Svend Pri won his first national championship in 1966 but had to wait nearly a decade before rising all the way to the top in All England.
Among others, the sensational Indonesian Rudy Hartono did his very best to stop Svend from reaching all the way. But finally, on 22 March 1975, Svend succeeded in breaking Hartono’s amazing All England reign.
Svend had to go through an emotional rollercoaster before enjoying the tribute at Empire Pool.
Here’s what Svend himself experienced: “If you can stay as cool and calm on court as you are right now, you can beat Hartono and win the title”. Those are the words I said to myself, as I was nearing the end of my warm up program preceding the men’s singles final. I really felt up to the task and even though I could feel a couple of butterflies fluttering around ever so slowly in my stomach as we entered the arena, I felt completely relaxed. Things were still going as planned in the beginning of the match, but apparently I had to experience the entire range of emotions before the match ended. “This is it”, I thought to myself, as I had taken the lead 12 against 8 in the second set after having won the first set by 15 against 11. But off course, it wasn’t! Mainly because of my own unforced errors, he took four really fast points and evened out the score at 12-12. I kept telling myself “you have to do it – in a potential third set you only have about a 20 percent chance of winning”.
“He continued and made his way to 14-12, one measly point away from sending the match into a third set, and I could feel my throat starting to tighten up. So close, but yet so far. I had attempted to break his serve by rushing to the net and returning the shuttle straight towards his body. That approach failed four times! Then I took a huge risk by suddenly making a flat return to his strong backhand, and it worked. Once again, I had the serve. Looking back, I think this was the moment when Hartono’s game broke down, because the next two points were surprisingly easy for me to win. Once again, I was in control and when he requested setting the match to 17 points he looked as if he didn’t have much faith in his own game anymore. He appeared tired and disheartened and when I finally was able to take home the third set, I was in absolute heaven. The dream I had fought for, ever since my first All England final in 1970, was finally coming through, Svend recounts”.
However, this was not Svend’s first All England championship. The first time he got his hands on an All England trophy was in 1967 in mixed doubles with Danish Ulla Strand and they repeated their victory in both 1971 and 1972. Furthermore, he came in second as many as four times, twice in men’s singles, where he lost to Hartono, and twice in men’s doubles.
Svend also won eight National Championships in men’s singles, five in men’s doubles and four in mixed doubles – all together, he took home the trophy 17 times. He also won the Nordic Championship four times in men’s singles, six in men’s doubles and once in mixed doubles.
Svend played 45 matches for Denmark from 1964 to 1979.
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