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Spanish Open review: 'One of the best handball events we have attended'

So that’s what all the fuss was about. Team Kill Shot attended their first-ever Euro 1-Wall event and it’s fair to say it very much lived up to the hype.

The Spanish Open in Valencia attracted an entry of in excess of 150 players and the standards on show – in terms of the play, the organisation, the ferocious competition, the sportsmanship and the camaraderie – were truly top class.

The facility was very impressive – one large sports hall with five courts and lots of space for spectators along with three outdoor courts. The hospitality was too - players received a welcome pack with drinks and souvenirs as well as food and the volunteers were extremely helpful.

The outdoor courts were on a traditional pelota court and in 30-degree heat, the ball was absolutely pinging around, which made for some brilliant, fast-paced rallies. Even the floor felt hot – which made a change for the large travelling contingent from Ireland who have been accustomed to damp, drizzly weather in recent months.

The star performers were too numerous to mention. In the Men’s Open, England’s Luke Thomson took top honours, defeating Danny Torres of the USA in the final. Thomson is employed as a strategist with Chelsea FC and anyone watching his handball game would not be surprised; Luke is a master craftsman, a lefty who, pun intended, invariably plays the right shot.

The Women’s Open was won by Anastasiya Spiridonov, representing Israel, as she see off Ireland’s Aoife McCarthy in the final.

In the Open Doubles, Thompson teamed with Dan Grant – who put a cancelled flight behind him to race on to the court and perform superbly in the singles as well – to claim another gold medal, defeating Andres Calle and Tri Nyugen in a tiebreaker in the final.

The Women’s Doubles saw both of the Singles finalists team up; Spiridonov and McCarthy held off the strong Dutch pairing of Corrie Kroondijk and Harmke Siegersma in the final.

The other grades were fiercely contested, with James Doyle and Dan McVicker defeating fellow Irishmen John Joe Quirke and Sean Nolan in a high-quality Masters final. Armagh man Doyle’s smooth style also saw him win the corresponding singles.

Cesar Ayala came through a 32-strong Men’s B field to pip Ireland’s Jack Turley; the B grade was very even, with many matches going to the wire and some stand-out players from several countries.

The event marked the inaugural tournament for Kill Shot as the official glove of the Euro 1-Wall tour and we made many new friends and were delighted to see the top players in Europe wearing our sponsored gear.

Special thanks are due to Dan Grant, Luke Stradwick, Geert Vandervelden and all the organising crew who helped make this a highly memorable weekend.

Special mention, too, to Conor McAuley whose spine-tingling rendition of Wonderwall in the karaoke bar may just have launched a new unofficial Euro Tour anthem!

“I’ve attended many handball events as most in our sport have and this was up there with the best of them. There seemed to be endless matches and yet the event ran like clockwork,” said Paul Fitzpatrick of Kill Shot.

“We are thrilled to be associated with the Euro 1-Wall Tour and to sponsor some of the top athletes and are looking forward to it going from strength to strength.”

Next stop Belgium in a month’s time. We already can’t wait.

To get on board Team Kill Shot, check out our full range of gloves and shirts here. Much more merch coming soon so stay tuned.

View the full tournament results here.

Follow the Euro 1-Wall Tour on Instagram here and Facebook here.

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