With Olympic qualification behind us, and as Europe draws its breath after a stunning European championships in France, the European circuit keeps rolling along with a trip to Greece for the 2016 edition of the Hellas Open.
Swiss mixed doubles pair Oliver Schaller and Celine Burkart (pictured) are seeded two for the event and will certainly be the pair to watch this week after their win over Nottingham and Westwood of England in the first round in La-Roche-Sur-Yon last week.
The Swiss lost in the second round of the European Championships to world number 14 pair Michels and Fuchs of Germany, the Germans of course are Rio bound in the summer. Schaller and Burkart certainly caught the eye in France and will travel to Greece in a confident mood and as a hugely improved pair over the season.
The Swiss pair will have a relatively easy path to the semi-final where a potential match up against Austrian pair Zirnwald and Langthaler or Finnish third seeds Nystrom and Aarnio awaits.
Top seeds in the mixed event are Polish pair Pietryja and Wojtkowska and the Poles, like the Swiss, should cruise to the finals unchallenged.
Zirnwald partners Diminik Stipsits as the top seeded pair in the men’s doubles and like the Swiss enjoyed European action in France last week. With a bit more strength in depth in the men’s doubles the Austrian pair will have to perform to their best to justify their seeding.
Poles Bochat and Pietryja and back together after a season moonlighting with more experienced partners and will be the obvious unseeded choice for the title this week in men’s doubles while in the women’s doubles Finnish pair Jenny Nystrom and Sonja Pekkola have found themselves on the same side of the draw as Swiss top seeds Burkart and Girona and will make the Swiss pair work hard for a podium spot.
Singles titles up for grabs as Olympians take well-earned break
With most of Europe’s Olympic hopefuls electing to take a well-earned rest after 12 months globetrotting in search of Olympic qualification points the opportunity presents itself to some of the regular circuit players to steal a march lift a title this week in Greece.
In the men’s singles Finland have a realistic three pronged attack with Henri Aarnio, Iikka Heino and third seed Kalle Koljonen all in with a shout of lifting the title.
Denmark’s Kim Bruun is top seed and after a quiet season the Dane is due a win. Other to watch out for are Sweden’s Gabriel Ulldahl who can beat the best circuit players on his day. The Swede’s first round match against German Patrick Kaemnitz will sure to serve as an indication of his form with the winner a likely protagonist come the dishing out of medals on Sunday.
In the women’s singles Germany have both top seeded players in Fabienne Deprez (pictured above) and Luise Heim. Top seed Deprez has the easier draw and playing to her capabilities has enough in her locker to comfortably make the final.
Heim will need some more luck along the way with Ayla Huser (SUI) and Danish pair Hansen and Nielsen on her side of the draw. The German has a potential banana skin match on day one of the event against Aimee Moran of Wales but should she come through that will hope the Swiss and Danish players take themselves out of the equation before a potential semi-final meeting where anything can happen.
All the action kicks off on Thursday in Sidirokastro and to view all draws click HERE