Stahl Draws on the Spirit of Bannister To Take Oxford Title
Duncan Stahl emerged victorious in the Richard Lawrence Open winning a fiercely contested final with Ray Jordan. However all the entrants can leave safe in the knowledge that England Racketlon raising £550 for Lifeblood in memory of Richard Lawrence. Richard, who was the rock of the UK Racketlon community, passed away last October and this event was a fitting memorial to his name. Elsewhere, Katy Barclay made it two tournament wins on the bounce with victory in the Ladies A, with Keith Lesser (Men’s B), Rueben Cox (Men’s C), Jo Shelley (Women’s Over 40s) and Graham Norton (not that Graham Norton – Men’s Over 50s) also victorious across the draws. The event was held at the historic Oxford University Sports Centre, the site of the first sub 4 minute mile, by Roger Banister in 1952, with a stream of Racketlon players walking the immortal track as they headed to the tennis courts.
The Men’s A went to the rankings as Stahl saw off Dave Ridout, whilst Jordan overcame the nugget Ed Harvey, both without having to follow in Bannisters footsteps (to tennis) and the two seeds progressed. Richard Middleton had too much for Alex Du Noyer despite receiving one of Du Noyer’s badminton lessons, whilst Josh Kashdan saw off Luke Barnes with a brilliant tennis performance 21-3 sealing a 2 point win. In the semi finals however, both Stahl and Jordan progressed having too much for their opponents, although Duncan and Josh were engaged in a titanic badminton war of attrition, Duncan edging it 30-28! Elsewhere in the A, Du Noyer avoided a fifth defeat to Ed Harvey in what has become their regular fixture through the 2014 season! With Josh took 3rd place defeating Richard, there was but one match left as the two titans engaged in battle. Ray took the table tennis 21-14, but after that it was all Stahl, with 21-15 and 21-7 wins across badminton and squash, meaning just 9 points were required as both men dusted off their tennis rackets for their only outing today.
Katie Barclay dominated the Ladies A round robin event with a strong performance in all four sports. Ingrida Kerusaskaite took second, with Ruby Marsden in third. Rachel Lawrence narrowly piped to fourth in a rare foray from beyond the control desk. In the Men’s B, Keith “not played a lot recently so I’ll play the B” Lesser nearly suffered an embarrassing first round shock, however inner grit ensuring that he had enough to stop the challenge from James Pope. Pope was however the only man to force Lesser to walk the “mile” to the tennis courts. Patrick Middleton edged out Jonathan Spinks by 2 points and Jack Bishop sneaking past Gary Jackson by 5 points, while Piers Boden saw off the keenest man in UK Racketlon Dylan Leigh. Keith saw off the Middleton challenge in the semis and Piers saw for the Bishop to set up the B final. Jack took the final podium place defeating Patrick in the 3rd/4th place match and Keith defeated Piers in the final to take the B title.
Jo Shelley defeated Fiona Sime in the final of the women’s Over 40s, with both players having won their group. They were joined on the podium by Lorna See who defeated Maureen Thompson in the 3rd/4th place play off, whilst Diane Baker and Jan Lawrence finished off their day with an epic 24-22 tennis. A feature of the weekend was titanic duals in individual sports, with a number of sports reaching 20-20, although the Stahl/Kashdan badminton was definitely the epic of the day! Graham Norton defeated Bruce Sheppard to take the Men’s Over 50s title, after both won their respective groups, whilst Julian Clapp won took 3rd after defeating Julian Kashdan-Brown with just 4 points to spare, holding his nerve in the tennis, in a tight match. The Men’s C was won by Rueban Cox who saw off the challenge of Jake Tetley whilst Samuel Barker saw off Matthew Daggitt to seal 3rd place.
A wonderful day of Racketlon at a historic venue with excellent facilities played under glorious late September weather. The Racketlon was at time brutal and attritional, the work rate of the players phenomenal, but the spirit of the sport was impeccably observed, it very much was a fitting way to remember our friend Richard. If you were unable to play, you can donate to Lifeblood in Richard’s name here.
Full tournament results are available from Tournament Software.