Andy Corben claims Racketball Open title
The Dorset Racketball Open sponsored by Lavery Lettings of Ringwood was won by Dorset Number 1 Andy Corben. The tournament held at the Weymouth Squash & Fitness Centre had top players from Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire, Hampshire, Sussex and Kent competing in this inaugural tournament. Each graded group was very competitive with Dorset represented in all the semi finals.
The C Grade for recreational players had most of its first round matches go to a 3-2 which was to happen again in the second round which made for some very entertaining and hard fought matches. The final between Jim Murphy (Kent) and Tim Baker (Devon) was 3–2 marathon with Jim taking the honours. 11/5, 11/6, 10/12, 9/11, 11/7
The ladies final was between Karen Bealey (Devon) and Amesha Ryan (Dorset - Weymouth Squash & Fitness Centre). This was Amesha’s first racketball tournament; she started off very nervously but got better as the rounds progressed. The final was very tactical, Karen winning the first game 13/11 she then took control to win the second 11/5, Amesha came back to lead in the third but was unable to keep her opponent out of the rallies. Karen went on to win 11/9 and take the match.
The B Grade (County/Club players) had some very experienced county players competing. The semi finals had Paul Smith (Devon) versus Ryan McKechnie (Dorset - Weymouth Squash & Fitness Centre).) and Kevin McGonnigle (Surrey) versus Simon Brown (Dorset - West Hants Club). These were the first matches on Sunday morning and set the tone for the rest of the day. At one stage it looked to be an all Dorset final but Paul Smith fought back from 1-2 down to win 11/7, 10/12, 8/11, 12/10, 13/11. Kevin won 11/8, 8/11, 11/5, 4/11, 11/7. Simon and Ryan then played in the 3rd/4th place play off. This was another evenly matched game with Dorset Junior No. 1 Ryan the just edged out by the West Hants player, Simon winning and won 12/10, 13/11, 9/11, 12/10. The Final of the B was the last game to be played in the tournament and did not disappoint the spectators watching. In an entertaining and very good natured match Paul beat Kevin 8/11, 11/6, 11/9, 14/12.
The B plate final was between Alistair Gooder (Dorset - Sherborne Club) and Dave Compton (Hants). Alistair went into an early 2-0 lead then lost the third game, but then took control in the fourth to win 11/7,11/8, 7/11, 11/7.
The A Grade competition was for National/County players. First round matches saw an in form Alexis Smith (Dorset - Bournemouth Squash Club) have a close game with Devon’s Christian Turner who has a national ranking of 18. Alexis narrowly lost the first 11/8 he then won the second and was unfortunate to lose the next two games 12/10 and 11/9. He then went on to play Andy Corben (Dorset - West Hants Club) who also beat him but again in a close match 15/13, 5/11, 13/11, 11/5. Matt Baker Devon’s number 1 and with national ranking of 8 was the favourite to win this competition and started off against Paul Clark (Wiltshire) by winning 3-0 quite easily
The key match now for the competition was between Andy Corben and Matt Baker as both had not dropped any games. This was played with very vocal support for Andy who played at Weymouth as junior and senior and was also the coach there for a period until he moved to Bournemouth’s West Hants club. Matt also had good support with a large contingent of players from Devon present. The first game was tight, going to Matt 12/10 the games then seesawed as both players took games to even the match at 2 all. At 9-9 in the fifth Andy won an excellent and very long rally giving him match point. The next rally took an even longer and ended with Andy wrong footing Matt to win the match and was now in top spot. Andy’s last match against Christian Turner confirmed his position at the top of the A event as he won 3/1 (11/8, 10/12, 11/8, 11/5) to take the title.
Tournament organizer Janet Biles was extremely pleased with how this first Dorset Racketball Open went and that so many players came and supported this event from other counties. Of note was Wayne Burns who brought a large contingent from his Totton Club in Southampton. It is hoped that next year this will be an even bigger competition. Janet said “We would not be able to hold these events if it was not for the support of the governing body, England Squash and Racketball, the sponsors of the tournament Lavery Lettings and the hosts Weymouth Squash & Fitness Centre, a big thank you goes to all of them”.