Ratzer & Meißl Defend Successfully, but Middleton the (real) Master

Jesper Ratzer and Martina Meißl defended their titles as the Racket Masters after triumphing on a blustery weekend at the Surrey Sports Park.  After two previous world tour visits to the SSP played in unusually exceptional weather, the 2016 event saw players battle the outside tennis in conditions that were a far more accurate representation of a British Summer.  Elsewhere there were titles for: Katie Barclay (Ladies B), Luke Griffiths (Men’s C & U13s), Lillian Druve (Ladies Vets), Ross Wilson (Men’s D), Martyn Langston (Men’s O55s), Julian Clapp (Men’s 60s), David Bennett (U16s), Kresten Hougaard & Jesper Ratzer (Men’s A Doubles), Lieselot de Bleeckere & Lauren Whiteman (Ladies A Doubles), Barbara Capper & Dan Busby (Mixed A Doubles), Michelle Hall & Alistair Prades (Mixed B Doubles) and Jon Ben & Martyn Langston (Men’s D Doubles).  However, the true star of the weekend was Richard Middleton.  Entering four events and contesting 1287 points across 44 sets, he revelled in the opportunity to player lots of matches and came away with four winners trophies.  Richard dominated the Men’s B, Men’s B Doubles (with Mark Jackson), Men’s O45s and Men’s O45s Doubles (with Thomas Knaack), in a weekend where he finished with a record of: Played: 12 Won: 12 Sets For: 32 Sets Against: 12 Points For: 777 Points Against: 510.  All the results (not just Richards) can be found here.

Ratzer hunting Eliasson

The semi-finals pitched Jesper Ratzer against British youngster Leon Griffiths and FIR President Kresten Hougaard against Michi Dickert.  First up was the defending champion against the upcoming star, Ratzer vs Griffiths a re-run of last year’s first round tie.  With vociferous support, Leon started well, winning the first TT point, but after that it was an uphill struggle.  Fighting hard throughout the TT, badminton and squash sets, the young Brit was defeated 21-6, 21-11, 21-13.  In the other semi-final, it was Denmark vs Austria as Hougaard took on DickertMichi nicked the opening two sports, 21-19 and 22-20, before Kresten struck back with a 21-12 victory in squash, giving the FIR President a slender 5 point lead into the tennis.  Under the floodlights of the SSP, Dickert was able to control the tennis set, getting his nose in front and allowing him to keep the Dane at bay, a 21-11 victory ensuring the top seeds would progress to the final.  In the final, Ratzer displayed excellent control, opening up a healthy lead into the squash after 21-10 victories in both the TT and the badminton.  Dickert fought hard in the squash, throwing everything at the world number 1 and he opened up a narrow 2 point lead as the set progressed towards its conclusion.  However, Ratzer, dug deep and found that little bit extra to come back to pinch the squash set 21-19 and seal his place as the Racket Master.  Jesper is now just three IWT/SWT titles behind the Racketlon legend, Magnus Eliasson.  Leon Griffiths finished third, defeating Kresten Hougaard thanks to exceptional displays in the badminton and tennis.  Leon revealed in his walk on video a desire to dominate in Dressage, and his natural ability to control another beast was clear as he dismantled Kresten on the tennis court.


Whiteman suprises everyone

So, as predicted in the tournament preview, the top 4 seeds all made the semi-finals, however here the predictive skills of UK Racketlon went somewhat array (again).  Racketlon, the sport where every point counts can be brutally cruel, you can win three of the four sports and still lose the match.  Some would argue this is unfair, but personally I feel that this is the edge that makes Racketlon different, and special.  In the first semi-final, Lillian Druve took the first three sports against Lauren Whiteman, 21-17, 21-18 and 21-13, leaving her the target of just 7 points at tennis to win.  But, in blustery conditions, Lauren produced a master class in consistency and achieved an incredible 21-2 victory in the tennis to progress to the final, leaving a shell shocked Swede in her wake.  The second semi-final, was a repeat of the 2015 Racket Masters final, a thrilling affair that was edged by Meißl by 3 points over de Bleeckere.  Seemingly, the difference between these ladies is still wafer thin.  After sharing the TT and badminton sets, Lieselot held a slender 1 point lead into squash.  Martina took the squash to 16 meaning she would need 19 and Lieselot 21 to claim the second spot in the final.  The tennis gusted around like the wind, both players fighting the conditions and the match situation, however it was Martina who once again tasted success and took the win by 3 points under the floodlights.  In the final, Martina was just too strong for Lauren, wrapping up the defence of her title with a 21-14, 21-17, 21-7 victory, very sensibly avoiding going near a tennis court against Lauren after her semi-final display.  Despite the final defeat, Lauren is continuing her excellent 2016, having collected the English Open title and second places in the British Championships and now the Racket Masters.  Lillian recovered from her semi-final defeat, by beating Lieselot, after the opening 3 sports were cagey 2 point victories, Lillian dominated the first half of the tennis to ensure a comfortable victory in the end running out a 21-19, 19-21, 20-22, 21-7 victor to complete the podium.


Thanks to UK Racketlon Team

A massive thanks to the UK Racketlon team (Duncan Stahl, Ray Jordan and Keith Lesser) for putting on another great event and especially to the volunteers: Steve Bispham, Dominque & Helen Ford, Geoff Jordan who were wonderfully managed by Rachel Pitson.  UK Racketlon hope to see you all in 2017 at the English Open in May in Redbridge.  

James Pope


The full report can be viewed on www.racketlon.co.uk