Coley's Dream Home Coming
Will Coley recently returned to his spiritual home of Nottingham as a student, thrived on home advantage to take his first singles UK Racketlon title with victory over Ray Jordan in the Men's A final. He was joined on the singles winners list by Lauren Whiteman (Ladies A), Jon Schofield (Men's B), Siobhan Robertson (Women's B), Geoff Woods (Men's C) and Adam Ben (Men's D), William Gregson (U13s), and Mark Woodliffe (O45s). The doubles competitions saw glory for Dan Busby & Mark Harris (Men’s A), Dan Busby & Barbara Capper (Mixed A), Jon Spinks & Jon Wan (Men’s B), Toby Harland & Jess Sharman (Mixed B), David Bennett & George Roberts (Men’s C), Ben Woodliffe & Mark Woodliffe (Men’s D) and Will Coley & Jon Wan (Lottery Doubles). Whilst James Pope took the first ever Racketlon 1 Point Challenge resulting in some outrageous claims of being the worlds best….. Full results available on Tournament Software.
Normally, I would launch into my usual style or report, however professional sports blogger Sam Barker has produced a great report on the weekend. Sam it should be noted brought 4 rackets to play 2 points of TT (such as his hope of progress in the 1 point challenge….). This is a copy of the report that Sam published on his blog here.
The Sam Barker Nottingham Review
So that is it. The 2015 UK Racketlon Tour has officially come to an end. And what a year it has been! Sixteen events on the calender, an excellent international tournament in Malta and a fresh new, regular face in the organising team have helped make this a great year for Racketlon around the UK. The sixteenth and final event on this year's jam-packed calender saw the Tour head to Nottingham - (or no-man's land as far as the potential Racketlon Ryder Cup is concerned). The tournament certainly had a little bit of everything.Outrageous backhands, bizarre quiz questions, queues, unreliable lighting, queues, expletive-laden rants, some more queues, multiple gumi arm finals, and (eventually) a Racketlon TV appearance cover just a few of the memories to take away from the David Lloyd in West Bridgeford.
Okay, so the tournament certainly had some teething issues. Everyone loves a bit of recovery time after a badminton match but that might have been taken to the extreme this weekend. But it's all a learning process and hopefully there won't be a repeat of these mistakes when we return to the venue early in 2016. So rather than focus on the negative, let's enjoy some of the more memorable moments from the weekend.
I feel slightly under qualified for this one having not seen a single match being played but then what is Tournament Software good for if not eagerly scanning results for several days after. The Men's C quarter-final encounter between Stuart Stanyan and Lee Gregson looked tasty, with Stuart holding off Lee's booming serves to win by four.
You also won't find a closer contest than the Women's B Singles match between Cambridge's Ruby Marsden and Jessica Pham which ended 23-21 17-21 17-21 21-17 to give Ruby a victory of just +2. If that isn't getting your money's worth then I don't know what is. But I am going to highlight the Men's C and D Singles finals which remarkably both finished on gumi arms. Of those two, I am going to pick the C final as my best match, as Geoff Woods did incredibly well to, not only keep George Hargreaves below the 10 that he needed, but also saved a number of match points to force the gummi arm. Top work from the Notts pair.
Highlight of the Tournament
Highlight of the tournament? This might be highlight of the year! During the wonderful new one point extravaganza, a round two clash between Johnny Bispham and Will Gregson is where we head. Picture the scene. Bispham, full of confidence, steps up to serve. Moments later the ball flies straight back past him. Will Gregon, 13 years old I might add, hit the most audacious backhand return off the Bispham serve, straight back past him. Outrageous. One that will be remembered for a long time, and young Master Gregson has certainly earned himself some admirers!
For Johnny it was to cap off a miserable weekend after his shocking inability to answer a quiz question about his idol and dream date Jesper Ratzer in Saturday's quiz.
Take your pick. It was a massively successful tournament for the Nottingham contingent who took home six trophies between them. Nottingham players reached the finals of five of the six doubles tournaments entered with a special mention for Jonny Wan who won the lottery doubles (partner Will Coley) and the Men's B Doubles (partner Jon Spinks).
But it was Wanny's lottery doubles partner, Will, who takes home the Local Hero award after claiming his first ever A Grade singles title - all the more special for earning it on home soil. Will is arguably well on the way to cementing himself among some of Nottingham's other sporting heroes such as boxer Carl Froch and archery enthusiast, Robin Hood. 2016 is going to be a huge year for our curly-haired friend. Watch this space.
You would forgive George Roberts for feeling slightly unloved after both myself and Ramon Miles ditched him as doubles partner over the past few weeks - (both because of injuries - certainly not because we feared he'd be too hungover to turn up....). Step up rising star David Bennett. The common expression in life is third time lucky and it certainly seemed that way with George's choice in partner as David carried George (not literally) to a Doubles C title - comfortably dispatching the Gregsons and the Tetleys en route.
Most Outrageous Moment - (Unofficially) Sponsored by Cisk
Straight out of the 'Sam Barker School of Stupid Tennis Decisions That Somehow Pay Off', comes the conclusion to the first (of many... maybe) one point extravaganza competition. James Pope vs Dan Busby. Pope has put his first serve in the net to effectively leave a gummi situation.
Now it's a well known fact that, unless you're Dustin Brown, a serve-and-volley on a second serve is effectively tennis court suicide. That would never stop The Butler though, who served up a successful moment of madness when he intercepted Busby's passing shot to volley home the winner. An A+ for sheer boldness/stupidity from me. #WWSBD
Spare a thought for Adarsh Shah who might have broken a record for the shortest time participating in a debut Racketlon tournament. The only good thing that can be said is that he just about completed the table-tennis. However, during badminton a knee injury has left the poor debutant on crutches.
We wish you well and hopefully will see you back fighting fit again in the future... maybe even on a squash court!
We are Family
One thing that can certainly be said for the Nottingham Open is that it was very much a family affair. As well as some of our regular family units - the Russell sisters and parent/child pairings of the Gregsons and the Shelleys - a number of new and returning families descended on Nottingham. The Tetleys, Bens and the Wans made a welcome return to the tour as a group after one or two previous solo tournaments, whilst there were debuts for certain members of the Gillot and Hopwood clan.
Perhaps the stand-out family though were the Woodliffes, especially dad Mark, who blew away the field to win the Over 45s and then backed that up with a devastating doubles performance alongside son, Ben.
Obviously there has to be a special mention for the Whitemans, turning out in force - (with honorary members Mark Harris and I) - for Saturday evening's quiz. We'll ignore the fact that we came third, only beating (unsurpsingly) the Trent table.
Good luck to those playing in Prague and to everyone else, check out the 2016 Tour as it develops!