On Saturday 1st July we visited our next venue in the 2023 Karakal UK Racketball Series - Leamington Squash and Tennis Club, for the West of England Open!
This fantastic venue provided us with some of the best court viewing situations we could ask for in the Series, not just because of the brilliant 6 court set up they have there, but also because of the high quality Racketball that was on show! It was clear to see lots of our players were getting well tuned up and ready for the July National Championships.
Kicking off this time with the Over 70s and we had a strong three way playoff between Billson, Lowe and Wright. Billson and Wright went hammer and tongs at each other first up with Wright winning 13/11 in the 5th game! Richard Lowe however proved to be a very capable and impressively mobile competitor, taking (a potentially pretty leggy by that point) Billson and Wright down 3/0 each to take his first Series title of 2023. He looks like one to watch in the O70s Nationals!
Patrick Osborn continued his seemingly invincible run of form by sweeping aside all who came across him 2/0. Taking out other top runners Graham Holmes and Robin Chipperfield on his way to another Series age group title. Chipperfield doing well to come through a busy second O60s group. In the O50s it was the return of the bionic man as Chris Morris playing his first Series event back (after a terrible injury in last year's Series Finals event) managed to come through unscathed himself, winning all his matches 2/0 along the way. His final opponent Nev Buckle did brilliantly to see his way through a strong 50s draw with the likes of Dodds, Wardle and Billington in his way. A very competitive 50's draw here and with all of them plus several other high fliers playing the Nationals it could well be the draw to watch out for!
In another strong category - the O40s, regular Series combatants Alexis Smith and Paul Norton met in a high quality, expansive racket ability match, with Smith seeing out a tight 2/0 win. Norton picking up some very valuable Series ranking points though to extend his lead at the top of the tree going into the halfway point of 2023. The B Grade was a busy event this time round, with 11 entrants in it. There were some great games across the rounds, with the likes of Manson/Melvin, Mcclelland/Symmons and Symmons/Da Costa all going the distance 2/1. In the end though it was the mercurial Nick Jenkins who fought his way to the top of the pile, taking out Tim Melvin 2/1 in a quality final.
Our strongest A Grade and Doubles draws of the 2023 season were a joy to watch all the way through (though not fun to schedule around!) Matches of note were Rawlins and Giles taking close to an hour to battle out a 2/1 win to Rawlins, Manson/Hindmarch vs Strong/Phipps and Norton/Giles vs Smith/Jenkins all also providing some brilliant high class Racketball across the day. In the end though there could only be one winner and Oli Rawlins took the A Grade over Craig Chappell 2/0 (with Chappell unfortunately picking up a slight niggle earlier in the day to hamper his efforts.) The Doubles Final was a brutal 45 minute long exchange between Phipps/Strong and Giles/Norton, in which the former managed to overturn a 4/8 deficeit in the 2nd to get back to 1/1 in games, and then storm through to take the 3rd 11/7! A prime showcase of how classy and intricate Doubles Racketball can be and I highly recommend you go to our Facebook page and watch it back to see how good it was:
You can find all the photos and videos of the day here:
And finally results on Sporty HQ here:
Thanks to all who played and made it such a great day. Also to Leamington and Jason Pike for having us. We hope to be back to such an excellent venue next year!
*Devon teams take two titles and a runner's up spot out of four possible events at the Intercounty Racketball weekend in Nottingham!*
We had a fantastic weekend of matches at NSRC in Nottingham with over 100 players and 22 teams taking part in the 2023 Intercounty Racketball team Championships. There were four different categories up for grabs - A Grade, B Grade, Over 50's and Ladies, and we had a wide spread of counties across all the draws.
This year was the first time we have been able to run a Ladies Racketball ICC, and while it was a small draw there were some great matches. The format was 3 players per team, everyone plays singles, then one doubles match too. Match of the event was between Natalie Lawrence (Devon A) vs Katie Wells (Lincolnshire), where both players used all four corners of the court with great skill and variety of hitting throughout. Katie coming through a 3/0 winner but the game score not reflecting the tightness of the match. In the end though Devon A's strength through their order and their Doubles experience shone through and they took the inaugral Ladies Intercounty Racketball title 3/1 over Lincolnshire.
In the Over 50's event, pre tournament top seeds Shropshire managed to come through pretty unscathed throughout the weekend, dropping only one tie (the doubles) out of all their matches. They took down Devon in the final 4/0, with some entertaining games but with the Numbers 1 & 2 ranked Over 50 players in the country at the top of their order it was always going to be a hard task for the Devon guys. There were some brutal fixtures in the Devon/Essex/Warwickshire group with all matches going down to either a games or points countback! (Essex coming out the wrong end of two points countbacks then finally winning one in their 5/6th playoff vs Northants!) The format for this category was 3 players play singles fixtures, then one extra pair compete in doubles.
This year was also the first time we have run a B Grade event, and it was really well subscribed, with some really great depth across all the teams, showcasing some top Racketball, even on a slightly ropey Sunday morning... (Mentioning no names...) The format here was the same as the Over 50's, with 3 singles and then one doubles partnership per side. The final was of exceptionally high quality that all went down to the final match. In the end a very strong Surrey side managed to see off Shropshire on games countback, with the Number 1s battle between Craig Chappell (Shrops) and Rob Gale (Surrey) going the distance with Chappell winning 11/9 in the 5th after a good 75+ minutes!
Finally, the A Grade event featured some of the regular ICC top teams, with the like of Yorkshire, Devon, Dorset and current holders Warwickshire joining Lincolnshire and Cheshire in the draws. The format here was a simple 5 players all play singles matches. With pretty much all the sides missing one or two players from their line ups it was very difficult to predict who would come out on top. In the group stages Devon vs Dorset and Yorkshire vs Cheshire both proved to be incredibly tight, with it all going down to the final ties in the fixtures. In the end though it came down to a repeat of last year's final with Devon vs Warwickshire the tie. Devon managed to reverse their fortunes from last year, winning 5/0 despite their being some very close matches at 3rd & 5th string (both going to 5 games, match of the final being Ash Knight beating Ben Maudrell 11/8 in the 5th with both looking absolutely broken afterwards!)
It was a really brilliant weekend of matches with a top atmosphere and a fun Saturday night social too. You can find all the pictures and videos from the event HERE
Full results attached below. Can't wait for next year, plans being made already! Congratulations to all our winners and runners up, see you all soon.
INTERCOUNTY RACKETBALL TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS PREVIEW
We are back for another year of County team Racketball action as sides competing in the A Grade, B Grade, Over 50s and Ladies events come together at Nottingham Squash Club to do battle to see who is the Premier Racketball county team in the UK!
In the A Grade we have the current holders Warwickshire (led by British Racketball O35s Champion Chris Hall) as the top seeds, but they have to come through a tough group with a Paul Norton led Yorkshire & Graeme Heward's Cheshire, who have the very handy Pete Billson at the top of the order.
In the other group past winners and second seeds Devon are led by British National Champion Mike Harris but again have their work cut out to get past a very strong in depth Dorset side with all of their regulars turning out for the team, and solid Lincolnshire line up. Some really good battles promised here! The format is all single matches with 5 players per team.
The B Grade (a new category this year) has had a great uptake with 8 teams across the board, featuring many of our UK Racketball Series regulars. While there is very little to pick between any of the teams, Surrey, Kent, Devon and Shropshire all are seeded to get through to the Semi Finals, and from there is would be very difficult to call!
It is great to see some squads with 6/7 players in them, showing how much the sport is growing in certain areas. The format for this Grade is 3 players play singles, then another two play a doubles match. The singles/doubles players can be rotated between fixtures.
The Men's Over 50's has some very strong teams in it, with last year's Champions Shropshire looking the standout top picks with the likes of Wase, Morris, Russell, Billington and Davies in their line up! They will be pushed hard by the likes of Surrey (Hall, Warne, Wardle, Burton) and Essex (Friend, Osbourn, Thornley) but they most certainly are the team to beat. The format for this is the same as the B Grade, 3 players play singles, then another two play a doubles match. The singles/doubles players can be rotated between fixtures.
Finally, it is great to have a Ladies Championship back this year. Hopefully with the aim to grow it bigger and better in years to come. This time round it will be contested between Devon A, Devon B and Lincolnshire, but with Essex, Yorkshire and Dorset all keen to get involved next time round, it could lead to a really busy event! This year though it will be a tight contest, with Devon A led by Natalie Lawrence and Caroline Wright coming up against a strong Lincolnshire side with British Open Semi Finalist Katie Wells at the top of the order. The format for the Ladies is 3 player teams, everyone plays singles then two players also play a doubles fixture too. The two Devon teams are then also combining to do battle in the B Grade event, and I believe the Lincolnshire ladies are backing up their Men's B Grade team too. Plenty of good matches to be had!
So with over 100 players descending on NSRC this weekend it will certainly be a busy and very social weekend (I'm looking at you Saturday night in Nottingham...) A huge thank you to all the team Captains for working so hard to get sides together (like herding cats one player mentioned.) Great to see that Devon and Lincolnshire were able to field sides in all four categories!
Next year there will be a change to the format (due to feedback and also schedule balancing...)
A Grade, B Grade and Ladies will take place in mid June like this time round. Match format & team composition will be the same as this time round for the A Grade and Ladies. The B Grade however will drop to 4 players per team with all playing singles then one pair competing in a doubles fixture.
We will change the Masters format to include more age groups, but also make it more accessible to sides. So the event will take place separately in May (exact date/venue TBC) and there will be Mixed Over 40s, Over 50s and Over 60s categories.
All age groups will be composed of 3 player teams, with all playing singles and then one pair also playing a doubles fixture. We are hoping that this will get more counties involved as it will be easier to put out teams based on this format and may even lead to multiple sides per category.
So keep an eye out for updates this weekend on our UK Racketball Facebook page and Instagram account, plus then news and dates for the future competitions!
The second year of the Cambridge Open Series event in Peterborough was a huge success with some top battles across all of the categories. You can find the full results HERE
On a sunny Saturday our Series players congregated at Peterborough Sports Club for the second year of the Cambridge Open UK Racketball Series event. It was a busy day of matches, kicking off at 9.30am and finishing at 7pm, with plenty of our competitors overdue a well earned beer by that point!
Kicking off with the A Grade we had a really well contested group, with Alexis Smith battling through to take the win. Second place came down to a split of just 5 points, as Colin Griggs pipped Paul Knocker Norton to the silver medal. Keith Mabey came through the B Grade in convincing style, not dropping a game through the event, taking down Jeff Fillmore in the final 2/0.
It was a very punchy pair of groups in the Over 40's with both finalists having to get past some very tricky group stage opponents to qualify for the medal match. In the end Barry Talbot overcame Adam Grilli 2/0 to take gold, though with the scores at 11/8, 11/9 it could have gone either way! The Over 50's players similarly had their work cut out, with two big group draws meaning plenty of tough games for all involved. This all came down to a tough final between Robert Hambrook and Simon Phillips, with Robert overcoming the loss of the first game 14/16 to turn it around and take the final and therefore the title 2/1!
The Over 60's had yet again a great draw of players with three groups playing through to see who would get through to the semis and finals stage. Series regulars Robin Chipperfield and Patrick Osborn manage to progress through relatively unscathed into the final stage, with Patrick showing his class and dominance in this age category to come through as a 2/0 winner. He is definitely looking like the one to beat at this age group in the Series and Nationals this year! The Over 70's played out a box of 3, all playing best of 5 against each other, with Geoff Wright coming through as Champion.
Finally, the always entertaining Doubles was won by the new pairing of Paul Norton and Alex Kershaw, who overcame the pre event favourites of Alexis Smith and Nick Jenkins 2/0 in the final, with some classy shot play on show from all. It was great to see a variety of new pairings across the doubles event, we hope that the more people try out this different format in our Series events the more they enjoy it and look to spread it around their home clubs!
A huge thank you to Peterborough Sports Club for hosting us again, we had a great time and we hope to come back up next season.
One of our current goals at UK Racketball is to try and drive forward Ladies participation in our Series events. We have such a great social and welcoming community of players, it would be fantastic to bring in more Ladies entrants into our competitions too.
As as result we are introducing a new Ladies B Grade / Non County Singles Category for all Series events and also for the October British Open Championship. This category is aimed at Ladies players of all ages who maybe haven't played any tournament Racketball before, but who play socially in their club Racketball boxes/ladders or with friends. If you have Ladies Club team Racketball side then the players who play at the lower end in the team order would be suitable too (the top end players would be recommended to play in the Ladies Open draw.)
While they would of course still be part of a tournament set up, the idea behind this category is to get more local players involved from the area where the Series event is taking place (for example for Peterborough next week it would be those in the Cambridge and surrounding counties area.) Hopefully to just get them enjoying being part of the Series set up and social community and go from there!
As an added bonus, any UK Racketball player for the rest of this year who brings ANY new Ladies player entry into a Series tournament (has to have not played in any 2023 Series event so far,) will recieve a Karakal PU Super Grip Twin pack and Twin Ball Tube as a thank you! (Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org if that is the case as and when it happens!)
If you have any questions about this new initiative at all please do get in touch with Mike Harris at email@example.com
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