824 days will have passed from that glorious sunny day at the Surrey Sports Park when Jesper Ratzer and Zuzana Kubanova sealed their world titles in very different fashions and when the 15th FIR World Singles Championships start next Thursday in Nurmberg, Germany. Amongst the 287 players are 33 Brits, with hopes, dreams and ambitions across the draws. With live-streaming available, there is the chance for you to follow many of their journeys next weekend. So, who are these Brits and who will they be playing? All the draws can be found here, or you can see a preview below!
Five Brits can be found in the Men’s A draw, led by 8th seed Dan Busby. Dan has really announced his return to Racketlon on the World Tour this year following up his victory last year in Bordeaux with wins in Latvia and Finland which has left him second on the world tour race. Dan’s World Champs debut is against Jesper Hougaard, the brother of FIR President Kresten. Dan has wreaked havoc on the Hougaard’s this year with a great record against them, however Jesper will be very keen to upset his apple cart. Should he win, a potential quarter-final awaits against world number 1 and tournament favourite Jesper Ratzer. Ratzer is undefeated in 3 and a half years, but hasn’t featured on the World Tour since the Racket Masters in August. He opens up against German wildcard Joshua Zeoli.
Back to the Brits and next up is Keith Lesser, who will open up with a TT win against Kresten Hougaard, the 6th seed. After that, well his Danish opponent is the favourite, but Keith won’t be rolling over to be obediently defeated, he will work hard for every point in his usual style. The draws don’t get much easier, with Alex Du Noyer facing a nice and gentle opening match against Stefan Adamsson. Stefan who has also recently returned to the tour was third in London 2 years ago, and floats around the second quarter to give cause for concern to third seed Lukas Windischberger and a potential semi-final opponent for Ratzer (or Busby, it could be Busby....). In the lower half of the draw, we have young Leon Griffiths, who at 16 is the baby of the Men’s A event. He opens up against the occasionally British, sometimes Kiwi, but never Australian, Jason Granville. Our final Brit in contention is Duncan Stahl, who starts with Swedish wildcard, Par Gunnar Mattsson, this pair can be found in the quarter that features world number 2, and 2014 runner up Kasper Jonsson, who will be hoping to go that one step further in 2016. All in all, it is a high quality field that lines up next week and the winner truely will be worthy of the title of World Champion.
Two of our British hopefuls, Leon Griffiths (l) and Dan Busby (c) at the Latvian Open (photo - racketlon.net)
There is two British ladies in the Ladies A event as Hannah Boden and Lauren Whiteman go in search of glory. However the draw has not been kind to our Ladies. Hannah opens up against Silke Altmann with the winner of that match rewarded with a tie against top seed and world number 1, Christine Seehofer. Austria’s Seehofer was third in 2014 and she will be dreaming of a first Elite world title. If Hannah has a stiff route, then Lauren has a horrible draw. She is up against world number 2 and home favourite Amke Fischer. Amke has had a belting year, with wins in Malta and Finland in recent months and makes for a formidable opponent for Lauren. However, Lauren is a tenacious fighter and she will be certain to make life extremely difficult for Amke. A belting Ladies A awaits with 13 of the worlds top 16 featuring in Nurmberg next weekend. It will be, as with the Men, the victor will have every right to call themselves the World Champion with some considerable pride.
Five Brits, an Irishman and a Cambridge based Australian will compete in along with 25 others in a packed 32 draw Men’s B. Richard Middleton, the third seed, leads our British hopes, he starts up against Tomas Jiroch of the Czech Republic. He shares a half of the draw with fellow Brits, Alistair Prades and Jeremy Krzystyniak who both have German opponents in the shape of Marc Grau and Marco Genzel respectively. They also have, for company our friendly Australian (Leigh Sands) and Ireland’s Matt Haynes, who could face each other in round 2. Finally, we have our two Brits in the lower half of the draw, Piers Boden, who has a Swede in the shape of Rene Lingberg, and Josh Kashdan-Brown who starts against Austria’s Bernhard Pilsz. A competitive Men’s B and definitely some chances of British glory if all goes well.
There are two British ladies in the Ladies B draw and both are seeded. We start, rightly with the top seed, Jo Shelley, who earns a simple first round win against Mrs BYE and so will start her campaign against either Denmark’s Julie Norregaard or Czech’s Lucie Hynkova. Our second lady is fourth seed Barbara Capper, and she will start up against Belgium’s Sarah Raemdonck in her first match. With 29 ladies in the B draw, it is a very healthy sized competition and great to see good draw sizes in the Ladies events.
Men’s C & D
There are just the 80 (eighty) men in the Men’s C, and in that pile are 7 Brits. They are led by Johnny Bispham the 11th seed, but are also joined by Rakesh Gupta, , Simon Irons, Joel Durston, Harry Pearce and two further member of the Griffiths family, Andy (father of) and Luke (younger brother of) Leon. In the Men’s D, it is a 32 draw, with 7 Brits including 3 father & son British players. The third and fourth seeds are Lee and William Gregson, Julian and Leon Kashdan-Brown, Marek & Rafal Wilowski whilst Ho Kwan is the solitary Brit without father or child in the draw.
50% of the 10 draw U13s is Brits, Luke Griffiths is second seed and he is joined by his Men’s D compatriots, Rafa Wilowski, Leon Kashdan-Brown and Will Gregson as well as James Phillips. There are 5 Brits in the U21s (there is no U16s draw sadly). Leon Griffiths is second seed, and he is joined by Piers Boden, Alistair Prades, Josh Kashdan-Brown and Harry Pearce. For the Girls U21, it is a 5 player round robin, featuring some real talents of the ladies game, including world number 1 lady, Christine Seehofer, who is looking to defend her title from 2014 and complete a unique double. In her way is top British youngster Hannah Boden.
A host of vets events with Men’s O40s, O45s, O50s, O55s, O60s and O65s and Women’s O40s, O45s and O50s, and as you can expect plenty of British interest. Duncan Stahl is the top seed in the Men’s O40s and he will be joined in that draw by Jeremy Krzystyniak, while in the Ladies O40s, British hopes rest with Jo Shelley. A brutal looking Men’s O45s also features a sole Brit, Lee Gregson, whilst Barbara Capper is in the same boat in the Ladies O45s. There are five Brits in the O50s, Rakesh Gupta, Simon Iron, Julian Kashdan-Brown, Marek Wilowski and the (amazingly in this age group), Richard Middleton, who is seeded second. So we are down to our last four Brits. Two of them feature in the Men’s O55s, Ray Simpson and fourth seeded Bruce Shepherd. Into the O60s and we will all be rooting for the second seed, Julian Clapp and finally in the O65s, we have Peter Arbuthnot.
Well, if you are still with me, well done! As you can no doubt tell, it is a busy festival of Racketlon next week in Germany. There is plenty of British interest, so to finish, I’ll take this chance to wish every single one of them the very best of luck.