It has been 3 years since Dan Busby and Hannah Boden claimed their first and fifth British National Titles at the Parklangley Club on Sunday 14th April 2019. The 2020 British Championships were the first event we were forced to cancel due to the Pandemic, and it is glorious to be returning to the wonderful Parklangley Club to let defending champions fight it our with those eager for these coveted British Titles. All the draws are now online here, but here is a quick look ahead to some of the draws!
Men's A - Busby on the Defensive from Youthful Opposition
Dan Busby reached his UK Pinnacle in April 2019, as he claimed the Men's British National title, overcoming Leon Griffiths in the semi-final and Duncan Stahl in the final. This year he will start as top seed up against Ross Wilson, with their victor facing either Ray Jordan or Alex Du Noyer in the semi-final. The bottom half of the draw is nothing less than dynamite. James Langworthy opens up against two-time champion (2017 & 2018) Leon Griffiths while Luke Griffiths faces another youngster, second seed Matthew Davidson. All four have either pedigree or form on the UK Tour or both behind them and these battles are going to be some of the highlight matches of the first day. And of course, we could see Leon vs Luke on Sunday morning in the Men's A semi-final; fantastic for the fans, less so for their parents one suspects!
Women's A - A New Champion Cometh!
Hannah Boden, Hannah Boden, Hannah Boden, Hannah Boden, Hannah Boden, from 2015-2019; she was the lady to beat on the UK Tour and dominated this event. However, with Hannah not defending her title in 2022, a new lady will rise to the top, one of either Alice Flatman, Susie Dilloway or (multiple World Champion) Jo Shelley. One can be sure there will be no quarter given between these ladies as they search for a first time title for all three!
Of course the British Championships is not just about the singles events, there are double trophies to claim as well. Winning the Elite Triple Crown (your singles, your doubles and the mixed doubles) is quite rare, as only Hannah Boden (2017, 2018 & 2019) has achieved the feat. In addition to Hannah, Duncan Stahl has won all three titles, but never in the same year; such is the difficulty of achieving this at the British Championships. Dan Busby will look to complete the set for himself, if he can win the Men's Doubles as top seed with partner Matthew Davidson. They open up against Kent duo Mark Steeden & Ray Jordan. The draw is completed by second seeds Alex Du Noyer & James Langworthy, who will face defending champions TeamGB (Griffiths Brothers) in their match. In the Women's Doubles, the top seeds are Susie Dilloway & Cherisse Lau; facing Bethany Pye & Izzy Wase; while second seeds Alice Flatman & Gemma Sgariglia who line up against Frances Steel & Hannah Taylor.
The Mixed A Doubles rounds up our Elite doubles offerings and it opens with another tasty tie for day 1. Top seeds Dan Busby & Susie Dilloway will begin against Leon Griffiths & Cherisse Lau, a first battle between Dan and Leon in particular and one to watch. The bottom half of the draw features second seeds Luke Griffiths & Jo Shelley facing Ray Jordan & Alice Flatman. Some interesting doubles battles will fill our Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning in this Mixed event.
Juniors Ready to Fill Some Shoes
Such is the time that has passed since our last national championships, we have progressed to a fresh slate of juniors, ready to take on the battle for these titles. In the U16s, the roll of honour in this event is a who's who of our top juniors who have kicked on to greater things in the sport. David Bennett, Ross Wilson and Matthew Davidson claimed the last 3 titles in this category. Chase Burgess is the top seed, looking to win a title that has never been won by a Griffiths Brother, and adding their name to our roll of honour. Chase however will need to see off the challenge of Raif Fontanelli in his opening match. The winner of their tie faces either Charlie Hill or Daniel Austin in the semi-finals. In the bottom half of the draw, second seed Oliver Barton opens up against Jamie Courtier-Dutton, with the winner of their tie facing Samuel Rank or Jasper Riley in the semi-finals.
Defending Champion, Ross Wilson returns as top seed in the 6 player Boys U21s, his box will feature Anant Gupta and Jamie Watkins-Rees. The second box features second seed Cameron Leighton, in search of his first national title, and he is joined by Ryan Bezer and Harry Nott. The winners of each box will battle it out to be the 2022 U21 Champion, and of course with box leagues comes the possibility of the new "gumi-arm play-off", with players tied after the round robin or box league stage playing 1 point of each sport to determine who is the winner! It will also be a 6 player box league in the Girls U21s. Bethany Pye, Ellie Thomas and Holly Ranson are in Group A with Izzy Wase, Lois Perrzman and Cherisse Lau competing in Group B for the right to fight it out for the title in the final.
An Oldie (or two) but some Goodies!
Three Vets draws will feature this weekend as with a brace of O45s draws and a Men's O55s. In the Men's O45s, Jeremy Krzystyniak is defending champion and top seed, with a view to making it a hattrick of titles having won this event in 2018 and 2019. No one has achieved the hattrick in the Men's O45s, can Jeremy be the first. His opening challenge is well known to him, Rakesh Gupta, with the winner of their tie facing the winner of Bradley Billington and Ed Westmacott. In the bottom of the draw, second seed Mark Steeden opens up against Peter Barton, with the winner of their tie facing Alistair Munro or Jim Fontanelli in the semi-finals. Can Jeremy make it three out of three? we must wait and see!
A gentle five lady round robin awaits in the Women's O45s, an "easy" weekend for sure! The draw features a World Champion (many times over) in the shape of Jo Shelley, who will start as a heavy favourite. Only Barbara Capper has won both the Women's A and Women's O45s national titles, can Jo win both in the same weekend (itself a first)? To do so, she must overcome the challenge of Jude Urwin, Katie Hill, Claire Kedward and Dianne Baker. Jo has pedigree but that makes her the target for the other four, can she fight them off?
We finish this preview with the Men's O55s, where three times defending champion Martyn Langston goes for title number 4 in a row. He is top seed and leads Group A in this six man event, joined by Bruce Shepherd and Ray Ryan. Group B is headed by second seed Rakesh Gupta, who faces Alan Plater and Duncan Marlow, in what can only be described as a group of death. Duncan has won this event on three previous occasions (2014, 2015 and 2016), while Alan is a World Championships bronze medallist in the O60s event in 2021 (top seed Martyn being the silver medallist in the same event)č while Rakesh has immense pedigree and history in Racketlon. Group B will be tasty, and that is before the finals take place!
This is but a snippet of the weekend we have to come, and you can keep up to date with events on our Facebook Page, while there will be reports and pictures after the event! Good luck to everyone taking part!