Sands Wins Australia’s First Elite Singles Title | Thailand Open Challenger

Leigh Sands has made history by becoming the first Australian player to win an elite singles title.

Sands beat Mandrin Mouchet in the final of the Thailand Open Challenger Men’s Singles category to etch his name into the history books.

In the Women’s Singles, Tsz Yan Joyce Chan topped an all-Hong Kong podium as she won her first elite singles title.

Here is your full report from the final day of the season-opening Thailand Open Challenger.

Men’s Singles – Sands Wins Australia’s First Elite Singles Title

The semi-finals of the Men’s Elite Singles category were set up perfectly at the close of play on Saturday. Hong Kong versus France and Hong Kong versus Australia. Hong Kong had dominated the doubles action earlier in the tournament, but the singles semi-finals would not go their way.

Sands was first up against Steven Wai Kit Cheng. The Australian found himself down early on after losing the table tennis 21-4. That damage was repaired over the middle two sports, with Sands winning squash 21-2. He eventually won the match by 13 points to secure his place in the final.

Mandrin Mouchet had a more comfortable time against Bridge Yan Kiu Lam. The Frenchman was consistent across the front three sports, winning by 23 points before tennis.

In the final, it was Mouchet who raced into an early lead. After taking the table tennis 23-21, he put on a badminton clinic, winning 21-9 to extend his lead to 14 points. As had become common in Thailand, Sands’ squash dug him out of a hole.

Sands produced a ferocious squash performance, especially in the second half, to win 21-5 and lead by two points heading outside to the tennis courts. Some recent tennis coaching proved extremely helpful for the Australian. Sands dominated Mouchet to win 21-9 and plant his name in the history books.

Sands, who has been one of the most dedicated and well-travelled players on the Racketlon World Tour, won his first-ever elite singles title. He becomes the first Australian to achieve that feat and will hope to return in 2024 to defend his title.

In the all-Hong Kong bronze medal match, it was Steven Wai Kit Cheng who prevailed.

The full Men’s Singles results are available here.

“I haven’t processed it yet”

Speaking to Frank Kleiber after the final, the new champion Leigh Sands said, “I haven’t processed it yet. My goal was to make the final and from there anything else would be a bonus.

“I felt like the pressure was on to beat me and for me it was just about playing with freedom. I don’t think I could really have played better in the four sports. Maybe in the first half of squash. I tried to match pace rather than have the composure in the second half to get the ball to die at the back. I don’t think I gave that many errors through the four sports that that made it a little bit more difficult.

“There’s always improvements to be made. If I want to go to Europe the level’s completely different. I’m definitely going to work on – not so much squash – but the other three sports. I’ve been coached in tennis recently and I feel like the improvements I’ve made helped a lot in this tournament.

“Lastly, I want to say thank you to Frank for putting on a great tournament”.

Mandrin Mouchet was also full of praise for Frank Kleiber and was delighted to be back on court. He said “I’m very happy to be playing again, especially in Thailand at this fantastic venue. Thank you a lot Frank for this competition.”

Women’s Singles – Perfect Weekend for Joyce Chan

While Steven Wai Kit Cheng could not win gold, there was better fortunes for his Mixed Doubles partner Tsz Yan Joyce Chan. The Hong Kong star had placed herself as the favourite for glory after two wins on Saturday.

She still had to navigate her way through two matches on Sunday though, against Ho Ching Chan and Wan Yiu Lui. In the end, both matches were comfortable victories for Joyce Chan. The Hong Kong star lost the table tennis in both matches. However, crushing badminton and squash wins meant she did not need her tennis racket in either and could celebrate the trophy in style.

In facy, Joyce Chan was utterly superb during the draw. She dropped just two sets in her four matches and lost just 17 points on the badinton court in four matches. She now becomes the third woman from Hong Kong to own a Racketlon World Tour Elite Women’s Singles title.

The silver medal went to Kwan Wun Man after her win over Wan Yin Lui on Saturday.

The full Women’s Singles results are available here.

Seniors +40 Singles – Rakshit Wins First Career Title

A lot of categories had been wrapped up by the close of play on Saturday. One that had barely begun was the Seniors +40 Singles. In fact, eventual champion Gourav Rakshit had the rare feat of having to play three matches on the final day of competition.

That did not faze the Indian player, as he recorded three victories to win the Seniors +40 Singles title. His opening win came against Adrian Ng, who had narrowly lost to Christian Börner on Saturday. Rakshit’s toughest match game against eventual silver medalist Tsz Chung Chan. It was Rakshit’s superb squash that ended up being the clincher. A 21-4 squash win helped guide him to an eventual +13 overall victory.

Rakshit secured the title with a lunchtime victory over Börner. Despite losing the table tennis 21-15, Rakshit dominated the middle two sport to win before tennis. That’s Rakshit’s first title after a trio of previous podiums in previous Thailand Open and Indian Opens past.

The full Seniors +40 Singles results are available here.

Men’s B Singles – Leung Beats Kazantsev for Silver

Sathid Sujittapiban had already wrapped up the Men’s B Singles title on Saturday. That meant that all eyes were on the showdown between Bryan Leung and Mikhail Kazantsev for silver.

It was the American, Kazantsev, that made the stronger start, winning 21-7. But Leung fought back in emphatic style. He dropped a 21-0 badminton win before winning squash 21-6 to ensure that no tennis was needed. A silver medal for Leung while Kazantsev left his maiden tournament with a bronze medal.

The full Men’s B Singles results are available here.

Men’s C Singles – Ho Steals Silver With Comeback Win over Ng

Similar to the Men’s B Singles, there were just a couple of matches left in the Men’s C Singles. However, both matches ended up being thrillers involving Adrian Ng.

After a narrow +4 loss to Thanapol Watanapreecha on Saturday, there was more heartache for the Brit on Sunday. He first lost to Timothy Sze by three points, before losing to Jonathan Ho by seven in his final match of the tournament.

That win for Ho saw him snatch the silver medal in the category that had already been won by Tsz Chung Chan. Thailand’s Watanapreecha took the bronze medal with Sze missing out despite his Sunday win.

The full Men’s C Singles results are available here.

Reports are also available from both Friday and Saturday at the 2023 Thailand Open Challenger.

Interested in competing on the 2023 Racketlon World Tour? Check out the full Tour here.

Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer

Image / Frank Kleiber

Share this post:

Our Instagram

Our Facebook