June was another busy month on the WDF calendar, highlighted by the qualification race for the Australian Open wrapping up and the third Gold ranking event of the year taking place in New Zealand. Andrew Sinclair recaps the action from the month’s 10 Senior and two Youth tournaments.
Swiss bliss for Maendl-Lawrence as he moves into Lakeside spot
Germany’s Liam Maendl-Lawrance produced an impressive title double in Switzerland at the start of June to rocket himself into a provisional spot for the WDF World Championships at Lakeside later this year.
The teenager had won his maiden WDF title back in February at the Slovak Open and sealed his second in Kloten when he defeated Aaron Turner 5-1 in the Swiss Open final.
He took that tally to three the following day in the Helvetia Open. In what was a close, competitive game with Switzerland’s own Marcel Walpen, Maendl-Lawrence recorded a 92.65 average as he ran out a 5-3 winner.
The Women’s titles in Kloten were split. The first, the Swiss Open, went the way of top seed Rhian O’Sullivan. Winner at the Denmark Masters just over a month earlier, the Wales captain sealed her sixth career WDF title with a 5-1 victory over home favourite Sylvia Schlapbach.
The following day’s Helvetia Open went the way of Sophie McKinlay. The Scottish 16-year-old became the youngest senior female winner of an event in 2023 when she beat Monique Lessmeister 5-3 in a good-quality final.
Just like fellow teenager Maendl-Lawrence, McKinlay left Kloten with two titles in her possesion. An hour or so before her win over Lessmeister, ‘The Trophy’ had defeated Robbie Curran in the Helvetia Open Youth final.
That was the second final defeat of the weekend for Curran, who had lost the Swiss Open Youth final the previous day to Irish compatriot Adam Dee.
Porter and Hammond on-song at Australian Masters
Danny Porter joined Liam Maendl-Lawrence in moving into a provisional Lakeside spot when he won the Australian Masters.
Having beaten Brandon Weening in the semi-finals, the South Australia native faced Harley Kemp in the final. Porter raced into a 6-1 lead in a race to seven but Kemp, aided by five 180s, roared back into it and forced a decider.
Porter had missed match darts before that 13th leg but in the decider he made no mistake, taking out 55 in two darts to claim his second career WDF ranking title.
Not only did that win in Geelong line Porter up for a Lakeside debut, it also secured his spot at the Australian Darts Open in August.
Corrine Hammond took home top honours in the Women’s Masters, winning the event for the fifth time in her career with a 6-0 victory over Christine Sheerin.
The Youth Masters was won by Jacob Turvey, who beat Andrew Nielsen 3-2 in the final.
Estonia plays host to second double-header of 2023
The same weekend as the double-header in Switzerland, there were also a brace of Bronze-graded competitions over in Estonia.
In the Men’s Kassiaru Cup, Valters Melderis continued his impressive breakthrough season on the WDF circuit by winning his third ranking title in as many months.
In the final, the Latvian faced Sweden’s ever-improving Björn Lejon. The Swede led 2-0, only for Melderis to win five legs on the spin in 14, 15, 16, 14 and 18 darts to run out a 5-2 winner with a 92.04 average.
An Estonian native emerged victorious in the Women’s Kassiaru Cup, with Marika Sarrapik coming through to claim a maiden WDF title. In the final, Sarrapik beat top seed Margaret Sutton 4-1.
Sutton wasn’t to be denied the following day though, instead defeating Maud Jansson in the Kassiaru Open final to win her third title of the season.
Lejon, however, was unable to match Sutton's feat as he finished runner-up in the Men's Open. On this occasion, he was beaten 5-2 by fellow Swede Edwin Torbjörnsson.
Schnier at the double in Hungary
June’s slate of events wrapped up with a brace of events in Hungary. When the last dart was thrown, Hannes Schnier was heading back over the border to Austria with a pair of trophies to his credit.
The Austrian had reached a couple of quarter-finals on the WDF tour earlier in the year and in Balatonlelle went three steps further to win the first two WDF titles of his career.
In the Balaton Darts Masters, Schnier knocked off a trio of Lakeside 2023 qualifiers to taste glory, defeating Moreno Blom and Benjamin Pratnemer and then Hungarian No.1 Patrik Kovacs.
'The Ram' was pushed a lot closer in the following day’s Balaton Darts Classic, surviving three last-leg deciders against Scott Walters, Benjamin Pratnemer and then Romania’s Daniel Racoveanu in the final.
Czech standout Císařová won the Classic, with Ihász taking top honours in the Masters. In both tournaments, the beaten finalist was Ihász’s compatriot Nora Erdei.
The weekend also featured four Youth competitions that yielded four different winners. The Boys titles went the way of Matej Čverha and András Borbély, with Bibiana Bugylova and 2023 WDF Girls World Championship finalist Krisztina Turai triumphing in the Girls’ events.
Hungary welcomes teenage talents for International Youth Challenge
The double-header in Balatonlelle wasn’t the only trip of the month to Hungary, with the second International Youth Challenge having taken place in the Eastern European nation a fortnight prior.
Zsombor Baranyi won the Boys tournament that weekend, beating Almos Kovacs 5-2 in the final.
The aforementioned Turai, meanwhile, won her third Youth crown of the year with a 4-2 win over Hanna Rabakozi.
Puha and Regnaud win again at Canterbury Open
New Zealand’s headline event of June was the Gold-ranked New Zealand Open, which ended with Haupai Puha and Mary-Anne Teinaki booking spots at the 2024 WDF World Championships.
A fortnight earlier, Puha had entered the winners’ circle for the third time this year when he tasted victory at the Bronze-graded Canterbury Open. There, ‘Hopes’ beat fellow 2023 Lakeside qualifier Jonny Tata 5-1 in the final.
The Women’s Canterbury Open was won by rising star Nicole Regnaud, who defeated Tara Mears 4-1 to claim her second title of the year.
Luke and Kelly on song at Oregon Open
America played host to one senior ranking in June, with the tour heading to the west coast for the Bronze-ranked Oregon Open.
In the Men’s Open, Kevin Luke won his first WDF ranking title in more than five years thanks to a 6-4 final victory over Canada’s always-competitive Rory Hansen.
A new winner emerged in the Women’s Open, with Sally Kelly defeating the three-times former winner Carole Herriott 4-3 in a close-run final.
The following week, there were two Youth tournaments at the Cherry Bomb International in Florida and both ended in last-leg deciders.
Europe Youth Cup headlines a quieter July
Through six months of the season, the three open spots in the 2023 WDF World Championship are currently being occupied by Liam Maendl-Lawrance, Danny Porter and Aaron Turner.
July is typically one of the quieter months on the WDF calendar and that’s true once again in 2023.
The headline event of the month is the 32nd running of the Europe Cup Youth, which is taking place in Vienna, Austria from July 5th to July 8th.
Elsewhere, the month also features trips to Japan, the USA and New Zealand.
Sun, July 2nd: West Japan Cup, Japan (Bronze)
Sat, July 8th: Charlotte Open, USA (Silver)
Sat, July 8th: New Zealand Youth Open, New Zealand (Bronze)
Sat, July 15th: New Zealand Masters, New Zealand (Silver