- Singles Results
- Doubles Results
- Warner wins the Over 50s Title
- Tristao & Stradwick win the B Doubles Title
- Tristao wins Open Plate
- Briedenhann wins Open Plate
- Greasley & Steel win women’s B Doubles Plate
- Grant makes Open Quarter Final
- Warner = Over 50’s Champion
- Grant = Open Quarter Final
- Thomson = Open Last 16
- Tristao = Open Plate Champion
- Briedenhann = Open Plate Champion
- Greasley & Steel win their first internationals
- Stradwick & Tristao = B Doubles Champions
- Grant & Thomson = Open Quarter Finals
- Steel & Greasley = B Doubles Plate Champions
- Briedenhann & Mills have a tough time
- O’Sullivan & O’Sullivan valiantly defeated
- Warner cannot repeat singles success
The Dutch Open is an annual event, held in the North of Holland, in Friesland, best known for its cattle, its vast area of land reclaimed from the North Sea and protected by the 20 mile Afsluitdijk Dam, and its tall people of independent spirit and language.
What could be more spirited than the sight of a group of 10 United Kingdom players making the trip, to join around 80 competitors from all over Holland, Belgium (the venue for the previous week’s national tournament), France, Argentina, the United States, and Canada for two solid days of competitive Wallball.
As is normal for Wallball, most of the Singles rounds take place on the Saturday, with final rounds and all the Doubles on the Sunday.
With many categories of player, there are lots of games in pool, plate and knock out stages. We all aspired to mark our mark – small though our team was – and we did.
UK Wallball President and team leader Daniel Grant looked in fine form, winning his group on points, and looked every inch the winner in his quarter-final against Guillaume Dumoulin, the Begian tournament organiser and local hero, who won the UK Wallball Open last year.
This match was the pick of the tournament, between two very flamboyant and attractive hitters, and sublime retrievers. Dan hit winner after winner, as only he can, getting 19-9 ahead, and on the cusp of a famous victory, before unaccountably turning defensive, retreating back down the court, and being eventually overcome by an inspired Guillaume 21-19.
Luke Thomson had a splendid run in the pool, topping his group by winning 3 out of 3 and then lost with considerable credit in the quarters to the Argentinian no.1. Let’s hope Luke continues to play Wallball in spite of this reverse.
Daniel Tristao, who had a tough “group-of-death pool”, and came last, after three very hard fought games), but then rallied through to win the Plate taking several notable scalps along the way. The semi and final were played after his late, late celebration of his 25th birthday, making the achievement even more remarkable. Singles Plate winner.
Fionn O’Sullivan strove valiantly, against players very much better, but never lost his rueful smile, and enjoyed the experience.
The title, like Belgium last week, was won by the Lefty International Superstar, Willie Polanco.
Luke Stradwick had a very decent run, promising much, hitting more than his share of winners. His left hand is a sight to behold, like a rattlesnake uncoiling. In the end, he foundered on a lack of consistency and lost in the semis.
Six aged Veterans slugged it out, sweatily and noisily, four civilised Frieslanders, one Irishman (Ollie O’Sullivan) and one Neanderthal Brit, who eventually talked them out of the title. Veterans’ Singles (over 50) Winner: Dick Warner, subject to drugs testing.
Kathleen Briedenhann, the ever consistent, competitive, clear-thinking, even she struggled in her tough group, but fought well in the plate, no sinecure, and ended up winning, with credit, in the plate final. Women’s plate champion.
Tessa Mills found the gradient just too hard in the As, and – valiantly as she battled – she got no favours from her opponents, and lost in the semis of the plate to Kathleen.
European Champion, Miranda Scheffer would go on to win this competition.
Sarah Greasley, in her first ever Wallball tourney, and indeed he first ever Wallball singles match, won 1 and lost 2 of her pool matches. The wise money is on her being a real force in future.
Alex Steel, also in her first international competition won two, and lost two, a decent result.
In the A Grade, the left-right Dan-Luke combo, Grant and Thomson, qualified out of their tough group, after a shaky start against a flashy French pairing, but Les Rosbifs finally came through, topping their group easily with decisive wins over the rest in the group.
It was a fine sight to see Dan’s miracle runs of intuitive kills, dominating the middle of the court, and Luke solid and severe with his left, playing on the right. They met their nemesis in the quarters, with a cruel draw against the savvy American pair of Vlad Klym and Willy Polanco, who have seen off a lot of very good pairs.
After a very impressive start, with Dan cracking winners left and right, getting to 6-1, and looking unbeatable, the shrewd Vlad worked out that Luke, for all his deftness, was vulnerable to a high ball, if pinned out to the right, peppered him with chest high balls, made space down the middle, and eventually wore the Brits down, losing 8-15.
The Americans then faced the stronger American pairing of Roberts and LoPierre in the semi-finals, who won in a tight one before taking the title to add to their accolade from the previous week.
In the B Grade Doubles, Dan Tristao – who narrowly avoided a forced relationship with Dick Warner, when Gareth Price pulled out – partnered Luke Stradwick, another British left-right combo.
In this Grade they were frankly never troubled, outmanoeuvring various naive opponents on their way to a one-sided final. Dan’s light-footed retrieving, combined with Luke’s clinical kills, was too much for the opposition.
This Grade was an unfortunate administrative mismatch for Dan and Luke, easily running out B Grade Doubles Champions.
Also in the Bs was the valiant father and son pairing of Ollie and Fionn O’Sullivan. Ollie had, like Dan, escaped from a Warner pairing, as he had been saddled with in Belgium, but even these younger 20 year old legs of Fionn could not haul them through the Pool.
Over 50s Mens
Dick Warner found a willing partner in Henk Hema, a local Frieslander (willing because he had not met Dick), who crashed and burned against local opposition. Rumour has it he is a sadder and wiser man, resolving only to partner locals next year!
Competition was very fierce in both the women’s categories, much harder than the previous weekend in Belgium, with lots of local Dutch talent.
In the A Grade, Kathleen Briedenhann & Tessa Mills (who had played exceptionally well in Belgium) were outhit with hard drives from their tall and muscular opponents.
On quicker courts, they would have been more at ease, but had trouble dealing with power that they could not replicate on the slower courts, and did not qualify out of their pool, with a consolatory run in the plate.
Miranda then added to her singles title by winning the doubles too with her European Champion partner Marike Beckers.
In the Women’s B Doubles, the new pairing of Alex Steel and Sarah Greasley struggled in the main event, the pool matches, winning one, but losing two. The two they lost in they were 13 up – 2 points from a victory, before losing 15-13; arguably inspired by Grant from the previous night.
But they came into their own in the plate, combining well as they got used to their partner’s game, and learning to trust it.
Good combo, which we hope will continue to grow, with Sarah’s Eton-fives trained retrieving, and Alex’s vicious right hand, to overcome tough pairs in both semi-finals and final. Women’s B Grade Doubles Plate winners.
Many thanks to Geert Vandervelden and Bauke Frans for organising such a spectacular tournament. The next event on the calendar sees the action move to England for the UK Open in February.