Racketlon History Made in Scotland
History was made last weekend in Monifieth outside Dundee, Scotland, as the first ever Racketlon tournament outside Scandinavia was carried through. The tournament was the brainchild of Scotsman Phil Reid, who, inspired from his experience at Gothenburg Racketlon World Open last year, brought the racketlon concept back home to explore it in a Scottish context.
Several prominent racket players were to be found on the preliminary application lists. And curiosity was running high within the international racketlon community as to whether there would be a Scottish break-in on the racketlon World Top Ten list. That did not happen. The event ended with Swedish victories in both the Mens' (Magnus Eliasson) and Ladies' Elite (Lilian Druve) categories. A disappointment then? The answer is an emphatic NO and here is why:
1) Clearly, there is racketlon potential among the Scots. Gavin Rumgay, for one, managed to preassure Sweden's number 9 Rickard Persson until well into the deciding tennis game. If he combines his successful table tennis career (presently no:2 in Scotland) with a bit of racketlon (including beginner lessons in squash) he might well be one of those who will shape the future of racketlon. He is 17. Another player that might upset the currently established racketlon order is surely Bruce Russel - a former Full Scottish International Squash Player and also a former Scottish U21 Badminton Player. Unfortunately, he broke a finger during his Scottish Open preparations and could therefore not take part. Gothenburg Racketlon World Open is his next chance to find out about the nature of his racketlon future! More names could be mentioned and if the Scots are only given some time to train on their weak sports and adapt to the psychology of the game their potential will turn into real racketlon muscle.
2) Arrangements were impeccable, facilities excellent and reception of the sport among the Scots positive. Given the enthusiasm of the Scottish Mr Racketlon, Phil Reid, the Next Generation Scottish Racketlon Championships seems destined to be an annualy reccuring event. Furthermore, the sport center belongs to a chain of Next Generation Club sport centers in several parts of Scotland and if the word spreads within that organization there is a distinct possiblility that Scotland will turn into another racketlon stronghold. Phil has already put together the first Scottish Racketlon ranking list.
3) Among the participants were Michael Auchterlonie, an English racket enthusiast and former international table tennis player with plans to organize yet another international racketlon event within the next couple of months! This time outside London. Very good news for the game of racketlon. Watch this space for further news on that. Remember that flights to London can be very cheap (£10!!) these days (www.ryanair.com).
Scottish Open was the first tournament to test out a proposed change to the racketlon rules; the "gummiarm tie-break" (see an earlier article). Tests were quite successful in terms of the reception of the new rule; most people seem to agree that it offers a practical and spectacular way to break a tie. The rule was applied twice in Scottish Open and as given by this eye-witness report by Phil Reid from the first occasion (in the Mens' Amateur plate event) there can be no doubt about the spectacularity of the new rule:
"...The other plate semi-final between Duncan Clarke and Andy Hirst was even closer. Following a 21-11 victory by Duncan in the tennis the match was tied at 60 points each and for the first time ever the 'gummiarm rule' came into play. This rule was being tested at this event for the first time and basically means that if the match is tied it is decided by one point of tennis, with the same service rulings being applied as in the main match, but with only one serve allowed ie. no second serve! Exciting indeed, but I don't think that is the word that Duncan used when he realised that he was the one to serve to decide the match. There was tension in the air and drama on the court as Duncan started his service action. To his credit his service did land in the court, but I promise you it was so slow and short that some of the crowd were convinced that they could read 'Penn' on the ball whilst it was crossing the net. In fact, it's lack of pace and depth caught Andy completely by surprise and he struggled to run forward to hit the ball before it's second bounce - he did reach it, but unfortunately for him and to Duncan's relief all Andy could do was hit it tamely into the net - the first ever gummiarm rule victory went to Duncan!!"
For a more complete account of Scottish Open read Phil's report in full. See also the results (excel) (also containing the first Scottish Racketlon ranking).
See also a short article in the Dundee Evening Telegraph (here is a better quality version of the picture therein).