Morgan and James Win in London

Keith Lesser, in the lead of an English Racketlon take-off fueled by the British Tour he started at the beginning of last year, reports below from the London Open held in Wimbledon over the weekend. The event attracted an impressive 62 entries (see Engine) turning it into a good warm-up for the English Open coming up in just three weeks time.

It was perhaps of little surprise that the pre-tournament favourites, Steffan Morgan and Alanna James added to their previous racketlon victories. Alanna won the English Open Ladies B event in 2006 and Steffan has previously won the 2006 Hampshire Open and has a silver medal from The South of England Open. Impressively, this in most Racketlon fans minds, cements Steffan as the third best player in England, behind John O’Donnell and Doug Struthers. Steffan having never lost to another English player….by golly he was close though. Graham Norton, Simon Lucas, Neil Rossin and, in the final surprise package, Richard Macbride all gave Steffan a run for his money. However, the squash man really had to count on his other sports and not just squash to secure victory. Alanna’s journey was more straight forward and it would be interesting to see her face some good international players in 3 weeks time! Fiona Sime in 2nd and Sharon South (Dan Gillett’s older sister) in 3rd also impressed!

Macbride probably had an even bigger roller coaster to the final than Steffan. Stuart Hobden announced “well you would have got long odds on the number one and two seeds being dumped out in round one”. That’s exactly what happened, with Macbride knocking out Lesser and newcomer Alex Hartley defeating an off colour Ray Jordan. Richard then proceeded to knock out the ever impressive Rhodri Oliver (more on him later) and then, surprisingly, one of the favourites; Hobden himself. Hobden, perhaps the player in the draw with the strongest chance of beating Morgan. Profile-wise it would be close; Hobden would win table tennis and tennis and Steffan squash and badminton (but by how much?). Incidentally, it became irrelevant at 8-4 up in tennis (games were to 11 in the rounds before the final) Hobden crashed a volley wide and Macbride was through. The squash in the final – 15-6 to Steffan shows very well how the profile game works. If you lose your best sport 15-6 you are stuffed, well, not always………

Class A generally very strong!

The top half certainly seemed stronger than the bottom half. With the exception of Morgan all top half players won the play offs for 3rd v 4th, 5th v 6th and 7th v 8th. Hobden, Rossin, Oliver, Hartley, Stockdale (welcome back) and Lucas all good players. Then you get to 9th Hamza, 10th Lesser, 11th Norton and 12th Shaw. 13th Jordan! 14th & 15th were both occupied by badminton players; Ventham and Ashton are ranked in the top 20 in England at their favoured sport. Certainly, this was the tournament of the British Tour so far! How nice of Jordan to give Ventham his first taste of Gummiarm action. Jordan winning again, will he now go on to set a record for consecutive Gummiarm victories?

Rhodri Oliver, at 17, reminds us all of a young Calum Reid, if not a bit calmer on court. Rhodri possesses clinical tennis and excellent table tennis, comfortable in badminton, but poorer at squash. In 5 years time, who knows, Rhodri may well be competing with the best in the world. Certainly, he has surprised us all with some outstanding results, winning Class C at The British Champs, Class B in Hampshire and now 5th in Class A in the London Open and he had a very good chance to reach the final. In the quarters against Scottish powerhouse Macbride, Oliver needed to win by 11-7 or less. What should have been a formality did not quite come off. However, the future bodes well for Rhodri, not to mention his younger brother Alexander (19th in Class B!).

No Joy for Table Tennis King!

Eli Baraty (an ex-England international) tried his luck in the Class B event and had some very close matches, winning all of his table tennis and tennis matches. However, with little badminton and squash experience, Eli struggled in these sports. But the left handed ping pong player has expressed an interest at winning the 2008 World Championships to be held, potentially, in London, well haven’t we all…………….;-)

Best of the Rest – Mackney finally fulfils his potential!

The Class C event was won by established Racketlon player Ian Mackney, beating table tennis specialist Ken Connor in the final. Mackney will now look to step up to Class B, where Daniel Gillett has issued a special challenge; “Come and get me!”

There are certain things that just seem to go well together in life. Smoked salmon and cream cheese for example, another example is Thame and Racketlon. Mark Scott won the Class B event and has shown huge improvements from his previous performances. Hardly surprising. He practices with Doug Struthers and Alan Cornish. That must be the best practice combination in the world, quality and enthusiasm must work a treat! Rod Robinson & Co put up a fight, but really they didn’t have a chance against the Thame Centre of Excellence. Oxfordshire should be proud! Nice to see Kevin Neville back and playing well, 4th place in B. He endured a horrendous injury at the 2006 British Champs, so lovely to have him back.

Nothing left to see, except what a wonderful event! See you in 3 weeks………

Results, London Open

1st Steffan Morgan
2nd Richard Macbride
3rd Stuart Hobden
4th Neil Rossin
5th Rhodri Oliver
6th Alex Hartley
7th Tor Stockdale
8th Simon Lucas
9th Keenan Hamza
10th Keith Lesser
11th Graham Norton
12th Gareth Shaw
13th Ray Jordan
14th Martin Ventham
15th Mark Ashton
16th Rob Greyling

1st Mark Scott
2nd Rod Robinson
3rd Gary Jackson
4th Kevin Neville
5th Samuel Scharf
6th Nick Webb
7th Julian Walton
8th Paul Mantovani
9th Duncan Marlow
10th Nick Pearce
11th Robbie Wong
12th Stephen Perkins
13th Alan Cornish
14th Stephen Blacksell
15th Hiantee Pang
16th Daniel Gillett
17th Guy Grayson
18th Mark Lewis
19th Alexander Oliver
20th Mark Ritson
21st Bob Grayson
22nd Jonathan Healey
23rd Ed Qualtrough
24th Eli Baraty

1st Ian Mackney
2nd Ken Connor
3rd Tony Wright
4th Brendan Carroll
5th Geoff Jordan
6th Perry Fung
7th Andrew Yates
8th Charles Eaton
9th Gavin West
10th Rory Scott
11th Robin Woodhatch
12th Euan Robinson
13th Anthony Yau
14th Chirag Patel
15th Alex Hoad
16th Andrew Brunton

1st Alanna James
2nd Fiona Sime
3rd Sharon South
4th Rosie Smith
5th Susie George
6th Kira Petersen (cousin of Andy?)