Much like tennis, the Racketlon season is in the transition from an early summer clay-court phases, such as the recent German Open, to its standard hard-court phase, from the SWT Austrian Open onwards. However, before we get to Austria we get an all-too-brief grass-court season at the 2019 CH London Open.
In fact, for the first time since August 2013, the FIR World Tour will grace the grass, and for the first time at the prestigious Roehampton Club. Two months ago, Coco Gauff was emerging into the public consciousness at this venue. Looking ahead to the London Open, you can’t help but feel the Racketlon community will be very much aware of who our winners are likely to be.
Men’s A Singles: Jaksland the Men to Beat; Can Briton Leon Griffiths do it?
Five titles in 2019 – including the recent IWT German Open – recently anointed World No.1 and a Men’s Doubles World Champion. It is hard to find fault in the 2019 form of Morten Jaksland.
He has walked onto the singles court 21 times in 2019 and won 21 times, losing only one match where he was forced to retire with illness. He is joined in the seedings for this 12-man draw by Dan Busby, Duncan Stahl and Benjamin Graenicher.
Away from the seeded opposition, there is the immensely talented duo of the Griffiths brother; Leon and Luke. Leon especially has pushed Jaksland all the way this year already, only a solitary point separating them earlier this year at the IWT Latvian Open. However, Jaksland does not have to worry about the threat of Leon Griffiths until the final.
Instead, it is third seed Benjamin Graenicher, returning from injury, who has to worry about the oldest Griffiths brother should he come through against Switzerland’s Christian Schaefer.
Completing the bottom half of the draw is Jack Bishop versus Dutch wildcard Koen Hageraats, who is in only his second elite draw. Whoever wins between Bishop and Hageraats will face second seed, Dan Busby. For Busby, this marks a return to London, where four months earlier he won his maiden British National title. That day, Busby had to defeat Leon Griffiths in the semi-finals. He could face that same challenge at the London Open. Can he do it again and then win a maiden London Open title as well?
Returning to the top half of the draw and there is a guaranteed Brit in the semi-finals. Fourth seed Duncan Stahl awaits the winner of the all-British first-round tie between Alistair Prades and Luke Griffiths.
Luke has been bubbling away under the surface as the Racketlon community looked at brother Leon. A stunning run to the semi-finals of the Mixed A Doubles at the World Championships in Belgium last May with Amke Fischer, and then an excellent sixth-place finish in the Men’s A at the IWT Latvian Open have awakened everyone to his potential.
For wildcard Alistair, this offers an opportunity for some revenge, he was heavily beaten by Luke at King of Rackets and will be keen to not let the youngster have it all his own way in London.
We reach the top and top seed Morten Jaksland will be waiting for the winner of Ray Jordan and Oliver Buhler. Ray arrives in London having won his home tournament to the UK Tour last weekend, the Kent Open, but he faces a stiff opener in Swiss Buhler, who is growing into the Men’s A draws with a run to the quarter-finals in Germany last weekend.
Women’s A Singles – Fischer Back on Top while British Squash will be on Display
Also winning in Germany was Amke Fischer, who claimed her first FIR World Tour title since becoming a mother. She overcame current World No.2 and top seed Zuzana Severinova in the process. Severinova is top seed once again in London and will be hoping for a better outing than in Germany.
However, on show in London is, to be frank, British squash. Within the racketlon community, there are few finer squash players than Kim Hay and Matilda Parslow. However, at the CH London Open, even their impressive skills will be put in the shade.
Four-time British National Squash Champion, a double Commonwealth Games medallist and former World No.3 Alison Waters will likely be unstoppable on a squash court. But how will she fare in the other three disciplines? Waiting to find out is top seed Severinova, as Waters receives a baptism of fire in racketlon facing the top seed.
The winner of their tie will face a Brit in the semi-finals, with Kim Hay and Jo Shelley meeting in the first round. Shelley knows the damage Hay will do to her on the squash court and will be hoping she can do damage of her own across the other three disciplines.
In the bottom half of the draw, second seed Kirsten Kaptein will open against Briton Hannah Boden. Brilliant on the badminton court, the Yorkshire youngster made her racketlon debut in Manchester, the last time the FIR World Tour graced the grass, coming second in the U13 event.
The winner of their tie will face a newly-crowned German Open champion in the semi-finals. Amke Fischer may have won her first Women’s A title in two years but Matilda Parslow made it two consecutive Women’s B titles in 2019 with victory in Germany, adding to her Czech Open title she won back in April. Amke Fischer represents a big step up for Parslow, but an excellent opportunity to find out where she is on her Women’s A debut.
The London Open Weather…
It is a national obsession in Britain, and for all the players heading to London next weekend, it is their obsession wherever they are coming from. The allure of the grass is strong. This event filled in four hours and had a waiting list that peaked at 50 players on top of the 101 that had already entered. As this article has been written, an unusually strong summertime storm has barrelled through the UK.
Thankfully, this bout of poor weather has passed. However, it is the UK in ‘summer’, so there are never any guarantees. But, I remain cautiously optimistic that the 101 players in London will experience a very rare Racketlon experience next weekend.
For those not able to be at the CH London Open there will be coverage on the FIR Facebook and Instagram pages. Plus, there will be additional updates across the UK Racketlon Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages as well as reports on Racketlon.net.
The full CH London Open draws and schedule are available here.
James Pope / FIR Contributor