WTC23 - The hosts put the icing on the cake with two golds in Bangkok
Two Thai teams and a Hungarian won gold medals on the last day of the World Teqball Championships 2023, a tournament that set many records.
The final day of the World Teqball Championships 2023 arrived on Sunday with three more trophies up for grabs. A total of 12 teams (three Thais, three Brazilians, three Hungarians, one Serbian, one Polish and one American) were still in contention to become a part of Teqball’s history (or engrave their names even deeper), and among them, the women’s doubles took the court first.
Singles silver medallist Jutatip Kuntatong wanted a brighter one alongside Suphawadi Wongkhamchan, but first, they had to take on Carolyn Greco&Kimberly Baker. After a close first few rallies, the Thais took over and ran away with the set, then basically copied the script in the second, allowing only 9 points together without using their acrobatic style too much.
The next outing brought the first three-setter of the finals’ weekend, as Petra Pechy&Nora Vicsek and Vania Moraes da Cruz&Ester Viana Mendes went toe-to-toe in order to extend their title dreams. The first set was a perfect indication of what was going to happen as it was decided by a single point in favor of the Hungarians. The Brazilians fought back in the second with a much-improved level of play to tie the game, and the third part began with a tight battle, too. Then Pechy&Vicsek shifted gears with a 6-point streak and built an advantage big enough to hold off the late surge by the Brazilians and it opened their way to their first-ever major final.
In the bronze medal game, the American team got off to a better start but the Brazilians stormed back with a 4-point run and took the lead. Then they went toe-to-toe right until the end game, and at 11:11, the Brazilians scored the most important point. To begin the second set, Greco&Baker scored the first two, but their opponents struck back with an incredible 10:0 run! And it was enough for Viana Mendes&Moraes da Cruz to finish off the Americans and secure the bronze medal.
Women’s doubles, bronze medal match
Carolyn Greco, Kimberly Baker (USA)–Ester Viana Mendes, Vania Moraes da Cruz (BRA) 0:2 (-11, -5)
“I’m far from being satisfied, but the Hungarian team did better than us in the semis, so congratulations to them, I hope they will do well in the finals. We are happy that we made it here, the Brazilian qualifiers are not easy, and to get a bronze medal, the first ever for me in the World Championship is nice. Next year, I will come back for the gold! We tried to focus on our game in the bronze match because we knew that we could beat anybody with that” - said Ester Viana Mendes.
In the first final of the last game, Pechy&Vicsek had the upset on their minds as the home team was considered the favorite. On the other hand, the Thais did not want anyone to spoil the nation’s first ever chance for World title and built a strong lead early on. They extended it to as many as five and gave no hope for a comeback to the other unit. After taking a 1:0 set advantage, they came out flying in the second, but the Hungarians crawled back into the contest and closed the gap. That was a loud alarm for Kuntatong&Wongkhamchan who not only woke up but did not let the Hungarians score more points, meanwhile, they managed to win the next five rallies and claimed the first World Championship gold for Thailand and Asia, too.
Women’s doubles, final
Suphawadi Wongkhamchan, Jutatip Kuntatong (THA)–Petra Pechy, Nora Vicsek (HUN) 2:0 (8-, 6-)
“We are grateful for our coach who taught us everything, overlooked our preparation and let us know what we need to improve. We felt the pressure of being the favorites but tried to only focus on giving our best. We are happy to be the first world champions of Thailand and Asia also, but we are not done yet!” - said Jutatip Kuntatong and Suphawadi Wongkhamchan after they wrote history.
“Before the tournament, we probably would have signed off on finishing second, but this feels a bit sour now. We knew that they were really strong, so this is the reality and we gave our best. Our primary goal was to make the final or at least the top four, and then we would have liked to play a strong and tight game versus the strongest team, and of course to win it. There will be a recipe for the Thais one day, we had our gameplan, too, but could not fully execute it, and it is incredibly hard to play against them.” - said Petra Pechy and Nora Vicsek who were a little bit disappointed, but still cracked a smile.
Many people expected the three-time and reigning world champion Serbian men's team to clash with the European Champion Hungarians in the finals, but since this is the World Teqball Championships, where anything can happen, things went in a different direction. First, Nikola Mitro&Bogdan Marojevic had to go through Rodrigo Bento Medeiros&Matheus Ferraz, who showed early on that they came to shock the experts. The Brazilians took the first set and then capitalized on the opportunity that was given by a nagging injury that plagued Marojevic to eliminate the Serbs, who did not make the finals for the first time in five years.
On the lower bracket, Csaba Banyik&Balazs Katz made sure not to follow their rivals and did their best to neutralize Phakpong Dejaroen’s and Boonkoom Tipwong’s spectacular attacks, and despite the Thais erased a five-point deficit at the end of the second set, the Hungarians managed to close them out to proceed to the gold medal game.
The slide continued for the Serbians as not only did their streak end but they would go home without a podium finish as Dejaroen&Tipwong claimed Thailand’s third medal in the World Champs. They finished strong the very hard-fought and tight first set, and even though Mitro&Marojevic managed to equalize the score in the second, the decider went to the home team as they led from start to finish.
Men’s doubles, bronze medal match
Nikola Mitro, Bogdan Marojevic (SRB)–Phakpong Dejaroen, Boonkoom Tipwong (THA) 1:2 (-10, 7-, -8)
“We practiced every day and stuck to the plan. After the semis, we went back to our place, meditated, talked to ourselves a lot, and were ready to play again. The support was amazing, I have never felt like this before. It is life-changing and for sure I will have a better quality of life after this bronze.” - said Boonkoom Tipwong, who won his first medal in the Worlds.
Banyik and Katz did not have to outduel their main rivals, but they had a tough opponent in Bento Medeiros and Ferraz, who just got hungrier after eating and finally beating their nemesis. But the European Champions showed a kind of form that made them almost unbeatable in the past 15 months and let the Blonde Brothers know that it was going to be their time on the vacated throne. After 3:3, they pushed the nitro button and scored 5 consecutive points to take the wind out of the Brazilians’ sail and cruised to a 1:0 lead, then maintained the pressure on the South Americans in the second period, too. The three-point advantage they put together seemed safe throughout the set, and even a timeout did no help to Bento Medeiros and Ferraz. Banyik and Katz just would not be denied as they confidently reached their goal, winning their first World Championship together and putting an exclamation mark on their sensational 2023.
Men’s doubles, final
Rodrigo Bento Medeiros, Matheus Ferraz (BRA)–Csaba Banyik, Balazs Katz (HUN) 0:2 (-4, -12)
“We were a bit tired before the match, but we knew that the adrenaline would help us overcome it and take us to the promised land. We were in the zone, focused on each other and our job during the whole game. We did not have to adjust a lot on our tactics, the Brazilians play a similar game to the Serbians so we were prepared. Congratulations to Brazil, they outplayed the Serbs and deserved to be in the final, but today was our day! And we are still hungry for more wins” - said the happy Balazs Katz and Csaba Banyik, who won two gold medals on the two biggest stages in 2023.
“We are very happy with the second place, we were so close to the podium in the last two years. We received a lot of support from Brazil and our families, they are proud and happy for us, so we are happy, too! But next year, we will come back stronger! Hungary and Serbia play differently, the former smashes more and the latter plays with the head more often. We were prepared and confident before the semifinal, did a really good job and our chemistry was at a high level. We have lost three times to Serbia, but people did not stop supporting us, we felt their love. We really wanted to defeat the Serbs for the first time so we focused more on them, and it is a great achievement to end their streak of finals, but we appreciate the silver medal more!” - said Rodrigo Bento Medeiros and Matheus Ferraz after winning their first WCh medal.
In the mixed doubles, back-to-back silver medallists Vania Moraes da Cruz&Leonardo Lindoso de Almeida were put to the test in the beginning by Alicja Bartnicka&Marek Pokwap as the two duos were neck-and-neck until 8:8, when the Brazilian took flight and won the first set with 4 unanswered tallies. They carried on the momentum to the second part and gave no chance to the Polish twosome, thus proceeding to their third straight Worlds final.
In the second semifinal, Dejaroen got his revenge over Banyik as he and Suphawadi Wongkhamchan outdueled Banyik and Krisztina Acs in two close sets to make it to the final.
The mixed teams followed the men in terms of playing a close bronze medal game. The Polish and the Hungarian tandem fought for three sets to get the “consolation prize”, however the sets themselves were quite lopsided. Acs&Banyik showed that they did not lose their motivation and ran away with the opening period by a 7-point differential. Bartnicka&Pokwap hit back with their own statement, but the third set was dominated again by the Hungarians, who worked their way up to the podium.
Mixed doubles, bronze medal match
Alicja Bartnicka, Marek Pokwap (POL)–Krisztina Acs, Csaba Banyik (HUN) 1:2 (-5, 8-, -2)
“We were a bit sad even before the bronze medal game as we aimed for the final. The semifinal had finals-level and it felt like we lost a gold medal game, but at least our last match leaves a sweet taste in our mouths. Before the bronze match, we watched their semis to analyze their style and set up our strategy and thankfully, our execution was on point. Yes, we would have liked to win it all, but it is still a good result.” - said Krisztina Acs and Csaba Banyik after their match.
The Thai celebration reached its top as the last match of the World Teqball Championships 2023 ended with a home W. Suphawadi Wongkhamchan and Phakpong Dejareon were both involved previously on Sunday (just like Vania Moraes da Cruz), but they showed no signs of being tired or pressured by the expectations. They dominated from the get-go against the Brazilian duo, who could only make it close in the second set of the mixed finals, but the Thais were as resilient as it gets and fulfilled their own and the fans’ dreams by running through their opponents. They ended the tournament on the highest not possible by winning the day’s second gold medal for the hosts and finishing at the top of the medal ranking.
Mixed doubles, final
Vania Moraes da Cruz, Leonardo Lindoso de Almeida (BRA)–Suphawadi Wongkhamchan, Phakpong Dejaroen (THA) 0:2 (-4, -9)
“We would need more room and space so we could defend better against the Thais, we think this could help. We tried to be aggressive with our serve and push them so they would not be able to perform the bicycle kick, but it was not enough. We will continue to work every day to finish in the first spot and will never lose motivation or give up, we will always chase the gold!” - vowed Vania Moraes da Cruz and Leonardo Lindoso de Almeida after winning their third silver in a row in mixed doubles.
“This is the best day ever and exceeds our bravest expectations! We hope that this performance will help our case to bring more sponsors to Thai Teqball. It is the first step for us, definitely a great one and we promise that there is more to come!” - said the understandably happy Suphawadi Wongkhamchan and Phakpong Dejaroen.