The third British Racketball Open Championships (this year's lead sponsor Sheffield Autogates) finished off with a fantastic set of finals on Sunday, with a lot of quality matches and broken bodies to boot!
It was a very busy weekend with matches kicking off from 9am both days, with events from Men's & Ladies Open, through to Ladies O50s & Men's O75s, and also three different Doubles Categories! With over 110 players taking part there was plenty to keep Hallamshire's courts busy throughout the tournament. The club also laid on a really fun Oktoberfest themed player's party on the Saturday night, which proved very popular to the thirsty participants after a hard day's battling it out on court. Needless to say that there were a few sore heads in the Sunday morning matches! This will definitely make a re-appearance at next year's event...
On to the matches! Starting off with the O75s where there were some great games all the way through the draw with both top seeds being knocked out early! In the end Martin Day managed to take down James Dubois in a high quality final 3/1 with very little in the game scores to separate them. The same can be said in the O70s with suprise finalist Joe Hely from Scotland taking down 2&3 seeds on his way to the final. Here he met Series regular and British O70s Champion Graham Greensall in what proved to be another fantastic tussle. Greensall coming back from 2/1 down to win 11/6 in the 5th game! I'm sure these two will meet again in the near future at this rate... Hely showing unbelievable stamina through the event as his matches went 3/1, 3/2, 3/2, a superb effort at that age and I'm sure something many younger players would aspire to be able to do!
Upsets galore again in the O65s draw, with the top 2 seeds once more getting knocked out before the final. This time Paul Halstead and Gary Preston both doing the damage to meet in the final round. Here Preston managed to see off Halstead 3/1, capping a remarkable run through the draw. The O60s with a draw of 9 players ended up being played out as a three way final box between Patrick Osborn, John Cordeaux and Paul Haigh. All three matches between the players went to 3/1 or 3/2 highlighting the closeness in standard. In the end it came down to a winner takes all between Cordeaux & Osborn, with Patrick taking the win at 2/1 up as John unfortunately suffered an injury and had to withdraw. A real shame to end a quality battle like this but kudos to Osborn who was considering having to pull out a week beforethe event with a hamstring strain!
In the O55s top seed and last year's Champion Jim Muirhead battled his way past Nick Billington 3/2 in his semi final to face Mark Francis who had a bit of a less physical route past Murray Scott in his semi. Francis getting the better of last year's winner this time round taking the win 3/0. Simon Parke was the top seed in the O50's draw, looking to double up on his British National Championship success in July. He had to face the winner of last year's final (Chris Wase vs Chris Morris) and it was Morris who managed to get past his club mate and regular adversary Wase 3/0 to get through to face him. It was a quality game with both players using all corners of the court to stretch the play but in the end Parke's nous and quality saw him through a worthy 3/0 winner. The Ladies Over 50s event took place on the Saturday only and its was great to have a group of three players involved. National O60s Champion Lesley Sturgess showing her class by taking out two players younger than her to win the O50s title, UK Racketball Series first timer Helen Midgley doing really well to finish second and Amanda Wykes third. Great effort to all three and we can hopefully look to build this draw more in the future!
The O45s saw some tough Semi Final battles between Lowery & Davies and Talbot & Giles. Both going to 4 games and hitting close to the hour mark in doing so. In the end Matt Lowery and Adam Giles made it through the scraps to meet in the final, with Lowery proving to be too hard for Giles to breakdown with his hard hitting, taking the win 3/0. The O40s was a box of 5 players and gave us some really tight games across the event, with some new faces mixing in with Series regulars. It all came down to a titanic battle between Colin Griggs and Alexis Smith, taking well over an hour for the full 5 games. Smith's consistently quality attacking play and ball placement eventually seeing him past the solid straight lines and movement of Griggs. Last year's O35s Champion Chris Hall was back in action again in his first event post injury, and his fast pace and consistently hard ball striking proved hard for any of his opponents to get any joy against. Craig Chappell getting through to the final to face him but going down 3/0 in the process.
We had three Doubles events - Over 60s, Mixed and Open. All well subscribed with some really good pairings involved. The O60s played out as a box of 5 teams and the O60s singles finalists Cordeaux and Osborn proved to be too strong for the rest, with their left/right hand combination also working wonders. Da Costa and Fleming doing well to get through the rest of the draw to finish 2nd. In the Mixed a few late changes in personell meant that a very strong pairing in Doubles regulars Amber Marshall & Paul Norton came together. While Charlotte Jagger & Olly Jansen played some great exchanges against them with some brutal points, Norton & Marshall proved too sharp and they took the title.
Finally with 11 pairings in the Open draw there was a very busy Saturday of matches. All culminating in a three team shootout on the Sunday to see who could take the win. The Dorset duo of Smith & Allingham were in top form, taking down the pre event top seeds Norton and Chappell in their last match 3/0 to win the event. Kudos also to the last minute pairing of Cossey and Cording who having never played together before (and it was Cossey's 2nd time ever playing Doubles) for making it through to the final 3!
Finally we come to the Men's & Ladies Opens and B Grades. The Men's B was a full 16 draw and there was no real standout top seed, meaning there was everything to play for! In the end Colin Griggs & Dan Hindmarch fought their way through the challenges, Hindmarch in particular having a great match against Cameron parry in their semi. Griggs however proved to be just a step too far in the final, taking the title 3/0 to add to his British Nationals B Grade title. (Safely ruling himself out of any further B Grade level events going forward, it's A all the way for you now Colin!)
The Ladies draw was topped by National Champion Amber Marshall, who faced stiff opposition from the likes of Nationals Runner Up Elspeth Edwards, local top players and e PSA Pros Charlotte Jagger & Fiona Moverly and several other quality Ladies Racketballers. In the end Moverly, Marshall and Edwards made it through to the Final box of 3, unfortunately at the cost of Moverly slipping a disk in her back and having to go to hospital. Leaving the other two to re enact their National Championship Final with Marshall playing some quality stuff to see herself through to a 3/0 win! Becoming the first Ladies player to hold National and Open titles in the same year!
Finally it was left to the Men's Open to finish things off and it was Mike Harris & James Snell who managed to get through to the final in contrasting styles. Harris having a good battle with hallamshire coach and pro Adam Turner, taking a 50 minute 3/1 win after a slow start and some quality attacking from Turner. In the other semi final Snell started rapidly against Luke Bishop, winning the first 11/0! After that Bishop settled and they had some long exchanges across the net two games, Snell's retrieval and quality straight line hitting proving too much for Bishop to be able to breakdown. Snell winning 3/0.
The final was not the first time these two have met having played each other since they were about 9 years old, but it was the first major final outside of the Devon County Championship that they have played each other in! It was a gruelling first game taking 30 minutes in total, with a real cat and mouse exchange taking place. There were mixed pace exchanges, with both players hitting with variety into all corners of the court. Mike eventually prevailed 13/11. After that the game opened up with both players looking to be more aggressive with a softer ball. Another close game this time went the way of Snell, 11/9. The third was touch and go all the way to 7/7, where another epic rally was won by Harris with a delayed boast to the front right, which caused Snell to twist his back awkwardly. After the break, the players came back on to complete the first rally of the 4th, before Snell had to retire injured. A real shame to end the match that way after over 65 minutes of quality free flowing game play.
A fantastic weekend of matches, a great bunch of players and a top venue to be competing at. A huge thank you to everyone who was involved, from Hallamshire who hosted us once again, to our event sponsors:
Sheffield Autogates (Lead event sponsor)
Karakal UK (Singles and Doubles event prize provider and Series sponsor)
Abbeydale Brewery (Doubles event mini keg prize provider)
Birford Cable & Harness
Morris & Co Property
iPro Sports (shirt provider)
We are planning for next year already and can't wait to make it bigger and better!
Full results can be found on Sporty HQ here:
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