Senior Service Stars in Sweden
It's a testament to the growth of the UK Racketlon community that despite a few of the regulars missing there were still 16 Brits that headed over to Malmo to enjoy the fantastic facilities and organisation at the Casino Heroes Swedish Open. Full results are available online (hopefully Mr. Pope, or "Ed" as he sometimes likes to call himself in this situation will insert a clever link to the results here... - A small pedantic point is that is now DOCTOR Pope - Ed)
Once again we proved we are a force to be reckoned with in the senior categories, with 3 titles and 2 podium finishes. British Champion Duncan Stahl led the charge with a commanding victory in the Over 40s, recovering from a tough start in the TT in the final to win the next 3 sports against Latvian Uldis Dzirkalis, cementing his place as world number 1 in this recently formed category. Stahl's impressive start to the season continued in the Mens Elite where he lost only to eventual winner Jesper Ratzer. Stahl is attributing his form largely to a few recent training sessions with Dave Ridout*.
Some strong TT and Tennis performances saw Wilf Jessop take the Over 65s title and he nearly capped the perfect weekend by also winning the Men's D, but fell just short in the final. Richard Middleton and his Danish partner were dominant from start to finish in the over 45 doubles as the Surrey captain added another world tour title to his growing collection. Middleton also more than held is own in the Men's Elite, winning 2 matches and pushing FIR President Kresten Hougaard. Bruce Shepherd was agonisingly close to victory in the Over 55s but had to settle for silver in the end, and Dianne Baker took the bronze medal in both the over 45s and Women's B categories.
Who would you want your house on in a gummiarm? Answer: Jon Spinks. If you were happy to lose a few rackets to rage along the way that is ;). The face of Notts Racketlon, and a random TT tournament in Latin America (fancy link to twitter please James... - Done Sire! (I suggest you compare both linked images for proof! - Ed), took his gummi record to 5 from 5 this weekend. The fact this victory was over his compatriot Johnny Wan would have made it all the more sweeter, although it did come at a cost! Full details on the Notts Racketlon twitter account! (It wasn't pretty I heard - Ed)
Elsewhere there was further gummi drama for Dave Ridout and Johnny Bispham in their first and last matches of the tournament respectively. For Ridout it came in the Men's A Doubles, where he and his scratch Swedish partner lost 21-15 in the tennis to a strong German pairing. After losing the toss and being made to serve, Ridout bravely took control of the situation... By suggesting his partner serve! It proved a great decision as a big kick serve and a volley put away later they were celebrating along with a captivated GB crowd!
Sadly this was to be the sole victory of the tournament for Ridout who found in particular the physical side of playing 3 A grade categories a challenge, much to the detriment of his last 2 singles matches. Discussions of new nutrition and fitness regimes should soon fix that though. We'll gloss over the fact that said discussions were had over a few pints and a burger at the airport! Sadly for Bispham he couldn't make it 3 from 3 for GB on the gummis, despite saving 4 match points to get there, as he misjudged a leave that was "about a foot and a half in", according to the man himself. This loss meant incredibly that the 17 Swedes in the C draw finished in positions 1-17! Despite being disappointed to lose in such fashion in his last one Johnny will be pleased with how he played overall and held his nerve well in a couple of previous tennis sets.
Who are you and what have you done with Ray Jordan?
His racketlon peers were pleased to see Ray Jordan back on the tour after injury (Ear plugs provided for small children? - Ed) but they didn't know whether to laugh or cry as they watched him top edge the table tennis ball to all corners of the arena in his first doubles match! Whatever he had for breakfast on Saturday morning (probably 4 or 5 of the incredible chocolate coconut snacks available from the sports centre) did the job though as he produced some scintillating TT in his first singles match to take out Uldis 21-14. Why am I telling you this, I hear you ask (if you've bothered to read this far)? Well, firstly because I'd had a few beers at the last AGM and agreed to be vice chairman of the ERA and so felt obliged to do something and write some content for the newsletter. And secondly because I don't think there's a better example to illustrate that racketlon performances and form can be very variable... so kids, if you have a bad game then stick with it and your form will soon come back!
N.b Jordan is attributing his performance in the doubles to still grieving the loss of Dave Ridout for the County Champs**
Deal or no deal?
You step onto the TT table, and a couple of warm up shots later your opponent offers you a 21-1 victory. What do you do? Well if you're debutant Russell Bates and your opponent is Sam Wilsonthen the answer is you say no and proceed to beat him 21-0! For full predictions on how Russell would do with a frying pan and various other kitchen items against Sam please contact Johnny Bispham. Credit to Sam though as he came back strong to take the match overall!
All in all it was another great tournament for the Brits and now we turn out attentions back to the domestic tour as we head North of Watford to Batley!
* I've completely made that up.
** Also completely made up.