This one is a bit delayed, as for the past two weeks, I was rather busy preparing two research papers for the 2015 International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI). Let’s hope it was worth the effort and at least one of my submissions will get accepted 🙂
Now I have finally found the time to talk a bit about this year’s German Championships (September 12–14) in Ringtennis, for which I qualified in all four disciplines (mixed doubles, singles, alternating doubles—played like in table tennis, and free-style doubles—played like in tennis). The weekend started with the mixed doubles competition, in which my partner Maria Voss and I made it to the semi-finals following a first place in the group stage. It has to be noted that Maria normally still plays in the U-18 class and doesn’t have that much experience in the seniors’ class. Thus, making it to the semi-finals is already a decent result. Unfortunately, we lost against Stefanie & Michael Kaiser and could not manage to proceed to the final. In the match for third place, we then lost against Tatjana Schutte & Sebastian Weber, against which we had won in the group stage. So we came in fourth place, which was a bit unfortunate in the end.
Next came the alternating doubles, which I played together with my long-time partner and teammate from the national team Alexej Ermak. Like in the mixed doubles, we came in first place in the group stage, thus directly advancing to the semi-finals, where we didn’t have any problems beating Sebastian Weber & Michael Kaiser. In the final, we faced the defending champions Christian Herzog1 & Fabian Ziegler2. After an incredibly tight match, the score was drawn, so we had to proceed into extra time (2×4 min), in which Alexej and I managed to work out a six-point lead. Yet, after a very attacking finish by our opponents, the score was drawn again, so there was a second extra time (2×2 min). In that one, however, we quickly went behind by two points and could not manage to recover from that deficit—in the end losing the match 49–51 a.e.t. This was in fact the sixth final in a row I lost at German championships!
Immediately after that great disappointment, the singles competition started, which did not go well for me at all. First, I didn’t have my best day. Second, it was raining—and I’m really really bad at playing in the rain. This is due to my very special, spin-heavy technique of throwing the ring, which works incredibly well as long as there are dry conditions, but is a complete fail as soon as the ring becomes wet. So, not having my best day + wet ring weren’t really the best preconditions for me. Although I was able to proceed through the group stage and quarter-final, my journey ended in the semi-final, where I had literally no chance against Fabian Ziegler. After that, even less worked for me and I also lost the match for third place against Julian Sauck (whom I had beaten in the group stage). At the same time, Fabian and Timo Hufnagel engaged in a very thrilling final that Timo eventually won after extra time. Congrats to the deserving new champion! Seems like I should get some training under wet conditions. All in all, that whole second day of the championships was a day to forget!
Finally, on the third day, the competition in free-style doubles took place. Again, I played together with Alexej. We lost the first match of the group stage against the defending champions Christian Herzog & Fabian Ziegler, but still managed to make it to the quarter-finals after securing the second place in our group. After winning against Thomas Tregel & Julian Sauck, in the semi-final we faced Rainer & Timo Hufnagel—who have been 7-time German champions in free-style doubles and to whom I lost the 2010 and 2011 finals after extra time. In a very tight match that Alexej and I controlled all of the time, we were able to secure a one-point advantage in the end. Although this might sound close, it was a deserving win, as we were ahead of our opponents during the whole course of the match. So, we proceeded to the final (for the third time in four years), where we faced Thomas Bleile and Jürgen Öttel (head and assistant coaches of the national team), who rather surprisingly won against Christian & Fabian. In a very tense match that was characterized by a very defensive and temporizing style of play, Alexej and I were in front 3–2 at half time. Scores in free-style doubles are very much lower compared to alternating doubles, as each player has only half a court to cover. Thus, it is very much harder to score active points and unforced errors are multiply painful, which enforces a rather defensive course of the game. Although this might sound more boring, it makes the discipline even more exhausting and mentally demanding, because a single error can be match-winning for the opponent. In the second half, which was even more tense than the first one, Thomas & Jürgen managed to equalize (6–6) two minutes before the end. However, this time good fortune was with Alexej and me and after a direct point and two unforced errors by our opponents, we won with a score of 9–7.
That victory was such a relieving feeling, as it ended my series of losing six finals at German championships in a row. Also, it made Alexej and me forget the whole shitty rest of that weekend; and it had been the only remaining discipline I had never won at German championships (2007: mixed doubles, 2008: singles, 2011: alternating doubles).
Despite my poor performance in the singles competition, I am still at the top of the German ranking. However, the current distribution of points reflects the extremely tight competition among the German men.
|1||(1)||0||Maximilian Speicher||VfL Wehbach||1137|
|2||(3)||+1||Alexej Ermak||TSV Neubiberg||1118|
|3||(2)||-1||Timo Hufnagel||TV Pforzheim||1101|
|4||(4)||0||Julian Sauck||SG Suderwich||838|
|5||(5)||0||Fabian Ziegler||ESG Karlsruhe||808|
|6||(6)||0||Michael Kaiser||RTG Weidenau||453|
|7||(7)||0||Jürgen Öttel||TSV Mimmenhausen||256|
|8||(12)||+4||Thomas Tregel||SKG Roßdorf||229|
|9||(15)||+6||Volker Herrmann||TuS Rodenbach||229|
|10||(10)||0||Tobias Höfelmayr||SKG Roßdorf||200|
|11||(11)||0||Rainer Hufnagel||TV Pforzheim||183|
|12||(14)||+2||Andre Katzberg||RTG Weidenau||95|
|13||(16)||+3||Marcel Rockenfeller||TuS Rodenbach||78|
|14||(18)||+4||Tim Flender||RTG Weidenau||77|
|15||(9)||-6||Christian Kämpfer||RTG Weidenau||58|
|16||(20)||+4||Tobias Plößer||SG Suderwich||37|
|17||(21)||+4||Jens Amelang||VfB Hannover||22|
|18||(23)||+5||Justin Kokott||HFK Hamburg||21|
1 Most successful German player of all time.
2 Current world champion in men’s singles.