With World Championship Wednesdays kicking off last week with a pair of junior singles categories, it only makes sense that we continue to celebrate successful juniors in racketlon.
With that in mind, we’re going to put a spotlight on the five most successful juniors at our World and European Championships. The list will focus only on singles and doubles to discover who is the most successful junior on the biggest stage of all time.
No.5 Hannah Boden
Coming in at No.5 is Great Britain’s Hannah Boden. Currently, in her last eligible year on the junior circuit, Boden has won five separate junior titles. Perhaps most impressively, these titles have comes across four different categories.
The first of Boden’s titles came at the 2015 European Championships, where she lifted the Girls U16 Singles title. After 2015, Boden found increasing success year-on-year. In 2016 she became one half of the first sibling pair to win the U21 Mixed Doubles, winning alongside her brother Piers at the World Championships.
A year later she added two more trophies to her collection. Teaming up with Austria’s Bettina Bugl, Boden won the Girls U21 Doubles while also taking the Girls U21 Singles in a memorable week in Austria.
Arguably her most memorable win came at the 2018 World Championships. In that final, she managed to defeat current World No.2 Zuzana Severinova to lift the Girls U21 Singles title in breathtaking fashion.
Add these to the fact that she has been a Top 10 player in the Women’s Singles rankings and also part of a Team GB winning squad in 2019, Boden has already carved herself into history as one of the sport’s greatest ever juniors.
No.4 – Leon Griffiths
Great Britain has always been one of the most dominant nations for juniors and that is reflected by the appearance of another in at No.4. Leon Griffiths is a name recognised by many due to his recent success in the Men’s Elite category. But once upon a time, Griffiths was dominating the junior circuit.
His success began back in 2012 when he scooped up the Boys U13 Singles trophy, marking himself as a name to watch from early on. Two years later the Boys U16 Doubles title – alongside Piers Boden – was added to his collection, in a World Championships held in his home country.
While that was to be his only doubles trophy, the floodgates opened in singles. Between 2015 and 2019, Griffiths picked up four of five titles. In 2015 he took the Boys U16 Singles before winning three Boys U21 Singles titles in a row from 2017 to 2019.
Griffiths, like Boden, was part of the Great Britain team that won the World Cup in 2019 and also reached the 2017 European Championships Men’s Elite final while still a teenager. The future is bright for this young talent – who has all the hallmarks of a future world champion.
No.3 – Joey Schubert
The oldest player on our countdown, Joey Schubert comes in at No.3. The Austrian was a phenom on the juniors circuit from 2006 through to 2011, collecting six singles and doubles titles in total.
The first in a wave of talented young Austrians, Schubert’s first came in 2006 with the Boys U16 Singles. Perhaps most impressively, he lifted the Boys U21 Doubles crown just a year later with Germany’s Paul Sach, while still significantly under the age of 21.
That would be the first of three Boys U21 Doubles titles that Schubert would win. In 2009 he teamed up with Sach once again to lift the trophy, before taking it for a final time with another German, Joshua Zeoli, in 2011.
In fact, 2011 was probably the greatest year of his junior career. After winning the Boys U21 Singles title in 2010, Schubert successfully defended his title. One singles and one doubles title in 2011 before he moved into the elite circuit.
Of our five players, Schubert is the only one not still playing on the FIR World Tour. We hope to see him return at some point in the future.
No.2 – Luke Griffiths
Perhaps what is most frightening about Luke Griffiths spot at No.2 on this list, is that he won all eight of his titles before turning 18.
The younger brother of Leon has dominated the younger age categories of the junior circuit for the last five years. He won back to back majors in 2015 and 2016 in the Boys U13 Singles before moving up an age class a year later.
That didn’t stop him. Not only did he win the Boys U16 Singles in 2017 but he then repeated that in 2018 and 2019. Five consecutive juniors singles titles in five years. It seems hard to argue that he wouldn’t have added to that haul had a World Championships taken place in 2020.
His success is not all built on singles though. Griffiths is also a devastating doubles player, taking home gold in the Boys U16 Doubles in 2016, 2017 and 2019. Why didn’t he win it in 2018? The category didn’t take place.
I mentioned at the beginning that this list wouldn’t really be focusing too much on Junior team success but it would be wrong to not mention it in the case of Luke Griffiths. Great Britain has won every single edition of the Juniors U16 Teams event since its introduction in 2014 – and Griffiths has been instrumental to most of those victories.
If we did this list in a few years and we hadn’t lost 2020 to a global pandemic then there’s a strong chance that Luke Griffiths would be top of that list. That honour though belongs to someone else.
Honourable Juniors Mentions
Before we dive into who lands at No.1 on our list, it’s worth giving a shout-out to a handful of players who just missed out on the list. Estonian brothers Andre-Kristopher Toomjoe and Ken-Tristjan Toomjoe won five and four titles respectively and were both close to making our countdown.
Perhaps unsurprisingly there was further Austrian success with Kris Krawcewicz and Georg Stoisser also securing four titles. Stoisser of course, went on to win last year’s unique GRAWE sidebyside 14. Austrian Open.
The final player who narrowly missed out was Marcus August Christiansen. The Dane, like Krawcewicz and Stoisser, won four events to guarantee he will go down in the history books. But which star shines brightest as we dive into junior success?
No.1 – Christine Seehofer
Who else was really going to be top than the Queen of Racketlon? The most successful women in the sport’s history and currently riding a 100-match singles winning streak it is little surprise that she had an unbelievable junior career.
If you thought Luke Griffiths’ five back-to-back singles categories was impressive, well Seehofer managed six. She won the Girls U16 Singles in 2011 and then backed that up with five Girls U21 Singles titles. Age was, literally, the only thing that could stop her.
Accompanying her six singles categories is an even more impressive seven doubles crowns. It was a family affair in the Girls U21 Doubles where she won three titles alongside her sister, Elisabeth. She then added a fourth with Bettina Bugl in 2016 – three years before they would team up to lift the Women’s Elite Doubles crown.
Perhaps most noticeable was her success in the U21 Mixed Doubles. Not only did she win three titles, but she managed it with three different Austrian compatriots. Christian Austaller partnered with her in 2011 before Lukas Windischberger joined a year later. Her final title came with Georg Stoisser in 2014 rounding out a perfect 13 junior crowns.
When you consider her dominance in the juniors it is little surprise to see what she has gone on to achieve. A sure-fire sign that if you want to know who could be a future world champion, keep an eye on the junior circuit to see who is scooping up titles.
Discover more junior success stories by following World Cup Wednesdays on Racketlon’s Official Facebook Page.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer
Image Credit / James Pope