Thrilling action in Paris crowns inaugural World Series champions
The first-ever Teqball World Series came to a close in Paris following three days (18-20 March) of intense action in the women’s doubles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles categories. 178 athletes (124 men and 54 women), from 29 countries, covering four continents, competed in the major event.
The men’s doubles category was full of twists and turns, with the only constant being the excellent form of 2021 men’s doubles world champions Bogdan Marojevic and Nikola Mitro. The pair did not drop a single set until the final, overcoming Hungary’s Adam Bako and Soma Fordos, as well as Brazil’s Mattheus Ferraz and Rodrigo Bento Medeiros with relative ease on their way to the gold medal match.
Elsewhere in the men’s doubles there were a number of major upsets, including home favourites Julien Grondin and Hugo Rabeux bowing out in the last 32 at the hands of Denmark’s Mathias Landen Jeppesen and Brian Mengel Thomsen. The French duo lost the opener 12-8, before seemingly turning the match on its head with a 12-0 second set victory. However, a Danish resurgence saw them clinch a 12-9 win in the third set.
Marojevic and Mitro were widely expected to face the top seed pairing of Csaba Banyik and Adam Blazsovics in the final. However, their compatriots, Balazs Katz and Balazs Velkey had other ideas. The two teams faced off in an all-Hungarian quarter-final, with the former world champions cruising to a 12-5 opening set. Unfazed by this, Katz and Velkey rallied and showed nerves of steel to take the second and third sets 12-10 to proceed to the final four. A dominant semi-final victory led to a showdown with Marojevic and Mitro, who ultimately proved a step too far for the Hungarians, recording a closely-fought 2-1 (12-7, 8-12, 12-6) win. Ninth seed Bako and Fordos claimed an impressive bronze.
The theme of surprise results continued in the women’s doubles, with Hungary’s Zsanett Janicsek and Lea Vasas defeating the top two seeds to become crowned World Series champions. The USA’s World Number 1 and 2 Carolyn Greco and Margaret Osmundson, as well as Brazil’s second seed pairing of Rafaella Fontes and Natalia Guitler, dominated their group and early knockout stage matches, and looked on course for a repeat of the unforgettable 2021 Teqball World Championships final.
However, Janicsek and Vasas delivered a commanding semi-final performance to defeat the USA stars 2-0 (12-5, 12-7). Their victory set up a meeting with the first-ever women’s doubles world champions, Rafaella Fontes and Natalia Guitler. The Hungarians took the opening set 12-10, before the Brazilians returned fire with a 12-8 second set victory. A nail-biting decider eventually went the way of Janicsek and Vasas, who have now stated their claim as one of the world’s best women’s doubles teams. Greco and Margaret Osmundson secured bronze with a 2-0 win over Hungary’s Krisztina Acs and Gabriella Kota.
A successful week for Janicsek saw her take home gold in the mixed doubles with partner Banyik. The pair came through a thrilling quarter-final against France’s Grondin and Lea Hoffman, with a 2-1 (12-9, 11-12, 12-9) win. In all other matches they looked in complete control, managing tense moments with composure, teamwork and exceptional skill. This, and their experience winning at the highest level of teqball, helped them to a 2-0 (12-9, 12-10) victory in a very close final against Leonardo Lindoso de Almeida and Vania Moraes Da Cruz.
To the delight of the passionate home crowd at the world-class CDFAS venue in Paris, France came away with a bronze medal in the mixed doubles. Rabeux and Amelie Julian defeated Brazil’s Leonardo Santana and Fontes 2-1 (12-10, 10-12, 12-9) in one of the matches of the tournament.