Sunday 29th April saw the return of the Surrey Racketball Closed at Surbiton Racket & Fitness Club. This year saw record entries – 44 in total.

Unfortunately only 4 of these were ladies across 3 categories so after consultation we had to withdraw the ladies events. It would be great next year if we can get more ladies involved and I am happy to welcome ideas on how we can do this.

We were still left with 6 events which were also the highest standard we have ever had too.

60 matches were scheduled across the day. All matches were best of 3 par scoring to 11 except the finals which were best of 5.

The biggest category was the Over 60’s with 11 competing in a monrad style event. The semi-finals saw local Adrian Morris against Mark Banfield from Limpsfield. You would not have believed these guys were over 60 with some long intense rallies. First 2 games were shared 11-2 and 11-4 respectively before an epic final game that saw Mark edge it 13-11. In the other semi-final John Blackmur from SSP took on Stephen Weller from Cheam in a much easier contest which John won 11-1/11-5. In the final Mark proved just too strong for John winning in 3 straights games to claim the title.

The Over 50’s saw some familiar faces coupled with some new ones in a very storing line up again run as a monrad. There was an epic first round match between Mike Wardle of Woking against Surbiton’s Ian Chicken. The first two games went 11-6 either way then  some challenging calls were made in the final game but Ian managed to come through 11-7. In the semi finals Ian met old stalwart Phil Hall from Woking.  Having come through an easier first round match Phil was able to run out a fairly comfortable 2-0 win. The other semi final saw Surbiton’s Clive Johnston take on Stuart Parish from Limpsfield. Winning the first game 11-4 Stuart was run much closed in the second by Clive but piped it 12-10 to set up a highly anticipated final with Phil. They didn’t disappoint and Phil took an early lead winning the opening game 11-5. The second went all the way with Phil just edging it 12-10. Stuart needed to dig deep to stay in the match and was able to take the 4th game 13-11. It looked like a come back was on the cards but Phil was able to secure the match with a 11-7 win.

The Over 40’s only had 3 competitors and two Surbitonians Damian Harniess and Colin Bissett were always playing for second place against Zeb Young from Limpsfield. Zeb was also playing in the A Grade and he was not taking any prisoners dishing out bagels to both players in his matches 11-1/11-0 v Colin and 11-3/11-0 v Damian.  The bragging rights was for who would take the runner up spot and they decided to play a best of 5 game. Damian was victorious winning 3-1 but a closely fought final game at 13-11.

 

Just 4 competing in the C grade and after a late withdrawal Nicky Ferritto of Surbiton kindly stepped in to ensure the matches could all go ahead. Having entered this category and coming so close on previous occasions Craig Swinerd of Woking finally won the event with the ultimate match being a 2-1 against Brett Haigh of Surbiton who was the runner up.

The B Grade had 5 players enter but injuries to two players during the early matches left us with just a 3 horse contest.  Tim Green from Woking, who actually played everyone before they got injured won all his matches to secure first place. And after removing the scores and players who withdrew we were left with Peter Banfield of Ebbisham as the eventual runner up.

The A grade was a highly anticipated event with all matches set to offer some excellent racketball for all to see and the lure of £150 prize money to the winner. Zeb Young had agreed to step in to play this last moment after a late withdrawal of Paul Broadberry and he did not disappoint despite having played the Over 40’s matches in the morning. Breezing through his first match against Joel Collins from Surbiton he then took on another player from the Club, Nick Hiley.  Against the odds Nick had taken out Joe Blackmur from SSP in the first round and he proved to be Zeb’s toughest game yet picking up everything and extending the rallies to the max. But Zeb’s skill and experience saw him head on into the final with an 11-6/11-8 win.  In the other half of the draw we saw a home tie as Jake Johnston (U17) and former British U11 & U13 squash champion matched against Nick Camus.  This was always going to be a tough game for Nick and unfortunately after being seen off 11-7/11-2 he had to retire from the event owing to a back injury. In the other first round game it was a Limpsfield match up with Nick Joughin v James McClean which Nick sailed through 11-3/11-4. So the semi final was nicely poised with Nick and Jake although the first game won 11-1 by Jake saw him in a destructive mood. Nick found his gears in the second game and pushed Jake all the way. However the younger legs of Jake and some awesome back hand play led to a 13-11 win.

In the 3rd/4th place play off and the battles of the Nicks it was Surbiton’s Hiley who came through in a best of 5 match 11-5/11-7/11-6.

After a short rest for the finalists which allowed the crowd of over 60 people to gain some much needed refreshments the final was set between Jake and Zeb. This was now Zeb’s 5th match of the day and Jake set off at an exhilarating pace winning the first two games.  In the third game the ball at times was stuck to the side wall with some incredibly tight play on the backhand side. Both players were doing their best to move the other all over the court and rallies were often over 40-50 shots.  The more partisan local crowd spurred Jake on and he came  through a credible winner 11-3/11-4/11-6.

This ended what was an incredible tournament played in great spirits. My thanks to everyone who entered and marked all the matches. Thanks also to Surbiton Racket & Fitness Club for hosting and for Karakal for sponsoring, providing all the balls and a grip for all players.

I hope we can continue to build on this for next year and look forward to seeing you over the summer.

Rob Lelliott

Event Winner Club Runner-up Club
Men’s A Jake Johnston Surbiton Zeb Young Limpsfield
Men’s B Tim Green Woking Peter Banfield Ebbisham
Men’s C Craig Swinerd Woking Brett Haigh Surbiton
Over 40 Zeb Young Limpsfield Damien Harniess Surbiton
Over 50 Phill Hall Woking Stuart Parish Limpsfield
Over 60 Mark Banfield Limpsfield John Blackmur Surrey Sports Park