Duncan Stahl claimed a decisive victory at the 2017 Essex Open to secure his nineteenth Racketlon title in the UK at the Redbridge Sports Centre on Good Friday. The non-tour event title went to Nick Riddle who defeated Sam Barker in the final. The Essex Open is a unique Racketlon event, run in his own style by Dave Lazarus, this season the 16 draw ranking event was played as 15 up with every player playing 4 full matches in just under 5 hours, in a schedule that was nothing less than brutal. You may ask why we players engaged with such a schedule, but if you ever meet Dave, then you would see why we did as we were told. Meanwhile a 20 player non-tour event was also run, with players playing the usual four sports in a random (Dave allocated) order. So, plenty of Racketlon, but the key questions being, who did what in the Tour event? Well, you can find the results here and for the usual discourse, well that follows below.
Our Champion Duncan Stahl (r) with host Dave Lazarus
The 16 draw monrad format featured four seeded players, Duncan Stahl, Oliver Oxland, Piers Boden and Alex Du Noyer. They were joined in a high quality field which included the likes off top vets Duncan Marlow, Martyn Langston, Kevin Neville and Nigel D’Arcy, while the younger generation were represented by the likes of David Bennett, Joel Durston, Johnny Bispham and fittingly given the day (Good Friday) and the host (Lazarus) a Pope and a Bishop. The first round produced few surprises, the tightest winning margin coming between friends, Racketlon live bloggers and doubles partners, Pope and Durston, with Joel triumphing by 4 points, holding his nerve late on in the tennis. The quarter-finals were the triumph of the seeds. Duncan Stahl seeing off Joel Durston (who did give Duncan a lesson in serve volley in a friendly tennis set), Alex Du Noyer crushed James Langworthy, Piers Boden saw off the challenge of Mark Green and Oliver Oxland ended Kevin Neville’s charge.
In the semi-finals, Alex once again showed why he is a thorn in the side of many a fellow Elite player as he pushed Duncan all the way. Taking the first two sports, Alex was 12 points up heading to the squash court. An excellent game of squash from Duncan, levelled it up to the tennis, meaning it was winner takes all. A thrilling set of tennis followed and with the scores locked at 14-14, it was all to play for. However, when it mattered most, the experience of Duncan came through and he edged the two final points to win the tennis and the match by 2 points. In the second semi-final, Piers Boden, who is finding the physical fitness to compete and the time to train and develop faced Oliver Oxland, on his home turf. It was another tight semi-final, Oliver taking the TT to 11 to take the early lead, however an excellent badminton set for Piers gave him the edge into squash and winning a narrow squash to 12 meant that Piers was in need of just 6 points against Oliver. This however, is a far from simple against tennis specialist Oliver. Oliver had 10 points on the board, 5 from victory when Piers reached the 6th and winning point.
Into the final, and it was first blood to Duncan, as he took a commanding 10 point lead with 15-5 TT win, although Piers struck back with a 15-10 badminton win, to reduce the lead to 5 points in Duncan’s favour. A 15-7 squash win for Duncan, left Piers facing an uphill struggle and a valiant effort followed on the tennis, but with Duncan only needing 3 points, it was a short effort, 3-3 in the tennis and the title was Duncan’s.
The next UK Tour event is back at the Redbridge Sports Centre, with the 2017 English Open, a Super World Tour event kicking off on Friday 5th May at 1pm! Entry is online here until 11:59 am BST on Monday 24th April!