Nicolas on fire in cold and wet Helsinki!

Only two Swiss players made the long journey into the upper reaches of the Baltic Sea last weekend. With ambient temperatures of mostly under 15 degrees, more rain than not and less than 12 hours of daylight per day, Nicolas Lenggenhager shone like a supernova, playing out of his skin and bringing home a grand haul of three medals. In doing so, he probably became the first person in Racketlon history to defeat Poland’s star player, Rav Rykowski, twice in one tournament. Most impressive was of course his singles performance, in which he was able to more than neutralise one of Rav’s normally overwhelming advantages with a 21–12 badminton victory. None of these points can be attributed to Graham’s neutral, as ever, role as referee for this match. With an impressive 21-12 start in TT (especially seeing that Rav typically trains TT with his wife around 10 hours per tournament), the expected heavy loss at squash was not enough to prevent Nicolas sealing the match with some solid tennis. 

Nicolas then followed up his surge with another very close (+3) semi-final win against Finland’s Otto Tennila, currently number 3 in their domestic TT rankings, and more than respectable in the other 3 sports. 

Despite being stopped in the final by the young local matador Luka Pentinnen, who was comprehensively better in 3 of the 4 sports, Nicolas was more than delighted to take home silver. 

That he was also able to team up with Sweden’s tennis star René Lindberg to add silver in Men’s Elite doubles (losing by -3 in the final to a HongKong-Finnish duo; and after only defeating Graham and his Moscovite partner in the first round by the narrowest of margins in the first round), and, with Dutch TT specialist Kirsten Kaptein, bronze in Elite Mixed doubles (losing again by only -3 to the gold-medalist Finnish PSA squash player and his young partner) was icing on the cake. 

Graham’s story is a bit shorter. Still recovering from several weeks of lung infection, he nevertheless managed two successes in MC and also the enviable Double-Wooden-Spoon award, in MA doubles and +45 singles. His misery was further compounded on being requested to umpire badminton, squash and tennis of the hotly contested MC final. This culminated in a Gummiarm in which Poland’s first timer Martin Lorkiewicz, after a long rally, finally passed Russia’s Sergei Seregin at the net, only to watch his ball sail so agonisingly close to the deep, far tramlines, that Graham’s only option was to ask for the point to be replayed, despite absolute certainty from both supporter groups that the ball was respectively in, or out, depending on which camp they sat in. Unhappily, Martin’s second Gummiarm service (probably also another first for Racketlon), landed in the net. But Racketlon is not like ice-hockey or football, and Graham was not then beaten to a pulp and hospitalised afterwards, but instead figuratively slapped on the back with a smile by the unlucky loser and some of his compatriots. 

The Finnish Open returned this year to the Smash Centre, offering excellent facilities (though featuring badminton and squash conditions which were too snail-pace slow for the author’s liking).

Outside of the venue activities, not much was happening, given the weather, but the tournament hotel was one of the best on tour, nicely situated at the sea and forest border, and offering good food and cosy areas to relax in with a coffee or beer. 

If you have nothing in your calendar at that time in 2020, well worth a visit.

Graham King



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Aktuelle Rankings (1. Dezember 2019)

Herren Einzel
1. Benjamin Gränicher
2. Patrick Casanova-Lorenz
3. Christian Schäfer
4. Nico Hobi
5. Raphael Paglia
6. Nicolas Lenggenhager
7. Michael Strässle
8. Oliver Bühler
9. André Bandi
10. Cédric Junillon

Damen Einzel
1. Nicole Eisler
2. Valeria Pelosini
3. Adeline Kilchenmann

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