Arturs Zaicevs beat Michał Kurek in the final of the Men’s A Singles at the Polish Open Challenger to become the first Latvian player to win an elite singles title.
Zaicevs won all three box league matches to secure the title, beating wildcard Wojciech Wajda by one point on Saturday to avoid a potential Gummiarm Playoff.
There were titles for both Wajda and Kurek though. Wajda beat Kamil Kurak to win the Seniors +40 Singles crown. Meanwhile, the Polish No.1, Kurek, teamed up with Bartosz Wesolek to win the Men’s A Doubles crown, beating Miroslaw Kalicki and Daniel Lipowski.
There was redemption for Lipowski in the Seniors +50 Singles, as he beat Graham King for the title. The Pole also finished as runner-up in the Men’s B Singles, losing to Czech champion Marek Hrůza in the final.
Daniel Ladny triumphed over brother Kacper Ladny and Antoni Kozłowski to win the Juniors U16 Singles.
Men’s A Singles – History for Zaicevs
It was always expected that Michał Kurek and Arturs Zaicevs would meet on Sunday for the Polish Open Challenger title. The two were the highest seeded players and boasted the most experience of the four players. Both took down Christian Börner and Wojciech Wajda on Saturday, although wildcard Wajda put up a hell of a fight.
In fact, in his first match against Arturs Zaicevs, he lost by just one point. He led by nine points after table tennis before Zaicevs won 21-19, 21-17, 21-17 across the final three sports to grab the one point victory. Kurek was made to work against Wajda, but was able to win by 11 points to ensure we got the expected final between Kurek and Zaicevs.
In the end, it was a comfortable win for Zaicevs on Sunday. The Latvian’s historic win was centered around a near-faultless badminton set After winning table tennis 21-14, Zaicevs delivered a sensational 21-2 badminton set to establish a huge lead. Kurek fought back in the squash, with an array of straight drops and volley boats opening up an 11-3 lead. Zaicevs began to read Kurek’s game in the second half though, clawing back the deficit with some exceptional retrievals and winning drops to win 22-20 and secure the title.
That victory makes Arturs Zaicevs the first-ever Latvian to win an elite singles racketlon title and the second overall, after Uldis Dzirkalis won a Mixed Doubles crown a few years ago. It’s heartbreak for Kurek who was unable to triumph on home soil in the singles, but there was success for him in the doubles. He did also finish with a silver medal, with Wajda securing the bronze after beating Börner.
The full Men’s A Singles results are available here.
Men’s A Doubles – First Title for Kurek and Wesolek
In the Men’s A Doubles, Michał Kurek teamed up with relatively unknown Pole Bartosz Wesolek. Wesolek had only played one tournament before – the 2021 World Championships where he won three and lost one in the Men’s C Singles.
Their campaign almost ended in the first round against Kamil Kurak and Dariusz Muc. The inexperienced pair roared into the lead with a 21-6 victory. Kurek and Wesolek then battled back, winning the next three sports to eventually triumph by four points.
Their semi-final against Szajda Przemysław and Szczepan Rubczynski was a more straightforward affair. The Poles had beaten top seeds Graham King and Dariusz Adam Walczak in the first round, but found Kurek and Wesolek too much to handle. The Kurek-led duo won three of the four sports to triumph by 18 points.
In the bottom half, it was Miroslaw Kalicki and Daniel Lipowski who roared through two matches to reach the final. The kicked off with a win over No.2 seeds Timm Rannu and Kristjan Teeäär. In an all-Polish semi-final, they beat Adam Borkowski and Jaroslaw Pupiallo to both reach a first elite final.
In the final it was Kalicki and Lipowski who made the faster start. The duo won the table tennis 21-17 to open up a slender lead. Kurek and Wesolek then wrestled control of the match. The duo won 21-9 and 21-8 in the middle two sports to leave themselves needing just one point on the tennis court. They secured that one point at the third attempt to ensure both will leave the tournament as an elite champion for the first time.
Przemysław and Rubczynski finished with a bronze medal after beating Borkowski and Pupiallo before tennis.
The full Men’s A Doubles results are available here.
Men’s B Singles – Hrůza Wins in Impressive Fashion
With 11 Poles in the 14-player Men’s B Singles draw, there was a good chance that a Pole would triumph here. Czech Republic’s Marek Hrůza had other ideas though.
The lone-Czech player to travel to the tournament lived up to his billing as the top seed, seeing off a trio of Polish opposition to secure a second career singles title. Hrůza opened against Maciej Gul, winning all three sports to triumph before tennis. In the semi-final, Adam Borkowski did force Hrůza onto the tennis court. However, a dominant 21-6 badminton win meant that Hrůza needed just three points on the tennis court, something he achieved with ease.
Daniel Lipowski was Hrůza’s opponent in the final. The weekend’s Iron Man was competing in his 10th match in two days, having battled to a sensational two point victory in the semi-finals. Lipowski had beaten both Szajda Przemysław and Łukasz Wilamowski with relative ease in the earlier rounds. The semi-final against Szczepan Rubczynski was as topsy-turvy as racketlon matches come.
Lipowski won the table tennis 21-4 before losing the badminton 21-6 and squash 21-2. Needing just five points for a spot in the final, Rubczynski must have thought he had done enough. But Lipowski produced a faultless 21-2 tennis set victory to win by two points. Having earlier won the Men’s +50 Singles, Lipowski couldn’t leave Warsaw with two singles titles.
Instead, it was Hrůza who walked away victorious. The Czech won the match by 16 points, with a devastating 21-3 squash victory the foundation of his magnificent win. That is Hrůza’s first title since winning the Men’s C Singles title at the IWT Czech Open in 2019.
The only other non-Pole to win a title was Czech Republic’s Marek Hruza, who took the Men’s B title, despite a blistering start in the final by Daniel Lipowski. However, Hruza’s solid performance in all four sports was enough to claw back the deficit in a high-quality final. He’ll be back in action at the Romanian Open Challenger next month, with entry still open here.
Rubczynski beat Borkowski by 10 points to secure a bronze medal.
The full Men’s B Singles results are available here.
Seniors +40 Singles – Wajda Makes Up for Elite Heartbreak With Seniors Triumph
There was no more comfortable run to the title than Wojciech Wajda in the Seniors +40 Singles. The Polish player was superb throughout, winning all three of his matches before tennis and without dropping a set.
He opened by taking out Men’s B Singles champion Marek Hrůza by 23 points, winning the squash 21-6. His squash continued to get better as the tournament went on. In the semi-finals he beat Adam Borkowski +35, winning the squash 21-4. Facing him in the final was Kamil Kurak.
Kurak has first taken out Kristjan Teeäär by 25 points, before battling past top seed Christian Börner by nine points to reach the final on his return to racketlon. In the final, Wajda was simply too strong though. He snuck the first two sets 21-16 and 21-17, before securing the title with a dominant 21-2 squash victory.
Borkowski beat Börner for the bronze medal.
The full Seniors +40 Singles results are available here.
Seniors +50 Singles – “Iron Man” Lipowski Wins After Busy Weekend
With three finals and 10 matches in two days, it was an exhausting weekend for Daniel Lipowski. The Pole did manage to leave the tournament with one title, securing the Seniors +50 Singles title after a victory over Graham King in the final.
Lipowski beat countrymen Dariusz Muc and Miroslaw Kalicki in the opening two rounds, without dropping a set in the process. In the final he would take on top seed Graham King, after the ever-present current Seniors +65 Doubles World Champion beat Jacek Ladny in the semi-finals.
Lipowski dominated the opening two sets of the final. The Pole took both the table tennis and badminton 21-9 to establish a 24 point lead at the halfway stage. King battled back on the squash court, winning 21-10 to give himself a fighting chance. But Lipowski was too strong on the tennis court, winning 9-3 to secure his first career title.
Kalicki finished with the bronze medal.
The full Seniors +50 Singles results are available here.
Juniors U16 Singles – Two Ladny’s On the Podium as Daniel Soars
The final gold medal went to Daniel Ladny in the Juniors U16 Singles. In truth, the young Pole dominated proceedings, winning both of his matches before tennis and winning three of his six sets to singles figures.
His first match was against brother Kacper Ladny, who he beat after dominating both the table tennis and squash. He secured the title after taking out Antoni Kozłowski. The showdown for second was one of the best matches of the tournament. Kacper Ladny battled back from a 21-10 squash loss to win 21-13 and secure a +1 victory. That left that Ladny brothers in gold and silver on the podium, with Kozłowski in third.
The full Juniors U16 Singles results are available here.
“Excellent Playing Conditions and Extensive Infrastructure”
Speaking after the tournament, Graham King said, “The player atmosphere was very warm and friendly, with players clearly enjoying themselves in the excellent playing conditions and extensive infrastructure including a tasty on-site Japanese restaurant offering a wide range of very high-quality dishes at very economic process (also by Polish standards).
“Even the very intense playing schedules, with two and a half days of regular matches being crammed into Saturday and Sunday morning, whilst still allowing (on player request) the chance to still play in three separate events!
“Some players had little rest, with Daniel Lipowski winning the “iron man” title of playing 10 matches in a day and half, picking up 3 medals in the process (winner of +50 and runner-up in Men’s Doubles and Men’s B Singles).
“If medals were also awarded for player’s determination to take part, then Timm Rannu would surely take gold, making the 1’000 km journey from Tallinn on his motorbike! Arturs Zaicev’s little car ride of only around 700 km would have earned him silver.”
All results from the Polish Open Challenger are available here. Interested in playing Racketlon? We’ve got three tournaments left on the 2022 Racketlon World Tour. Entry to the Romanian Open Challenger, IWT Czech Open and IWT La Santa Open is available here.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer