To Hell(sinki) and Back

Switzerland emerged as one of the most successful nations at the 2018 Finnish Open, held on 14-16 September this year. At least if you judge it by the total number of medals per participant!

 

Somewhat downscale from the vast magnitude of the World Championships in Zurich only a few weeks ago, the Swiss Dynamic Duo trekked off towards the North Pole to take on the Scandinavian Vikings at the game they invented - our beloved Racketlon!

 

Held at a very cosy new venue in Helsinki, only a short skip from the tournament hotel, the tournament began very leisurely well after a nice breakfast, with the President of the Finnish Racketlon Association having taken a promotion to taxi-driver, taking personal command of the shuttle service between the hotel and the venue. 

 

Friday was, as usual, doubles day, and Esther Dübendorfer wasted no time in going straight into attack mode with her Swedish partner Anna-Klara Ahlmer (Women‘s Doubles) and Finn Luka Penttinen (Mixed Doubles), tearing apart all oppostion with the exception of the Finnish mixed doubles pair (and later winners) Anna Wall and Henrik Mustonen (a PSA Top-40 ranked professional squash player, so no disgrace there, although somehow, they managed to lose table tennis as well as squash...). 

 

Graham King paired up with his fellow cyborg Heli Mäkelä (both wear embedded sensors on their upper arm), but despite a valiant performance, were unable to exterminate anyone. Nevertheless, they must have made a strong impression in their first match, with the second opponents obviously terrified into submission, not even daring to show up for battle.

 

Singles followed the next day. Esther had a flurry of one-sided group matches (over 50% of them being single-digit victories, one way or the other), with the bronze playoff match against a Women’s Top-10 ranked player going the same way too. Nevertheless, she can surely be very content with her impressive haul of gold and bronze in a Women‘s Elite IWT event! 

 

Graham very sensibly only played Seniors events, thereby avoiding the dreaded 08:00 kick-off. Not that this helped him too much in the +55 event, being matched against strong Finns who were able to neutralise the advantage he sometimes enjoys at table tennis, getting off to early leads against him. Despite courageous efforts at badminton and crushing the opposition at squash, Graham preserved his 100% record of never having got to 21 first in a tennis match in his entire Racketlon career, thereby sealing his fate.

 

Counter-intuitively, +50 went much better for Graham in his Round Robin group. After dismissing his first two opponents (well, except for in tennis...), the stage was set for the final. Having demolished his Finnish opponent, Kimmo Pennanen, in the Latvian Open  before even starting Badminton (!) only just over a month ago, excitement was high. However, after winning table tennis and fighting to a career-best of 19-21 against him in badminton, the mirage of gold, shimmering in the distance, gradually vapourised in the heat, as lefty Kimo unleashed a nonstop series of thumped forehands and ridiculous drops from the back on a dead squash court, leaving Graham shaking his head in frustration (though it is worth noting that his shirts stayed intact). But, Silver is OK too.

 

One of the highlights of the tournaments was to see Henrik Mustonen, the PSA squash player, in action. From his vantage point in the umpire’s chair, Graham was continually gobsmacked (though not surprised) to see very worthy opponents defeated 21-0 and 21-1, and even the legendary European Champion, Rav Rykovski, losing 14 points in a row. Given he is also strong in badminton (beating Marko Välimäki) and can play decent table tennis and tennis, one can only muse how he would fare in a World Championships, where he would also neutralise the very best players‘ squash advantages.

 

Otherwise, a largely very well organised tournament in a pleasant, compact, quality venue, with a comfortable hotel and lots of friendly Finns (and other nations). Worth the trip next year, if it fits in your schedule.

 

Graham King



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FSR-Rankings courants (1er novembre)

Messieurs
1. Benjamin Hampl
2. Cédric Junillon
3. Nico Hobi
4. Patrick Lorenz
5. Olaf Huber
6. Christian Schäfer
7. Thomas Wegmann
8. Yannic Andrey
9. Michael Strässle
10. Magnus Ekstrand

Dames
1. Nicole Eisler
2. Esther Dübendorfer
3. Corina Christener

Juniors U18
1. Yannic Andrey
2. Léon Mamié
3. Leonard Ladner

Les rankings actuels vous trouvez ici.

 

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