Forget the FA Cup, forget Zimbabwe's Independence Day, April 18th 2009 was all about the CSSC Racketlon Championships. Graham Norton and Patricia Wood both performed well reaching the finals as expected, going on last year's performance, however would they retain their 2008 titles in 2009?
*Results added 29/4 - here
NORTON AND WOOD BREEZE TO FINALS
Graham Norton glided through the draw like a butterfly, dropping only one set. That was in round 2 in table tennis against Niranjan Shimoga. The other seeds expected to proceed through the draw had more trouble.
Nigel Daniels, an excellent tennis player, also impressed in round one also showing a badminton flair. However, the badminton game of the day was definitely Rakesh's 21-16 victory over Dinesh Pessi for 9th place. Dinesh earlier had lost to Keith Lesser in round one, but this was not before unleahing an impressive 21-2 beating. After 21-5 losses in table tennis and squash, the writing was unfortunately on the wall. Rakesh Gupta was dumped out in round one in the shock of the day. Simon De Mello showed shrewd table tennis and tennis to upset all the odds.
NEWCOMERS DUMPED OUT
De Mello was no match for a ruthless Norton in the semi-finals. Daniels had rather better form against Lesser in the quarters. Daniels narrowly losing out 21-4, 11-21, 21-4 to a determined Lesser. Daniels, of course hoping to get to tennis, but unable to do so on this occasion having already given a margin of more than 21 points away. Stuart Scourfield had played solidly to reach the semi-finals. Scourfield was no match for Lesser losing out 0-21, 6-21, 21-6, 8-11 +24. Scourfield did show excellent squash skills and will hopefully come back after enjoying a feast of sport.
LADIES DRAW FINELY BALANCED
The Ladies draw was really taking shape with Patricia Wood fighting it out with Carol Whittington, Sarah Newstead and Kay Dalton to name a few. Patricia, nicked it in the end with some powerful play.
2008 REPEAT FINAL
Lesser v Norton Round 2. Business commenced in the table tennis with Norton taking a 1-0 lead. Several points later at 20-2 an assured margin looked likely. Norton, however got an ingenius net to make his 3rd point and almost made a 4th with a similar rally, 21-3, game on.
Badminton looked tiring even for spectators and the rallies were long. Norton using all his year's of experience in the Surrey Leagues to edge this one 21-15 reducing the deficit to a marginal 12 points. This left the match finely poised with Norton's best sport to come.
SQUASH SWING IN MOMENTUM
The squash was frantic with some excellent rallies. It was Lesser who was looking stronger commanding a 11-4 lead at the change of ends. Norton, who started to look tired, however re-grouped and came back with some stunning drops. It was however Lesser who swung the momentum of the match firmly with a decisive 21-15 victory. The crowd looked on with some spectators even saying "even I could make 4 points in the tennis".
NERVY TENNIS AFFAIR
However, the match was not over by any stretch of the imagination. At 1-0 with the end in sight. Norton had other ideas. Suddenly at 9-2, 11-3 the match looked like it could turn another corner. Surely, Lesser couldn't blow it from here. Double fault here, smash in the net there, volley wide (again) and suddenly we are sitting at 19-3!! Norton needs two points to take the tie into a gumi-arm sudden death decider. Thankfully, Lesser drove a forehand into the backhand side which bounced twice (just). There is a new CSSC champion, a drama it certainly was indeed!
GOOD ORGANISATION AND GREAT FACILITIES
Redbridge and Matt Crane again came up trumps. Matthew Taylor at CSSC put on a storming event. Hopefully players will be encouraged to play more racketlon in the future and the CSSC event is a welcome addition to the calendar.