UK Racketlon

Written by James Pope

Team GB (Griffiths Brothers) Dominate the (Junior) Podium

 

We had a brilliant result in the European Team Championships, as reported here.  However this was just half of the excellent 1st FIR European Championships, with a report on the goings on from the European Singles Championships, including glory for more Brits, it's Lauren Whiteman.

 

Although Great Britain were not as dominant in the European Singles as they were in the team event, a number of individuals shone through to take a medal and continue to show the extensive amount of British talent. Altogether 9 singles medals were collected; 5 from the junior categories, 1 from men’s B and 3 from the Over somethings (more experienced).

 


The Griffiths Brother (Luke, left photo; Leon, right photo; centre; top of the podium in both), the smiling assassins of the Racketlon World

 

 

Once again ‘GB’ topped the medal table, but this time it was not Great Britain, it was the Griffiths Brothers. Leon aged 15 and his younger brother Luke aged 12 dominated the junior medals, taking home 2 gold and one silver between them, adding to the ones they received from the teams. Both brothers played their first final at the same time; Leon in the Men’s B and Luke in the U13’s. Both of the boys had tough starts with Leon losing the TT to 6 and Luke to 13. With the TT out of the way the Brothers could focus on their strongest sport; badminton. At the half way point Leon was winning 11-5 having lost a few vital points at the start. With some words of wisdom from observing team mates Leon proceeded to win the badminton without letting his opponent win another point. Luke on the other hand had a trickier start. At the change of ends he was losing 11-8, he knew he was capable of better but his nerves were affecting him. After some calming and encouraging words from British team mates Luke played some unbelievable Badminton finishing with a 21-12 victory only allowing his opponent one more point after the turn. Like good brothers they were sticking together, both entering the Squash with a 1 point advantage over their opponent. With numerous supporters cheering on the boys, they played some incredible squash to take them into the tennis in the lead. With Leon needed 9 and Luke needing 10 it was all to play for in the tennis. Up first was Leon. Despite playing unbelievable tennis, Leon was not able to withhold the onslaught of forehand and backhand winners from his opponent losing the tennis 21-5. Although Leon did not claim victory he can be incredibly proud of what he achieved in the Men’s B draw at the young age of 15.  Next on court was Luke. Both youngsters played incredible tennis with many shocked faces from the other players and parents watching at the quality of their shots. Including a wonderful serve and volley. Luke claimed victory over the number 1 seed to take the Under 13 European Championship. The talent that Luke possesses was never in doubt and for him to show that on an international stage is not only great for Luke himself but also Great Britain in showcasing our widely growing talent.

 

After a short rest and a quick ham, cheese and tomato panini, Leon was back on court for his Under 16 final against number 1 seed Luka Penttinen of Finland. Luka got off to a great start winning the TT to 10, however he was not to know what was to come next. Leon played fantastic badminton allowing Luka to only gain one point. He then took that quality into the squash winning 21-9 meaning the best Luka could hope for was a gummi, if he was to win the tennis 21-0. The boys went onto the tennis courts and with no messing around Leon served to take not only the one point he needed but also the Under 16 European Championship title. Another proud moment for the whole of Great Britain Racketlon and the Griffiths family.

 

The junior success did not just lie with the Griffiths Brothers. Hannah Boden took the Girls Under 16 European Title after winning all of her matches in the round robin group. Although Hannah played the tennis due to it being a group she had all 3 of her matches won after the squash. Her toughest match was against newcomer Olivia Chivers who followed closely behind Hannah taking the silver medal in an impressive European debut. Hannah also played in the women’s Elite category where she finished 19th overall after losing her opening match to Sweden’s Lina Lindholm. Lauren Whiteman also brought home a medal in the girls under 21’s. A defeat to the current women’s world number one (Christine Seehofer) and a narrow defeat to the number two seed (runner up in the 2014 world champs, Bettina Bugl), with Lauren playing what was described as “unrecognisable squash” (in a good way) saw her come third taking the Bronze medal. This was to the delight of her travelling fans in the shape of her mum and dad.

 


Lauren's Travelling Support

 

GB’s singles success continued in the Over something categories with Barbara Capper, Richard Middleton and Neil Rayner who between them achieved a medal of each colour. Barbara took the Over 40’s title winning all 3 of her matches without needing to pick up her tennis racket. She also won her first match in the elite draw before losing to the world tour race champion Anna-Klara Ahlmer. Number 1 seed Richard Middleton aimed to follow in Barbara’s footsteps with a victory in the seniors over 50’s. Richard went into the tennis with a 3 point lead having made a great come back winning the squash 21-4 after losing the badminton to the same score. Unfortunately Richard was unable to reach his target of 18 points losing the tennis narrowly to 15. The senior medals weren’t to end there with Neil Rayner winning a bronze medal in the over 55’s, losing to the number 1 seed and eventual winner Peter Sakovics in the semi-finals before defeating the number 3 seed to take the bronze medal and a place on the podium.

Final European Singles Championships Medals Table

Rank

Nation

Gold

Silver

Bronze

Total

1

Great Britain

4

3

2

9

2

Czech Republic

3

0

1

4

3

Finland

2

4

0

6

4

Sweden

2

3

1

6

5

Austria

2

2

5

9

6

Denmark

2

1

2

5

7

Hungary

2

1

1

4

8

Russia

1

1

0

2

9

Germany

0

2

0

2

10

Holland

0

1

1

2

11

Switzerland

0

0

3

3

12

Belgium

0

0

1

1

12

Poland

0

0

1

1

Even though there was limited success for GB in the open categories, Great Britain showed the talent we possess and the development our nation has made and is going to continue to make.  Alex Du Noyer impressed in the Men’s B with a quarter-final appearance amongst a raft of GB entries battling away.  The greatest non-podium match performance must go to Dan Busby who despite losing his first round match continued to win his next 3 including a victory of world number 8 and new FIR president Kresten Hougaard by 8 points. Overall GB had a successful European Championships and will hope to replicate this and do even better at the worlds in Copenhagen in July 2016.