In less than 24 hours time the 2019 FIR World Doubles Championships begin in Oudenaarde in Belgium, before feeding into the infamous and brilliant King of Rackets tournament over the weekend. The FIR have been have been previewing the event in different classes and their pieces on the Men’s A, Women’s A and Mixed A can be found at these links. Of the 188 players taking part, 33 are Brits (more than 1 in 6 of all competitors!), so let us take a look ahead at who is playing with who, in which event and what their chances might be! Keep an eye on the UK Racketlon Facebook page and Twitter Feed so you can #backtheBrits while the FIR Facebook & Instagram channels will have all you need to follow the action when it starts on Thursday! All the draws can be found here.
There are six Brits fighting it out in this event, with all British pairings Luke Barnes & Jack Bishop and Ray Jordan & Duncan Stahl seeded second and fourth respectively. With 12 pairings in the event, both pairs have a first round bye and await to see who they will play in the quarter-finals. For Luke & Jack that could be another of the Brits, as Calum Reid with German partner Cornelius Radermacher join forces and have been drawn potentially as their quarter-final opposition. For Calum, this is a campaign for a maiden Men’s A doubles world title, to complete his set and add to his singles world title (2011) and Mixed A doubles title (2006, with Katy Buchanan). Our final Brit, is National Champion, Dan Busby. Dan lost regular partner Benjamin Graenicher to injury, but has managed to coerce another previous partner, Belgium’s Peter Duyck out of retirement to reform a pairing that won the title at the 2017 Antwerp Open. However, should Dan & Peter get past the first round challenge of Steffan Neumann (Ger) & Gus Van De Burgt (Ned), they face top seeds and firm favourites, the Danish pairing of Morten Jaksland & Kresten Hougaard.
Top seeds Kresten (l) and Morten (r) will be hoping for better communciation on court than in Malta 2016!
Three Brits in this event, once again a 12 draw event. Top seeds are Austria’s Christine Seehofer & her partner Dan Busby. Having warmed up together in Prague, they are now here to win it as Dan revealed in his interview on Racketlon.net this week. They will face stiff competition in this event, not least from second seeds Zuzana Severinova (Cze) & Morten Jaksland (Den), who defeated Christine & Dan in the final in Prague. The remaining Brits also have international partners, firstly Luke Barnes partners Austria’s Bettina Bugl. They have a brutal looking opening match against Belgian pairing Lieselot de Bleeckere & Peter Duyck, a match that will certainly be one to watch on Day 1! The final Brit in action is Luke Griffiths, fresh from stunning Dan Busby on his way to the Cotswolds Open title earlier this month, Luke is hooking up with Germany’s Amke Fischer. They open up against Julia Knake (Ger) & Alwin Grist (Ned), and there will be many an interested eye from around Europe keeping an eye on Luke’s continuing development.
Busby & Seehofer in Mixed Doubles action (Image from racketlon.net)
Acting their Age – Junior Events
We are now so used to seeing British juniors on the World and UK Tours, that sometimes we forget that they are still very much juniors. Once again, there is great British representation through these classes, starting with the U16s Boys. Top seeds are David Ersil (Cze) & Cornelius Reid (Ger), but our favourites are Luke Griffiths & Angus Howard. They are joined in this event by James Vincent, who is partnering Aris Solomon (Gre). The Mixed U21s will see the first in a trilogy of Vincent family affairs, as sibling rivalry is put aside as Claudia & James Vincent join forces for this event. This will be quite a learning experience for the pair, the youngest in an event headed by experienced elite Racketlon players Luka Penttinen (Fin) and Zuzana Severinova (Cze). However, after forming happy memories in the Singles & Teams World Championships in Zurich last year, the Vincent family are back once again in force, this time for Doubles.
Feeling their Age (well by the weekend for sure) – Senior Events
Brits will be representing in all the senior draws at this FIR World Doubles Championships from O40s to O60s. Firstly, Duncan Stahl will begin in Group 2 of the Men’s O40s with Dutch partner Paul Twisterling, to have a shot of gold they will need to come out of their group of three featuring second seeds Radu Ionescu (Rom) & Ersoy Korer (Tur). It is an exhausting 5 pairs round robin for the Women’s O40s, with British pairing Dianne Baker & Jo Shelley the top seeds. They will face stiff competition for a medal from dominant O40s woman Esther Dubendorfer (Swi) and her partner Stine Jacobson (Den) not to mention the legendary Druve sisters from Sweden, Anneli & Lillian. This event will be tough for all competitors, expect the medals to be decided by only a few points! Phil Todd with partner Ulrich Schlepphorst (Ger) are seeded second and head Group 2 in the Men’s O45s, where they will face stiff competition from Racketlon regulars Erik Roelofsen (Ned) & Hans Van Daele (Bel) and strong Hungarian pairing Levente Nandori & Zoltan Czingraber. In the Men’s O50s, we see the reformation of the “GrifIron” doubles, as firm friends and one time England teammates Simon Iron & Andy Griffiths reform their partnership. They are joined in the four pair box league by Michael Appleton & Christian Borner (Ger), while top seeded German pairing Michael Holzinger & Thomas Knaack look the team to beat. Nigel D’Arcy & Alan Plater are our sole representatives in the Men’s O55s, as they take a place in Group 2 headed by German Racketlon legends and second seeds Frank Kleiber & Volker Sach. Dianne Baker is also top seed in another five pairing box league, this time in the Mixed O55s with partner Graham King (Swi) (with two box leagues it will be less “Oh Dianne”, more “Poor Dianne”!) . They will be joined by fellow Brits Maureen Thompson & Neil Rayner and Alan Plater who will be partnered by Katrin Maldre (USA). Finally, it is a four pair round robin in the Men’s O60s with regular pairing Neil Rayner & Bruce Shepherd looking to upset top seeds Ari Kujala & Pekka Tennila (Fin).
Hopefully, we will be posting plenty of these on Facebook through Thursday and Friday!
Open Classes Round Up
As you would expect, there are plenty of UK Tour regulars throughout the Men’s B, Women’s B, Mixed B and Men’s D doubles! In the Women’s B, nine pairs will begin the campaign, divided into three groups of three. Group 1 features Maureen Thompson and her partner from Hong Kong Ho Ching Chan. Drawn with top seeds Anita Voekel (Ger) & Esther Dubendorfer (Swi) in this group, this will be a battle for Maureen & Ho. Group 2 will feature firm friends Lindsay Johnson-Farge & Sarah Ball, once again in action together. They are drawn with German second seeds Beatrice Dommasch & Maxi Karg, so will also be forced to work hard in search of glory! There is huge representation in the Men’s B with five all British pairings and two Brits with international partners in action. This includes our brace of O50s representatives, Simon Iron & Andy Griffiths, and Michael Appleton & Christian Borner (Ger), and our O55s representatives Nigel D’Arcy & Alan Plater who are joined in the top half of this 32 draw event by Peter Browning & Alex McMillan. All four pairs facing tough looking openings, in particular Michael & Christian who start against Germain pairing Thomas Knaack & Frank Kleiber. In the bottom half of the draw are fourth seeds Jon Spinks & Alistair Prades, Phil Todd & Jorgen Strom (Swe) and perhaps the British pairing of most interest, young guns Ross Wilson & Luke Griffiths. Unseeded and young, they may not catch everyone’s attention during the build up, but that may well have changed by Thursday dinnertime…
The Mixed B features four further all British pairings and 1 additional Brit in another 32 draw event. Karen King & Jon Foulds reunite once again, and will again be a pairing who people will not want to play too much tennis against. They open up against fellow Brit Sarah Ball and her partner Patrick Moran (USA). Finally, they are joined in the top half of the draw by the second instalment of our Vincent family affair, Claudia & Stuart Vincent. In the bottom half of the draw, Lindsay Johnson-Farge & Kieran Shelley face strong home opposition in round 1 in the shape of seventh seeds Jolien Naessens & Pieter de Bleeckere. Finally, Susie Dilloway & Jon Spinks round out British interest in this draw, a first round victory would put them on a collision course with the very strong looking German pairing of Beatrice Dommasch & Steffan Neumann. In the Men’s D, it is the completion of the Vincent family affair trilogy, James & Stuart Vincent looking to emulate or exceed the performance of Ray and Daniel Ryan in Vienna in 2017.
That completes are look ahead to the 2019 FIR World Doubles Championships, good luck to all our British competitors!