UK Racketlon

Written by James Pope

Double Shelley Glory at Inaugural Staffordshire Open


July saw the first running of the Staffordshire Open with University Championships, the home tournament of George "The Caveman" Roberts, hosted at Keele University.  An event with bags of potential and an energetic host, there were shocks, first finals and eager newcomers, George has sent in the following report covering both the Staffordshire Open and the 2nd University Championships


44 players descended on Keele University sports centre to compete in the first ever Staffordshire Open. With 19 players trying Racketlon for their first time the whole day and experience did not disappoint with some fantastic racket sport action, close matches and a great day enjoyed by all. In fact many of the juniors and newcomers requested additional matches as friendlies around their main games as their love for the sport grew resulting in a mini friendly league being drafted by the enormously helpful and Racketlon legend Malcolm "The Big Bear" Boden.



The big surprise of the day came in the under 13 category with first timer Islay Thornicroft defeating all 3 boys in her category and earning herself a squash racket, trophy and the title Under 13 Champion. No doubt Islay is a future Racketlon star with convincing wins across the board winning 11 of her 12 games. Second place went to Connor Green who won two of his 3 matches losing only to Islay. The Under 16 category was won by Kieran Shelley who won both his matches and 6 of his 8 games earning himself a badminton racket, the trophy and the title Under 16 Champion. Second place went to first timer Alex Bradbury who narrowly missed out on first in a close game against Kieran that saw Kieran win by just 12. With points close after badminton Alex needed to keep Kieran low in the tennis and despite winning 21-14 it was not enough.

In the Mens A number one seed Dan "Newbie" Busby was pushed in his first round match against Ed "The Nugget" Harvey with Dan the winner by just 5. Having progressed to the final Dan eagerly awaited the result of the other semi final between Will "Two Dinners" Coley and Greg Mairs who was making his return to Racketlon following a 2 year absence. Greg won the table tennis by 2 and the badminton 21-3. Chasing his first A final the popular Will dug deep and pulled out some exciting and devastating squash which led to Will winning 21-2. With just one point in it at the tennis Will went on to defeat Greg 21-15 to take his place in the final by 5 points. The final was won by Dan making him Staffordshire champion and landing himself a Microsoft Lumia 640.

In the Women's A Jo Shelley and Hannah Boden both won their first two matches to set up an exciting final game to decide the winner. Jo won the table tennis 21-11 but Hannah fought back to take the badminton 21-4. With Hannah 7 points up Jo recorded an excellent victory of 21-5 in the squash before winning the tennis 21-15 to make Jo the Women's A champion and the recipient of a Microsoft Lumia 640.

The Men's B saw 6 players split into two groups of 3 with a round robin followed by a playoff. Number one seed Ross Frisby won his first match as did newcomer Anthony Wimpenny with the two meeting in a final deciding game. It would be Racketlon newcomer Anthony that took top spot as he defeated the number one seed Ross. In the other group all 3 players would win one match and lose one each with all players winning 4 games and losing 4. Going down to points it would be “The Spinker”, Jonathan Spinks who would top the group with a positive point difference of 5 which narrowly beat the number 2 seed Simon Gilhooly and his positive point difference of 3. Spinks started the final well winning table tennis 21-2. However, proving how important every point is, Anthony persevered and won the remaining sports making Anthony the Men’s B champion by 6 points.

In the Men’s C Julian Clapp the number one seed continued his dominance in the C by progressing to the final with relative ease with victories of 16 and 21. Jake Tetley chasing his first final appearance joined Julian in the final with a strong a strong first round victory and then an impressive semi final victory over Ramon Miles defeating Ramon by just 3. Unfortunately for Jake, Julian’s dominance was too strong with Julian being crowned Men’s C champion with a 28 point win over Jake with no need for the tennis to be played.

In the Men’s D 11 players making their Racketlon debuts went in to battle. 5 players received first round byes however the two finalists were not one of these and made the final despite playing the extra match. Lee Ben Swain made swift progress to the final with victories of 38, 19 and 22. David Mckechnie made the semi final with big victories of 36 and 41 however an exciting semi final between David and Ian Wimpenny saw David win by just 2. David found himself 23 points down after the badminton but a strong squash performance narrowed this to 6. With Ian needing 15 for a gummi and 16 for a win in the tennis David managed to hold out for the win taking the tennis 21-13. In the final Lee won the table tennis game 21-4 however David would prove too strong and would overturn this 17 point deficit over the remaining sports and went on to win the Men’s D category by 17 points.

The University Championships 2015 was held on the same day as the Staffordshire Open with all 8 players competing in both events. With all players playing pretty much back to back matches all day they certainly rose to the challenge! The 8 players were split into 2 groups of 4 and these made up the categories University Mens A and University Mens B. 
As well as reaching the Staffordshire Mens A final Will Coley would show great determination and reach his second final of the day in the University Mens A. With a strong victory against Daniel Adams Will would meet James Watkins in the final following James's victory by 6 points over Greg Mairs. This set up a Nottingham university v Loughborough final and it was Nottingham University and Will Coley that would be triumphant as Will beat James by 9 in the final. Having lost both the table tennis and the badminton a strong squash performance from Will meant he took a 3 point lead into the tennis. Will went on to reach his required points target of 19 winning the tennis 19-13 and becoming the University Mens A champion 2015. 

In the University Mens B George Roberts of Staffordshire University defeated Jake Tetley of Nottingham University by 21 points to make the final. The other semi final saw University varsity rivals Nottingham Trent University take on Nottingham University with Jonathan Wan playing close friend and rival Jonathan Spinks. In a nerve wrenching and exciting match it was Jonathan Wan of Nottingham Trent that would progress to the final with a 2 point victory over the spinker. With points even after the badminton Wan took the squash 21-18 taking a 3 point lead into the tennis. The tennis was neck and neck in a tantalising game. Spinks found himself 20-18 up leaving one point to decide if it was to be a gummi or Wan victory. In what was probably the biggest point of the day and nerve wracking and exciting for both it was Wan who won the decisive point giving him the 19 points he needed to guarantee a place in the final. Jonathan Wan on cloud 9 took this momentum into the final and despite losing the table tennis match to George would go on to win the match making Jonathan and Nottingham Trent University Mens B champion 2015.

A fantastic time was had by all with exciting and close matches across the board. The facilities at Keele were well received and we are sure the Staffordshire Open will go from strength to strength in years to come as it establishes itself as a regular annual tour event!