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!
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