lau dominating. After a long wait, the duo finally got on the tennis court, with the Brit getting the seven points she needed to become World Champion for the first time. Lau’s celebration was one of the most heartwarming of the day, with the Brit crying tears of joy at her achievement.
Olena Protsyk beat sister Ivanna to win the bronze medal.
The full results from the Girls U21 Singles are available here.
Seniors +40 & +45 Singles
These Racketlon World Championships have already seen many moments of history. But it’s unlikely that anything will top Jermaine Manners’ Sunday. The Brit had already qualified for the semi-finals of the Seniors +45 Singles, but also launched his campaign for an unprecedented double title in the Seniors +40 Singles.
His list of wins on Sunday is staggering. He took out Marcel Weigl, Duncan Stahl, Ray Jordan, Balázs Francia and Nikola Mikac all in one day to win both Singles titles. A completely unprecedented feat that has never been achieved on Racketlon’s Seniors circuit before.
While his Seniors +45 Singles win was impressive, taking out Francia in the final thanks to dominant badminton and squash, it was his Seniors +40 run that was truly eyecathing. The Brit beat the top three seeds on his route to the title, emphatically disputing Nikola Mikac in the final. He also had to play one final straight after the other, beginning his last match at around 10pm in Vienna. A truly remarkable achievement that led to glorious scenes of celebration with his family.
Mohammed Tarik Koubaa landed on the Seniors +40 Singles podium for the second year in a row with a bronze medal. Pontus Olofsson picked up a bronze medal in the Seniors +45 Singles after Duncan Stahl was unable to play his final match.
The full Seniors +40 Singles results are available here. The full Seniors +45 Singles results are available here.
Women’s Seniors +40 Singles
Having made her return to the Racketlon World Tour earlier this year, Silke Altmann came back to the World Championships with a bang. Having earlier beaten Alice Flatman, Altmann took on top seed Kirsten Kaptein in the final. Despite losing table tennis, the German stormed through the middle two sports, eventually winning the title with a 9-6 tennis win.
Altmann won this trophy back in 2019 and will be delighted to get her hands on it once again after not playing last year. Kaptein beat Flatman in the Box League to get silver, with Flatman third.
The full Women’s Seniors +40 Singles results are available here.
Juniors U18 Singles
After the superb showdown between Bastian Böhm and Jesse Kiljunen on Saturday, it seemed unlikely we’d see many better matches this weekend. While the semi-finals and final of the Juniors U18 Singles didn’t quite match the same heights, they were still fantastic matches.
In the semi-finals, Anant Gupta upset top seed Lukáš Dvořák on his World Championships debut. That set up a meeting with Bastian Böhm, who took out compatriot and teammate Cornelius Ried after a full set of tennis.
A dominant 21-9 squash set put Gupta in a good position in the final. But it was a Böhm tennis masterclass that swung the gold medal in the German’s favour. He held his nerve again to win 21-5 and pick up a second gold medal of the weekend. With two still on offer, could we see Böhm join Jo Shelley in becoming a four-category World Champion?
Ried held off a late flurry from Dvořák to win the bronze medal.
The full Juniors U18 Singles results are available here.
Girls U18 Singles
Bethany Pye only played in her first Racketlon match earlier this year at the British National Championships. Fast forward a few months later and she is the new Girls U18 Singles World Champion.
After winning her group, she faced Girls No.1 and fellow Brit Alexandra Ogram in the final. The match was a topsy-turvy affair, with Pye winning the table tennis to five before Ogram won the badminton 21-11 and squash 21-1. What followed was an absolute tennis masterclass. Displaying a mental fortitude well beyond her years, Pye produced rock-solid tennis set to win 21-3 and claim a fantastic world title.
Holly Ranson then locked in an all-British podium after beating Germany’s Alina Reissenauer for bronze.
The full Girls U18 Singles results are available here.
Women’s Seniors +45 Singles
After both beating Renate Perschinka in the three-play box league, Anita Voelkel and Nora Barta-Boncz met for the Women’s Seniors +45 Singles. Voelkel is a two-time Women’s +40 Singles world champion but had to work extremely hard to beat the Hungarian. In the end, she won heavily enough across the first two sports to seal a seven-point win.
The full Women’s Seniors +45 Singles results are available here.
Seniors +50 Singles
Back in 2018, Ashutosh Avinash Pednekar made history by becoming the first Indian player to win a gold medal at the Racketlon World Championships. Four years later and he’s got another.
Pednekar’s run to the title was one of the most impressive of the weekend. The Indian trailblazer took out a number of heavyweights, including defending champion Jacob Steinmetz and multiple Seniors World Champion Levente Nándori. Perhaps most impressive was the fact that he did all of this without dropping a set of playing tennis. A remarkable run.
Eric Durand ensured that three continents were represented on the podium, with the Australian picking up the bronze medal.
The full Seniors +50 Singles results are available here.
Women’s Seniors +50 Singles
Speaking of history, Jo Shelley made more of it in Vienna. Already a three-time Women’s Seniors +50 Singles, Shelley became the first female player to win four World Championship singles titles in the same category. Not only has she achieved this magical feat, but she’s done it by winning four consecutive tournaments, dating back to 2018.
Shelley’s gold medal was made sweeter by the fact that she was joined on the podium by two more Brits. Jane Galsworthy takes home the silver medal while Katie Hill wins bronze on her international racketlon debut.
The full Women’s Seniors +50 Singles results are available here.
Juniors U16 Singles
If Pednekar’s title run was eye-catching, then so was Lucas Steyer’s in the Juniors U16 Singles. The young French talent first appeared on the World Championship radar when he won the Juniors U13 Teams event three years ago with Axel Diet. Now he’s flying solo, and doing a remarkable job.
Like Pednekar, Steyer won all of his matches before tennis while also winning every single set. The results on his title run include wins over top seed Lukáš Dvořák and No.3 seed Jakob Rosenberger. Dvořák ended the tournament with the silver medal, while Ollie Barton beat Jakob Rosenberger for bronze.
The full Juniors U16 Singles results are available here.
Girls U16 Singles
There was a further slice of history for India in the Girls U16 Singles as debutant Aadirai K A blew apart the field to win in emphatic style. The previously unknown player was fantastic as she took out Annemarie Del Favero, Holly Ranson, Ylvie Zahn and Alina Reissenauer in the final to lift the Girls U16 Singles crown at Racketworld.
Aadirai will return to action on Sunday in the doubles before heading to Graz to compete as part of a very dangerous Indian team in the Nations Cup. After suffering just her second-ever singles loss, Zahn recovered to take bronze, with Reissenauer winning silver.
The full Girls U16 Singles results are available here.
Seniors +55 Singles
It takes incredible skill to defend a Racketlon World Championship title, especially when you have to deal with a draw as stacked as the Seniors +55 Singles. That is exactly what Thomas Knaack achieved, despite being dealt a horrible draw. He began with a rematch of last year’s final against Avi Shemri, before having to face No.1 seed Richard Hobzik.
Knaack beat compatriot Frank Böhm in the semi-finals before winning the final against last year’s Seniors +50 Doubles champion Thomas Ostenfeld Larsen. The final featured the longest set of the day, as the two slugged out a 28-26 squash set late in the evening in Vienna.
Böhm and Manfred Grab also produced a 26-24 squash set in the bronze medal match, which Böhm eventually won.
The full Seniors +55 Singles results are available here.
Women’s Seniors +55 Singles
Katrin Maldre knows what it takes to be a World Champion. She won the Women’s Seniors +55 Singles four years ago. But in a box league featuring defending champion Carola Von Heimburg, as well as Zuzana Vancuríková and Dianne Baker, it was going to be tough.
In the end, Maldre’s crucial match came second up against Von Heimburg. Despite trailing after the squash, the American roared to a 10-point victory with an imperious tennis performance. Maldre then became the first World Singles titlist at this year’s Championships when she beat Vancuríková in the afternoon. Von Heimburg finished with silver with Vancuríková in bronze.
The full Women’s Seniors +55 Singles results are available here.
Juniors U13 Singles
One of the most gruelling draws this weekend was the Juniors U13, which saw two groups of five youngsters compete for a spot in the final. After a day full of battles, it was Germany’s Henri Zahn and Great Britain’s Daniel Austin that emerged in the final.
As the top seed, Zahn made a fast start and led by 14 points after badminton. Austin levelled the match with a 21-5 squash victory and played eye-catching tennis to win 21-10 and seal a second World Championship title of the weekend after his team’s triumph on Friday.
Michal Fojtik, who lost to Austin in the Group Stage, finished on the podium after beating Robin Sam.
The full Juniors U13 Singles results are available here.
Girls U13 Singles
One year ago, Ylvie Zahn and Lena Schaedler faced off in the final of the Girls U13 Singles. One year later and the two incredibly talented young Germans were at it again.
Schaedler has never managed to beat her training partner Zahn. In this final, she came closer than ever before. For the first time, a full set of tennis was required to separate the pair. Despite being level for much of the tennis, Zahn pulled away towards the end, eventually winning 21-13 to seal a nine-point victory and a third World Championship singles title.
The full Girls U13 Singles results are available here.
Seniors +60 Singles
If there was a Comeback Player of the Year Award, then Magnus Edby would certainly be a leading contender. The Swede has been sensational on his return from a four-year racketlon hiatus. He capped a splendid year with a first-ever Seniors Singles world title.
Edby’s run to the final saw him take out defending champion Peter Sákovics. His tightest match of the day came in the semi-finals against Alan Plater. Another former World Champion – Martyn Langston – was his final opponent. Despite Langston’s best efforts, it was Edby who took the final, winning all four sports by slender margins to earn Sweden its first gold medal of the Championships.
Despite nearly beating Edby, Plater was denied a bronze medal by fellow Brit Rakesh Gupta.
The full Seniors +60 Singles results are available here.
Seniors +65 Singles
As he heads back to Great Britain in the next few days, Julian Clapp can claim the rare feat of winning a world title by exclusively beating World Champions. He opened with a win against Seniors +70 Singles champion Steen Hesselbjerg (more on him shortly). In the semi-finals, he defeated the returning multiple World Champion Michael Karácsonyi.
The final saw a battle between the 2019 Seniors +65 Singles champion Graham King and the 2021 Seniors +65 Singles champion Julian Clapp. Despite winning the first three sports, Clapp only led by 10 points heading to tennis. That was enough for the Brit though, as he beat King to become the first player to successfully defend the Seniors +65 Singles title.
Denmark’s Jean-Robert Fiori produced a masterful comeback against Karácsonyi to win his first singles medal at the World Championships.
The full Seniors +65 Singles results are available here.
Seniors +70 Singles
Having won previous World titles in younger age groups, Graham Cain and Steen Hesselbjerg made their debut at Seniors +70 Singles. In the five-player box league, both dispatched the other trio to set up a final between the two.
After a 25-23 table tennis win, Hesselbjerg began to pull away. A 21-11 badminton win swung the match firmly in Hesselbjerg’s favour and, eventually the great Dane. That’s now a second World Singles Championship title for Hesselbjerg, after his 2018 triumph.
The full Seniors +70 Singles results are available here.
Juniors U12 Singles
A lot of eyes were on the Juniors U12 Singles final as Austrian duo Christoph Wagner and Romeo Sam battled for glory. This is the first time that this category has been held at a World Singles Championships, and the quality that these two youngsters produced suggests that it will be back.
Wagner and Sam produced a superb match, with Sam eventually securing the title after winning the last three sports. After finishing runner-up in the Boys U13 Single, Henri Zahn added a second medal after finishing third.
The full Juniors U12 Singles results are available here.
Juniors U10 Singles
Another new category at these Championships is the Juniors U10 Singles. It was a young German contingent that dominated the event, with four reaching the quarter-finals. Yorsalem Luul and Anthony Müller were the two players that reached the final on the smaller courts.
After winning table tennis and badminton, Luul did enough to win the title by three points over Müller, a marvellous achievement for the Eritrean-born German.
It was fantastic to see all eight youngsters competing in this brand new event and we look forward to seeing their development up the junior ranks.
The full Juniors U10 Singles results are available here.
One of Racketlon’s biggest strengths is that anyone is able to enter all of our tournaments – including the World Championships. That was on show in the First Timers category, as over 20 budding racketlon players took their first steps in the sport.
In the end, it was Sweden’s Petrus Eriksson who won the title, fighting back against Polish table tennis player Rafał Wasilewski in the final. Local Austrian Christoph Gastinger finished with the bronze medal.
The full results from the First Timers category are available here.
Rewatch all the action from the World Singles Championship finals here.
Tune in on Monday to watch all the World Doubles Championship centre court action here.
All the latest news and information about the FIR Racketlon World Championships 2022 is available here.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer