• European Individual Closed 2009 • 27-30 May, Herentals • 

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Ronnie Vlassacs on the desk ...

TODAY in Herentals - Wed 27th, Day ONE:
Hannes brings home joy in Herentals

Day one saw two rounds of action in each draw - for the men it was five qualifying matches, then the first round which saw all sixteen seeds safely through.

For the women eight morning first round winners this took on the top eight seeds in the evening, with local favourite Kim Hannes the only interloper into the quarter-finals.

 Draws & Results

 Photo Galleries

Not this time for Sergey Kostrykin ...

Valeri Litvinko found a good resistance in Vedran Svonja ...

Framboise reports from Herentals

Valery Litvinko (Rus) bt Vedran Svonja (Cro)
         6/11, 11/7, 11/8, 11/6 (39m)

Miroslav Celler (Svk) bt Sergey Kostrykin (Rus)
         11/2, 11/8, 11/3 (19m)

Alexandre Benassi (Bel) bt Miklos Vadas (Hun)
         11/4, 11/5, 11/5 (17m)

At 11am sharp, the men's qualifying round got under way, with six players I have to admit I never saw before.

Very quickly, Slovakian Cellar Miroslav dominated Russian Sergey Kostrykin - who I found running on the Athletics ground this morning as I was taking a few pics.

Sergey is obviously a good runner, but lacks a bit in technique. Cellar was able to keep him at the back just by finding good length and keeping the ball tight really. He made very few errors, and forced the Russian to make find the tin… Basic rule of squash, isn’t it?

Alexandre BenassiA bit the same story for the second match, under 20mn including a blood injury, between young, trim and willing Belgium Alexandre Benassi, and a slightly less fit Miklos Vadas from Hungary. Painless victory for the home boy…

The third match was very disputed, Russian Valeri Litvinko found a good resistance in Vedran Svonja from Croatia. Those two run a lot, but the left hander from Russia was just stronger today. Vedran saved a few match balls in the 4th, and fought to the last shot.

Still, Valeri will be the one who has the pleasure to play seed #1 next round, Greg Gaultier.

 Vedran Svonja from Croatia Advice for Valeri Litvinko


Stefaan Vereecke (Bel) bt Filip Madaric (Cro)
          11/2, 11/2, 11/1 (13m)
Mats Raemen (Bel) bt Artem Beba (Ukr)       
        11/2, 11/4, 11/3 (14m)

Stefaan VereeckeIn the next two matches, completing the qualifying, the Belgian players were basically far too strong for their opponent.

Stefaan Vereecke, a tall and lean Belgium was keeping the game simple, and was winning most of the long rallies against his Croatian opponent, a young and fit player. A lefthander, Filip Madaric was a bit weak technically on his backhand, detail that didn’t go unnoticed with Eagle Eye Stefaan, who kept pilling on the right side of the court, forcing the error out of the Croatian….

Mats RaemenOn the glass court, Artem Beba, from Ukraine never found his marks on a court where his opponent, nicks and all, was obviously at home – literally. Mats Raemen will now play Nick Matthew, and something tells me it’s a match he is really looking forward to.

On a personal note, I must say I was impressed with the level of the Belgian players I’ve seen so far. Fit, determined, technically very sound, it’s obvious that they are working extremely hard and it’s a shame I don’t get to see more of them on the tour…

Artem Beba, from Ukraine

Hannes & Rinnie Vlassacs ... Hungarian help from Colin White ...

Borja Golan advises Nunez ...Nunez & Dumplob ...Hannes & Kecese-Nagy ...


[9/16] Maud Duplomb (Fra) bt Xisela Aranda Nunez (Esp)
             11/6, 11/4, 11/5 (30m)
[9/16] Victoria Lust (Eng) bt Yara Delagrange (Bel)
             11/4, 11/7, 11/4 (17m)
[9/16] Kim Hannes (Bel) bt Helga Kecse-Nagy (Hun)
             11/4, 11/9, 11/4 (19m)

Delagrange & Lust ...First on, we had English Victoria Lust, 20, who was too precise for Belgium's Yara Delagrange, who still fought especially in the 2nd, and saved a match ball in the third. I felt that Victoria was very at her ease, and her international experience showed today…

Maud Duplomb, from France, got more and more comfortable as the match went on. If she was a bit weary in the first game, she found some good width, twisting and turning Spanish Xisella Aranda, coached by Spain number one Borja Golan. A good match, with nice rallies, and two determined to run girls…

The third match, on the glass court, was between two ladies with the same physical type, tall, slim, extremely fit, and obviously excellent athletes.

Kim Hannes, from Belgium, who is also heavily involved in the tournament organisation, was facing Hungarian Helga Kescse-Nagy, a lady who like to hit the ball hard, and very close to the tin. Kim was superior technically wise, but those two offered us a strong match, that I had pleasure to watch.


[5/8] Adrian Grant (Eng) bt Miroslav Celler (Svk)
              11/2, 11/3, 11/4 (22m)
[9/16] Rasmus Nielsen (Den) bt Petr Martin (Cze)
             11/4, 13/11, 11/3 (31m)
[9/16] Dylan Bennett (Ned) bt Andrea Torricini (Ita)
               5/11, 11/8, 11/5, 6/11, 11/7 (54m)

We started the men's first round with one very short game – to be expected – between Adrian Grant, world number 11, and Slovakian Cellar Miroslav, who beat Litvinko this morning rather easily.

Cellar was a bit out of his depth here, but he shows good technique, he hits the ball cleanly, and possesses a very fair all over game. At the end, he was a bit overwhelmed with Adrian’s power and relentlessness, but he will be proud of his performance.

Rasmus gets advice ...

Then came the “Battle of the runners”, between two charming lunatics who didn’t stop chasing that ball from the first rally to the last as if their life depended on it. Not exactly your typical technique for Petr Martin from the Czech Republic, but a ferociously determined young player who gave a good game to Rasmus Nielsen, from Denmark, especially in the first game, won 13/11, only just…

Lucas Buit advises Bennett ...

But the “Match of the day” was definitely played between Fit Andrea Torricini and Intense Dylan Bennett.

Andrea surprised us all by taking the first game 11/5, against a Dylan who didn’t seem at his ease today. The court was a bit slippery, it seemed, and the Dutch was not happy when he got out after losing the first, but was able to take the next two rather comfortably, and we thought that was it really.

But that devil of an Italian was just astonishing today, varying his shots, so unorthodox to say the least, and on top of that, honestly, those two were having rallies from hell, Dylan was clearly in the red, but intense red, and Andrea was barely sweating, white as Italian sand. Impressive fitness.

Add to that his ability to slow the pace down, to play a ball with absolutely nothing on it, forcing Dylan to push so hard to give it speed, frustrating him to force his shots. The Italian volleyed a tremendous lot for such a short guy, taking the ball very early, increasing the pressure on his already nervous opponent, who started to hit more and more tins.

Cut a long story short, it all came down to a fifth, and 11/7 for Dylan, who will be delighted to win that one - not his best match ever, but at the end of the day, great players are the ones that still win when not at their best, aren’t they…

Miroslav Celler

Rasmus Nielsen

Petr Martin


[9/16] Linda Hruzikova (Svk) bt Nikoleta Pozidi (Gre)
             11/2, 11/7, 11/5 (15m)
[9/16] Celia Allamargot (Fra) bt Eliza Kargioti (Gre)
            11/1, 11/3, 11/3 (20m)

[9/16] Birgit Coufal (Aut) bt Sonja Schrijvers (Bel)
             11/5, 11/4, 11/8 (25m)
[9/16] Annabel Romedenne (Bel) bt Anna Detter (Swe)
             7/11, 11/5, 11/7, 7/11, 11/4 (37m)

Linda Hruzikova and Nicole Pozidi will have to forgive me, I didn’t have even a glance at their match, but as we had 7 matches at 5pm – the Greeks were delayed, and their matches were rescheduled from 1 to 5 – I could only do what I could…

Celia Allamargot from France didn’t have any problems today against Greek Eliza Kargioti, and was able to work on her length and short game to warm herself up for her meeting with World number 11 – former world number 1 – Vanessa Atkinson, only two hours after this match, late arrival from the Greek obliges…

Annabelle RomedenneAnnabel Romedenne had much much more trouble getting rid of Anna Detter, from Sweden, who was able to put the Belgian lady under much pressure with her short game. Annabel seemed a bit slow to move to the front today, and it all came down to preventing Anna from playing her shots.

Annabel prevailed but only just, 11/4 in the 5th, and finished the game with a few pains here and there. All credit to the Swedish girl, who came close to creating an upset…



[5/8] Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned) bt Mark Andrew Burke (Bel)
          11/3, 11/3, 11/8 (27m)
[5/8] Borja Golan (Esp) bt Rusian Sorochynskvi (Ukr)
           11/7, 11/7, 11/1 (36m)

[9/16] Piedro Schweertman (Ned) bt Marton Szaboky (Hun)
            11/4, 11/1, 11/9 (31m)
[9/16] Kristian Frost Olesen (Den) bt Lukas Jelinek (Cze)
            12/10, 11/6, 11/4 (37m)

[9/16] Simon Rosner (Ger) bt Marek Manik (Svk)
            13/11, 11/8, 11/3 (30m)

LJ Anjema wasn’t sure how his body would feel, as it was his first competition since breaking for injury. “Now I had a break I didn’t want, I have even more keen than I was before” he told me, “in front of you is standing a very keen man, Framboise”. Good to hear, LJ, good to see you back.

If Borja Golan never felt under threat against Rusian Sorochynskyi from Ukraine, I was personally impressed by the strength, determination and skills from the young man. He never said die, although he nearly did at the end of the second, looking a bit like a fish out of water.

“Yes, he is good” Borja said, “and he gave it his 100%, that’s the way to go”. The Spanish had to stay concentrated, but as the match went, so did the Ukranian’s fitness too, and Borja was able to wrongfoot his opponent better and better, especially when counter-attacking…

Piedro Schweertman was rather comfortable until the third, when Marton Szaboky started to let go of his shots, finding some good inhibited squash, and saving several match balls and starting to make his opponent doubt a bit. But the Dutch was technically superior, and the 3/0 result is probably a logical one…

And the last one, I know, that was a long session, Kristian Frost from Denmark played a good match against a strong and powerful Czech Lukas Jelinek. Kristian will be glad to win that game in three, as the rallies were pretty long (47 minutes for 3 games only), and wining the first game was probably the turning point of the match…

Schweertman swoops ...


[5/8] Camille Serme (Fra) bt [9/16] Victoria Lust (Eng)
       11/4, 11/6, 11/4 (20m)

[9/16] Kim Hannes (Bel) bt [5/8] Orla Noom (Ned)
        11/4, 11/6, 11/1 (18m)

France's Camille Serme was up for her revenge today against English Victoria Lust, who took her a bit unexpectedly out of the Welsh Open a few weeks back. And according to a spectator – no, not a French one – Camille’s performance was purely clinical.

The French girl was able to control the rallies, open the court at will, and take advantage of Victoria’s not so settled game. The English girl seemed a bit inconsistent at times, finding the tin too many times, but still placing some lovely shots at the front. But today, Cam basically gave an impressive performance which, according to the scoresheet, lasted only 20mn.

Local favourite Kim Hannes played in a zone today, there is no other word for it. In front of her friends and daughter Fiene, Kim didn’t take any prisoners on the glass court.

Precise, sharp and pitiless, the Belgian girl didn’t give Orla Noom, who I thought was going to win rather comfortably, sorry Kim, a single chance to settle in her game, frustrating the young girl more and more as the match unfolded.

The crowd was delighted, so was Kim, who has the hard task to organise the tournament as well as playing in it. What a performance, Kim, well done girl…


[1] Natalie Grinham bt [9/16] Maud Duplomb 
             11/4, 11/9, 11/3 (33m)
[3/4] Isabelle Stoehr bt [9/16] Linda Hruzikova
              11/8, 11/3, 11/7 (44m)
[3/4] Vanessa Atkinson bt [9/16] Celia Allamargot
              11/2, 11/2, 11/3 (20m)

French girls had different fates today. A solid performance from Isabelle Stoehr, fully back from her injury, physically fit and much trimmer than she’s been right after her healing time. First game was pretty tight, but the second rather comfortable. It would have been logical for Linda Hruzikova to say die, but quite the contrary, she led 6/2 in the third, but wasn’t able to stop the French lady coming back to close the game 11/7.

Maud Duplomb, our runner, she is famous to pick up all the balls you throw at her, and to never give up – she really put Isabelle under pressure during our Nationals in the semis, probably costing Isa her French title. Well, she did exactly the same to Natalie Grinham, especially in the second, 11/9. But Natalie reassessed in the 3rd, to logically win 11/3.

Celia Allamargot probably played one of her worst matches ever. The length of the match was 15mn, take out the 4 minutes rest time, you have an 11 min match, as in an average game length of less than 4 min. Not good. Tins, wrong tactical choices, Celia never got in the match really, and Vanessa Atkinson played her part to perfection, never giving the French girl any chance to settle down.


[5/8] Manuela Manetta bt [9/16] Birgit Coufal
            11/9, 11/3, 11/7 (32m)
[2] Laura L-Massaro bt [9/16] Sina Wall
            11/8, 11/5, 11/3 (33m)

If Manuela Manetta more or less controlled the match from start to finish, hitting the ball very hard, and varying her shots to perfection, Sina Wall cause Laura L. Massaro more problems, and that match was very watchable…

Good length, a nice precise game at the back, and some great attacks at the front, the German girl was a good start in the tournament for the English Lady, who has changed both her hair length and colour, making her look even younger…


We had four boys from the top 8 playing all sorts of standard players, and it has to be said, as kindly as possible, that the results were in no doubt.

Thierry Lincou started as ever, as in, losing the three first points to Belgium's Stefaan Vereekcke. The rest allowed the Frenchman to find a few good shots at the front, and gave him some marks on a traditional court.

He was the first one to finish his match, closely followed by Greg Gaultier, who was playing lefthander Litvinko. Greg made his opponent run around the court with a few lob/boast combinations, and they both seem to have a great time…

Nick Matthew and Peter Barker had players of a better standard I believe. Alexandre Benassi, from Belgium, was really up for it, and got pretty frustrated when he made unforced errors I’m sure he never usually makes. And Nick on the glass court had probably the short straw, with a very hungry young Mats Raemen who never let the world number 6 win any easy point.

To finish the evening, Annabel Romedenne gave another strong performance tonight, 8, 8, and 9.

After her five setter this afternoon, I thought she might have been a bit tired, but being at home gave her wings against Annelize Naudé, and each game to have gone either way, but it was the Dutch who prevailed.

That was a perfect end to a long day. With another one just as long coming up tomorrow…

Six up for EICC ... and Gaultier ?

The sixth edition of the revived European Individual Championship heads for Belgium next week, with many of the continent's top players vying for the title of European Champion.

France's Gregory Gaultier - winner of the last five men's events - is sure to be top seed, with his main challenges expected to come from compatriot Thierry Lincou, the strong English contingent of Nick Matthew, Peter Barker and Adrian Grant, Spain's Borja Golan and Dutchman LJ Anjema.

Isabelle Stoehr will be hoping to make it another French double, as last time out in Bratislava, with her main challengers coming from the Netherlands and England in the form of Natalie Grinham, Laura Lengthorn-Massaro and Vanessa Atkinson.
Top Men's Entries

#2  Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
#6  Nick Matthew (Eng)
#7  Peter Barker (Eng)
#8  Thierry Lincou (Fra)
#11 Adrian Grant (Eng)
#12 Borja Golan (Esp)
#19 Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned)
#37 Renan Lavigne (Fra)
Top Women's Entries

#4  Natalie Grinham (Ned)
#7  Laura L-Massaro (Eng)
#11 Isabelle Stoehr (Fra)
#12 Vanessa Atkinson (Ned)
#24 Line Hansen (Den)
#29 Annelize Naudé (Ned)
#34 Camille Serme (Fra)
#37 Manuela Manetta (Ita)

full draws

2008 podium in Bratislava


Flemish Squash Centre
Vorselaarsebaan 62
2200 Herentals

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