This weekend Hannah Boden will aim to deliver a fourth consecutive Ladies Singles British National title, and in the process achieving a feat never seen before in UK Racketlon history. Second seed Jo Shelley will be Hannah’s main competition; however Jo will be first keen to ensure she makes the final, with stiff competition from Shirley Barre, and third seed Matilda Parslow. More history will be made in the top half of the Ladies event as Fallon Reid becomes the youngest player to ever compete for a British National title*, when she starts her campaign against Anna Waring. The winners of their tie face a quarter-final with fourth seed Dianne Baker, the winners of that seeded to meet Hannah in the semi-finals. Whether Hannah can be stopped is another question, she may be becoming renowned for her expertise on the social side, but she is also rapidly improving as a player and it is hard to see anyone stopping her.
It is another of our junior sensations that leads the line in the Men’s A, defending champion Leon Griffiths, in what will be a keenly contested 16 draw. While you would expect Leon to breeze past fellow junior, David Bennett in his opening match, there are a battery of great first round ties. Second seed Dan Busby starts against (Leon’s younger brother), Luke Griffiths and Dan is Leon’s main competitor on paper, however the British Championships has rarely been kind to Dan, a narrow defeat to Duncan Stahlin the final in 2016 (slipping 7-1 down in the tennis) his best result (and we won’t mention that 21-0 TT defeat to Leon a few years ago…). Third seed Duncan Stahl has dedicated his winter to a warm weather training camp in Malta, and he will be thinking about the possible semi-final against Leon. First up Duncan needs to get past a not so (Jordan) Dainty test, and then facing the winner of Alex Du Noyer and Ray Jordan. Alex and Ray will be engaged in a Racketlon tussle once again, and this match has the potential of being the most brutal of the first round ties (at least in the self-depreciating put downs that come from Alex). However, the tie of the round features fourth seed Luke Barnes taking on Jermaine Manners. Jermaine was one of the main names in UK Racketlon in the late noughties claiming 9 UK Tour titles, but never a National title. He dipped his toe back into the Racketlon water in 2017, winning the O40s at the English Open and you’d expect the winner of this match to wind up with a semi-final appearance against Dan. However, for the title itself, it is impossible to look beyond Leon. Much like Hannah in the Ladies, he looks a cut above the rest of the draw and it will take something special from his fellow competitors to topple the youngster.
Elsewhere around the rest of the draws, there looks to be some brutal competition in the Men’s O55s, three times champion Duncan Marlow is seeded second, but defending champion Martyn Langston has to start as favourite. However with experienced campaigners Rakesh Gupta, Graham Norton, Bruce Shepherd and Nigel D’Arcy knocking around the event, there are no easy matches for these wily campaigners. The Men’s O45s will also be highly competitive, a first round tie between Jeremy Krzystyniak and Andrew Hopwood will feature a brutal game of squash, while the potential of defending champion Mark Steeden facing Richard Middleton in the semi-finals has the word “TASTY” written all over it. In the Ladies O45s, Izzy Bramhall (formerly Izzy Tyrrell) won a stack of English Open titles, but has never claimed a British National title, however she starts as the overwhelming favourite in 2018 in this Ladies O45s event. In the junior events, there is a healthy 11 entrants for the U16s, a draw that will be led by Ross Wilson, although he won’t be the only European medallist in the draw, Ross is joined by Daniel Ryan, who earned bronze in the Men’s D Doubles last September in Vienna. There are four players in the U21s event, with Billy Sutton-Mattocks hoping to build on his strong performance last week at the Essex Open, where he finished fourth in a very strong Open B, that draw is led by Kieran Shelley.
Finally, there are the array of doubles draws with 3 Men’s Doubles draws, 2 Mixed Doubles draws and a Ladies Doubles draw all offering a wealth of interesting stories and competitive matches in this always exciting form of Racketlon. With the excellent facilities of the Parklangley Club, and of course the debut of our new MANTIS partnership, the 2018 British Championships are going to be a fantastic event and one to live long in the memory. All the draws and schedule can be found here and there will be updates on the UK Racketlon Facebook page throughout the weekend.
* Replacing Luke Griffiths who had taken that record from Hannah Boden last season!