Nici Mueller and Tinne Gilis take the titles in Hamburg
T he day started with the playoffs for position three. Melissa Alves from France faced Spain’s Marta Dominguez. The experienced Alves controlled her opponent well and won in three games, thus re-claiming her bronze medal from Bucharest 2019.
The men’s bronze medal match was played by German Raphael Kandra and Sebastien Bonmalais from France. Kandra battled hard as always but the young Frenchman was just too strong today. After 48 minutes and four games Bonmalais claimed his first Euro medal.
The women’s final was an all-Belgian affair between sisters Nele and Tinne Gilis. Nele is the title holder from 2019, whereas Tinne recently won the World Games. Earlier this year they had played each other for the first time in a final at a PSA event France, where Tinne had the upperhand. And today again the younger of the two was successful. The score was tight – 11/9 11/9 11/9 – and it was a long match with 54 minutes, but finally Tinne Gilis clinched her first Euro title.
The two top seeds met in the men’s final – Swiss world no.14 Nicolas Mueller against French world no. 18 Victor Crouin, the recent World Games winner. Mueller went on court and showed what he later described as “my most consistent performance ever”. The score of 11/7 11/4 11/4 reflects the outstanding show he delivered today. It is the first European title for the 32 year old Swiss.
Overall it was a superb event at a great venue with high class sport and top level organisation.
Tinne takes over from Nele
Tinne made the better start to the first two games, leading them 9-6 and 7-3 but Nele levelled at 9-9 in both before Tinne took the last two points to lead 11-9, 11-9.
Nele opened up a 5-0 lead in the third but this time it was Tinne fighting back as she levelled at 8-8 and forged out two match balls. The first was tinned but a volley nick on the second gave her the game 11-9 and the European title after 54 minutes of play.
“I’m very happy with how I played this whole tournament, but for Nele it’s her first one back after injury so I’m proud of how she got through and how tough she made it.
“I haven’t played a match this long for a while so I was struggling, but I’m happy I could push through and find a way out of it.”
Mueller cruises to the title
Mueller pulled away from 5-aa in the first to take the lead 11-7, then capitalised on a 6-0 start to the second to double his advantage 11-4. From 3-3 in the third Crouin had no answer to the Swiss Rocket’s shots as he ran out the 11-4 winner in 31 minutes.
“I’m happy to do this n front of my coach and friends who have come from Switzerland t watch, it gives you a bit of extra motivation.
“Victor is a great prospect, he’s in the top twenty already and has a few big wins, so to beat him 3-0 in that fashion is really pleasing.”
Photos : Sportwerk / Thomas Balke
Down to the last four in Hamburg
Down to the last 4 – but that is actually not true at EICC, as all players are in action playing off for all positions.
Ukraine is represented by a strong contingent of three women and two men. Their participation was enabled by a donation of the ESF solidarity programme. Alina Bushma will be playing against Hungarian Hannah Chukwu for position 9 tomorrow. Team mate Valerii Fedoruk faces Czech Daniel Mekbib for position 11.
Austrian veteran Jakob Dirnberger is playing Czech Ondrej Vorlicek in the plate final for position 17.
Back to the top 4 …
First on court today was no.2 seed Tinne Gilis against 3/4 seed Melissa Alves. In spite of a good fight by Melissa the Belgian was just too strong and won in four games to secure the first spot in the final.
Marta Dominguez’ winning streak came to an end against top seed Nele Gilis. The title holder overcame fierce resistance by the young Spanish player in four games and joins her sister in the first ever all-Belgian Euro final.
The first men’s semi featured top seed Nicolas Mueller and Sebastien Bonmalais. The young Frenchman started well, but the longer the match lasted, the more the experience of Mueller paid off. The final result was 3/1 in 59 minutes.
The highlight of the day for the German fans was the encounter of title holder Raphael Kandra against World Games winner Victor Crouin. To the disappointment of the crowd the match was over after three games.
Photos : Sportwerk / Thomas Balke
Day TWO : Quarter-Finals
Dominguez gatecrashes the semis in Hamburg
The second match of the day featured 3/4 seed Sebastien Bonmalais from France against Ivan Perez. And as yesterday the Spaniard put up a great fight to come back from 0/2 down, but finally lost 11/4 in the fifth.
Next was an all-French women’s match and it was a straight games win for Melissa Alves against compatriot Marie Stephan. Men’s top seed Nicolas Mueller wasted no time on his way to the semis and beat local hero Valentin Rapp in 28 minutes.
Spain’s Marta Dominguez, seeded 9/16, caused the next upset by beating 3/4 seed Enora Villard 3/1 in an exciting match that lasted 58 minutes. World Games champion Victor Crouin had to battle for 85 minutes to beat Dimitri Steinmann in five games after the Swissman came back from 2/0 down.
At the end of the day the crowd at Sportwerk was treated to an 86 minute display of skill, determination and passion. Both players are former European Champions, only one can proceed to the semis. Cheered on by his German crowd Raphael Kandra finally managed to beat veteran Spaniard Borja Golan 11/9 in the fifth game.
Photos : Sportwerk / Thomas Balke
Day ONE : Perez upsets Dussourd as quarter-finalists are decided in Hamburg
The first day of EICC is traditionally a busy day as two rounds are played for both men and women.
The women’s second round produced a number of hard fought matches but only one upset. Spain’s Marta Dominguez (PSA 74) beat higher ranked Cindy Merlo (SUI, 45) 11/9 in the 5th to secure a place in the quarter finals. German hopes are still alive with Saskia Beinhard facing title holder Nele Gilis tomorrow.
Whilst the men’s top four seeds eased through to the last eight, there were a few hard fought matches and some surprising results. German Valentin Rapp had the better end against Czech Daniel Mekbib and joins compatriot Raphael Kandra in the quarterfinals. Ivan Perez from Spain battled for 70 minutes to beat 5/8 seed Auguste Dussourd.
Quarter-Finals start at 12.00 on Thursday, all on the Glass Court.
Photo credit: Sportwerk / Thomas Balke
Both titleholders from the last edition 2019 in Bucharest will be defending their titles – Belgian Nele Gillis, the winner in 2019, is the women’s top seed this year, ahead of her sister Tinne, the recent World Games Champion, with Melissa Alves and Enora Villard, both from France, seeded 3/4.
The men’s top seed is Swiss Nicolas Mueller, followed by France’s World Games winner Victor Crouin. Germany’s defending champion Raphael Kandra is seeded 3/4 together with Frenchman Sebastian Bonmalais.
The Championships were last held in Bucharest in 2019 with Germany’s Raphael Kandra and Belgium’s Nele Gilis taking the titles.