Much like tennis, the Racketlon season is transition from an early summer clay court phase (such as the recent German Open) to its standard hard court phase (from Vienna onwards) via a sadly, all too brief grass court season at the 2019 CHA London Open. In fact, for the first time since August 2013, the Racketlon World Tour will grace the grass, and for the first time at the prestigious Roehampton Club. Two months ago, Coco Gauff was emerging into the public consciousness at this very venue, but looking ahead to the London Open, you can’t help but feel the Racketlon community will be very much aware of who our winners are likely to be. All draws and schedule will appear here on Monday.
Men’s A – Jaksland the Man To Beat, Can Briton Leon Do It?
Five titles in 2019, including last weekends German Open, recently anointed World Number 1 and a Men’s Doubles World Champion, it is hard to find fault in the recent form of Morten Jaksland. He has walked onto the singles court 21 times in 2019 and won 21 times. He is joined in the seedings for this 12 man draw by Dan Busby, Duncan Stahl and Benjamin Graenicher. Away from the seeded opposition there is the immensely talented duo of the Griffiths brothers, Leon and Luke; Leon especially having pushed Morten all the way, only a solitary point separated them earlier this year at the Latvian Open. However, Morten does not have to worry about the threat of Leon until the final. Instead, it is third seed Benny Graenicher, returning from injury, who has to worry about Leon, should the young Brit comes past Switzerland’s Christian Schaefer. Completing the bottom half of the draw is Jack Bishop vs Dutch wildcard Koen Hageraats, who is in only his second Elite draw. Whoever wins between Jack and Koen will face second seed Dan Busby. For Dan, this marks a return to London, where 4 months earlier he won his maiden British National Title. That day, Dan had to come past Leon in the semi-finals, he could face that same challenge at the London Open. Can he do it again and then make it a maiden London Open title as well?
Returning to the top half of the draw and there is a guaranteed Brit in the semi-finals, as fourth seed Duncan Stahl awaits the winner of the all British first round tie between Alistair Prades and Luke Griffiths. Luke has been bubbling away under the surface as the Racketlon community looked at older brother Leon, but a stunning run to the semi-finals of the Mixed A Doubles at the World Championships in Belgium last May with Amke Fischer, and then an excellent sixth place finish in the Men’s A at the Latvian Open have awakened everyone to his potential. For wildcard Alistair, this offers an opportunity for some revenge, he was heavily beaten by Luke at King of Rackets, and will be keen to not let the youngster have it all his own way in London. We reach the top of the draw, and top seed Morten will be waiting for the winner of Ray Jordan and Oliver Buhler. Ray was once again first out in the live draw, but this time, it was less of a shock to the co-host Jack Bishop. Ray arrives in London having won his home tournament on the UK Tour last weekend, the Kent Open, but he faces a stiff opener in Swiss Buhler, who is growing into the Men’s A draws, with a run to the quarter-finals in Germany last weekend.
Women’s A – Fischer is Back on Top, while British Squash Will Be On Display
Also winning in Germany, was Amke Fischer, who claimed her first World Tour title since becoming a mother, and overcame current World Number 2 and top seed Zuzana Severinova in the process. Zuzana is top seed once again in London and will be herself hoping for a better outing than in Germany last weekend. But on show in London is, to be frank, British squash. Within the Racketlon community, there are few finer female squash players than the likes of Brits Kim Hay and Matilda Parslow, but at the London Open, even their impressive skills will be put in the shade. Four times a British National Squash champion, a double Commonwealth Games medallist and former World Number 3, Alison Waters will likely be unstoppable on a squash court, but how will she fare in the other three disciplines? Waiting to find out is top seed Zuzana, as Alison receives a baptism of fire in Racketlon facing the top seed. The winner of their tie, will face a Brit in the semi-finals, with Kim Hay and Jo Shelley meeting in the first round. Jo knows the damage Kim will do to her on the squash court, and will be hoping she can do damage of her own across the other three disciplines.
In the bottom half of the draw, second seed Kirsten Kaptein will open up against Briton Hannah Boden, brilliant on the Badminton court, the Yorkshire youngster made her Racketlon debut in Manchester the last time the World Tour graced the grass, coming second in the U13s event! The winner of their tie, will face a newly crowned German Open champion in the semi-finals. Amke Fischer may have won her first Women’s A title since becoming a mother, but Matilda Parslow made it two consecutive Women’s B titles in 2019 with victory in Germany, adding to her Czech Open title she won back in April. Amke represents a big step up for Matilda, but an excellent opportunity to find out where she is on her Women’s A debut.
A scene we would all like to see!
It is a national obsession in Britain, and for all the players heading to London next weekend, it is their obsession wherever they are coming from. The allure of the grass is strong, this event filled in 4 hours and had a waiting list that peaked at 50 players, on top of the 101 players already entered. As this article has been written, an unusually strong summertime storm has barrelled through the UK, but thankfully, this bout of poor weather has passed. However, it is the UK, in “summer”, so there are never any guarantees, but I* remain cautious optimistic that the 101 players in London will experience a very rare Racketlon experience next weekend.
For those not able to be at the London Open there will be coverage on the FIR Facebook and Instagram pages, plus updates across the UK Racketlon social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and reports here on racketlon.co.uk of all the key action at the London Open.
*A climate scientist, with no meteorological training or mystical weather control powers