Last weekend we held the first ever Nottingham Invitational Racketlon event writes Jon Spinks, which in the vast majority consisted of local Nottingham players, with a few players from neighbouring regions added in. It was also fantastic to see that over 40% of all the entries were newcomers – given that we already help lead the way on participation figures it is great that there are always more people interested! Running on the same day as the brilliant Kent Open, there was some (misplaced) criticism of running two events on the same day – we would just like to point these people to a map, and tell them that the odds of us taking away any potential entries from that event were extremely slim! Aimed as a smaller field of entries than a usual tournament, we decided to run the event as 3 mixed grades, as the women entries would have too large a varying standard to run one by itself.
In the A grade we saw all of our non-local entrants, in an unfortunately depleted draw due to the absences of Will Coley, James Watkins and Andy Hopwood, none of which were available on the day. Taking the top seed place therefore was young Piers Boden, who after a week’s training in Switzerland looked like the one to beat. Coming up against an early challenge in almost local Adit Patel, they shared extremely close table tennis, badminton and tennis scores, but it was Piers’ squash that proved the deciding factor. He was then rewarded with a slightly easier semi-final against newcomer Jack Shardlow, who he defeated before tennis. In the final he was to come up against Nottingham’s Mark Green, who had navigated safely through his half, defeating badminton specialists Stuart Preston and Toby Harland on route. With this tipped to be a thrilling encounter which could be quite close, it ended as a slight anti-climax as Piers pulled out a clinical performance to take victory before tennis, with a very impressive table tennis score of 9, before dominating the badminton and squash.
The B grade saw a mix of new and old players, yet it was the newcomers who were to come out on top, with only one established player, Hayden Tetley, making it through the first round. In the semi-final he was to defeat newbie Simon Chappel, to earn a spot against Justin Crowther in the final. Justin had already defeated one Tetley that day (Jake), and looked set for another scalp. When it came to the final Justin simply proved too much across the board for Hayden, losing squash heavily, but taking very convincing wins in all the other sports. This could definitely make Justin one to look out for as a decent all-rounder on the tour in future!
The C grade was yet another blend of old and new, and one again that the first-timers seemed to rule supreme in, claiming victory in all four quarter-finals. In the top half it was a battle of the ladies as Sofia Aujla Jones faced off against Anna Reece, having come through close tussles with Sally Walker and Jon (left-handed emergency replacement for Sam Barker) Spinks respectively. Sofia proved too much in the semi-final however, clinching a spot in the final. The other half of the draw close matches all round, but it was to be Lawrence Webster that made the final. Although both new players, this set up a battle of old and new in a different sense, with Lawrence an over-60s GB tennis player, and Sofia an under-16s Notts badminton player. Although Sofia was to put in strong performances across all through the match, Lawrence proved just a bit too much for her this time with wins in table tennis, squash and tennis.
So all in all it was a great day in the thankfully sunny Nottingham, with plenty of new faces that we will be hoping to see on the UK tour in future. I’d like to give special mention to two promising youngsters – Sofia, who looks like she could go a long way with talent and spirit across all four sports, but also to young Connor Green, who at 9 years old was still able to hand out large beatings in both table tennis (not surprising as the U10 national champion) and tennis to adults many years his elder!