On a hot and sweaty Saturday we headed down to Exeter for our next UK Racketball Series event, the South West Open! It was the second completely packed out entry list we have had in the 2023 Series so promised a plethora of top Racketball matches across all the grades!
Our largest O70s draw this year saw current Series ranking leader Graham Greensall come up against a number of new challengers to his age group dominance. In the end he managed to battle through without dropping a game though was pushed hard by Steve Morrall in the group stage and Francois De Villiers in the final. The O60s was missing a number of the Series regulars, but did have a strong Cornish presence in Nigel Bell & Chris Davey as it’s top seeds. Both of them managed to come through their groups without too much difficulty though Davey was pushed to 3 games by Gary Preston in the group. Bell taking the title in a tight 2/0 final, scores not fully showing the closeness of the match.
A really busy O50s draw (a full 16 entry!) also carried a lot of quality players in it, with 7/8 players all in with a shout if taking the title on the day. It really just came down to who was able to take the tight points on the day! A number of the best of 3 matches went to 2 games to 1 with very little difference separating the winners and losers. In the end Dodds, Rycroft, Buckle and Wardle all made it through to the Semis.From there, both Semi finals also went to 2/1, both lasting at least 35 minutes + long. Rycroft and Dodds just about seeing off their challengers. In the end however Paul Dodds just had too much left in the tank to take the win over Rycroft, both players understandably a bit broken after 5 high quality hard matches in the day.
In the O40s, Adam Giles the top seed made his way through the day seamlessly without dropping a game. Local Newton Abbot players Adam Steer doing really well to finish second in his first UK RB event. The B Grade was also another busy draw with a really good depth of playing ability. A touring trio from Aylesbury - Strong, Takacs & Vasey joined Nick Jenkins in the Semis, where after a couple of marathon matches, club mates Vasey and Takacs met in the final. It was a a real test of endurance, as both had also competed in the Doubles event too meaning this was match 8 of their day! A solid achievement in itself In the end Rob Takacs came through to claim his first Series title!
Finally to the Ladies, Doubles and A Grade. In the A Grade local ex Squash PSA Pro and current O35s British Squash Open Champion James Snell took out several Series regulars to take his first UK Racketball Series title without dropping a game. Beating Alexis Smith in the final. The Ladies was also the busiest draw we have had in that category which is great to see, and Devon Ladies County Captain Karen Bealey managed to see off the rest of the competition to take her first Series win too! Beating Somerset’s Shonagh Butler in a tight 2/0 final. To finish things off we had a really entertaining Doubles final between (a rather tired by this point Rob Takacs & Paul Strong of Aylesbury and Rob Holbrook & Alex Kershaw of Isle of Wight/Hampshire. A well lubricated and vocal travelling IOW contingent roared their men on as they managed to come back from a game down to take the Doubles win.
A really great day of games, thanks to the D&E for hosting us so well and we look forward to being back there next year!
You can find the full results on Sporty here:
The impact of the results on the Series rankings can be found here:
We now look forward to the British Racketball
Open sponsored by Sheffield Autogates on 7th/8th October! Still time to enter for anyone who wants to get involved...
Our second Karakal sponsored UK Racketball Series major event is looming on the horizon! The British Racketball Open in support of the Bluebell Wood Children's Hospice, on the 7th & 8th October at Hallamshire Squash & Tennis Club, Sheffield.
This tournament is a full weekend affair, carrying the same ranking point weighting as our National Championships event, and as such has the same age group categories open, from A & B Grade all the way through to Over 75s. There is also Men's, Ladies, Mixed and Over 60's Doubles categories available for entry, so definitely something for everyone to get stuck into. There is prize money for the Men's and Ladies Open, Karakal are providing the prizes for the singles event winners, and the doubles prizes are being sponsored by Abbeydale Brewery so it's great to have a great bunch of sponsors behind us!
Hallamshire has always been a fantastic venue to visit, with a great bar and courts set up. This year there will be an Oktoberfest themed players party on the Saturday night at the club, with loads of food and drinks deals on offer throughout.
This is also the event where we have seen a couple of the best Racketball matches of all time, with Matthew vs Pearson and Matthew vs Vail last year in particular being two of many. Who is going to challenge Nick this year on his home turf? Can the Sheffield man take another British Open crown?
Needless to say it is definitely not one to miss out on so get your entries in and hotels booked ASAP! Entry came be made via Sporty HQ HERE
This is also a brilliant chance to support a great cause in the Bluebell Wood Children's Hospice Charity, who will be there throughout the weekends promoting their cause and collecting for support. To find out more about this set up that we have been keep to promote over the years please follow: BLUEBELL WOOD
THE 2022 BRITISH RACKETBALL OPEN CHAMPIONS
MEN'S OPEN - NICK MATTHEW
LADIES OPEN - MILLIE TOMLINSON
O35S - CHRIS HALL
O40S - DANNY WEIGHTS
O45S - MATT LOWERY
O50S - CHRIS MORRIS
O55S - JIM MUIRHEAD
O60S - PATRICK OSBORN
O65S - STEPHEN JOHNSON
O70S - IAN GRAHAM
O75S - MARTIN DAY
OPEN DOUBLES - WATTS/ARNOTT
O60S DOUBLES - OSBORN/CORDEAUX
On a soggy Karakal sponsored London Open Saturday it was prime Racketball weather at Bexley Tennis and Squash Club, and with one of our largest Series event entries this year it was due to be a busy day of it! With a trial of our new no entry limit Doubles format on the same day too, there was a really vibrant and enjoyable atmosphere to the club, and some quality matches to boot.
You can find videos and photos from the days matchups on our Facebook album here: UK RACKETBALL
We had several players at the top of the Series rankings taking part and looking to gain a bit of a lead or catch up with the pack. None more so than Graham Greensall (2nd) in the O70s who prior to this lay just 5 points off of Paul Knocker Norton (1st). Graham managed to get through his two best of 5 game matches to take the title and give himself the best chance of leapfrogging Norton. John Moore sneaking the runner up spot.
In the Over 60's the draw was wide open without regular top dog Patrick Osborn in the mix, and newly ''upgraded'' into the age group Mark Blake managed to take full advantage. He took out Akhtar Khokar in the final in a tight 2/0, some great rallies in a left/right hand showdown. In the O50's several big names were in the two groups, with the likes of Morris, Banfield, Smith, Wardle and Burton all looking to get stuck in. There were some great group stage games, with Banfield getting past Wardle 14/12, 12/10 one of the highlights of the day. However the relentless pace and physicality of Morris was too much for the rest of the entry to be able to cope with, he took down Steve Smith 2/0 in an entertaining final, looking very strong in the process. (Clearly gearing up for an O50s British Open run!
The O40s had some of the usual suspects in the mix, with the likes of Grilli, Norton and Alexix Smith all champing at the bit. Smith vs Norton was the eventual final once again, unfortunately slightly curtailed by an injury to Norton meaning he couldn't challenge the ever attacking Smith as much as he would like to, going down 2/0 in the process. This means that Graham Greensall sneaks above him in the latest Series rankings!
There was a busy B Grade draw this year, including a couple of Ladies Masters Squash players in Keeley Johnson and Catherine Ruffle, both of whom were also in the Doubles. Great to get some more Ladies players in the mix. In the end it was a battle of youth (Cutting & Elliot Smith) vs (not much older) experience Dean & Lloyd in the semis, with the two (barely) older players coming through to the final. The youth duo however seem to be improving event by event and it won't be long until they are challenging for the B Grade title or promotion into A Grade! Craig Lloyd managed to see his way past James Dean in the final 2/0, both of them doing really well to maintain a high level of quality in their play after 4 Doubles and 4 Singles matches each by this point! Calls for a Lloyd promotion to A Grade are being heard along the grapevine...
Finally to the Doubles and A Grade. The A was mix of the usual suspects (Arnott, Watts, Kershaw and Jones) and a couple of newer local faces (Tinnams and Taffinder.) In the end it was the Hampshire boys Arnott and Kershaw who made their way through, with Callum winning the match 2/0 after both rather drained competitiors needed to sink a well earned pint beforehand to gain some last minute vitality... True Racketball hydration there...
As mentioned we trialled a new ''no entry number limit'' to the Doubles event this year and it was a resounding success with 14 pairs taking part and some really great quality along the way. All the way through the group stages there were some brutal battles and the final was no exception, with a match up of the highest quality between Lloyd/Beel vs Jones/Marshall. After some furious exchanges and some lovely racket work from both sides, it was Billy & Amber who came through a really close 2/0 win (12/10 in the 2nd) to take the title! (This match is up on the live stream on our Facebook page so it is definitely worth checking it out.)
A top day with a brilliant bunch of competitors. Thanks to Bexley for hosting us once again, it is a lovely venue and always really supportive of our Racketball events. We hope to be back next year. Thank you to our Series sponsor partners and to Karakal UK for all their fantastic support.
Full results can be found HERE: SPORTY HQ
Until next time!
We have a new set of British National Racketball Champions for 2023!
A highly enjoyable and top quality weekend of Racketball has come to an end at Edgbaston Priory in Birmingham, and we have a new group of Racketball National Championship title holders! This was our largest spread of entries to date, with the youngest being 12 years old and the most senior at 85. A really amazing display of how accessible the game is to players of all ages and abilities.
We were lucky to be hosted once again by the fabulous Edgbaston Priory club in Birmingham and we must say a big thank you to the club, it's staff, and it's Head of Squash Mike Edwards for making us feel so welcome and to opening its facilities (and more importantly it's bar!!) up to us for the weekend.
The event was also very fortunate to have several sponsors, all of whom either contributed to the prizes for all the finalists, or to the entry gift bags & tournament shirts which all players recieved upon signing in. Thank you to all the below for their kind support of the tournament, it is really appreciated by all involved and without it we wouldn't be able to make the event as great as it is!
Go Greek Wholesale Foods
Bond Adams Solicitors
Birford Cable & Harness
Also to Collis Sheik & Tariq Choudhry for their support in getting some of the sponsor contacts set up!
Our full list of Championship winners below:
Open - Mike Harris
Ladies - Amber Marshall
B Grade - Colin Griggs
Juniors - Ben Jones
O35s - Mike Tolman
O40s - Dan Soar
Ladies O40s - Elspeth Edwards
O45s - Mat Lowery
O50s - Simon Parke
Ladies O50s - Tina Wotherspoon
O55s - Jim Lord
Ladies O55s - Leslie Sturgess
O60s - Neil Baldwin
Ladies O60s - Leslie Sturgess
O65s - Graham Holmes
O70s - Graham Greensall
Ladies O70s - Melodie Ripley
O75s - Howard Thompson
O80s - John Shingler
You can find the full draws and results from the weekend's action HERE
A rundown of the weekend's action - the big matches, the upsets and surprises!
This year's event saw a mixture of results, from previous winners retaining their titles for another season, to brand new Champions and upset victories. The former saw last year's Men's and Ladies Open winners Mike Harris and Amber Marshall both take the British title once again, both with 3/0 victories but pushed hard within that scoreline against opponents who were featuring in their first Open category Championship finals - Matt Bedwell and Elspeth Edwards.
In the Master's age groups, Leslie Sturgess managed to take the Ladies O55s and O60s titles in solid 3/0 victories, and Howard Thompson defeated his perennial O75s rival Pete Hamlett in a brutal 3/2 Final to retain his once again.
In terms of new winners, there were plenty across the age categories who were winning either their very first Racketball National Championship title, or their first in their respective age groups. Notably Mat Lowery taking the very last match of the tournament in a tough 3/1 final vs Ian Cox in the O45s, and Simon Parke playing probably the match of the tournament vs Mike Gregory in the O50s Final, winning 3/2 in a really tough encounter with both players showcasing some phenomenal racket skill and nous throughout.
It was great to see the Junior event back again, this time with Ben Jones from Devon taking the title without dropping a game through the event. Kudos to Aedan Matamisa for coming 2nd at just 12 years old! In the Ladies side, Elspeth Edwards took her first O40s title (though not her first National title as I was reliably informed, having made an error in previous write ups!) Local member Tina Wotherspoon also doing excellently to win her first Nationals title in the O50s!
As mentioned there were also some rivalries renewed across the draws and some of the matches definitely didn't disappoint. UK Racketball Series regulars Paul Norton and Callum Arnott met in the O35s semi final and had a brilliant match with both players using all angles and corners of the court to brutalise each other. Arnott eventually taking the match 3/2 11/9 in the 5th game. Collis Sheik & Graham Holmes renewed their Over 65s's rivalry, Sheik having won in the Scottish Open against Holmes earlier in the year. Graham however found that extra mileage where it mattered, managing to see Collis off 3/2 11/8 in the 5th game to take the O65s National title!
Sufficient to say, the standard across the weekend was absolutely brilliant. Thank you to all of those who took part and made it such an enjoyable and exciting event to be involved in. We already have 2024's date in the diary - 20/21st July, so we are planning ahead to try and make it bigger and better! Now however we look toward the Bluebell Wood British Open Championships in Sheffield on the 7th/8th October for our next dose of Major Racketball Championships action.
It is time! The Karakal sponsored British Racketball National Championships in association with Digital Office is back, and we have a bumper draw of players across all the categories! Let's get right down to it to see who could potentially do the damage across the events...
In the Men's and Ladies Open events both reigning Champions are returning once more. Mike Harris in the Men's and Amber Marshall in the Ladies. Harris will have Scotland's Matt Bedwell as the 2nd seed in his draw, the pair met already this season in the Scottish Open Final with Harris taking a tight 2/0 win. If both make it through this could be a tough battle. In the Ladies Marshall faces opposition from the likes of Elspeth Edwards and Rebecca Symmonds, both regulars in the UK Racketball Series and will be looking to try and cause an upset!
A strong O35s draw will have a new Champion at the end of the event, as current holder Chris Hall is out injured. Yorkshire's Mike Tolman is top seed, with southern opposition from IOW's Callum Arnott in the bottom of the draw. Arnott potentially facing a tricky semi final vs Series regular and crowd favourite Paul Knocker Norton! Norton will also be looking for an O40s title, as he is 2nd seed there to Bournemouth's Alexis Smith. The pair recently played in Leamington with Smith coming out on top but let's see what happens on the day! Both won't have an easy way through though with the likes of Dan Soar, Colin Griggs and Paul Holdway all capable of causing upsets in early rounds!
The Ladies Over 40s has Elspeth Edwards as its top seed and she will have to battle her way past local players Sarah Roberton and Myra Price if she is to have a chance to clinch a first National title. A very punchy Men's Over 45s line up has at least 4 players all very capable of coming through as winners. Matt Lowery and Adam Giles sit as top two seeds, but with John Dewis, Barry Talbot and others all waiting in the wings, there could be some serious showdowns in the latter stages of this one.
The above however pales in comparison to the Men's O50s draw, which on paper is one of the strongest entry lists we have ever had for a Nationals age group. Last year's finalists Chris Morris (reigning Champion) and Chris Wase (runner up) are only 3/4 seeds in the category they so regularly dominate, as last year's O45s Champion Mike Gregory comes in as top seed, and then ex Squash world number 3 and previous Racketball Nationals Open Finalist Simon Parke as number two! Chuck top Irish player Nick Staunton, and current O50s Nationally ranked No 1 player Phil Hall in as two of the 5/8 seeds, this is really going to be a massive scrap to the title! Keep an eye out for these games!
In the Over 55's previous National Champion Jim Lord returns from injuiry as 1 seed in his first event back for a number of years. Last year's Champion Jonathan Edwards slots in at 2, with Charlie Journeaux and Paul Dodds as two very tough 3/4 seeds. Patrick Osbourn leads the Over 60's draw, looking to extend his period of dominance over the age group, but with the likes of John Cordeaux, Martin Greenslade and Neil Baldwin also competing this could be the hardest draw he has had to face down yet.
Due to some smaller draws in the other Ladies Masters categories we have combined them into a one group of matches, with the winners of their respective age groups then coming away with titles. Nationals multiple title winner Lesley Sturgess is one of the favourites to come away with the O55s and O60s wins, but there will be some great matches across the days, and it all depends on who can come up with the goods on the spot! In the Men's O65s, Edgbaston stalwart Collis Sheik sits on the top of the draw, but Devon's Graham Holmes, himself a regular feature in this and other Series events will be gunning for him, if both can make it through.
It has been really great to see increased uptake in the older Masters categories, no more exemplified than by the O70s and O75s where we have had 13 and 11 entries respectively. In the O70s Graham Greensall looks to continue his form from winning several Series event titles in 2023 already, but he faces a challenge in Scotland's Colin Cruickshank as the 2nd seed, whom he lost to in the Scottish Open earlier on this year. Howard Thompson and Peter Hamlett will renew their O75s rivalry in this year's event having done battle in the final last year. However with Adrian Groves and Hans Billson as their 3/4 seeds they have a tough taskl ahead of them.
Finally we have two box draws for the Junior event and the Over 80s, where all those competing are doing so for the first time in these categories! A chance to have two completely new Champions for 2023 which is really great to see.
Patrick Osborn has done some research and created the below graphic to highlight where the British Nationals players have all come from (according to their Sporty HQ player info.) It is really interesting to see where the big pockets of Racketballers hail from! Would love to see those purple patches really dotted all over the map over the coming seasons...
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