Bexley the perfect venue to launch new season
By ALAN THATCHER and MARK FULLER
The UK Racketball Series kicks off with the London Open at Bexley this Saturday, with every category fully subscribed.
Your humble author was looking forward to making a return appearance to this popular and brilliantly-run event. However, impending hip surgery will keep me off the court for a while.
The Kent and North London area is a growing hotspot for racketball with many players supporting events all round the UK. The London Racketball Open gives these players a chance to fight it out for titles on home soil at Bexley Lawn Tennis and Squash Club.
In 2018 Bexley was the first Series event to incorporate doubles. And that may have led to my hip problems. Competing in both singles and doubles, six matches in one day was not only exhausting, but my whole body shut down for the next two months.
My partner, UK Racketball chief Mark Fuller, said: “It was such a success that we have rolled the idea out to all of our venues for 2019. The first ever doubles final on the UK-Racketball Series was an all-Bexley affair between Ted Jeal and Billy Jones, and Keith Mabey and Rob Lewis.
“In the end the combination of Jeal and Jones won through. In the final event of the 2018 season Jeal and Jones went on to claim the National Racketball Doubles crown and they are still unbeaten as a pairing in competitive competition.”
Bexley Lawn Tennis Club has a spacious and welcoming bar area. Very well maintained facilities with two glass back show courts that are great for spectating. Racketball at Bexley has an amazing history and without it the game might not exist at all, thanks to the phenomenal effort of former Kent treasurer Ian Wright, who helped to shape Racketball in the UK.
Bexley Racketball Open Tournament Details
When: Saturday 10th August
Where: Bexley Lawn Tennis, Squash and Racketball Club
Postcode: DA5 1AX
Cost: £13.50 (£7.80 high quality, quick dry, sublimated print tournament t-shirt)
Entries Closing Date: Friday 2nd August
Online Entries: http://www.uk-racketball.com/e6—london-racketball-open—10th-august.html
Racketball History in Bexley
Ian Wright, Club Secretary, introduced the game of squash to the club in 1965 and acted as foreman to build the second court for under £3,000 in 1967. The court fee for 40 minutes was 10p per player. Some ten years later, Ian experimented with some short handled rackets and the core of a tennis ball as an alternative game for dual use of Squash Courts.
Ian (right … no pun intended!)) wrote a set of rules and a constitution for an association for this new game of Racketball.
On 13th February 1984, in Stourbridge LTC, the British Racketball Association was founded, having adopted Ian’s Rules and Constitution and elected Ian as its first Honorary Secretary.
The Sports Council, on 30th October 1984, officially recognised the British Racketball Association as the Governing Body for the sport. Membership stood at 55 clubs with 239 individual members.
By 1988 the Individual Membership of the British Racketball Association stood at 650 members and a Sports Council survey found there to be 30,000 players in the UK.
In 1998, control of the game passed to England Squash, with Ian Wright, as Vice President of the Governing Body, becoming Chairman of the Racketball Committee.
The game has flourished in the Bexley Club with 72 players in the internal Racketball League and the club teams, arguably, the best in the South East of England.
Bexley members (below) have won several Kent and England Championships.
Ted Jeal, Rob Lewis and Mark Steeden
Nick Eagle (Over 35), Ray Jennings (Over 35), Paul Slater (Over 35),
John Prowse and Peter Lewis (Over 55), Ian Wright (Over 65), Nicky Slater (Over 35).
Ian Wright (Over 50, Over 65 and Over 70), Peter Lewis (Over 55),
John Prowse (Over 60), Paul Slater (Over 35).
The club currently has internal squash and racketball leagues and runs five squash teams in the North Kent Priory League and a Racketball team in the South East Region Racketball League along with two junior teams in the Kent league. Bexley is home to UK-Racketball Series legend and winner of 16 titles, Ted Jeal.
A Grade – County, national or good club player
B Grade – Regular club player
Women’s – All ages and abilities, these events have a great range of players, which makes for a fun and competitive day. Players must be female.
Over 40’s – For players over the age of 40.
Over 50’s – For players over the age of 50.
Over 60’s – For players over the age of 60.
DOUBLES – Players of all ages and abilities, find a partner and go for it. Unlike squash, in racketball the players take alternate shots. Racketball doubles rules here
Pictures courtesy of