It’s already late August and to our shame we didn’t get a Squash World Tour match earlier this year. But better late than sorry! And we started 2022 with a special exhibition: Squash vs Racketlon!
The Squash World Tour was invited to host an official side event of the FIR Racketlon World Championships 2022, and so for the third time the Squash World Tour stopped in Graz after 2018 and 2021. But this time we brought some fresh blood to play!
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Squash vs Racketlon
I have great memories about our encounters in Graz. Particularly about the time I won in the 5th set after I and the arbiter counted wrongly. Ahh… great times!
And said arbiter – Florian Harca – made a return today to represent Racketlon and #teamorange in the Squash vs Racketlon side-event. Flo is the number 1 youth Racketlon player in Austria and one of the best squash players of the Squash World Tour.
The other participant was Kristian Seiner, number 1 youth Squash player in Austria. And also he was in touch with the Squash World Tour before: When we played in 2018 in Graz, he already dominated me in a #teamorange duel.
And similarly Kristian started this side event – but this time representing #teamyellow. Not really unexpected, we have to admit, but we were very impressed with Flo’s mentality and that he could get himself out of some difficult situations.
Although Flo fought like a lion for Racketlon and made significantly more points than we anticipated, Kristian took the match for Squash in a safe 3-0: 11-3, 11-8, 11:6. Maybe because of Peter’s #teamyellow coaching?
Special Squash Court in Graz
So it was our turn! I want to mention that in preparation for the Racketlon World Championship tournament, one court got an upgrade: one sidewall was replaced with a glass wall.
This made it all the more interesting to play on the court! As you know we kinda specialize in playing on strange courts, like last year in Thessaloniki.
Starting our game, my game plan was the usual:
1. long rallies
2. make Peter run
3. tire him out
But this time Peter and I were coached by Kristian and Flo respectively, trying to mix things up and trying to move us closer to actually playing something that could be called squash.
And because Peter thought it would be too much of an advantage to have Kristian coach him, he decided to only sleep 10 hours in the last three days combined.
After our usual warm up, I had the privilege of the first serve. And I used it for a quick 3-0 head start. But afterwards the game was pretty open – a quick back and forth sparkled with inaccurate play and some mistakes along the glass wall on the backhand side. As we still used the black ball, it was not always easy to see it properly in the beginning games.
But with a run from 5-6 to 11-6 I secured the game.
With that kind of finish I felt quite confident although I was feeling the efforts. I was clearly not in the shape I thought and Peter didn’t have to run as much as I would have liked to. Kinda reversed roles.
The second game started out great again, up to a 5-1 lead. And again I wasn’t able to keep that lead and was actually down 7-8 before I managed to take the game 11-9. This time the finish was not so comforting, I was feeling the rallies. But only one more game to win – let’s go!
In the third game I started out with a small lead again, then being (again!) down 6-7 but this time unable to recover the game, Peter took it 11-6.
In the game I noticed the changes in Peter’s game – the coaching by Kristian certainly helped him play smarter. He took the pace out of the rally, focusing on the width and length of his shots. And combined with a couple of lucky shots glued to the side walls, it was pretty clear in the end.
The fourth game was a continuation of the third game, I just couldn’t find an answer to the long slow shots into the corners. Somehow I was leading 7-6, but this time #teamyellow finished with a five point streak and took the game 11-7.
It meant another fifth game. It was what I hoped for before the match, but somehow it doesn’t have the same ring to it after blowing a 2-0 lead.
In any case, I tried to focus on the returns, trying to increase the pace to make Peter less comfortable in his shots. I also tried to mix up the shot selection a bit, even using the boast on the service return. This proved to be a good strategy and I managed to get a 7-1 lead. But Peter was not done yet, and after 3 points in a row my lead shrank to 7-4.
But it proved to be too late and the lack of sleep in the prior days didn’t help #teamyellow either: after losing two match points from 10-4 I took the game 11-6 and thus the match.
Unfortunately we had to skip the obligatory dinner-paid-by-loser together as I had to go back to Vienna and Peter to bed. But at least I enjoyed a nice cake on the way back home 🙂
To be continued in Tunisia…