Paris, London, Sogne – Sport

When the men’s 30 Bundesliga starts on Saturday, there are a few questions: Will TC Bad Homburg play with Benjamin Becker and Rainer Schüttler? Is Tommy Haas in TC Großhesselohe right at the start at home against Ludwigshafen? (Answer: yes.) And who will MTTC Iphitos send into the race this time? The team from Aumeisterweg in the southern group of the league is, after all, going to TC Pfarrkirchen, a climber described as “ambitious” too weak. Eight sand and three indoor courts, 350 members, “all very rural”, describes team captain Felix Riedel his club, “but we want to have an impact on the Bundesliga championship from deep down in Bavaria”.

I’m sorry, huh? Just promoted and already want to become a champion? Only those who do not know the registration list speak like that.

According to this, the following men are to serve for the club in the 13,000 inhabitants town of Rott: Fabio Fognini, Andreas Seppi, Alessandro Giannessi, Marcos Baghdatis, Steve Darcis, Gilles Muller and Kristof Vliegen. Could actually do it with the championship title. Although: “Union Münster should not be underestimated in the northern group either,” says Riedel and lists their stars: Fernando Verdasco, Dudi Sela, Igor Sijsling, Nicolas Mahut and Luca Vanni – another crazy line-up to get along with would not must hide in the men’s Bundesliga either.

The question, of course, is how such a small country club manages to lure such stars to the tranquil Lower Bavaria. Only because of Galgenberg’s lovely heights and the beautiful Gartlberg pilgrimage church do Fognini, Seppi & Co. come. barely. The necessary small change comes from a really motley pool of sponsors from a few local businesses: a furniture store, a construction company, various dental technicians, an insurance company, a hotel and the local savings bank. “The Bundesliga is very interesting for companies,” says Riedel, “but the amounts we are talking about here are completely within reason.”

In return, the acquisition, as the team captain, third in the Bavarian Indoor Championship in 2021, has done for years, is out of the ordinary. He works in the insurance industry, apparently has a winning nature and also a good portion of courage. When Marcos Baghdatis, former number eight in the world, worth nine million dollars in prize money, lost to Matteo Berrettini at Wimbledon on July 1, 2019 and ended his career, Riedel gave him two more weeks – and then sent him an e-mail. mail on July 17 Facebook to: “Hi Marcos, how are you? My name is Felix Riedel from TC Pfarrkirchen, Bayern. We are looking for a new player for next season. Next year we will play in the second league of the men’s 30. Is Are you interested in playing for us? ” How are you feeling? Do you want to play for us? The next morning at half past nine he replied, “Hi Felix. Yes, that may be interesting. When are the dates?” The day after a short mail exchange, a little later everything is scratched. That’s how easy it can be. Riedel was also amazed: “I never thought he would answer.”

Pfarrkirchen rises with Marcos Baghdatis – and dances with the former world number eight until four polonaises in the morning

Pfarrkirchen is on the rise with the good mood Cypriot, the championship party continues until four in the morning, including a polonaise – and Baghdatis are all there. The province of Lower Bavaria apparently suits the man from Limassol. Riedel is thrilled: “An incredibly laid-back guy who often just calls to chat provides training for the kids and our club members.” And – now that Corona is on retreat – it also attracts many spectators who bring hunger and thirst with them, which in turn fills the club box. 40 young people have joined the club, as Baghdatis has from time to time delivered balls here. However, the 36-year-old will not be able to play all the matches this year because he also wants to play on the Seniors Tour at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Paris, London, Pfarrkirchen: fantastic tennis.

The other stars followed: “You’re in focus when someone like Baghdatis is in the game,” Riedel says. The three Italians Fognini, Seppi and Giannessi – best world rankings: 9, 18 and 84 – ended up in Pfarrkirchen through an acquaintance of the club’s chairman Christoph Schmid. Nicolás Almagro, the former number nine in the world, had also contacted Riedel via Instagram, but the registration list was already full. In Riedel and Andreas Schwarz (champions of Lower Bavaria 2009) there are only two Germans in the squad, unlike Iphitos (ten) and Großhesselohe (eleven). “I had contact with German players,” says Riedel, “but I count the Austrians as locals. Sometimes I prefer them over German players who are unreliable. And there were three of the Austrians for my wedding.” One suspects: There must have been a polonaise.

Of course, Riedel will not reveal exactly who will serve against Iphitos on Saturday. “Let’s put it this way: We start with a very powerful, well-known squad. For us, it’s a prestige duel. Iphitos is not exactly the least known club in Germany.” The people of Munich could almost rent a bus, for the men of 40 also play the same day in the Pfarrkirchen, regional league. Here, too, the hosts have a big name to offer: Paolo Lorenzi, who was previously number 33 in the world and only resigned last year. Maybe a fun afternoon will be over in Rottal.

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