Busby overcomes flu to reign in successful Richard Lawrence Open
Last month we returned to Oxford for the 2nd Richard Lawrence Open, a busy and fun day fo Racketlon which raised £576 for Lifeblood in memory of Richard Lawrence, a great result all round. As for the event, well find out all you need below, thanks to our scribe Johnny Bispham.
Dan Busby, fresh off his victory in the North of England event 2 weeks prior, added a further UK tour title to his collection with a conceded victory over Duncan Stahl in the final of the Men's A event in the 2nd Richard Lawrence Open. Busby, having overcome a bout of flu during the preceding week, was starting to battle back in the badminton when Stahl went down with injury and whilst he managed to complete the game, with the Malta Open looming next weekend, he decided to call it a day prior to the squash. Stahl had arrived late to the day after an awful train journey and was heavily hungover after what he described was "the most unexpected of drinking sessions," and regardless of being told he should've been on court 5 minutes earlier, proceeded toward the shower. Despite these obstacles he was able to overcome Keith Lesser in the quarter finals and, in a repeat of the British Championships final in May, Ray Jordan in the semi finals before injury scuppered his title bid.
Busby, battling an infliction not of his own making, was able to come through the more youthful challenges of Alex Du Noyer in the quarter finals and Will Coley in the semi finals, impressively only dropping one rubber on his way to the final.
The battle for the final podium place was taken by Coley after a very impressive win over Jordan. Trailing by 25 points after 2 sports, the bullet flew back into contention with a big squash win and with Jordan still only requiring 7 to win in the tennis, Coley stormed to a 21-3 win to seal a +3 victory.
Jo Shelley launched a huge fightback to win the Women's A after trailing 17-7 in the tennis against Kate Russell needing 18 to secure victory. After the pair exchanged one sided table tennis and squash results, with a tight badminton in between, Russell looked set to top off an imperious rise with a UK tour win only for Shelley to reel off 11 of the final 13 points to steal the crown with a +3 win.
Shelley had received a bye in her quarter final and was able to see off the challenge of Lisa Hogben in the semis, meanwhile Russell had to come through a tight tussle with Cambridge's Diane Baker (perhaps weighed down by being witness to the England Wales rugby match the previous night) before neutralising Kathryn Milne in her semi final. The 3rd place position was taken by Milne after she was able to recover from a big table tennis deficit to win the final three sports against Hogben.
Top seed Richard Middleton dominated a strong opposing field to take the Over 45s title as 4th seed Mark Steeden had to retire through injury. Middleton was able to see off Kevin Neville in the quarters before requiring one point in the tennis to beat eventual 3rd place finisher Ed Harvey. Steeden had a similarly impressive run to the final not requiring his tennis equipment at all after firstly defeating Simon Brown in the quarters and then the 2nd seed Duncan Marlow in the semis.
Brown recovered well from his defeat to Steeden to claim the 5th place sector capping an impressive three wins on the day. Nigel D'Arcy also fought well after his first round loss to Brown to get himself a 9th place finish.
In the Men's B, Tom Atherton added another title to his collection by cooly seeing off Paul Mathieson in the final after overcoming Johnny Bispham in the semis and the up and coming Oscar Gordon-Reid. Meanwhile Paul also had a tricky route to the final, defeating a British Championship finalist in Matthew Daggitt and then Jonny Wan in the semis too. The final podium place was to be Bispham's after he edged a battle against Wan.
In the Women's B event Fiona James proved too strong for the competition in the round robin event, reeling off three wins against Ingrida Kerusauskaite, Robyn Doyle and Michelle Kingsland. The battle for 2nd place ended with Kerusauskaite able to overturn a 5 point difference in the tennis against Kingsland to win by 4 in what was the event's closest and most back and forth match.
Reuben Cox took the Men's C after surviving a gummi arm in his first round match, showing how fine the lines are in sport. He was able to come through the tight contest after losing the squash set to Nelson Fung 21-0, following this with comparatively more comfortable wins over Dylan Leigh in the quarters, Joel Durston in the semi before defeating Gary Jackson +11 in the final. Jackson had a tricky route to the final defeating tennis specialist Sam Barker, drinking specialist George Roberts and squash specialist Sam Watts, really showing the all round quality of his game. The final podium position was taken by Watts as he defeated Durston +8.
The Men's D title was won by Christopher Lewis-Brown who capped off a dominant display by defeating Alistair Bolger in the final, requiring just one tennis point. Lewis-Brown was able to defeat both William Gregson and Sam Wilson before the tennis in his impressive run to the final, where Bolger came through a tighter couple of matches, firstly defeating Barnabas Walker and then eventual 3rd place finisher Alan Cornish. Walker recovered from his loss to Bolger by taking 5th place by beating William Gregson +2 after a very close tennis match.
Prior to all the singles action, 22 players took to the courts at 8:30am for doubles. The Mixed A began Busby's excellent day as he paired up with Barbara Capper to seal his first title of the day as they defeated firstly Luke Woodliffe and Jessica Joyce Pham and then Dave Ridout and Kate Russell without the use of their tennis equipment. Ridout and Russell overcame eventual 3rd place finishers Matthew Daggitt and Ruby Marsden in the semis.
The Mixed B doubles was a round robin format of 3 teams which saw Ed Harvey and Jennifer Watkins take down the challenges firstly of Aaron and Rachel Pitson and then, in what was a winner takes all clash, the pairing Benjamin Honey and Ingrida Kerusauskaite. Harvey and Watkins were able to win all 7 of their rubbers over the two matches, along with an impressive +56 point difference, surely meaning a shot at the Mixed A title will be next on their list of goals.
The much awaited 2nd UK tour lottery doubles took place and saw a couple of brilliant performances as Will Coley and George Roberts provided a hand to the schedule seeing off the team of Jon Spinks and David Sutlieff before the tennis to take the crown. Coley began a strong day with Roberts earlier seeing off the team of eventual 3rd place finishers Dylan Leigh and Jonny Wan, meanwhile Spinks and Sutleiff eased through their semi against Tom Atherton and Jake Tetley.
Despite the day getting off to a slow start half an hour late at 8:30am, it was recovered brilliantly to finish at a reasonable hour with some brilliant racketlon played from start to finish. Most importantly for the day, £576 was raised for charity. Thanks to all that helped organising the event particularly Rachel and Aaron Pitson, Dominique Ford and David White of Oxford University. Here's to a brilliant 2016 event.