Tartan Army Victorious in Germany!

Katy Buchanan and Calum Reid, both from Scotland, are the winners of the 3rd German Open held in Weiterstadt last weekend. This fantastic feast of racketlon was a huge success, and the best buffet in racketlon history was a glittering touch added by a great organisational team.

Buchanan back to best
Katy claimed her first tour victory for over a year against Susanna Lautala-Näykki of Finland. A key group stage victory over home favourite Silke Altmann (+6) was crucial as Katy had lost their previous 2 meetings. A relaxed Buchanan, undefeated in tennis and table tennis, regained the form she showed when she held the world number 1 spot.

The final between Katy and Susanna saw a 21-11 table tennis win for the Scot, which was immediately reversed in the badminton - Katy's run of points at the end proved to be very important in the end. The Finn then played some excellent squash, obtaining 8 points - much better than the 1 she got last time - which gave her a real chance going into the tennis. However, Katy quickly thwarted any potential danger with good, consistent play, taking the tennis 9-8 and winning the 3rd German Open. It seems that when the pressure is off Katy plays a lot better, so perhaps that's a strategy she will employ in the future!

With no Swedish ladies present and the emergence of the likes of Martina Kakosova and Eva Kapcsos from the Czech republic and Hungary respectively, ladies racketlon is entering a new era. Certainly next year's World Championships and the upcoming tour race will have numerous challengers. With the next two tour events in the UK, who will take up the challenge? There is certainly plenty of scope for new players, especially as there have been a number of new ladies on the UK domestic tour over the past year - maybe they can begin to mix it with the established players.

*The ladies class B was won by Neelke Vernaillen of Belgium - this was an especially impressive result as she didn't travel with training partner Geert Blomme - maybe his presence has been causing the problems up to now! Karolina Pechova (Cze) was second and Anja Feitenhansl (Ger) took the bronze.

Reid reads the script
World number 3 Calum Reid justified his seeding at this year's German Open with a sublime display capturing his 3rd tour title after previous victories in London & Prague. Marco Deeg (more about him later), Henrik Håkansson, Sandro Deeg and finally the powerful Elmar Schaub were Calum's scalps along the way. The final was a true racketlon spectacle, with the first 3 disciplines quite close before Calum ran away with the tennis, beating Schaub for the second time in his career.

Tactical reversal
A see-saw table tennis game saw Calum revert to a chopping & returning strategy, with Elmar uncharacteristically attacking rather than defending. A 21-16 win for the German was a fair reflection of the 2 players' ability. The badminton went the same way, and although Reid's positive start propelled him to a 3-0 and then 7-6 lead, Schaub took the following 8 points. At 14-7 down, Calum dug deep and pulled it back to a respectable 21-15 defeat to leave himself 11 points down before the squash.

Elmar's exponential squash improvement is a testimony to his athleticism and all-round sporting prowess. Few would have predicted that he would lead the squash 10-9 and he seemed to be on the verge of taking a considerable lead into tennis. The rallies were long and gruelling, so much so that Schaub began to sweat so much he had to borrow t-shirts from his German team-mates! Calum began to dominate and took the majority of the remaining points, leaving a winner takes all tennis showdown. A tired Elmar failed to make any impact on Calum's tremendous consistency, gaining only 10 points and giving the Scot a +8 victory.

Non-Scandinavian number one?
With rumours rife that the top Scandinavian players are cutting down on international competition & the World Tour in its 5th year, travel sickness could help Calum to become not only the youngest ever but only the 4th men's world number 1 - and indeed the first from outside Scandinavia. Particularly as the next two events are in the UK and there are no signs that the likes of Magnus, Mikko, Stefan & Mats will be entering.

Always an upset!
The German Open always provides one or two interesting results and this year was no different. Brothers Marco & Sandro Deeg made a very big impression in their first ever racketlon tournament. Marco played Calum in the second round and almost upset the applecart - Calum needed 11 points in the tennis to win and he did so but only just, at 11-19. Both Deeg brothers are fantastic squash players (among the best in Germany) and strong at tennis, and if they were to practice at the first two sports they could cause some real upsets in the future. Sandro Deeg, on his way to a semi-final place against Calum, beat 8th seed Alex Köpf, whose good friend Oliver Zwiers lost to Darren Kerins at the same stage in another surprise result in the Men's A. Although Calum won his semi-final before the tennis, the bottom half was a lot tighter. Elmar conquered Michael Dickert after a tight battle in the other semi-final that was tough to predict before the start.

First medal for Slovakia
The men's class B showed again the potentail there is within Eastern Europe. Marcel Kravek of Slovakia came through to win a good final against Petr Vesely of the Czech Republic. Marcel has very strong table tennis with good squash and this combination proved enough to conquer the rest of the field. Scotland's Alistair 'Hoggy' Hogg finished third after a lucky win in the third place match…

Another Czech player, Lubornir Pala, won the Class C - some commented that he could have been a potential elite player with his quality, although of course it's always hard to judge your own ability when you're relatively new to racketlon! There was a huge entry for class C, a good sign that there are many people willing to try the sport out.

Vast improvements for Greatorex
Dave Greatorex, now (unfortunately) playing under the Welsh flag, defended his veterans title from last year. He won an impressive semi-final against Portuguese Dutchman Jakob de Vries, displaying incredible improvements in squash against a strong squash opponent, and then defeated Erich Knotter (Aut) in the final. Third place went to de Vries. This is another event in which the likes of the Czech Republic and Poland have plenty of competitors.

The doubles tournament was again very enjoyable and even more competitive this year, although it has to be said there isn't enough time on the Friday evening to play all the doubles games - a 1.30 finish was no joke for some of the top seeds in the singles! The mens doubles final was true to the seedings, and Calum Reid & Marcel Weigl duly then despatched Oliver Zwiers & Alex Köpf before the tennis to take yet another doubles title. The number 1 seeds were too strong in the first two sports - I can't think of another example of such an impressive Austro-Scottish combination in any sport? The match of this event though, had to be the Germans' semi-final clash with Darren Kerins & Ray Jordan, which they eventually (luckily…) won on a gummiarm! The match looked to be all over before the tennis, with the German tennis specialists only 5 behind, but an array of fantastic volleys and passing shots from the English pair (well, Darren actually!) gave them the lead and four match points until the surfer boys held their nerve to win at gummiarm. Kerins/Jordan finished 3rd with Michael Dickert & Manuel Repa of Austria coming 4th.

The mixed doubles was equally exciting, with new pairing Oliver Kudicke and Jutta Schaub winning against Kakosova/Sochor (Cze). Third place went to Schulte/Laskey (Ger/Eng).

Although this might be the last time we see the German Open in Weiterstadt, it was once again very well organised and apart from the doubles problem, everything ran perfectly to schedule with a nice finish time on the Sunday. Particular thanks go to, of course ,Volker & Irene as organisers, as well as all the helpers who served the food and drink - excellent quality and prices, thank you! Also, thanks to Uli Kempe who worked very hard on the desk, making sure all matches got away on time.

Here's to the German Open in 2007, and I hope to see many of you in Edinburgh & Birmingham (new, excellent, venue!) for the Scotish and English Opens coming soon!!

/RJ + /KL

Results in Summary. (Full results to appear on www.racketlon.de )

Quarter Final:
Calum Reid (SCO) - Henrik Håkansson (SWE) 19 (21:16; 21:12; 21:15; 2:3)
Sandro Deeg (GER) - Darren Kerrins (ENG) 10 (21:14; 3:21; 21:3; 14:11)
Elmar Schaub (GER) - Volker Sach (GER) 20 (15:21; 21:12; 21:12; 10:2)
Holger Stamm (GER) - Michael Dickert (AUT) -17 (8:21; 20:22; 19:21; :)

Semi Final:
Calum Reid (SCO) - Sandro Deeg (GER) 21 (21:7; 21:3; 10:21; :)
Elmar Schaub (GER) - Michael Dickert (AUT) 12 (22:20; 21:12; 14:21; 18:10)

Third Place:
Sandro Deeg (GER) - Michael Dickert (AUT) -12 (6:21; 15:21; 21:11; 12:13)

Calum Reid (SCO) - Elmar Schaub (GER) 8 (16:21; 15:21; 21:13; 21:10)

Quarter Final:
Jutta Schaub (GER) - Martina Kakosova (CZE) -24 (10:21; 21:6; 4:21; 10:21)
Susanna Lautala-Näykki (FIN) - Silke Altmann (GER) 12 (21:16; 21: 8; 5:21; 21:11)

Semi Final:
Katy Buchanan (SCO) - Martina Kakosova +28 (21:9; 21:10; 21:16)
Susanna Lautala-Näykki (FIN) - Nina Schulte (GER) +19 (21:16; 18:21; 21:7; 6:3)

Third Place:
Martina Kakosova (CZE) - Nina Schulte (GER) +10 (21:13; 11:21; 21:5; 8:12)

Katy Buchanan (SCO) - Susanna Lautala-Näykki (FIN) +14 (21:11; 11:21; 21:8; 9:8)

David Greatorex (WAL) - Erich Knotter (AUT) +14 (24:22; 21:9; 10;21; 19:8)

Quarter final:
Weigl/Reid AUT/ SCO - Hogg/Munro SCO 21 (21:6; 9:21; 11:5; 11:6; 8:1)
de Vries/Twisterling POR/ NED - Dickert/Repa AUT -7 (2:21; 21:12; 11:4; 6:11; 14:13)
Kerins/Jordan ENG - Håkansson/Majetic SWE 8 (13:21; 21:8; 6:11; 11:2; 13:14)
Sach/Sach GER - Zwiers/Köpf GER -12 (21:5; 17:21; 9:11; 0:11; 10:21)

Semi final:
Weigl/Reid AUT/ SCO - Dickert/Repa AUT 17 (15:21; 21:11; 11:5; 11:9; 10:5)
Kerins/Jordan ENG - Zwiers/Köpf GER -1 (21:12; 21:12; 4:11; 5:11; 16:22)

Third Place:
Dickert/Repa AUT - Kerins/Jordan ENG -1 (18:21; 19:21; 11:10; 11:6; 19:21)

Weigl/Reid AUT/ SCO - Zwiers/Köpf GER 25 (21:11; 21:11; 11:7; 11:10; :)

Quarter final:
Buchanan/Jackson ENG/ SCO - Schulte/Laskey GER/ ENG -5 (21:23; 10:21; 21:10; :; 18:21)
Seifert/Foulds GER/ ENG - Kakosova/Sochor CZE -41 (13:21; 7:21; 1:11; 11:9; 10:21)
Schaub/Kudicke GER - Kapcsos/Pincés HUN 34 (11:21; 21:5; 21:2; :; 21:12)
Tróznai/Teket HUN - Lawrence/Greatorex ENG/ WAL -18 (21:6; 13:21; 6:21; :; 11:21)

Semi final:
Schulte/Laskey GER/ ENG - Kakosova/Sochor CZE -5 (6:21; 21:7; 1:11; 11:5; 17:17)
Schaub/Kudicke GER - Lawrence/Greatorex ENG/ WAL 11 (20:22; 21:8; 2:11; 11:1; 10:11)

Third Place:
Schulte/Laskey GER/ ENG - Lawrence/Greatorex ENG/ WAL 11 (19:21; 21:8; 1:11; 11:6; 21:16)

Kakosova/Sochor CZE - Schaub/Kudicke GER -2 (21:17; 5:21; 11:11; 10:19; 21:19)