The Racketlon circus touched down in leafy Limpsfield for its second UK Tour event. Following a strong Sussex Open, the Men’s Elie attracted another strong line-up including two vets world team champions, two experienced England team players, a very talented, new player from Loughborough Uni.........and Luke Barnes (!) It was also good to see a lot of new players across all the other categories – bringing new players into Racketlon is something the ERA will be focusing on heavily between now and when we host the World Championships in August 2014 at Surrey Sports Park near Guildford. We want that to be a mass participation event with all levels welcome. Help us start to spread the word now!
Jordan, Barnes and Middleton all recorded fairly comfortable 1st round victories, whereas Stahl found himself in a real battle against new player George Stafford from Loughborough Uni – all equal after TT and badminton, the first point of the squash saw a long rally seemingly finished off by a trickle boast by Stahl, only to see Stafford launch himself into a full length swan dive to retrieve it and win the point. “This isn’t going to be straightforward” murmured Stahl! After a brutal 21-18 squash victory to the very sharp, diving Stafford, the match was eventually decided with some typically tense Racketlon tennis in tricky windy conditions with Stahl prevailing by a point. @Alistairprades on Twitter : “This is why Racketlon is such a great sport : a “newcomer” loses by 1 point to the current English Champion”
The semi-finals saw Jordan - the lean, mean triathlon machine take on the returning Barnes – freshly tanned from a year in Australia...and still chatting up the bar staff (apologies Limpsfield). Solid TT from Jordan and a good badminton score against the talented Barnes, who’s always a force on the badminton court, saw Jordan 8 up before the squash, which he extended to 10 after a tight 21-19 win and then finished things off on the tennis court to take his place in the final.
In the other semi, Stahl took the TT and badminton to 14 and 12 against the ever improving Middleton, but having been beaten to single figures at squash by Middleton when they last met, Stahl still had a lot of work to do. A second brutal squash set in a row for Stahl, saw him scrape home 22-20 leaving only a handful of points required in the tennis.
So the two England team mates, Jordan and Stahl, faced each other in the final. 21-9 to Jordan at TT, followed by a close 21-18 badminton victory to Stahl, who was certainly starting to feel a bit leggy after his 2 previous matches which had included 81 pts on the squash court! Experienced Racketlon pundits might normally have said that Stahl’s subsequent 21-4 win in the squash set, leaving him only 14 to win at tennis, would mean the match was all but over...but these so-called pundits obviously don’t know about Jordan’s wizardry on the tennis court in high wind and rain! Cutting, slicing, bending and looping the ball round corners, into and against the wind, Jordan had the ball on a string and at 20-13 up, he needed one more point to force a gumi arm. Jordan serves a thunderbolt up the middle, Stahl at full stretch returns it but it’s short. Jordan’s eyes light up. Nadal-esque footwork sees him run round his back-hand to setup the big forehand winner to give the packed galleries what they wanted : the elusive gumi. The ball explodes off Jordan’s racket. Stahl goes sprawling, but the groans from the crowd say it all. It’s gone long. No Gumi. 1 point win to Stahl. #close
Ladies A (Richard Lawrence : “The glamour category”)
A new face to the Racketlon tour, Kathryn Milne, triumphed in Limpsfield with some very strong squash and tennis getting her over the line against experienced pros Fiona Sime, Dianne Baker and Dom Ford. With both her matches against Sime and Baker going down to the wire : +4 and +6 respectively. It’s fantastic to have a new player on the Ladies scene and it would be great to see Milne enter the English Open next month to test out her new found Racketlon skills!
Gavin Hickling with some strong squash performances won the Men’s B – after Robbie Wong had to withdraw during the final with injury. Several other Loughborough Uni players all did well with some good victories in their first ever Racketlon tournament. Hopefully we’ll see them all again!
Andy “what you doing in the C’s” Griffiths stormed to victory in the C’s, conceding just 9 points on the squash court over his 3 matches. Impressive.
Graham “he’s back” Norton took the vet’s crown, with no-one getting within 20 points! Although there was another good showing from relative newcomer Bruce Shepherd (from the Krzystyniak stable) who took 2ndplace.
Thanks again go to Chrissie Mariner for hosting another UK Tour event and to the Limpsfield club and staff for embracing Racketlon. All the players, families and friends were looked after brilliantly and let’s hope the South Eastern Open at Limpsfield now becomes a regular feature on the UK Tour...