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Swertz takes double gold in battle with Niessen


Published by frits bakker

© Morgan Delame

CERVERA – The high  class Raymund Swertz (35) showed as the world's best balkline player, finally won out over Patrick Niessen in the final sprint. The 35-year-old Dutchman showed the perfect balkline play at the European Championships in Cervera, winning the two European titles in 47/2 and 71/2. Two times his opponent was Patrick Niessen, at 58 years old back on track again. The two best Europeans, not coincidentally from the low countries, gloried twice with gold and silver on the podium. Swertz was the best in the two finals: by 250-42 in 47/2 (in 1 inning), by 200-39 in 3 in the trickiest balkline, 71/2.

The packed hall in the Spanish venue, where the European battles were played this week in three classic disciplines, saw a still young Dutchman shine, who can often be admired in France. Swertz, married and father of two children, is a virtuoso on the lines with a speed that cannot be matched. Patrick Niessen, also can show that subtle technique in the balklines, already from his younger years, The difference in the two finals at the European Championship was huge in caroms, but the Belgian demonstrated that even in the long marathon of matches he is still among the very best in the world.

In the final in 71/2, Niessen was put under pressure last Sunday evening by Swertz's opening run from the break. The Dutchman immediately found his high rhythm, scored on it, but at 165, with the balls in the small frame on the short cushion, had to find a solution in a long Bankshot over three rails. The shot missed narrowly, giving Niessen chances to come back. However, the Belgian missed after 8 points due to a ’restez dedans’.

With the end in sight, Swertz made another miss when, at 189 and 11 points from the end, he played a rappel shot over two rails far too slow. Niessen then missed on an awkward 1 rail shot, after which Swertz was able to finish at 200-11. Niessen's equalizer, an almost impossible mission, missed out after a small run in good position at the short rail of the table: 200-39 in 3 innings.

For Raymund Swertz, the European title was the seventh in his career. The balkline phenom is from the generation in which world championships are no longer organized in the classic disciplines. Consequently, he has never been able to shine with a world title.

Raymund Swertz remained unbeaten from the preliminary rounds with victories over Marquez, Kahofer and Daske. In the quarter-finals, he beat Xavier Gretillat 200-0 in 1 inning, in the semi-finals Benoit Legros 200-12 in 4. In the three games for the knockouts, Swertz made 600 points in 8 innings. His three opponents totaled 43 points.

Patrick Niessen won in the quarter-finals against Raul Cuenca 200-174 in 7, in the semi-finals against Esteve Mata 200-174 in 6.

The final standings at the European Championship 71/2:

  1. Raymund Swertz 12-37.50-200
  2. Patrick Niessen 8-27.28-99
  3. Esteve Mata 8-29.42-142
  4. Benoit Legros 8-33.10-200
  5. Raul Cuenca 4-41.92-150
  6. Arnim Kahofer 4-21.29-106
  7. Marek Faus 2-20.26-80
  8. Xavier Gretillat 4-24.27-104
  9. Michel van Silfhout 2-21.91-84
  10. Willy Gérimont 2-15.66-81

Raymund Swertz celebrating his second European title with the full stands

Raymund Swertz and Patrick Niessen at the start of the final match