Dan Busby wrapped up his preparations for the British Championships, as he claimed the 2018 Essex Open title, his fourth win in his past four UK tournaments, a streak that also includes a world tour victory in Antwerp and a second place in Vienna. Elsewhere, Jon Spinks won the Open B, James Truman the Open C, Douglas McMillan the Open D, and Angus Howard the Juniors. All the results from the Redbridge Sports Centre event can be found here. In this eclectic event, featuring a ranking and a taster event, the ranking tournament is a truly open draw featuring both male and female players. This year, the 36 entrants (a record for the ranking event) were divided into a 4 player junior event and 4 banded singles draws, A-D, with players allocated to each draw based on their UK Ranking.
In the Open A, Dan Busby (defeating Johnny Bispham) set up a semi-final against Jean-Brice Montagnon (who beat Jordan Dainty), a repeat of their semi-final from the 2017 Hertfordshire Open. Unlike their meeting in late 2017, Dan found himself in more trouble, as Jean-Brice dominated the badminton, turning the narrow 23-21 victory in Hertfordshire into a thumping 21-2 victory in Essex, heaping more pressure onto the top seed. While Dan had controlled the TT and dominated the squash, he was forced to the tennis court, where he would need 14 to secure a place in the final. Jean-Brice threw everything at Dan, however he was not able to secure the victory, falling an agonising 2 points short of an excellent win. The second semi-final was a far more relaxed affair for its victor, Alex Du Noyer (who defeated Keith Lesser) dominated the TT and badminton, ensuring that despite his opponent, Mark Steeden (who defeated Jack Bishop) striking back in the squash, that just 9 points were needed for victory on the tennis court. The final was far more regulation for Dan, a repeat of the recent East Midlands Open final, and sadly (for Alex), Dan won once again with ease, claiming wins in the first three sports to ensure that another title was his, he now sits just 3 behind Duncan Stahl on the all-time winners list. Mark defeated Jean-Brice to claim third place.
In the Open B, the final was an all-Notts affair, as Mark Green faced Jon Spinks in the final. Mark having overcome Nigel D’Arcy in round 1 and Ed Harvey in the semi-finals, while Jon overcame Kevin Neville and rising talent Billy Sutton-Mattocks (who himself had defeated young gun Ross Wilson). With both men having earned their place in the final by seeing of the challenge of a tranche of quality B grade players, they both deserved the final step and the victory. Jon lost the battle of the TT players, 21-7, however thanks to the utilisation of his Rocky IV style forest cabin retreat combined with oodles of university and east of Scotland sport, Jon dominated the badminton, squash and tennis to run out a comfortable victory over Mark, and claiming a first UK Tour B title in 2 years (the 2016 Yorkshire Open). Ed defeated Billy to finish third.
In the Open C, Matilda Parslow, having survived a match against Alison Cooke with her leg in one piece, faced James Trueman. With James’ domination of the badminton cancelling out Matilda’s squash prowess, the final was bookended by two competitive sets, with James edging the TT 21-19, and leading the tennis when we achieved his required target of 16 for the win. David Dyson defeated Alison Cooke to claim third place. Top seed in the Open D, Stuart Vincent showed nerves of steel to reach the Men’s D final, with a +3 first round win over Lindsay Johnson-Farge looking relatively easy compared to his semi-final against Martin Nicholls. Stuart was +2 into the tennis and at 19-19, Martin’s best hope was for a gumi-arm, which he could achieve by winning the tennis. However, the scoring didn’t stop there, 19-19 became 27-27, both players unable to seal the win in the tennis, until Martin edged it 29-27, to set up the gumi-arm. After 164 points of Racketlon, it all came down to a solitary tennis point and that went to Stuart, who claimed a wonderful victory. It was probably however, just too much for Stuart to then turn around into the final, his similarly long opening match against Lindsay meant he had played 220 points more than opponent Douglas McMillan before the final. Douglas used his freshness to great effect and dominated the final, winning the first three sports comfortably to seal victory before the tennis. Stuart Herriott defeated Martin to claim third place.
In the junior event, Angus Howard, winner of three U13 events in 2017, earned victory in the Essex Open as he defeated Maximus Sutton-Parker in the effective final of their four player box league. With both boys having defeated Alfie Nicholls and James Vincent, they went into their final match together knowing that victory would seal the title for them. It was a suitable tight victory as Angus ran out the victor 64 points to 62 over the course of the match, sealing the title, with Alfie Nicholls finishing in third.
Thanks as ever to Jack Bishop and Johnny Bispham who managed the ranking event, and Dave Lazarus who hosted the event on the day, running it, in his own unique, highly entertaining (and slightly bossy) style.