Nick Matthew Debut & Severinová Chases No.1 Spot | Nick Matthew Steel City Open

Three-time Squash World Champion Nick Matthew makes his long-awaited racketlon debut in Sheffield at the Nick Matthew Steel City Open Racketlon Challenger. Elsewhere, Zuzana Severinová battles to dethrone seven-year World No.1 Christine Seehofer.

Matthew is taking part in the doubles alongside Dan Busby on Friday, with all matches streamed on Facebook.

There is also a huge battle for the World No.1 spot in the Women’s Singles Rankings. Zuzana Severinová will move to World No.1 if she wins the tournament in Sheffield.

Here is your preview of every category happening in Sheffield.

Men’s A Doubles – Nick Matthew Makes His Racketlon Debut

Having been a fan of racketlon for several years, it’s fantastic to finally see Nick Matthew test his skills out at the sport. Matthew joins a long line of squash stars to have a go at the sport, with the likes of Alison Waters, Henrik Mustonen and Dimitri Steinmann all playing recently.

Matthew is playing alongside former Mixed Doubles World Champion Dan Busby. The duo open against Luke Barnes and Alex Du Noyer. Of particular interest is the battle between Matthew and Du Noyer, after the two shared some light-hearted Twitter beef five years ago.

How will Nick Matthew fare on his international racketlon debut?

The top seeds in the draw are World No.1 Morten Jaksland and Germany’s Max Plettenberg. The duo receive a bye through to the quarter-finals where they will take on either Duncan Stahl and Ross Wilson or Eric Durand and Anthony Duthuillé.

The Griffiths brothers are the other seeds in the draw. After being crowned the British National Champions last weekend, can they get their hands on more silverware? They open against fellow Brits James Langworthy and Mark Steeden.

The full Men’s A Doubles draw is available here.

Women’s A Singles – Ahlmer and Severinová Battling for Title and History

There is more than just the Nick Matthew Steel City Open Challenger Women’s Singles title on the line in Sheffield. A lot more.

Since March 2015, Christine Seehofer has been at the top of the women’s game. The Austrian superstar has been No.1 in the Women’s Singles rankings for over seven years. However, an injury-hit 2021 stopped her from competing and now the door has opened for a new name at the top.

Zuzana Severinová has the first chance anyone has had in a long time to reach the top of the Women’s Singles rankings. The Czech star needs to win the tournament to do so, something that is certainly possible but will be extremely tough given the quality of the field.

However, it is the highest calibre, four-player box league, we could have with the current World No.1 injured. World No.2 Ahlmer and World No.3 Severinová are joined by World No.4 and current World Champion Stine Jacobsen and World No.5 Myriam Enmer.

Anna-Klara Ahlmer will likely have a chance to be World No.1 later this year (Image: Filip Rejthars)

Ahlmer has won the last two FIR World Tour events so possibly goes in as the slight favourite but it is a tournament that anyone could win. While a victory here for Ahlmer would not move her to World No.1, it would move her right to the edge and would give her a huge chance of claiming the top spot later in the year.

It’s a truly sensational field – especially at a Challenger – and is nearly impossible to pick a winner from. We’re very excited to see how this plays out.

The full Women’s Singles draw is available here.

Men’s A Singles –  Both Griffiths Brothers Land in the Top Half with Jaksland

Nick Matthew’s hosting skills have thrown up a huge top half of the Men’s A Singles draw with World Championship semi-finalists Morten Jaksland, Leon Griffiths and Luke Griffiths all together.

The Griffiths brothers are actually in the same quarter. No.3 seed Leon opens against Luke Barnes while Luke Griffiths takes on Ross Wilson – two all-British affairs. They met last weekend at the British Championships, with Leon beating Luke despite Luke winning the table tennis. Can the younger brother get even closer this week?

World No.1 Jaksland begins his singles campaign against World No.10 Duncan Stahl. If he comes through that opening contest then he’ll either take on France’s Anthony Duthuillé or British wildcard Jermaine Manners.

Will we see another showdown between Morten Jaksland and Leon Griffiths? (Image: Rene Zwald / Jonas Von Sachs)

The bottom half is a real opportunity for several players to reach the final. Dan Busby is the No.2 seed in the tournament and will look to secure a deep run after the disappointment of his World Championship first-round exit. He begins against Eric Durand.

The winner of that match will play either German talisman Max Plettenberg or Great Britain’s Alex Du Noyer. The other quarter has an air of mystery about it. Nicolas Lenggenhager is the No.4 seed and was due to play Matthew Davidson while James Langworthy and Oliver Bühler were the other contestants. However, late withdrawals from Davidson and Bühler mean two late alternates are expected in the draw early on Friday morning.

The full Men’s A Singles draw is available here.

Women’s Doubles – World Champions Jacobsen and Severinová Return

The last time Stine Jacobsen and Zuzana Severinová stood alongside each other on the court they were crowned World Doubles Champions. Now, the Danish-Czech pair return as the heavy favourites in a mixed draw.

They are the top seeds but are not the only heavyweight pair in the draw. World No.1 Anna-Klara Ahlmer is partnering with Izzy Bramhall, a pairing that has been successful in the past. Can Ahlmer secure another Women’s Doubles trophy and tighten her grip on the top spot?

The World Champions are back chasing another title.

Myriam Enmer is also in the draw alongside Nienke Veldkamp. Previous results would suggest that they are likely to be battling Susie Dilloway and Jane Galsworthy for the bronze medal on the podium, as these two pairs complete the four-pair box league.

The full Women’s Doubles draw is available here.

Mixed A Doubles – Big Drama in a Stacked Box League

We spoke about the strength of the Women’s Singles Box League. The Mixed Doubles Box League is not far behind it! All four women from the Women’s Singles are in Mixed Doubles action and are partnered by Morten Jaksland, Dan Busby, Leon Griffiths and Luke Griffiths. But who is with who?

Well, Stine Jacobsen is keeping it a Danish affair by teaming up with Jaksland. This powerhouse pair are not the highest seeds in the draw though. That honour belongs to Anna-Klara Ahlmer and Dan Busby. They team up looking to put behind them a 2021 full of gummiarm heartbreak.

Leon Griffiths is the player partnering with Zuzana Severinová. The two former U21 World Champions will team up looking to take home the title. The final pairing sees Myriam Enmer playing with Luke Griffiths. Enmer was originally due to partner Matthew Davidson before the young Brit had to withdraw with injury.

The full Mixed A Doubles draw is available here.

Men’s B Singles – Sach and Gentile Look to Stop British Success

The 12-player Men’s B draw is a Brit-heavy affair with 10 of the players heralding from the UK. Germany’s Volker Sach and Switzerland’s Giovanni Gentile are the two players looking to break up the British success.

As the No.3 seed, Sach has an early head start, receiving a bye through to the quarter-finals. He is joined by the other seeds David Bennett, Sam Barker and Alan Plater.

That leaves four first-round matches, three of which are all-British affairs. Young British talents Will Gregson and Anant Gupta both land in the top half of the draw. They take on Andy Stenson and Peter Barton respectively.

In the bottom half, Simon Lau has the honour of taking on Switzerland’s Gentile. Patrick Lambert, the only newcomer in the draw, begins his international racketlon career against the experienced Rakesh Gupta.

The full Men’s B Singles draw is available here.

Women’s B Singles – World Champion Shelley Back for More Glory

Jo Shelley had one of the most remarkable stories of 2021, battling back from injury to win three World titles at the +50 level. Then, one week ago she won three British National Championship racketlon titles. Can the winning machine keep going?

She’s got a tough opener against Susie Dilloway. Dilloway is fairly new to the international circuit but has been making a splash in the UK, winning several titles and also beating Shelley for the first time just one week ago. Will Shelley get revenge?

The No.2 seed is former Girls U16 World Champion Alexandra Ogram. She enjoys an opening round battle against the ever-present Dianne Baker.

Will Jo Shelley stand on top of the podium once again?

There’s another player with a World Championship pedigree in the draw. Cherisse Lau won the Women’s C Singles title at the tournament last year. She opens her tournament here against newcomer Kirsten Atkinson.

The final first-round clash sees Joanna Bennett take on Dutch woman Nienke Veldkamp.

The full Women’s B Singles draw is available here.

Men’s B Doubles – Anyone’s Guess in Exciting Field

The Men’s B Doubles, like the Men’s A Doubles, is a seven-pair field. Leading this field are the experienced pair of Julian Clapp and Graham King. The British-Swiss pair will face either Will Gregson and Simon Lau or Oliver and Peter Barton in their first match. The four Brits will collide at the quarter-final stage.

The No.2 seeds in the tournament are Alan Plater and Andy Stenson. They begin against late entries by Jon Foulds and Jason Fearn.

The final match sees table tennis experts Cameron Leighton and Nick Rate take on Sam Barker and David Bennett.

The full Men’s B Doubles draw is available here.

Mixed B Doubles – Bramhall, Barnes and Shelley All in Fascinating Draw

One of the stories of the Nick Matthew Steel City Open Challenger is how open a lot of the draws feel. The Mixed B Doubles is no different. It’s a draw that has a real touch of class about it.

The top seeds are young British pair Alexandra Ogram and David Bennet, who grabbed a third together at last year’s IWT London Open. They receive a bye through to the quarter-finals along with the other three seeded pairs.

Jo and Kieran Shelley finished second at the IWT Club La Santa Open Mixed B Doubles in December. Can they go one better in Sheffield? The other seeded pairs are Dianne Baker alongside Luke Barnes, and Dutch family pairing Nienke and Marc Veldkamp.

Baker and Barnes begin against Susie Dilloway and Nick Rate while the Veldkamps take on Cherisse Lau and Ross Wilson. The other four pairs will all begin in round one.

Among them is Izzy Bramhall. The former World Championship runner-up partners Justin Crowther. Those two will begin against Joanna Bennett and Adam Turner, with the winners taking on Ogram and Bennett.

2019 World Championship runner-up Izzy Bramhall is back and searching for success in doubles.

The other first-round match sees last year’s IWT London Open champion Sam Barker partner debutant Kirsten Atkinson against Jane Galsworthy and Simon Lau.

The full Mixed B Double draw is available here.

Men’s C Singles – King Leads Field of Brits

Graham King is the sole non-Brit in the Men’s C Singles field, the joint-largest field in the competition. King begins against Chase Burgess, a young Brit who is making quite a name for himself on home soil after winning both the U16 and Men’s D National titles one week ago.

Graham King is the top seed in the Men’s C Singles draw (Image:

Debutants Alex Evans and John Watson take on Adam Turner and Nick Rate respectively while No.3 seed Ray Ryan rounds out the top half against Jon Schofield.

Bramhall’s mixed doubles partner Justin Crowther lands in the bottom half where he’ll take on Ryan Bezer. The winner of that match will either face the No.4 seed, Leigh Ware or Matthew Page.

Kieran Shelley is the No.2 seed and opens against debutant Brandon Petty. The final match sees young Cameron Leighton take on Jonathan Keough.

The full Men’s C Single draw is available here.

Men’s C Doubles – Four Player Box League for the Title

Like many of the doubles draw this weekend, a four-player box league will be used to decide the champion. This Men’s C Doubles field sees six of the eight players make their international doubles debut.

Leigh Ware and Adam Turner are the only two to currently have an active ranking. Ware is partnering youngster Chase Burgess while Turner is playing alongside Brandon Petty.

Kieran Shelley and Matthew Page are teaming up for the second time in a week after playing together at last week’s British Championships. The final pair is Jonathan Keough and Adam Manuel.

The full Men’s C Doubles draw is available here.

Juniors U16 Singles – Barton Returns after World Championship Run

Oliver Barton enjoyed a superb run at the World Singles Championships last year, finishing fourth in a stacked Juniors U16 Singles field. Now, he looks to go one better and get on a podium in Sheffield.

Barton is the top seed of an eight-player draw featuring six international debutants. Barton opens against Fergus Wilson, with William Freeston taking on Chase Burgess in the other top-half match.

Oliver Barton is hoping to reach the podium as the top seed (Image: Rene Zwald / Jonas Von Sachs)

Daniel Austin is the other seeded player. The youngster opens against Charlie Hill at the bottom half of the draw. Isabelle Flower is flying the flag for the girls as she takes on Olly Samuel in the final first-round match in the Juniors U16 Singles draw.

The full Juniors U16 Singles draw is available here.

Juniors U21 Singles – Davidson Withdrawal Leaves Open Field

With Luke Griffiths focusing on the Men’s A Singles and Matthew Davidson forced to withdraw, the Juniors U21 is now a tasty four-player box league.

Ross Wilson is the top seed in the draw. The Brit is looking for his first juniors title since triumphing at the King of Rackets two years ago. To get his hands on another trophy he’s got a long weekend ahead.

Joining him in the box league are David Bennett, Will Gregson and Anant Gupta. The four are all talented products straight off the Great Britain production line and will all believe they have a chance of toppling Wilson and taking the title away from him.

The Juniors U21 Singles draw is available here.

Girls U21 Singles – Ogram vs. Lau in Straight Shoot-Out

The Girls U21 Singles category will see a straight shoot-out for the title as Alexandra Ogram takes on Cherisse Lau.

Ogram is the former U16 World Champion while Cherisse Lau is the defending World Champions Women’s C Singles champion. Both have pedigree on the international stage. Both are fighting for places on the Great Britain squad for this year’s World Team Championships.

May the best woman win.

The full Girls U21 Singles draw is available here.

Seniors +40 – Lesser Returns But Not as Seed

You guessed it, it’s another four-player box league. The Seniors +40 Singles sees the return of long-time racketlon player Keith Lesser. Justin Crowther and Leigh Ware are the other Brits in the Box League but they are joined by Australia Eric Durand.

Durand won the Men’s +40 Singles at the IWT French Open in 2019 and also finished with a silver in the Seniors +50 Singles at last year’s World Championships. Will Lesser be able to beat him or will Durand get his hands on a second international title?

The full Seniors +40 Singles draw is available here.

Women’s Seniors +45 – Shelley Searches for Further Glory

Jo Shelley has become a dominant force on the Women’s Seniors circuit in the last 12 months and will look to add another trophy to her collection here.

The World Champion is joined by Dianne Baker, Jane Galsworthy and debutant Katie Hill, who will all be looking to stop her.

The full Women’s Seniors +45 draw is available here.

Seniors +50 – Gentile Looks to Stifle British Success

Once again Giovanni Gentile is the sole player from Europe hoping to stop British success in this category.

Gentile lands in Group B alongside No.2 seed Julian Clapp and Simon Lau. Will Gentile be able to beat the pair and advance to the final?

The winner of Group B will take on the winner of Group A after both are completed. Group A is headlined by Jon Foulds, who is returning to the international circuit after last year’s appearance in Prague. Foulds is joined by current British +45 Singles champion Mark Steeden and Andy Stenson.

The full Seniors +50 draw is available here.

Seniors +60 – Sach and Langston in Blockbuster Opener

The Seniors +60 Singles draw is the most nationally diverse in the tournament, with players from five different countries battling it out for the crown.

The most eye-catching match in the first round is between No.2 seed Volker Sach and Martyn Langston. The latter reached the finals of last year’s World Championship +60 Singles, while Sach won the Seniors +55 Doubles at the World Championships. Langston leads the head-to-head 4-1 but this is the first time they are facing since 2019.

Could Martyn Langston beat No.2 seed Volker Sach? (Image: Rene Zwald / Jonas Von Sachs)

Elsewhere, Graham King is the top seed in the draw. The Swiss talisman opens against Ray Ryan. In the second round, the winner will face either Alan Plater or Sweden’s Magnus Edby. Dutchman Marc Veldkamp is the final European to venture to Sheffield. He opens against Rakesh Gupta.

The full Seniors +60 Singles draw is available here.

Keep up with all the action from the Nick Matthew Steel City Open Racketlon Challenger on Facebook and Instagram across the weekend.

Follow all the results from throughout the day here.

Interested in entering a Racketlon World Tour event? Check out our full list of tournaments here, with entries open to players of all ages and abilities.

Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer

Image Credit / Filip Rejthars

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