It’s taken seven months but the 2021 FIR World Tour finally gets underway this week with the IWT London Open. Rescheduled and in a new venue, it’s been an uncertain path to get here but we’re delighted that we can finally get the show up and running.
With the ongoing possibility of late withdrawals due to COVID-19 tests and potential isolation, the draws for the non-elite categories will not take place until Friday morning. The only exception to this is the elite draws, which will be completed live on Facebook on Thursday at 14:00BST.
With travel restrictions in and out of the UK limiting this tournament to a largely British field, we’re going to have a look through each of the non-elite categories to see who the favourites are. The preview for the elite categories will come on Friday once the draws for the Men’s A has been completed.
Men’s B – Newcomers Join Familiar Faces
The Men’s B is eight British players battling for gold. Four familiar faces are joined by four rookies in a fascinating tale of two halves.
David Bennett, James Pope, James Langworthy and Sam Barker are the players with a vast amount of racketlon experience having all been playing for a number of years. They are joined by rookies Ricky Kotecha, Dorian Robinson, Will Rogers-Tizard and Lee Tribe.
There is always an element of mystery when you get newcomers playing in a category. This mystery is enhanced when you consider that all four rookies initially entered the Men’s A and were moved down to the Men’s B due to FIR regulations.
It really is a lottery as to who will triumph in this intriguing Men’s B category. Will the rookies be able to take down the old guard or will the experience of Bennett, Pope, Langworthy and Barker shine through?
Men’s C – Battle of the Brits
It’s the same story in the Men’s C as 12 British players battle to be crowned a London Open champion.
It’s a real mixture of ages in this draw, ranging from young teenager Oliver Barton up to multiple seniors world champion Bruce Shepherd. Leigh Ware recently took a Men’s C title in a domestic UK Racketlon tournament. Peter Barton reached the final of the Men’s B in the same event. Both are right in contention for an international title now.
Jamie Chapman is also a name of intrigue. The Brit plays and trains regularly in Russia with the growing racketlon scene in Moscow. How will he fare as he takes his talents onto the World Tour?
Elsewhere in the Men’s C is James Trueman, Cameron Leighton, Ryan Bezer, Ishan Bairoliya, Nathan Da Costa, Anant Gupta and Adam Turner. The only thing that is guaranteed is that we’ll get a British champion. We’ll have to see who that is over the weekend.
Juniors U13 – Three Players Jostle for the Title
A nightmare for a preview. Three players are in the Juniors U13. All three are making their racketlon debut. Daniel Austin, Samuel Rank and Joseph Sullivan. Who’s going to win? It’s anyone’s guess!
Seniors +40 – Lesser Makes his Seniors Debut
Keith Lesser found his way onto our recent list of new players ready to tear up the Seniors circuit. He gets an early chance to prove himself as he takes part in this three-player +40 box league.
Joining Lesser in this category is fellow Britain Stuart Rank and Indian debutant Anshuman Prasad. Will Lesser be able to triumph and take home his first seniors title or could Rank or Prasad ruin the party?
Seniors +50 – Langston Leads High-Quality Field
Great Britain has a rich history of success on the Seniors circuit and that is reflected in a strong four-player box league in the Seniors +50 category.
There’s plenty of familiarity with Martyn Langston, Nigel D’Arcy, Julian Clapp and Rakesh Gupta making up the four players taking part.
Langston is a former +55 World Champion after winning in 2018 while Gupta has a pair of Senior World Doubles titles with Barbara Capper. All four have also been involved in GB teams on the Senior Circuit so who wins is anyone’s guess. Langston is probably the favourite based on his recent success but anyone could stop him in a brutal competition.
Men’s B Doubles – Langworthy and Lesser Lead Mixed Field
While James Langworthy and Keith Lesser are the favourites, the eight-pair Men’s B Doubles draw has an interesting mix of pairs.
Senior stars Rakesh Gupta and Martyn Langston are teaming up to try and take home the title. From seniors to juniors, Ryan Bezer and Cameron Leighton are playing alongside each other. There’s also a family affair as father-son team Peter and Oliver Barton pair up for a run at the trophy.
Elsewhere we have James Trueman playing alongside Julian Clapp, Ishan Bairoliya partnering with Stuart Rank and Adam Turner and Leigh Ware teaming up. Finally, Oliver Close and Simon May are playing together on their international debut.
Above anything else, we’re delighted just to have the FIR World Tour up and running. The IWT London Open kickstarts a packed second-half of the year. Entry is currently open for the IWT Swiss Open, GRAWE sidebyside 15. Austrian Open, IWT Czech Open, World Singles Championship and World Doubles Championship.
You can enter any of those tournaments here.
A reminder as well that all FIR World Tour events have categories for juniors, seniors and amateur players so that everyone can play.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer
Image / galdateniss.lv