Norway hosted its first racketlon tournament on Saturday, a great springboard for the sport in Norway.
The title was taken by Grzegorz Lorkiewicz, the former world top 30 player from Poland who lives in Oslo, beating Joel Durston 21-6, 21-8, 21-8 in the final at Mysen Rackethall.
With Nordic neighbours, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland each having a great pedigree at racketlon, the lack of racketlon tour in Norway has always been surprising. But racketlon looks set to only grow after all players in this monrad tournament of 16 expressed their desire to play more.
An international challenger competition is scheduled for 1-3 September 2023.
“I’m looking forward to new tournaments”
Bjørn Reidar Andersen, who came third, wrote: “I love racketlon. 😍 It was fun to meet so many nice people. 👍 I’m looking forward to new tournaments. 👍 And I almost forgot the organisation of the tournament. Thank you very much to the organisers for their commitment to get racketlon up and going in Norway and arranging the use of Mysen Rackethall.”
Meanwhile, Louise, who finished 11th/12th, wrote that it was an “amazingly fun day. 😍”. Ola Johannessen Kruge added: “It was very fun and welcoming to participate in racketlon. Also, it was a great way to get a glimpse of what the other racket sports offer!”
Mysen Rackethall is a great venue for racketlon. The venue owners were the ones who contacted Duncan Stahl, President of the International Federation of Racketlon, to express their interest in hosting racketlon events.
Alas, this was in late 2020, at the start of the second and longest spell of COVID lockdowns. But they and Joel Durston, a British player who has lived in Norway for four years, have worked hard to build interest in the Scandinavian nation, where there are active squash and tennis scenes. The tennis scene should only grow stronger due to Casper Ruud’s amazing success this year as well.
What happened in the First Tournament?
Grzegorz Lorkiewicz opened his account with a 21-8, 21-1, 21-10 win over Andreas Villand, a talented table tennis and squash player who won his next two monrad matches and will likely prove dangerous at future tournaments.
Greg then played Petrus Eriksson, a Swede who drove over the border for this tournament and who played in both the juniors in Vienna and amateurs in Graz, winning the First Timers category. Petrus displayed some strong table tennis, taking 11 from Greg, just about the closest anyone all day, before succumbing 21-1 and 13-3.
Then he faced the fourth seed, Cyril Mangeot, in the semi-final. Cyril, a Frenchman who wears his heart on his sleeve, had played two tight matches to get there, winning 21-15, 21-10, 21-19, 21-9 against Ignacio Sevillano and 21-23, 18-21, 21-6, 12-14 against Jahanzeb Safraz.
Cyril is a fairly talented table tennis player but, with his exuberant style could improve with a more strategic head for racketlon. He only got one at table tennis and four at badminton, although the badminton score is ok considering he has only played the sport about a dozen times. Cyril took nine points in squash, his strongest sport.
In the other half of the draw, second seed Joel Durston started with a comfortable 21-3, 21-2, 21-13 win against Håkon Hegre, then won 21-12, 8-21, 21-0, 5-2.
His opponent in the semi-final, Bjørn, had come through two challenging matches, against squash specialist Ola Johannessen Kruge and very strong badminton player Majid Nauman respectively, 21-16, 21-5, 13-21, 21-5 and 21-17, 5-21, 21-7, 20-2.
Many players such as Ola and Majid had one or two strong sports and then big gaps to other sports, which is promising for the overall standard of racketlon in Norway as, with just a bit of practice at the weaker sports, players could improve considerably.
Lorkiewicz Wins the First Norway Tournament
Joel and Bjørn’s semi-final was a great battle, Joel nicking a neck-and-neck table tennis 21-19 after trailing most of the set. Bjørn’s badminton proved too strong, winning 21-13. The first half of the squash was very even, with Joel up 11-8 at the turn, before the Brit turned the screw and won 21-10. Solid, if not super stylish, tennis from Joel sealed the win, 17-10.
Greg Lorkiewicz proved too good in the final, a few gears above in every sport, triumphing 21-6, 21-8, 21-8.
Meanwhile, there was a good tussle for third place, with all sets close and the match over twice the length of the final. Bjørn ensured some home pride on the podium with a 21-15, 21-13, 20-22, 10-7 win.
Joel Durston / Tournament Director & Player
Images / Norge Racketlon