by Anouk Faure, Swiss Padel National Player
This past weekend our national padel teams went to the Netherlands, to fight for a spot at the 2018 World Cup!!! The qualification round was held at the Tennis and Padel Center of Keltenwoud in Bennekom.
The grounds and courts are great at Keltenwoud. Originally a tennis center, three padel courts have been added. Additionally, there was a large white tent set up for the event, from where you could sit in the shade, and watch the games on court #1. Complimentary water and fruits for the players were generously offered, and you could see each country’s flag post, displayed right in front of the tent.
The FIP (International Padel Federation) welcomed during the opening ceremony both our Swiss women and men’s team, as well as the German women and men’s team, the Senegalese men’s team and of course, the Dutch women and men’s team.
Our Swiss men’s team started playing right that afternoon against Netherland. They had a good fight but lost all three games, against a really strong team who seemed to play with confidence in their home courts. Patrik and Ibrahim at the #3 spot still made their opponents work for their win, as the second set almost turned for our Swiss pair! The final score was 6/3 7/5.
Due to injuries in our men’s team, the habitual pairings were modified all three days. The Naef brothers who train and compete together all year, had to split up for the best of the team. And Pascal who also competes with his brother, Patrik (Burkhart), during the year, paired up with Felix this time around.
On Saturday, both women and men’s team played. The women against the Netherlands and the men against Germany.
Although trying their best – and even almost injuring a German player – our men’s team lost all three games. Andreas Naef smashed a hard ball directly in his opponent’s chest, which cut his breath for a few seconds and left him quite shaken on the floor! After a short medical break, and Andreas apologies, the German player came back with a revenge as they won that game against Andreas and Till.
After asking Andreas later that night about the incident he replied “My opponent was staying there [close to the net] on every ball I smashed, I knew at some point he would get hit!”. It is true, a good advice when playing Andy, as his teammates call him, is to try and take a few steps out of the way… His smashes typically have quite the speed!
While the men were still battling, our women’s team started against the Netherland’s national women’s team. Our three pairs fought hard! At #1, the captain Michelle and Rebecca, as well as at #2, Stefania and Anouk, our pairs had tight sets. Our #2 even went to a tiebreaker in the first set. But it seemed like the Dutch were just more comfortable on their home courts. Maybe beating the Germans in the morning also helped raise their confidence level!
Larissa and Nathalie entered as our #3 pair and although playing well together, they were not able to win against probably the most solid #3 (women) pair of this weekend.
The Dutch women celebrated their win and their ticket to go to the World Cup in Paraguay this November by opening and spraying around champagne. Congratulations to them!
After a dinner and a quick drink together in the vibrant – yes, yes, believe it, the area had sand and inflatable mini pools, as if at the beach! – Bennekom downtown area, our Swiss women and men’s team returned to their hotels and prepared for the next day’s games.
Sunday morning all remaining teams started at 10 am. On the men’s side, the Germans and Dutch battled for the spot at the World Cup, while the Swiss men’s team won all three games against Senegal. Even if our #3 pair, Pascal and Felix, lost the first set, they were able to come back and win the match, against a solid Senegal pair.
Meanwhile our women’s team played against Germany, and also won all three games! At #3 Karen and Larissa worked on their patience and showed to be a great pair. They had a great game with some very long points, where waiting for the right moment to strike was key!
As our Swiss men and women’s team finished, the Dutch and German men #3 and deciding game was underway. It is finally the Germans who won and will be going to Paraguay this November. Congratulations to the men’s German team as well!
Sunday proved to be our day for our Swiss teams, as both women and men came out without losing a match! The women ended up 2nd overall. Congrats!
The weekend ended for the women’s team with a nice stroll in Amsterdam under a bright summer sun, before heading to the airport. While the men drove off, back to Switzerland. Overall it was a great experience for both teams, and it was nice to see the players cheer on each other! Hopp Suisse!!!
Thank you to the organizers and the people who made this event possible!
Editor’s note update, 13.7.18: Due to personal circumstances of core players and a lack of replacements, unfortunately our women’s team cannot continue the playoffs in Belgium in August. ;-(