UK Racketlon

Written by James Pope

Jon “Spinker” Spinks defeated Adit “accidental entry” Patel in a pulsating Men’s B final to claim his first Racketlon title.  Elsewhere, Dan Busby won the Men’s A “Hunger Games” whilst there were also victories for Hannah Boden (Ladies A), Michele Hall (Ladies B), Ali Cliffe (Men’s C), Ben Cook (Men’s D), Jason Morris (O45s), Paul Thompson (O55s), Cherisse Lau (U13s) and Kieran Shelley (U16s).  All results can be found here.

We start with the Men’s B, a 16 draw event so four rounds faced our competitors, which for Jon Spinks, gave him 4 chances to improve on his recent form.  Jon has come last in his last 2 Men’s B events and had one victory in his last 15 matches.  He had not won multiple matches in a UK event since the Kent Open last August.  It was crushing him and heading into the event, he was thinking of dropping down to the C event.  In essence, he felt he was to Racketlon what pundits said the Scotland Team were to the 6 Nations, in need of a lower grouping.  But after an interesting experience at the Swedish Open and a new range in gallows humour and presidential shoes, Jon appeared in Batley with at least hope of improved performances.  The semi-finalists reached this stage with ease, top seed Adit polished off James Pope in the first round, before dispatching Jon “Mr” Ben in the quarters.  James Youle overcame Harry Gibbons before knocking out 3rd seed Daniel “The First” Adams, 4th seed Jon managed to lose his specialist sport TT but still win before tennis against Richard Moss before a more regulation victory over Ian Sadler and 2nd seed Kev Lewis.

In the semi-finals, Adit crushed James managing to take 15 off the badminton specialist to aid his overall victory, whilst Jon entered dream land with a third straight win (never before achieved) in a tight match with Kev Lewis, again losing his specialist sport of TT to set up the final with Adit.  As Kev claimed third defeating James, Jon and Adit faced off.  Jon pinching himself after his recent form, Adit facing his 7th match of Racketlon, having never tasted defeat.  After their respective specialist sports, they were all square, Jon winning the TT to 12 and Adit returning the compliment winning the badminton to 12.  Jon edged a tense, scrappy, feisty, vague interpretation of squash 21-19 and set up a classic Racketlon tennis.  Adit with consistency, Jon with the greater range of shots for winners/errors, who would prevail? A see-saw contest prevailed, Jon interspersing moments of brilliance with woeful unforced errors, Adit chipping away, but neither player able to break the shackles or their opponent.  Eventually, we reached the inevitable Jon Spinks ‘chucks tennis racket at the wall moment’, but for the first time in his Racketlon career it was for victory, 21-19.  Adit may have tasted defeat for the first time, but has confirmed what was shown in Wales, he is a player of excellent potential.

In the Men’s A, Dan Busby enjoyed his Katniss Everdeen moment, as he managed to emerge from the Hunger Game’s victorious.  In a 5 player box league, each player was required to play 4 matches to completion and boy did it tell on their bodies.  Chris Batey fell early, leaving Alex “ever present” Du Noyer, Will “Aramis” Coley and Luke Barnes to fight for freedom and their district, err personal glory.  Coley defeated the “Ever Present” with the combination of thrusting sword blows (on the squash court), razor sharp facial hair and his “flowing” locks.  Busby however ensured that “Aramis” Coley the Musketeer was not to be victorious, crushing him in every way possible (sports wise).  Barnes defeated the “Ever Present”, the squash being the crucial difference between the players, but their exertions were beginning to tell.  Luke lost a brutal encounter to Busby, running out of steam on the tennis court and it was now that Batey fell on his sword against “Aramis” Coley.  In the final round of matches, Luke secured second place by defeating “Aramis” before the “Ever Present” ensured the preview prediction that they would all beat each other came true, with a final victory over a physically exhausted Busby.  These results combined to produce a final order, with victory for Dan Busby, second Luke Barnes, third Will Coley, fourth Alex Du Noyer and Chris Batey fifth.

The Ladies A also featuring a box league set up for a dramatic finish and one of the more unusual Racketlon score lines.  Hannah Boden and Nicky Horn both defeated Jess Fernandes and Jo Shelley, setting up a deciding, winner takes all tie between the pair.  Hannah dominated the opening, winning the TT to 4 and the Badminton to 4, putting the tie surely beyond doubt? Nicky undid some of the damage with a 21-4 victory in the Squash, but still leaving Hannah requiring just 5 points for the win on the tennis court.  At 5-3 to Nicky, the tie looked dead and gone, however Nicky strung together the points and piled on the pressure racing out to 19-3, leaving both players 2 points from victory.  Hannah grabbed a point to secure at worst a gumi-arm, but Nicky made it 20-4, the match on a knife edge.  Hannah however squeaked home making it 20-5 and earning herself a 1 point victory over Nicky 21-4, 21-4, 4-21, 5-21.  A score line that highlights how diverse the concept of a tight Racketlon match can be, it all comes down to individual profiles.  Jess Fernandes saw off Jo Shelley to take third place.

Newcomers Luke Shannon and Ali Cliffe defeated the experienced players Jake Tetley and Lee Gregson in the Men’s C semi-finals to set up a final on debut.  With a classic Racketlon profile of two, different stronger sports a close final ensued.  Ali took the TT 21-7, before Luke dominated the badminton, 21-13.  Ali matched that score on the squash, to leave him requiring 8 points on the tennis.  It was a close run thing, but despite Luke’s best efforts, Ali prevailed, reaching his target of 8 with Luke stranded on 18.  In the Men’s D, Ben Cook defeated Daniel “The Second” Adams dominating the Tennis to bring home the victory after the players had exchanged defeats in the Badminton and Squash (21-4 in both).  Adam Dean claimed third place.

Top seed Jason Morris saw off Simon Lau in the final of Men’s O45s with both players having emerged victorious from their box leagues.  Simon won the first 2 sports, 21-17 and 21-9, however Jason held his nerve and trusted his skills in the later sports to recover in the final two, 21-8 and 21-7 to take the title.  Jon Schofield took third place.  In the Men’s O55s, the top 2 seeds progressed to the final, with Paul Thompson taking out Wilf Jessop and Istvan “The Doctor” Soos defeating Bill Masters.  Paul the defeated Istvan, dominating the final 3 sports to take home the title.  Wilf claimed third with victory over Bill.  Cherisse Lau won the U13s title with a nerveless display throughout the 4 player box league, in particular during her 2 point victory over second place Thomas Naylor, Tom having already shown excellent composure on the tennis court to win 21-2 over third place Oliver Hall for a 3 point victory.  Kieran Shelley claimed the U16s title with victory in their 4 player box league, thanks to his dominance of the squash court.  A 21-1 victory over second placed Will Gregson set up a 10 point victory and secured Kieran the title.  Oscar Jessop claiming third place.  As ever the skills of these youngsters are promising for the development of UK Racketlon and simultaneously a great fear to those of us playing open bandings!

Once again the Boden’s led by Malcolm and Lynn put on a fantastic event that continue to be hugely popular both with established players and attracting newcomers to Racketlon.  With significant improvements to the Batley squash courts and the full availability of tennis courts throughout the day, this event was without fault on the facilities side, even if I am sure the Men’s A never want to play a box league again!  Thank you to Hale Kavangh Insurance (Leeds) for sponsoring the event and of coure a big thank you to Malcolm and Lynn.  Rumours abound Malcolm is targeting the Yorkshire Open 2018 for his personal Racketlon debut, so who knows what the future holds……