No (Rain) Alarms and No (Shock Draw)
Surprises - World Championships: Day 1
13 hours of competition with in excess of 150 matches launched the 2014 World Championships at the Surrey Sports Park. Despite this outstripping the size of any UK Racketlon event the combination of excellent facilities with the dedication and hard work of the event organisers especially the peerless Leone McKinley with her Racket Makers team. The tournament is started and it is buzzing!
The seniors got us underway, on a morning which would warm the tournament up to the arrival of the Elite big guns. However, in this authors experience, the seniors can host some of the toughest contests as seasoned players with bags of experience knowing their own games inside and out pit their wits against a similar foe. From the seniors to the juniors as Boys U16’s and Girls U21’s replacing age and experience with youthful enthusiasm. The quality and ability of these youngsters is tremendous for the sport, maybe more worrying for those of us soon to see them cropping up in tournaments against us! Especially heartening was the presence of a number of the U21 girls also playing in the Elite Women’s draw.
It is to the Elite Draws we turn to now, the premier gold standard event of the 2014 World Championships, for the big name ladies it was a day off, but for the Men’s A it was all in from the start. You can’t win a tournament on the first day, but you can lose it and certainly the big names Ratzer, Reid and Adamsson were well aware of it. Jasper was in imperious form, with devastating table tennis and badminton meaning that despite a real squash battle (22-20), Angelov from Bulgaria was beaten before the tennis. Calum was in similarly strong form, the gulf in table tennis meaning that despite tight two point victories in the badminton and squash, he only needed to swing one point from the tennis racket to secure victory over Rykowski from Poland. Adamsson received a slightly sterner test, facing young English squash player James Simpson, who would take the squash, Adamsson’s ability in the other sports, especially table tennis and badminton, securing his easy progression. These three will be joining in the last 16 by the majority of the seeds, only Duncan Stahl (8) not making it through, missing out to Schubert of Austria. The Men’s A resumes today at noon and some belting matches are in prospect.
Despite the fact the elite matches finishing by 2pm, there was play till nearly 10 in the Men’s C (this author devastated to miss out on Fish and Chips as he only finished at 10pm after a 9pm start). The other classes displaying the wide range of racketlon, from gumi arm victories (Stuart Foster) to the epic R32 Women’s A match between Anneli Druve and Nete Knudsen, won by Knudson by 3 points a cagey tennis rubber lasting nearly 35 minutes (well refereed by Robert Bozier).
So, Friday, the tournament continues and this is truly is a celebration of racket sports. If you are in or around the Guildford area, then please feel free to come down and watch, the facilities are awesome, the standard of play immense and the vibe like nothing this author has felt at a Racketlon tournament before.