Szegner Steals The Show
Racketlon and Orsolya Szegner both returned to Cardiff, but it was the Hungarian returning to the city of her Alma Mata that stole the show, with victories in the Ladies A, Mixed A Doubles and Ladies A Doubles. The David Lloyd Cardiff was once again the venue for the Welsh Open a FIR World Tour Challenger event. With a host of categories, trophies created from Royally approved slate and a hotel onsite, the David Lloyd Cardiff and organiser Pete Bridgeman once again laid on a highly enjoyable tournament.
Reid Reigns in the Men’s A
Calum Reid serenely progressed to the 2014 Welsh Open title as only Frenchman Sylvain Ternon able to take him to a tennis court. The first round was devastating for 4 of the 5 Brits in the Men’s A draw, with Alex Du Noyer (Reid), Luke Barnes (Ternon), Connor O’Kane (Matej Dohnal – Czech Republic) and Keith Lesser (Iftach Gesser - Israel) leaving just Scotsman Reid to fly the UK flag. The semi-finals saw Gesser defeat Dohnal while Reid saw off Ternon. Reid then defeated Gesser to take the A Title. Du Noyer coming away with the Wooden Spoon after losing a gumi-arm to O’Kane, as painful an experience as can possible exist in Racketlon?
The Ladies A saw two preliminary box leagues leading to play offs for final placings. In group A, it was young Hannah Boden who saw off challenges from experienced ladies, Fiona Sime and Dianne Baker. Highlight of the round being a including a 25-23 squash epic won by Dianne over Hannah. Hannah’s strength in the badminton really showing as she won to 2 and 3 in her two matches. Meanwhile, Dianne edging out Fiona to take second place in the group. In Group B, Orsolya dominated in both ties, winning without needing to take her tennis racket out the bag. Clair Miles-Owen seeing off the challenge of Kathryn Milne to take second place in Group B. Clair then edged out Dianne to take third place in the Ladies A, while Orsolya fought off a fierce challenge from Hannah Boden to take the Ladies A title.
Touring the Classes
Ed “focusing on the Vets” Harvey defeated James Watkins to take the final of the Men’s B, Jack Bishop edging out Alistair Prades to take third place. Maureen Thompson took the Ladies B title, with a hard fought victory over late replacement Emma Custance-Baker, with Alicja Kulp taking third place defeating Helen Dougherty. Debutant Harry Harrison took the Men’s C title, defeating Frenchman Jean-Brice Montagnon, with Thomas Atherton taking third place. Phillip Mutter gave the David Lloyd Cardiff a victory in the Men’s D, with Adam Newbould second in the round robin group.
Sunday saw the Veterans and Doubles competitions swing into action, with Men’s Over 45’s singles, Men’s A, Ladies A, Men’s B and Mixed B Doubles all to be contested on a busy second day. Various guises of Racketlon player from the fresh looking new arrivals for the Vets, to the rather stiff looking Saturday competitors were clearly evident. However nothing, trumps the heroics of Katy “Hop-a-long” Barclay. Barely able to walk on an ankle injured on the Saturday, Katy would persevere through two Doubles events because she didn’t want to let her partners down, strapping & ibuprofen combining with courage to see her hop onwards.
Iftach Gesser bounced back from losing the Men’s A final to Calum Reid on Saturday to take the Over 45’s title. Steve Kneller providing the final hurdle in a final that saw tight battles in both the badminton (21-18 to Kneller) and squash (22-20 to Gesser), however impressive table tennis from Gesser was enough of an edge to ensure victory with the tennis tightly poised at 9-9 when victory was secured. Ed Harvey took 3rd place after local entrant Kwesi Hazel was forced to withdraw after his first round victory over Stuart Foster.
Mixed Fortunes for Lesser as Mauroy Finds Titles Are Like London Buses
Both Mixed Doubles featured 4 pairs, in the Mixed A, Barclay/Barnes edged out Boden/Boden on the tennis wining by 2 points overall, whilst Szegner/Lesser saw off the challenge of Milne/Prades to also progress to the final. The Mixed B saw Sime/Mauroy see off Thompson/Wills-Packer while Baker/Pope saw off local pairing Priaulx/Duffy to meet their friends in the final. This was a first Racketlon final of any sorts for James, despite having been around Racketlon for (seemingly) ages. He was, alas to be topped in the firsts column by good Racketlon friend Fabien, as Sime/Mauroy held their nerve to seal victory in a tense tennis that saw the Mixed B final swing both ways. This win provided Fabien with his first Racketlon title, very much deserved for Fabien whose passion and enthusiasm for Racketlon can not be doubted. The Mixed A final saw a titanic battle, after Szegner/Lesser handed out a table tennis thumping (21-5), Barclay/Barnes responded in kind (21-6) on the badminton court. With Lesser able to hold off the resurgent Barnes in the 2nd leg of the Squash to take it 22-20, the match was poised with all to play for on the tennis. However a 21-17 win saw overall victory for Szegner/Lesser by 5 points over Barclay/Barnes. Throughout this “Hop-A-Long” Barclay drew on superhuman strength/pain killers to keep running/limping on her ankle.
The conclusion of the Mixed Doubles, saw the arrival of some additional (and more fresh faced) pairs for Men’s Doubles, and the Men’s A draw included two particularly tasty match ups. The highlight being Bishop/Barnes Vs Du Noyer/Watkins, squash being the sport that spelt the difference between the pairs. Foster/Lesser saw off the French pair of Montagnon/Ternon, to set up another Doubles final involving Lesser Vs Barnes. Six pairs contested the Men’s B Doubles, with Pope/Wills-Pack overcoming local opposition Kaleekal/Duffy to book a semi final against Mauroy and Prades. Carlton Chivers & Mike Young saw off fellow Welsh pair Stuart Scourfield & Robert Wilde, to set up a semi-final against Tom Atherton & Luke Woodliffe. In the semi’s Atherton/Woodliffe & Mauroy/Prades secured victories to set up the Men’s B Doubles final. For the Ladies Doubles, it was Boden/Szegner that saw off Mariner/Milne whilst Baker/Sime made their second doubles final of the day with a win over (the still limping) Barclay & Thompson.
In the Men’s B Doubles, Fabien found that Racketlon titles are like London buses, after winning his first in the morning, he took a second with partner Alistair Prades defeating Atherton/Woodliffe in the final. Atherton/Woodliffe a Cambridge University pairing, with Loughborough, Sheffield Hallam, Leeds, Cardiff & Birmingham Universities also represented by current students or recent alumni. This is an area which could prove very important for developing Racketlon in the UK and to have a widely established University network now is a positive sign ahead of an inaugural British Universities Championships next month. In the Men’s A Doubles, it was Lesser/Foster Vs Barnes/Bishop and it was the younger pair who triumphed. After Lesser/Foster handed out a table tennis hiding (21-4), the young Loughborough linked pair Barnes/Bishop dominated the remaining 3 sports 21-12, 21-12, 21-14, ensuring Luke Barnes gained some revenge for his Mixed defeat to Keith earlier in the day. But rightly, we finish on Orsolya. The Ladies A and Mixed A Champion had a fantastic weekend, and certainly was never going to let the Ladies A Doubles provide a let down. Along side partner Hannah Boden, she romped along to a third victory, as the pair saw off Baker/Sime in the final, the badminton being particularly impressive, as the pair dominated the final.