It was a fantastic start to the 2019 HEAD UK-Racketball Series on Saturday at Broxbourne Squash Club. An over subscribed event with a large number of the England Top 10 it was always set to be a high standard and a late finish and the day lived up to the expectations.

Ten players entered the Over 40’s and with half the number were ranked inside the England Top 10 there were some brutal matches throughout the day. Richard Davies won group A but was pushed hard by the Portuguese maestro Manuel Costa. Group B saw James Powley (ER 5) and Ryan Loska (ER 6) dispatch all opposition to set up a fantastically competitive group decider. In the end Loska managed to hang in the rallies just a bit longer than Powley to claim his spot in the final. Richard Davies maintained his run of 40’s titles defeating Loska 2-1 in the final but he was pushed all the way in a match that lasted over a hour.
David Worrall justified his top seeding position in the Over 60’s as he claimed 1st place in Group A. Number two seed Graham Greensall fell at the final hurdle in Group B coming unstuck against Gordon Lamb who made it to his first final. In the end the experienced Worrall had to much for Lamb as he added another title to his collection.
Local girl Amber Marshall from Broxbourne Squash Club completed a brutal day by claiming the women’s crown 2-0 against Jasmin Kalar in the final. It was Marshalls third event of the day as she was also competing in the doubles where she came runner up in Group B and the Open where she reached the quarters.
Doubles is growing in popularity both on the HEAD UK-Racketball tour and across the UK.   The doubles final was one of the best matches of the day with Broxboune’s  Adam Grilli and Elliot Selby saving two match balls to come back and win against Daniel Weights and Craig Perry aslo of Broxbourne Squash Club.
Keith Mabey made his first ever final in the B Grade but did not have enough to defeat the experienced Manuel Costa. The B Grade final was Costa’s 8th match of the day an unbelievable effort.
Predictably with so many top players present the A Grade was a long event. England No.4 Billy Jones was defeated early in the group stages by Joseph Blackmur who combined youthful flair with some intelligent match play. Group B came right down to the wire with Craig Chappel grinding Elliot Selby off in over an hour of brutal Racketball. The semi finals were no less competitive than the group stages with Blackmur defeating Selby and Chapel defeating Weights. It was 8 oclock  by the time the final started and at 1-1 it was as much a test of endurance and tenacity as it was of skill. In the end Blackmur came through as victor, Chapel could not have tried any harder leaving absolutely every ounce of his energy on court.
A couple of late withdrawals reduced the Over 50’s draw to a mere 20 players. Top seed Paul Dodds displayed his usual patience and placement to progress through the groups before narrowly defeating Northamptonshire’s Simon Philips in the semi final. In the bottom half two seed Dan Fernandez once again fought his way through the group before coming unstuck in the knockout stage this time by Patrick Osborn. The Over 50’s final was always going to be a tight affair with both players experienced an intelligent  Racketball competitors. In the end it seemed that at the moment a lot of what Paul Dodds does well Patrick Osborn does just a little bit better. The first Over 50’s title of the season goes Osborn’s way but I think we are in for a fascinating year in the Over 50’s and I’m sure that Dodds will come back fighting for event two.

It was a late finish in Broxbourne as much down to the quality as the quantity of the entries.