Last weekend, a number of Rotterdam teams took the gold during the 2015 Grand Dutch Student Championships (GNSK) held in Amsterdam. Both the women’s and men’s teams of the Antibarbari football club came out tops. And this year, they were joined by the tennis players of Passing Shot, who brought home the title of strongest student tennis team in the Netherlands.
To get to the finals, the Passing Shot team needed to beat rival teams from Nijmegen, Utrecht and Maastricht in the group stage. Each team head-to-head involved a men’s single, women’s single, two doubles and a mixed double: five matches in all.
According to team captain Edwin Huisman, the tournament actually came off to a bumpy start for the Rotterdam team. “Our first match on Saturday morning was against Nijmegen. Since we thought they’d be one of the weaker opponents, we hadn’t lined up our best combination. Nijmegen proved to be a tougher nut to crack than we expected. Fortunately, we got off with a shock: we ultimately won with 3-2.”
This was followed by the key head-to-head of the group stage, against this year’s favourite Utrecht. “These matches were actually among the finest we played all weekend.” Mainly thanks to the efforts of Stefan de Jong and Bart van den Berg – two players also found in the Netherlands’ top 50 – Passing Shot ultimately ‘rounded the horn’ with 3-2. After that, Maastricht on Sunday morning no longer posed a threat. Passing Shot sent them packing back home to Limburg with a 5-0 victory. This round was followed by some heated discussions as to which teams qualified for the final. “Utrecht had won more individual games. But we had beaten Utrecht in our head-to-head with them. Ultimately, the tournament rules decided in our favour,” explains Huisman.
The other team stepping onto the finals court was Groningen – a familiar opponent. “It was an opportunity for us to settle a score, since last year they had beaten us in the finals. We were definitely in the mood for payback. However, this year, Groningen had entered a slightly weaker team than in 2014.” And this quickly became apparent in the final matches, which weren’t exactly electrifying. “We started with all sails set – first the singles, followed by the mixed double. These were also our strongest players.” Thanks to the efforts of top players Yvette Vlaar and Lizette Blankers and, once again, De Jong and Van den Berg, by the end of three matches, Groningen had no hope of a recovery, at 3-0 for Rotterdam. The teams decided not to play the remaining matches.
Rotterdam put in a fine performance at this edition of the GNSK. Three teams won in their respective categories, and in the rugby tournament, RSRC came in a very respectable third. With no fewer than three gold medals, Rotterdam’s results at the 2015 GNSK are the best since 1990. Across the board, however, Nijmegen proved to be the strongest contender in this year’s tournament. ES