UK Racketlon

Written by James Pope

The 2018 World Championships are just a five days away and Great Britain will be represented by 54 players in 20 of the 27 events from the Elite categories to Ladies C, U13s to O70s, a wonderful reflection on the strength and depth of the sport here in the UK!  All the draws can be viewed here.  The Open events will begin on Friday 24th August while the Vets and Junior events will begin on Wednesday 22nd August.  For details on how they are all going, follow our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages while the Website will cover a full round up after the events have finished.  

We are hoping for plenty of these symbols of success in the next week!

Seeded Brits the Norm in Open Draws will have a preview of the Elite draws, so they won’t be covered here, but needless to say, we wish Dan Busby, Duncan Stahl, Leon Griffiths, Luke Barnes, Alex Du Noyer, Jack Bishop, Ray Jordan, Alistair Prades and Hannah Boden all the best for their campaigns in the Men’s and Ladies A competitions.  Into the Men’s B and the machine, Richard Middleton, is top seed in the Men’s B, and after a first round bye, he could face a fellow Brit, Jordan Dainty in the second round of this 48 player event.  Richard is joined in the seedings by Ed Harvey (15), and Ed is likely to face a tough opener after his bye, in the shape of talented Frenchman, Mandrin Mouchet in the second round.  Also featuring the Men’s B are James Langworthy, Jon Spinks, and Luke Griffiths.  Luke finished third in the Men’s C in the 2017 European Championships, and the smiling assassin will be keen to score some fresh kills in the Men’s B at the World Championships.  The Ladies B also features a British top seed, as Jo Shelley leads the line in this draw, and will be joined by fellow Brits, Matilda Parslow and Lindsay Johnson-Farge, both of whom have received tough draws for their opening matches. 

Jo Shelley is Top Seed in the Ladies B!

After suffering a thumb injury at the Barnes Wedding a few weeks ago (rumours abound he was just very keen to catch the bouquet), Johnny Bispham drops into the Men’s C and is the top seed in this event, a 64 draw with no byes!  Joining Johnny in this draw are Patrick Middleton, Peter Browning, Peter Frobisher and relative newcomer to Racketlon, Alex McMillan.  A truly international Ladies C, which includes Russian, Ukrainian, Greek, Swiss, Danish, and German competitors in addition to our two Brits making this will be one heck of an international tournament debut for Claudia Vincent and second international tournament for Sally Walker.  Finally, in the Open Draws we come to the Men’s D, which features 8 Brits including some stalwarts of the UK Tour.  Five of the Brits are seeded with Ray Ryan (7), Daniel Ryan (11), Sam Barker (12), Lee Gregson (13), and Will Gregson (14), who will be joined by Steve Allen, Alan Plater and Kieran Shelley.  Such is the growing popularity of Racketlon, the Men’s D also features a staggering 19 nationalities from Italy to India, America to Hong Kong and many more.  

A selection of our Men's A hopefuls: Leon Griffiths (large image), Luke Barnes & Alex Du Noyer (L-R, top), Jack Bishop (middle), Ray Jordan (bottom)

Juniors Are Our Future…
The junior events will feature U13s, U16s and U21 draws for both boys and girls in Zurich with a total of 71 entrants, of which 10 are British, from British Champions Hannah Boden and Leon Griffiths to debutants on the world tour such as Claudia Vincent.  Working chronologically, we will start with the Boy’s U13s, were our hopes lie with Angus Howard and James Vincent.  24 hours after their singles they will join forces to be our first ever U13s GB team, but first things first it is each boy for himself.  Angus is third seed in this event, which sees the 10 boys split into three initial box leagues before a final set of three box leagues will determine the final placings, and will start in Group C.  For James, who is unseeded, he begins in Group B and will face the challenge of number 2 seed Tom Sach, a young member of a family with quite the Racketlon pedigree and history!  Our next British presence is in the Boys U16s, with our four U16s team boys (split over two teams) all present in this 24 player draw.  Three of our Brits, Luke Griffiths (3), Will Gregson (4) and Ross Wilson (7) are seeded and will receive first round byes, Matthew Davidson the fourth Brit who will have to fight that bit harder if he wishes to claim the title.  The draw has been kind to our compatriots who can not meet each other until a semi-final stage at the very earliest, however for Ross Wilson, that could be a semi-final against Luke Griffiths!  The Girls U16s is a five girl box league, with Claudia Vincent flying the GB flag alone in this event with Swiss, French and Austrian opponents with all 5 girls making their international Racketlon debuts in this event!

To the neutral fan, the Boys U21 is probably one of the standout events, featuring three players who are in the Men’s A, third seed Luka Penttinen, first seed Emanuel Schopf and second seed, GB’s Leon Griffiths.  Should it go to form and the draw, Leon will need to repeat his performance from Vienna, when he defeated Luka in the semi-finals and then Emanuel in the final if he wishes to add the World U21’s title to his European U21’s title. Also in the U21s draw is Patrick Middleton, and he will need to stop Emanuel if he were to progress to the business end of the event! Similar to Leon, Hannah Boden will be hoping to add the Girls U21’s World Title to her European U21’s title she won last year in Vienna.  To do so, she faces competition from fellow Elite player, top seed Zuzana Severinova but first she must come past a Greek national in a first for Hannah in Racketlon!

…While Based on the Past, Vets Are our Goldmine
We may not have produced an Elite World Singles Champion since 2011 in the Men’s (Calum Reid) and 2004 in the Ladies (Sarah McFayden), but our pedigree in the Vets classes is exceptional, with World Champions in 2006 (Ken Bound, O55s), 2009 (Richard Whitehouse, O55s), 2011 (David Lazarus, O45s), 2012 (Richard Whitehouse, O55s), 2013 (Barbara Capper, O45s), 2014 (Barbara Capper, O45s; David Lazarus, O50s; Lorna See, O55s), and 2016 (Barbara Capper, O45s; Richard Middleton, O50s) - (see our Roll of Honour).  As such, the field will be wary and in some cases, fear, the 22 British entrants across 7 of the 11 events.  


Jermaine (left) won in Manchester, can he repeat in Zurich?

Britain’s Duncan Stahl begins as the top seed in the O40s although he faces some stiff competition in this event, not least from compatriot Jermaine Manners.  Despite being one of the regular top men in the late 2000s, Jermaine has never claimed a Racketlon World Title before and will be gunning for it here in Zurich.  Alex McMillan joins Duncan and Jermaine in the O40s draw, where he could as a newcomer to the sport, face former FIR president Marcel Wiegl in the second round.  Into the O45s and we see more familiar UK Tour names with three of the four seeded, Ed Harvey (4), Mark Steeden (5) and Jo Foulds (7) while Paul Doney also features in this draw.  It could be a tasty second match for Ed and Mark as they are both a win away from an enticing semi-final between the pair!  

Dianne Baker (right) will be hoping for another podium spot!

There is at least 1 guaranteed British medal in Ladies O50s with Jo Shelley as top seed joined by Sarah Ball in this four lady box league, however neither lady will be willing to just settle for bronze in their pursuit of a World title.  In the Men’s O50’s, reigning European and defending World Champion Richard Middleton starts as top seed and sole Brit in this 22 man event.  His recent sparring partner Thomas Knaack, will not be in the draw, however Richard will face stiff competition from a number of familiar rivals.  24 men make up the Men’s O55s with Rakesh Gupta, eighth seed, joined by fellow Brits Duncan Marlow, Alan Plater and of main concern, Martyn Langston, who could be Rakesh’s first opponent should Martyn come past Finland’s Pertti Putila.  Of all the Vet’s draw, this Men’s O55s looks truly stacked, with the big names all in attendance including Volker Sach, Peter Sakovics, Richard Hobzik, Avi Shremi and Joachim Gersdorf in what is sure to be an action packed event!  The Ladies O55’s is a second guaranteed British medal with Dianne Baker and Sally Walker contesting this four player box league.  Dianne Baker is the top seed, but you have to feel that the USA’s Katrin Maldre is the favourite for this title, Zuzana Vancurikova rounds out this draw.  Our final three draws are the Men’s O60’s, O65s and O70s which all feature British representation.  In the O60s the draw features Bruce Shepherd as second seed and he is joined in this 12 man event by Kevin Neville.  There are four Brits in the Men’s O65s, John Dewar, Peter Arbuthnot, Leonard Van Geest and Geoff Jordan in what is phenomenally, a 16 man monrad draw!  Finally Alan Cornish lines up in Group B of the O70s, which will feature two 3 player boxes before players play off for the final placings.  

And that is that.  The very best of luck to all the British players in the World Championships draws, we hope you are all able to enjoy yourselves and bring home some medals for GB!