County Champs - October 29th - Review
1. Middlesex A
7. Middlesex B
8. Rest of Counties
A strong Middlesex team of Duncan Stahl, David Culshaw, Jeremy Krzystyniak, Richard Boreham and Gemma Sgariglia were victorious. The final over Surrey had some close sets but Jason Granville, Chris McKee, Rakesh Gupta, Selwyn Walmsley and Joanne Stubbs were unable to cope with Middlesex's strength in depth.
Before the final, we also hosted a very successful AGM. A new set of Officers were elected to the English Racketlon Association Executive Board and this will be outlined further in due course. A selection of Captain's reports are below as is a short video of the event.
Rest of Counties Report
The Rest of Counties team was made up of participants from several counties who had not known one another previously, so the first challenge for us was to get to know one another! Our matches began with us being paired against the number one seeds and eventual winners Middlesex A. All the players played well and enjoyed themselves throughout the competition. The venue was good and for all our team, it was the first time they were competing in a team competition and in a couple of cases the first time they were competing in a Racketlon event. The organisation of the event also seemed to go smoothly, so a congratulations to the organisers.
The day started well with a strong win against Cambridgeshire, all the rubbers were won except at number one where Keith Lesser lost to David Westmorland. David is a strong racketlon talent and it would be good to see him at a few events next season as he can trouble the top UK players. Abbie Lench, Anthony Phillips, Stuart Foster and Karl Albon made up the rest of the team, with Herts drawing on the best players from host club Letchworth and a range of other local players. Home advantage did not come off as a strong Surrey side put an end to that. Abbie was undefeated but the men got a bit of a spanking here. Fair play to Jason Granville, he has really improved over the last couple of years, best of luck to him over the summer in New Zealand. Chris McKee recovered from a 1st round loss to Omar Samad to despatch Anthony Phillips and Rakesh Gupta and Selwyn Walmsley were too strong for Karl and Stuart. We took care of the only way is essex though and I even got a win on the board. A good event enjoyed by all and the AGM was very positive. Bring on 2012.
Middlesex B Report
Overall a very good performance from Middlesex 2 which almost caused the upset of the tournament on the first round. Only the talent and the hours of training of Jason Granville prevented Surrey from elimination.
Dave Ridout played as Number 1 Single. It was a strategical choice to split the usual double Ridout / Mauroy in order to try avoiding being smashed in the men 1. This was a success, with 2 good wins from Dave except against Jason Granville, where he only succeeded to win the table tennis 21/19. Nothing was possible in Badminton and Squash (7/21, 5/21) but I think Dave was a bit disappointed by his tennis performance (lost 11 / 21). In the 2 other games, he won by at least 15 points, smashing his opponents as usual in table tennis.
Omar Samad was our best player, due to rankings playing as Single 2. Amazing performance all day for our ex professional Squash player who has shown some very good table tennis skills with 3 wins under 6 in table tennis. More or less same in squash. Improving his badminton, he could probably be ranked top 5 in UK very soon. He won his 3 singles matches, beating one of the top players in the UK, Chris Mckee, by a single point.
Dominique Ford in ladies single played solid racketlon all day and across all the sports. Her amazing performance against Surrey (win by over 40 pts) contributed to a very close game overall. A loss by a few points in her other two matches. With a bit of table tennis training at Finsbury, some great performances should come in the near future.
The doubles - Gavin Larkin / Fabien Mauroy was probably the weaker link of the team. Having never played together it was a bit of an experience above all in Badminton .... It should have been far better in table tennis, with Fabien not playing at his level during the first match and Gavin a bit sleepy during the second match. A great tennis match versus Surrey, but insufficient to get the overall win. A small hand injury for Fabien prevented him playing at 100% in Tennis during the last 2 matches.
Two matches lost by less than 10 points including one to the eventual runners up, and a comfortable win in the last match, this team has shown all its potential. Important to denote that each player of the team won all of their table tennis matches! With the probable arrival of one or 2 new players next year (Chris Beckley and 2 other new players from Finsbury table tennis, with a lot of strengths in other sports), other counties should be worried to play Middlesex 2 next season
The 3rd tournament of this nature and best entry to date takes place this Saturday. 8 counties compete including Middlesex, Surrey, Herts, Oxfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Essex. The depth and strength of the squads is easily the strongest we have had and includes several players ranked in the top 100 of the world rankings and top 30 of the domestic rankings.
On paper with great players like Jason Granville who travelled back three weeks ago from Vienna and returns to New Zealand in two weeks until April, Surrey have a great chance to qualify for the FIR Champions League 2012. We do need to consider in the future that 2 female players are needed now for the FIR tournament as there is also a mixed doubles, but this shouldn't be a problem with the event being in Redbridge next October (combined with the English Open). Entries are even open already on www.resultreporter.com! (as all 2012 events are....).
The other strongest team on paper is Middlesex, marshalled by Middlesex pioneer Dominique Ford, Stahl, Culshaw, Boreham and 2 of the most commonly mispelt racketlon surnames....here goes Jeremy Krzystyniak (ranked 107) and the returning Gemma Sgariglia (ranked 22 in the Ladies). Both rankings undervalue these great players and thank goodness for copy and paste as English Racketlon journalistic prowess and spelling would otherwise be called into question.
There are other dark horses like Essex, Oxfordshire and Herts and don't write off Cambridgeshire either, the unknown is always dangerous with many new players lining up with expert rackathlete Dianne Baker.
Ones to watch:
Middlesex 1st: Jeremy Krzystyniak (squash specialist with solid table tennis)
Middlesex 2nd: Fabien Mauroy (French table tennis supremo)
Surrey: Chris Mckee (solid allrounder for such a young man)
Herts: Abbie Lench (Herts secret weapon, perhaps not so much a secret after winning the British Mixed Doubles title last month)
Essex: Sarah Lochrie (good to see the Ex-England champion back in action)
Oxfordshire: Gary Jackson (good at everything with a slight weakness in squash)
Cambridgeshire: David Westmorland (returns after a tasty English Champs Class B victory a couple of years ago, strong at the middle 2).
Rest of Counties: Siraz Natha (the Lancashire Open organiser looks to drive racketlon forward in the North of England).