The European Seniors Championships took place in Turkey for the first time this year. The Ali Bey Resort Sorgun with its 52 tennis courts offered a first-class setting for this quality event. Tennis players from 22 European countries played from 11.4. until 16.4.2016 for the title of European Champion.
Turkey belongs only partly to Europe, and yet the ideal venue is only here for a top event in tennis such as the European Senior Championships. Because Ali Bey Resort Sorgun, in close proximity to the historic archaeological site of Side, is a suitable and dignified place to host a European Championship. The houses of the generous resort are set in a garden overlooking the sea, a Fitness First gym and beauty center, natural stone pools, beach and gourmet restaurants - all with five stars. The tennis facility with 52 clay courts, which was launched this spring with German expertise and German know-how at the highest level, is equally as great as the largest tennis facility in the world at the sister hotel Club Ali Bey in Manavgat. It is the second major Patricio world class tennis camp, with a variety of offerings that can be booked with Europe’s largest tennis tour operator, Patricio Travel.
So draw the curtain for a top event in a sophisticated atmosphere with holiday feeling and a leading organization by Tennis Europe and Patricio Travel. Most tennis players had a short arrival, since they came directly from the Ali Bey Club Manavgat, where the 13th Int Wilson Senior Open had just ended. But also from Estonia, Czech Republic, Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, England, Sweden and of course from Turkey players had come to play for the title of European Seniors Champion and to gather points for the ITF ranking. As the so-called „Regional Championships", the EM is ranked above a Grade A tournament and they are the only European Championships of the year.
The field of participants was at a top-level: Manfred Hundstorfer (Austria), Norbert Henn (Germany), Bruno Renoult (France), Peter Pokorny (Austria) and Heidi Eisterlehner (Germany) were there in addition to various world champions, 27 top 10 players and 5 number 1 players. The tournament was also led by a number 1, the ITF Gold Badge Referee Norbert Peick who has been responsible for the BMW Open in Munich and the ATP Masters in Hamburg. Together with his two assistants and eight Turkish referees, the head judge made sure the event ran smoothly. However, it wasn’t always easy: with tournament tableaus with competitions from 35 to 80 years plus doubles, mixed, consolation round and B-tournament and for the German participants, who provided the greatest player quota at the European Championship, even a final LK tournament, requires some skill and experience, which the native Bavarian possess, so that all 34 competitions were scheduled and played with sufficient time buffers.
If there were to criticize anything at all, then the action has to be directed to the Weather God, who indeed let the sun shine on the six days of the tournament, but just at the time of the opening ceremony he made it rain. The group picture of all the players and officials was about to “fall into the water”, but a semi-official photo call was also good enough. Earlier, Tennis Europe-Chairman of Senior Committee, Attila Richter, welcomed the EM participants from 22 countries on the Centre Court in Sorgun and praised the EM-start as a prelude to a successful partnership between Tennis Europe and Patricio Travel as the exclusive tour operator. Gerhard "Didier" Fahlke, ITF number 3 in the mens 40, took on the task of playing five tennis balls into the audience, for valuable prizes - and a one week holiday with Patricio Travel. Impressive and delightful was the subsequent show act with the dancers of the Ali Bey Resort.
The sun was shining again the next morning and the tennis players had several close matches. In the womens 60, there were three games that went over 3.5 hours. And there were also some surprises. The double Hundstorfer (AUT) / Heckmann (GER) failed in the very first round of the mens 50 to the German / Greek duo Greuter / Effraimoglu which ultimately became the European Champions. Spectacular was also the debut of Zoran Shevchenko in the mens 45. The Macedonian is the head coach for the Patricio Checkpoint Tennis Academy in Sorgun and had received his starting place via wild card. In the first match he beat Giuseppe Poso from Germany smoothly, then he threw the at number 2 placed German Jens-Christopher Blömeke 3:6, 6:2, 6:4 out of the tournament. In the semifinals, he defeated the number 3, Sorin Donescu, in straight sets. Only in the final the PCT tennis instructor was defeated by his opponent Alexander Windisch from Germany. Before his matches, Shevchenko gave his tennis lessons just like every other day.
On Wednesday evening, the restaurant of the resort was decorated festively and the buffet more outstanding and inviting than ever. Guests were greeted with flute and violin music and two angels to the Players Night and it was allowed to truly feel heavenly in such tasty food and drinks. Later in the evening it was again time for the official part: After greetings and speeches by Nadja Koran, Tennis Europe-Representative, General Manager Hakan Öztürk and Patricio Travel CEO Wolfgang Riedl, it was time to cut into a one square meter championships cake, which was then distributed to the Players Night guests.
On Friday, the finals were played. The German No. 1 in the womens 65, Heidi Eisterlehner was surprisingly eliminated in the semi-final against her compatriot Susanne Schweda. Schweda prevailed in the final against Sylvia Balkow from Germany. Another surprise was in the mens 60, where the unset Czech Jaroslav Kratochvil made it to the finals, but was then stopped by the veteran Harald Hellmondseder from Austria in straight sets. How different it can be to become European Champions was shown by the women. In overdrive and with "spectacles" Liselot Prechtel from the Netherlands won the title in the womens 50. In the womens 75, the final was a tough fight between the Germans Barbara von Ende and Sylvia Bauwens, which the latter decided for her in three sets.
In other competitions the favorites came through: Manfred Hundstorfer in the mens 50, Peter Pokorny in the mens 75, Herbert Althaus in the mens 80, Ingrid Kaminski in the womens 75.
At the awards ceremony, directly at the tennis bar, all the troubles and efforts were forgotten and there was a lively atmosphere as the first European Champions were "crowned”. The winners were awarded medals and a crystal trophy. The winners of the consolation- and the B-round received travel vouchers by Patricio Travel - all mutually agreed to be back next year to defend their titles and to try to become the European champions. Better conditions than in the Ali Bey Resort Sorgun cannot be found anywhere, the premiere of the European Senior Championships succeeded.
Info for tournament players: The ITF Seniors tournament is open to all players from the 50 European member countries of Tennis Europe. The losers of the first single round will play in the consolation matches. A B-tournament will start in the middle of the tournament week and is open for participants who book the Tennis Europe event package with Patricio Travel. Thus, each participant has several individual games during the tournament. Sign up for singles, doubles and mixed is possible.
Tip 1: Every tennis player who wants to join this year’s Int. adidas Senior Open in Bol / Croatia will receive special event discounts when booking with Patricio Travel. Date: 25.9. - October 2, 2016
Tip 2: From 19th of September to 1st of October 2016, the "European Senior Club Championships" will take place for the first time at Ali Bey Resort Sorgun. Experience the unique club atmosphere at a European Championship.
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