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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

Die Trophäe steht wieder in der Romandie

Wenn um 6.30 Uhr, zweieinhalb Stunden vor Spielbeginn die Mitteilung bei der Turnierleitung eintrifft, dass aufgrund eines Rohrbruches alle Tennisplätze unter Wasser und nicht zur Verfügung stehen, dann zieht es einem zuerst einmal den Boden unter den Füssen weg. Wie soll ein Turnier, dessen voller Zeitplan auch bei normalen Verhältnissen keine Verspätungen zulässt, unter diesen Bedingungen einigermassen regulär durchgeführt werden? Andererseits befinden sich rund 100 Spielerinnen und Spieler auf der Anreise und freuen sich auf diesen Tag. Deshalb entscheidet sich die Turnierleitung für eine Durchführung nach dem Motto: «Wir schauen mal, wie weit wir kommen und lösen ein Problem nach dem anderen.» Tennisplätze müssen ja erst ab 11.00 Uhr zur Verfügung stehen.

Dass das Sihlsports Center angesichts des Unglücks den Betrieb an diesem Tag in den anderen drei Sportarten und im Restaurant umfassend aufrechterhalten hat, ist ihm hoch anzurechnen. Ein ganz grosses Dankeschön an dieser Stelle! Die Racketlon Community wünscht dem Sihlsports Center von Herzen, dass sich alles möglichst schnell wieder zum Guten wendet!

Neue Tennisplätze mussten gesucht und gefunden werden. An einem Regentag, an dem alle Tennisspieler in die Hallen drängen, auch im Sommer kein leichtes Unterfangen. Zudem arbeiten viele Hallen im Sommer nur auf Sparflamme. Letztlich konnten Plätze in Schlieren, Birmensdorf, Baar und Zug reserviert werden, so dass aus einem Spielort auf einmal fünf wurden. Dies erhöhte selbstredend den Aufwand bei Organisation und Kommunikation und schaffte auch eine Herausforderung in Sachen Transport. Aber es zeigte sich, dass Racketlon-Spielerinnen und -Spieler einen hohen Grad an Selbstorganisation aufweisen. Die Verschiebung der Teams klappte überraschend gut, zeitgerecht und mit minimalem Aufwand. Ein grosses Lob an die Racketlon Community für ihre Flexibilität! Die Rückmeldungen an die Turnierleitung waren zudem mehrheitlich wohlwollend und hilfreich. Die Bereitschaft, Eigeninteressen hinter die Gesamtinteressen zu stellen war, weit verbreitet. All dies führte dazu, dass knapp vor 23.00 Uhr der letzte Punkt gespielt werden konnte und lediglich eine Verspätung von knapp zwei Stunden gegenüber dem Spielplan herausschaute.

Favorit RC Léman setzt sich durch
Nun zum sportlichen Teil des Finaltags. NLA-Favorit RC Léman bleibt auch am zweiten Spieltag ohne Niederlage und holt sich nach 2014 zum zweiten Mal den Interclub-Meistertitel. Das Team mit Valeria Pelosini, Arnaud Genin, Magnus Ekstrand, Cédric Junillon und Cyril Hohl lässt  gegen Rapid Luzern und die Feuerrackets nichts anbrennen. Letztere müssen sich hingegen zweimal knapp geschlagen geben und fallen hinter 4RRV auf den dritten Platz zurück. Der RC Genève löst sich mit zwei Siegen vom Tabellenende, wo Rapid Luzern nur der Abstieg in die NLB bleibt. Im Relegationsspiel kann sich der RC Uetikon gegen RC Léman II durchsetzen und so den Ligaerhalt sichern.

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(v.l.n.r. Arnaud Génin, Magnus Ekstrand, Cédric Junillon, Valeria Pelosini, Cyril Hohl)

Basel erstmals in NLA
In der NLB erzielen die Basel Rackets in fünf Spielen 369 Punkte mehr als ihre Gegner. Dies reicht zum unangefochtenen Gruppensieg und dem direkten Aufstieg in die NLA. Am anderen Ende der Tabelle bleibt Racketlon Yverdon sieglos und steigt in die 1. Liga ab. Go for 4, RC Léman II sowie Racketlon Yverdon II und RC Lémanus via Relegationsspiele sichern sich den Ligaerhalt in der NLB.

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(v.l.n.r. Steve Bühler, Fabienne Dohny, Oliver Bühler, Manfred Grab)

Zug feiert Comeback
Nach dem Abstieg der Zuger Racketeers aus der NLA in die 1. Liga hat sich der Verein wieder gefangen. In der 1. Liga konnten die Zuger dieses Jahr alle Spiele für sich entscheiden und sich somit den direkten Aufstieg sichern. Quattro Formaggi und Zuger Racketeers II, Zweiter und Dritter der 1. Liga, scheiterten in den Aufstiegsspielen knapp an ihren Gegnern aus der NLB.

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(v.l.n.r. Adrian Waldis, Stephanie Caviezel, Daniel Kurmann, Karim Hanna) (Es fehlt auf dem Bild: Roli Langhart)

Eine ereignisreiche Interclub-Saison mit Stromausfall, Wasserrohrbruch, hart umkämpften Spielen, dramatischen Szenen auf dem Platz, bitteren Niederlagen und verdienten Siegern hat ihr glückliches Ende gefunden.

Beat Ladner

Last man standing in Vienna

Just three Swiss players found their way to the Austrian Classic. One of the older tournaments in the Racketlon history made a big change to their schedule. Cutting it down to a two day event, it was a grueling schedule for the players who played three categories.

Cyril Hohl again won the men B doubles, this time with his French partner Anthony Duthuillé. Winnig this category twice within four weeks, it might be time to go for higher honors and start competing in the elite class.

Not being tempted to go out the night before the tournament, Oliver Bühler played a superb first round against the Croation Mikac. Blocking like a madman in the table tennis and delivering destruction on the badminton court paved the way to his victory. In the next round he tired Morten Jaksland to make it easier for other players after him.

The change in the schedule suited Benjamin Gränicher quite a bit. Having to play three singles matches in one day proved too much for all of his opponent. With Emanuel Schöpf, Arnaud Genin and Morten Jaksland (who twisted his foot in the semis), he beat three top ten opponents in a row to win his first title since 2016 and the first Super World Tour title. He could not even be stopped by the doping control before the finals. Finishing the last match just around midnight still left him enough strength to directly dominate the players party as well with excellent wingman Oliver Bühler.

Benjamin Gränicher

Graenicher Wins 1st Singles Title Since 2016

From racketlon.net by Sam Barker:

Benjamin Graenicher beat both the defending champion and World No.1 on his way to lifting the SWT Austrian Open presented by GRAWE sidebyside Men’s A Singles title. The title in Austria is Graenicher’s first since the 2016 IWT Winners’ Events Turkish Open.

Men’s A: Seeds all Reach Semi-Finals

It was an action-packed day for all players with all singles finals taking place on Saturday. That meant that, in the Men’s A, all players would play three matches – from the quarter-final stage onwards.

The quarter-finals went very much to plan, with all four seeded players advancing to the semi-finals. Morten Jaksland, Rav Rykowski and Benjamin Graenicher all won before tennis, beating Oliver Buhler, Stephan Schmutzer and Emanuel Schopf before tennis.

Second seed Arnaud Genin was taken to tennis by Bernhard Pilsz but was able to get over the line with the five points he needed.

The semi-finals were both thrilling matches. Morten Jaksland and Rav Rykowski have a rich history, with two meetings in the last 12 months. Jaksland won their only meeting this year and was on hand to do it again today.

The Dane won the table-tennis 21-14 to lead into badminton as expected. Rykowski always wins the middle two sports. However, today Jaksland scored the most amount of points he’d ever done against Rykowski in both badminton and squash, getting 11 and 17. That left Rykowski needing 17 in tennis. That was always going to be a challenge and Jaksland strolled to a tennis win to book his spot in the final.

The second semi-final pitted No.4 seed Benjamin Graenicher against No.2 seed Arnaud Genin. Genin won the badminton 21-2 but Graenicher won the other three sports in a hugely impressive display. Graenicher took the table tennis 21-5 and followed that up with a 21-19 squash win. That left a full set of tennis to decide the winner. Graenicher showed his experience, battling to a 21-14 win to reach his first singles final since 2017.

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(Benjamin Graenicher and Arnaud Génin)

Men’s A: Graenicher Back in the Winners Circle

Jaksland also had to play the Men’s Doubles final – which we’ll review later – before the Men’s A singles final. That left the World No.1 exhausted and slightly injured heading into the final.

Graenicher made the most of his opportunity, forcing the wounded World No.1 to move more than he would have liked. After taking the table tennis 21-10, the Swiss star followed it up with a brutal 23-21 badminton win. If Graenicher could keep Jaksland below 13 in the squash, he would win his first title in over three years.

Jaksland made a good start to the squash set but couldn’t sustain his level. His injury impacted him and Graenicher capitalised, winning 21-12 with a series of drop shots. That victory gave him a +22 lead and the title.

Having spent much of this season injured, this is a superb achievement for Graenicher and marks him as yet another contender with the World Championships looming.

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Aktuelle Rankings (1. November 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. André Bandi
9. Oliver Bühler
10. Cédric Junillon

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

Die gesamten Rankings findet ihr hier.

Veranstaltungskalender 2019

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