Being a new team can have its benefits in the King of the Court format. That was proven today teams of mixed nationality won their matches and qualified directly for Sunday’s semifinals. Laura Ludwig and Anouk Vergé-Dépré were the example on the women’s side, Moritz Pristauz and Marco Krattiger in the men’s. In total five teams per gender secured their spots for the semis.
In the first phase, teams are divided into three groups of five teams. The winners qualify directly for the semifinals on Sunday. Numbers 2 and 3 played a play-off tonight, of which only the winner also qualified for the semifinals.
Today's numbers 4 and 5 will play another full King of the Court match on Saturday, along with the teams that did not make the play-offs, with only the winner going to the semis.
In Group A in the women’s draw two experienced players ended up on top in the final round, but they didn’t gain that experience together over the years. Laura Ludwig and Anouk Vergé-Dépré teamed up for Hamburg and made the most of their first-time appearance. For their ‘home’ audience they reached fifteen points before the time was up in the final round and the moved on to Sunday’s semifinals.
Same goes for Brazilian beach volleyball royalty Barbara and Carolina. In the first round of their match they were on the verge of being eliminated, in second round they finished in second spot. But when the points mattered most, Barbara and Carolina showed their excellence and reached fifteen before time was up.
Group C featured lots of first-timers for King of the Court, joined by 2020 Utrecht bronze medal winners Sanne Keizer and Madelein Meppelink. Emilie Olimstad and Ingrid Lunde made their debut, but it never showed. They won all three of their rounds and they cruised to fifteen in the final one. They will spend Saturday playing padel tennis and rejoin King of the Court on Sunday in the semifinals.
But that wasn’t all the Friday had to offer, two more spots in the semifinals were up for grabs in two winner takes all playoffs between three teams. Just one round of fifteen minutes, team with the most points wins. Tension was high on this one, because you can’t make it to be more all or nothing than this.
In the first playoff match French Lézane Placette and Alexia Richard edged out Dutch Keizer / Meppelink and Helland Hansen / Hjortland from Norway. In an extreme thrilling second playoff match the three times were close throughout, but two serving errors in the final minute (when a fault serve earns the team on the Queen’s side a direct point) handed Wojtasik and Kociolek from Poland the victory over Lehtonen / Ahtiainen (FIN) and Tillmann / Lobato (GER/ESP).
Group A in the men’s tournament seemed to go the way of Dutch King of the Court veterans Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen, as they won the first two rounds by big margins. But in the third and final round Lion King Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins pulled some tricks from up their sleeves and ran away with the win and the semifinal spot.
Group B presented lots of royalty, 2018 Kings of Utrecht Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira took on 2020 King Marco Krattiger who teamed up with Moritz Pristauz for the occasion as his partner Florian Breer is unfortunately out with an injury. Belgian greats Dries Koekelkoren and Tom van Walle made for an exciting group and the crowd wasn’t disappointed. In the end Pristauz and Krattiger won and earned their spot in the semis on Sunday.
Group C presented a big battle between French Quincy Aye and Arnaud Gauthier-Rat and Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak from Poland. They split rounds one and two between them and went all out in the final round. Both teams gathered 13 points, so the longest stay had to break the deadlock. Aye and Gauthier-Rat came out on top and went straight through to Sunday.
In the men’s tournament two final playoffs were also played in order to qualify two more teams to the semifinals. Once again it was demonstrated that endurance and fitness can get you a long way if you pair it with years of experience on the World Tour. Herrera and Gavira were so focused, they didn’t even realize they had won until the announcer mentioned it to them. The Spaniards just edged out Schachter and Ranghieri (CAN/ITA) and Kantor / Losiak.
In the second playoff Dries Koekelkoren and Tom van Walle were on the brink of qualifying for the semis, but an essential serving error with just half a minute to go they allowed Brouwer and Meeuwsen to score the equalizer. The Dutch scored two more points and reached the semifinals as well.
There was a very unfortunate injury for Argnetinian Julian Azaad. He can’t play on and we wish him the very best and a speedy recovery. He will be replaced by Germany’s Paul Becker as Mauricio Vieyto’s partner.
Check out all results here.
Tomorrow we’ll continue with the knock-outs. Ten teams are still in the race for two remaining spots in the semis. Per gender two full King of the Court matches will be played, we start at 12.50 pm. Join us on YouTube.
In the German tournament the semifinals and finals will be played tomorrow, as the best three teams will earn a spot in Sunday's semis for the international tournament. Check out the results from today's matches here.