Hooray! The long wait is over, the UK Tour and Racketlon returns this Sunday at Nottingham Trent University for our first visit of the season to Nottingham. All the draws for Sunday’s event can be found online here.
Therefore, it is a great time to look ahead to the season ahead. Racketlon is as the pinnacle of racket sports, always full of surprises, and with that it mind, just what we can expect and what we should look out for in this 2019 season.
He has won everything going in the junior echelons of the game internationally and Leon Griffiths starts the 2019 season as the clear UK Men’s Number 1 and reigning British Champion. Now a University student, Leon may have more opportunities to play on the UK Tour and it will be interesting to see if anyone can come close to him this year. His primary UK Tour goal in 2019 will to become the first man to win a hat-trick of Men’s National titles, Leon having ended the efforts of Duncan Stahl to win a hat-trick back in 2017! Meanwhile, UK Number 3, Dan Busby could be halfway to achieving one aim for this season by the close of play on Sunday. Dan starts the season on 19 UK Racketlon titles, one behind current leader Duncan Stahl. If he is to level things up on Sunday, then he will have overcome some of the other big names on the UK Tour, Luke Barnes, Alex Du Noyer and Alistair Prades.
Another thing to watch out for in the Men’s game in the coming season is just how far the impressive rise of our talented junior cohort will continue to go. Ross Wilson (and our new badminton nets) will arrive in Nottingham with a place in the Men’s A on merit, having risen rapidly up the rankings in 2018. Just below Ross are David Bennett and Will Gregson in the Men’s B on Sunday and all part of the U16s bunch that also includes Will Taylor and Matthew Davidson. All this and we haven’t mentioned our World & European U16s Champion, Luke Griffiths, a youngster who is probably one of the rising stars of the whole sport of Racketlon after his heroics in the Men’s B quarter-finals at last years World Championships. Another name to look out for this season is Ryan Bezer. After competing in a number of junior events against some of the aforementioned junior stars, Ryan moved himself over to the Banded Singles at the back end of the 2018 season. A Men’s D victory at the Hertfordshire Open and a second place at the Richard Lawrence Open, will see Ryan move up to Men’s C on Sunday. A name to watch in the season to come on the UK Tour.
Much like with the Men, the Ladies draws in 2019 have a stand out leader, reigning British Champion, Hannah Boden. Hannah looks for British title number five (in a row) this season, her current streak simply highlighting her dominance. She already leads the standings for Ladies UK Tour titles and it seems almost certain that she will extend that lead whenever she plays on the UK Tour in 2019. Away from Hannah, and there are a number of ladies who are all in the hunt for titles. Matilda Parslow had a sensational 2018 and rose to UK number 2 on the back of great consistency that saw her win the Ladies Super Series. Throughout last season, one regular story was her tussles with Jo Shelley. A well matched pairing, these ladies have engaged in some titanic struggles recently with Matilda rising to the ascendancy as the season progressed. However, World Ladies O50s Champion, Jo, will be buoyed by her exploits in Zurich and it will be interesting to see how their personal battles pan out in 2019.
However, on Sunday in Nottingham, Jo will be hoping to make a final and face another well known face as Lauren Whiteman plays the East Midlands Open. The UK Number 3, Lauren took the Welwyn Garden City Open title in 2018 and will be looking for more silverware on Sunday. Sunday will see 14 ladies across two draws in Nottingham a wonderful start to the season for the ladies events. Other names to keep an eye out for over the season including regular Dianne Baker, Jane Galsworthy, Lindsay Johnson-Farge, Sarah Ball and Joanna Bennett.
Juniors & Vets
Our juniors continue to come into Racketlon and quickly demonstrate their ability. A host of talented 14-16 year olds have already been discussed as their stellar progression from Junior to Banded singles events continues to show their development as players, but they are being replaced by an equally talented bunch of younger players. Three who had sensational 2018's are Angus Howard, James Vincent and Claudia Vincent, as they all came home from Zurich with World Championship medals aplenty. However, they are not alone, Cameron Leighton and Freddie Whitfield are our top seeds in Nottingham on Sunday while Oliver Barton is unseeded, but a defending champion in this event!
As for our Vets, well what can you say about our vets players? Dominant on the World Tour and also highly successful on the UK Tour in the Banded Singles events, beating many of their juniors with skills and athleticism that far belay their apparent age. Hopefully 2019 will see further dominance for players such as Richard Middleton, Bruce Shepherd and radio star/Racketlon machine Alan Cornish and of course their team results when they pull on the GB jersey (albeit with improved singing voices...)
Finally, we couldn’t not mention TeamGB. In November when the World Singles & Teams rolls round in Germany, the UK will never have had so many titles to defend. A week in Zurich in 2018 that lacks the superlatives that can really describe what an event that was for UK Racketlon. It is too far away (11 months) to really consider what we can achieve there later this year, but is this, maybe, finally, the year that a World Elite Team title comes to the UK? There will be stiff competition, but with fitness, form and a fair wind, it is something we can certainly dream about in the months ahead!
A new season awaits, and there is plenty on offer. The UK Tour page outlines our upcoming events and we will have news on the British Championships early next week! Until then, good luck to everyone playing on Sunday and from everyone at UK Racketlon, we hope you have a brilliant, injury free, highly enjoyable 2019 Racketlon season!