Amke Fischer and Stefan Adamsson took home the elite titles from the 2016 Malta Open winning their finals in some style at the Marsa Club. There where also victories for: Michael Strassle (Men's B), Anita Voelkel (Ladies B & Ladies O40s), Fabio Leibig (Men's C), Stuart Scourfield (Men's D), Jason Granville (Men's O40s), Michael Holzinger (Men's O45s) and Esther Dubendorfer (Ladies O45s) in the singles. Meanwhile in the doubles there were Malta Open titles for Dan Busby & Duncan Stahl (Men's A), Amke Fischer & Natalie Paul (Ladies A), Amke Fischer & Stefan Adamsson (Mixed A), Simon Engler & Michael Strassle (Men's B), Esther Dubendorfer & Jordan Dainty (Mixed B), Frank Kleiber & Thomas Knaack (Men's O45s) and Heike Voigt & Thomas Knaack (Mixed O45s). All in all the Marsa Club was dominated by the strong German contingent who took home 9 of the 17 titles whilst Amke maintained her unbeaten record on the island of Malta! Full results are available here.
Amke Fischer (near) and Natalie Paul (far) in thrilling semi-final action
A is for Adamsson and Amke
The Men's A saw off the seeds in quick fashion with Kresten Hougaard the top seed eliminated in round 1 by Sebastian Hedlund before third seed Dan Busby and fourth seed Duncan Stahl both fell at the second hurdle, suffering quarter final defeats to Stefan Adamsson and Jason Granville respectively. Only second seed, Morten Jaksland made it to the semi-finals where he would face Adamsson and Hedlund played Granville. First up it was Britian's Jason Granville, who forced his Swedish opponent to tennis, recovering from TT and badminton defeats (21-8, 21-12) with a 21-13 squash win. A pulsating tennis set saw Jason glimpse an unlikely victory, but Hedlund made the 8 points required with New Zealand's Granville on 14. Adamsson quickly made his way to the (very tasty) players dinner polishing off young Dane, Jaksland 21-3, 15-21, 21-8, wisely avoiding playing tennis against Morten.
In the final it was compatriots and doubles partners in opposition, Hedlund making the early moves with a 21-11 TT victory. However, Adamsson was not going to fall at the last and he pulled out an exquisite badminton set, winning 21-2 to carry a 9 point lead to squash. An entertaining squash battle was well controlled by Adamsson who bossed the rallies, combining beautiful touch and raw aggression to mix delicate lobs with kills into the nicks worthy of SquashTV shot of the month. A 21-9 win left a formality of the single point of tennis for Adamsson to claim his first Malta title. Jaksland finished third and (by now) Australia's Granville in fourth.
The top seeds Lillian Druve and Amke Fischer progressed to the semi finals of the Ladies A where they faced Silke Altmann and Natalie Paul respectively. Lillian and Silke engaged in a ding dong battle as Sweden's Druve claimed the first two sports 21-10 and 22-20 to put her German opponent on the back foot. Altmann however was not going to meekly roll over and a 21-8 squash set left a winner takes all tennis. A tense battle ensued but Altmann maintained control to seal victory 21-15 and take her place in the final. She knew a German compatriot would await but was it to be Amke or Natalie? In a re-run of the 2015 final, Amke took an early lead with a 21-7 win in the TT, before Natalie fought back to chip away at this lead by edging the badminton 21-17 and squash 21-19. Amke needing just 14 to win made a good start to the tennis but Natalie battled back. An 11-6 lead for Natalie at the change of ends made it extremely tense but for all the gasps from the crowd it was pulsating high quality tennis. At 20-13, Natalie served to force a gumi-arm but a wonderful cross court volley gave Amke the win by the finest of margins.
The all German final was dominated by Amke from the off, 21-7, 21-15 wins giving her a healthy lead to the squash. Despite the corageous best efforts of Altmann to force Amke all the way, Altmann's 24-22 squash win was not enough to knock Amke out of her stride as she sealed her second Malta Open title. Natalie Paul squeaked into third place with a gumi-arm win over Lillia Druve as A was also for 'all German podium'.
Around the grounds
The Men's B saw an all British semi-final as returning Jon Foulds faced pre-tournament pick (to make a splash) Jordan Dainty. The youngster making all the early inroads as he flew out into a 21-6, 21-18 lead. The veteran Foulds bareing his ruggard scar hit back in the squash 21-8, but Jordan saw home the victory with ease in the tennis. In the other semi-final, Pieter De Bleeckere faced Michael Strassle. After sharing the opening sports 21-11 to Michael and 21-12 to Pieter, they headed to squash to test each others desire. Pieter came out on top with an epic 25-23 victory, however it was not to break Michael who cruised home in the tennis 21-7 to earn his place in the final. Michael dominated the final with Jordan who was playing his first overseas event, fighting hard but the Swiss ran out the victor 21-12, 21-18, 21-8. Despite defeat it was a great tournament for Britain's Dainty and highlights anyone can come, play and succeed at overseas international events. Peter De Bleeckere finished third defeating Jon Foulds to complete the podium.
Between them Kresten Hougard (left) and Morten Jaksland (right) had it covered
In the Ladies B, Dianne Baker saw off Karen King and Anita Voelkel defeated Jo Shelley in the semi-finals. An enticing Ladies B final saw Dianne fight to the bitter end, despite losing TT 21-4, Cambridgeshire's finest was not going to roll over and two brutal sets followed, Anita winning badminton and squash 23-21. Dianne needing to win tennis to 0 to force a gumi-arm but despite heroic efforts, Anita took home the title. Jo Shelley winning the all Brit 3/4th match over Karen King.
It was an all German final in the Men's C final as Fabio Leibig defeated German Racketlon King, Frank Kleiber in a thrilling final 16-21, 21-19, 21-17, 21-15 as both men gave each other no quarter. Michael Pedersen of Denmark finished in third. Stuart Scourfield went undefeated in the Men's D box league seeing off competition from Swiss Fabien Dubendorfer and Welsh Mancunian Robert Wilde. Through the Vets classes and box leagues were the format of choice for many. It was a German one-two in the Ladies O45s as Anita Voelkel took the title ahead of Carola Von Heimburg, Switzerland's Esther Dubendorfer claiming third. The Men's O40s title went to the (British again) Jason Granville who replicated his Men's A win over Duncan Stahl leaving him in second and Jeremy Krzystyniak in third. Michael Holzinger (from, you guessed it, Germany) took the Men's O45s title ahead of Belgium's Hans Van Daele. Graham King a last minute addition to the draw as an injury replacement came home in third. Switzerland took home the Ladies O45s title with Esther Dubendorfer pushing Brits Jo Shelley and Dianne Baker into second and third respectively.
There was as ever drama in the doubles events as squash experts Stahl and Busby lost their squash in the Men's A doubles final to Adamsson & Hedlund but still managed to triumph squeaking home by a single point winning the tennis 22-20. Adamsson gained some revenge over Busby as he and Amke defeated Dan and Lillian Druve in the semi-final before defeating Kresten Hougaard and Natalie Paul in the Mixed A doubles final. Amke and Natalie combined to dominate the (mostly German) Ladies doubles with the only non-German pairing, Lillian & Kirsten Kaptein finishing second. It was a Swiss pairing, Simon Engler & Michael Strassle who took the Men's B doubles with Johnny Bispham & Pieter De Bleeckere finishing second in a keenly contested final, the Swiss tennis proving to be the key difference. More Swiss medals in the Mixed B doubles as Esther Dubendorfer & Jordan Dainty came out on top against Anita Voekel & Fabio Leibig as they domibated their final. The O45s Mixed doubles went to Heike Voigt & Thomas Knaack as they cruised through their 3 pairing box, and Thomas partnered Frank Kleiber to claim Men's O45s doubles glory as well.
A is also for Amazing Venue
The Marsa Club is an exceptional venue offering a truely rounded Racketlon experience. Whether playing tennis under palm trees or having a post match swim, the Marsa club makes the Malta Open a truely unique event, and one everyone should look to play. With extra events such as the bbq and boat trip (see post script), this tournament really ensures that players mingle with each other and importantly can meet a players new wife.... Our thanks to the Marsa Club for having us, to Chris & Duncan Stahl for their efforts setting it up and especially to Louise Boyland for 3 days manning the tournament desk! The Malta Open returns in 2017, I strongly advise you to add it to your calender!
P.S - B is for Boat Trip
Duncan Stahl brings the cocktails to the Blue Lagoon beach on the Boat Trip. Surely you want to enjoy this in 2017?
Comino and the Blue Lagoon is the perfect way to wrap up the Malta Open. Gorgeous crystal clear sea, stunning sheer cliffs and the deep, imposing 'Nandori's Underwater Passage', the boat trip is a fitting end to a sensational weekend of fun, friends and Racketlon. Till next year!