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man playing rackets

British Open Rackets Championship concludes at Queen’s Club

The Brown Advisory British Open Rackets competition was decided at The Queen’s Club last weekend. 

The singles tournament saw a range of matches over a two-week period in both the mens and womens game. 

Defending champion Tom Billings secured his fifth consecutive title as British Open champion, defeating World Number 2 Ben Cawston four games to one in the final. 

Men’s finals are the best-of-seven games of 15, with points only able to be scored when serving, as in Squash. 

Billings, the current World Singles and Doubles Champion was the number one seed in the competition. 

The final saw a mixture of games, Billings dominating most with his customary consistency and stamina, but Cawston’s fighting fitness and exciting playing style forcing an array of games.

Speaking about the first British Open in two years, Billings said:  “This one was really special because we’ve had so long where we haven’t been playing competitive singles in tournaments.

“Being out of match practice, I was more uncertain in this tournament than I’ve been in other ones.”

OPEN FINALISTS: Brown Advisory sponsor representative Will Pollard Clark is flanked by Cawston, left and Billings, right

The World Number 1 added: “It was a tough match the first few games and it felt like a really high standard.

“To come through and win, because of the delay and how well Ben’s been playing, it felt extra special.”

In the women’s competition, Georgie Willis battled Cesca Sweet in a best-of-five match to win three games to one in front of a packed gallery of supporters.

The two women previously played as partners in the British Open Doubles tournament last Autumn in Malvern, where they lost in the final to India Deakin and Tara Lumley. 

Willis said: “My goal going into it was to do myself justice in the semi-final, and play how I want to play…to get through that and find myself in the final, it was surreal.

“It’s really good for the game that out of the four of us who were in the semis, any one of us could have won it. 

“It means we’ll have a different result in the World Championships and the next Open, it keeps it exciting.”

The match was full of skillful serves and promising returns, with long rallies marking a major improvement in the standard of play.  

A GROWING GAME: Finalists Willis and Sweet are heading the rapid growth of Ladies Rackets. Credit: The T&RA

Whilst men have been playing rackets since the 18th Century, women’s Rackets has seen a gradual growth over the last decade. 

In the women’s game, the skill of serving and returning serve make up a large part of matches, and can often determine the winner of the game from as soon as the first game.

Rackets is the father sport of the more commonly known Squash, and along with the ‘royal sport’ Real Tennis, was the original inspiration for Lawn Tennis. 

FAST PLAY: Rackets balls fly round the court at the same speed as high speed trains. Credit: The T&RA

The sport is played on a large black and red court, on which players hit a hard white ball, which is roughly the size of a golf ball, around the court at speeds of up to 185 miles an hour. 

The Queen’s Club is the home of rackets in the UK, with 26 other courts around the country and several clubs in North America. 

The sports club in Barons Court is known for hosting ATP Tour 500 tennis tournament, The cinch Championships, previously known as the Fever-Tree, Aegon and Stella Artois championships. 

CINCH CHAMPIONSHIPS: Last year’s Queen’s Club Championships were won by Matteo Berrettini. Credit: Honor Cockroft

The Queen’s Club’s Ben Bomford described hosting the tournaments as a privilege. 

The Head of Rackets added: “It was great to see packed galleries for the later stages…many of the players were around to support their fellow competitors in the semi finals and finals which really added to the atmosphere.

“It was particularly pleasing to see the growth of the girls game at school start to translate to larger numbers and a higher standard of play in the ladies game.”

The US Open Men’s Doubles tournament is due to take place in New York this March, whilst the Women are next set to battle in this Summer’s World Singles Championship.

Featured image credit: The Tennis & Rackets Association

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