Tomorrow, the 2022 UK Racketlon Tour begins with the East Midlands Open, and the draws for the event can be found here. As such, today really is the last chance to share our review of the 2021 season!
We kicked off the 2021 UK Tour in Yorkshire at the York Open, and yes there had been a while since we had last been on the UK Tour, but there was no change in the outcome, Dan Busby winning the Men's A and Matilda Parslow taking the Women's A. This extended Dan's winning run to 7 consecutive events, over a two year period, no surprise here it was another UK Tour record for him. Matilda ended her 2020 drought (is that fair, it was two events?) with victory here in York. One of the main stories from York was the victory for Sam Barker, his Men's B title heralding a return to fitness after injury issues that had prevented him from playing (right handed) for several seasons.
Sam's fairytale return to the sport continued at our next event, the IWT London Open at our old home the Redbridge Sports Centre. Sam romped to a maiden Elite title on the World Tour as he and partner Amke Fischer (Ger) won the four pairing round robin. Meanwhile, Leon Griffiths claimed the Men's A title (and the Men's A Doubles with brother Luke) and Amke doubled up with the Women's A title, defeating Matilda in the final. The tour continued to drift southwards as we headed to Canterbury for the Kent Open. Here we saw a maiden Men's A title for Kent's favourite son, James Langworthy. James was joined on the winners podium by Susie Dilloway, her first title since 2019 North West Open!
The events were coming thick and fast as we raced eastwards, to Norwich for the East Anglian Open. After two UK Tour events without a Dan Busby victory, normal service was resumed as Dan claimed the Men's A title here. He was joined by another debut winner, Alice Flatman, who ended 2021 with a rare accolade. Alice can rightfully claim to have defeated Jo Shelley in a final, and that was an uncommon event in 2021! In fact, that entire Women's A was a thriller, with 4 of the 6 matches settled by just 3 points or less! We really romped north after this, heading to Newcastle for the Northumberland Open, were Dan set about looking to create a new record. He claimed another UK Tour win, two on the bounce and extending his lead in the UK Tour All Time Winners List.
We took a month to catch our breath, before setting off to a new town and a new venue, the Stamford Open (in Stamford). Organised by Leigh Ware, this event had a keen junior entry with an U13 and U16s event as the hosting school venue provided a raft of players. Dan made it three on the spin in the Men's A while Jo Shelley claimed the Women's A, confirming her second place on the UK Tour All Time Winners List and moving 4 wins behind Hannah Boden. A side note is that Samantha Hampson claimed the Women's B title ahead of tour stalwart, Dianne Baker. A couple of weeks later we wrapped it all up in our usual end of season haunt, the Hertfordshire Open at the Letchworth Squash & Tennis Club. In the Men's A, Dan made it four from the final four, bring up his 34th Racketlon title in the UK, 14 ahead of second placed Duncan Stahl, having claimed 18% of all titles on the UK Tour since it began in 2002. There was a nice symmetry as Matilda wrapped up the final Women's A title, her eighth taking her equal fourth on the All Time List.
There were of course winners in all our usual categories, and all winners from the 2021 season can be found for our banded singles and our juniors & vets (and the Roll of Honour contains all seasons to date as well as a host of other fascinating information and history!). Of note we should mention a pair of juniors, who along with Dan and Matilda were the only other players to win multiple titles in 2021, Daniel Austin and Chase Burgess.
Champions of the World!
Two World Championships were held in 2021 and there were UK Winners at both. There was coverage of these events at the time and you can find information on the Singles World Championships (Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3) on our news page. At the Doubles World Championships, Calum Reid finally completed the Triple Crown. Having claimed the Mixed Doubles title in 2006 and the Men's Singles title in 2011, he finally added the Men's Doubles title to his collection. However, the star for the UK was Jo Shelley. A late replacement for the Women's O50s singles in Zurich she dominated the event to claim a hat-trick of Women's O50s titles. She then headed to Prague for the World Doubles and added the Mixed O50s title to her collection to.
In summary our 2021 World Champions were:
Calum Reid & Leon Griffiths - Men's A Doubles
Jo Shelley - Women's O50s
Jo Shelley & Jacob Steinmetz (Den) - Mixed O50s Doubles
Julian Clapp - Men's O65s
Luke Griffiths - Boys U18s
We are now here, the 2022 season, and despite some Omicron related wobbles, we are here and ready to begin. The calendar is filling up and there is growing confidence we will have a full tour for the first time since 2019. That we have got to this point at all is a testament to the players, 168 of you played at least 1 event in 2021. We wouldn't be here at the start of 2022 without you, so thank you very much for being there, for being the UK Tour. However, the superstars of 2021 were our Tournament Directors. Sam Barker, Duncan Stahl, Ray Jordan, Andy Wilson, Emma Leighton & Kieran Shelley, Leigh Ware and George Roberts; ably supported by the UK Tour team Lee Gregson and Kieran Shelley. Navigating changes to Government regulations, dealing with venue requirements and the ever changing Covid landscape, they were the very best of us, ensuring we had the events we all so desperately wanted to play. Do, if you see them around, remind them all how brilliant they are!
Right, we good luck everyone, stay safe and go well on the 2022 UK Racketlon Tour!