'Wimbledon of racketball' in Sheffield will return after welcoming players from around the world
Sarah-Jane Perry and Tim Vail took the top spots in the women’s and men’s Bluebell Wood British Racketball Open tournament after spectators enjoyed close-fought, edge-of-the-seat finals at the Hallamshire Club on Sunday.
Vail, a ten-time national racketball champion, faced three-time squash world champion Nick Matthew in the Hallamshire’s “Nick Matthew” court in the men’s A-Grade final, winning three games to one in a 68-minute battle.
And Sarah-Jane Perry, the current British National Squash Champion, met former GB squash team member Fiona Moverley in the women’s, winning three games to two after a 57-minute, closely-fought match. Perry took the first two games before Moverley mounted a fierce comeback to win the next two.
The event marked a milestone for Sheffield and for racketball as the first ever British Open in the sport – described as the ‘Wimbledon’ of the growing sport.
It featured the biggest ever prizes in the history of racketball, and helped to raise hundreds of pounds for local charity, the Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice. In total 150 players aged from 13 to 78 years old took part, coming from all over the UK and as far afield as Sweden, Germany and Portugal.
Men’s Champion Tim Vail said: “I'm very privileged to have won the maiden British Open title. To beat Nick at his home club and on his home court was never going to be easy.
"The gallery was full to the brim and I hope everyone enjoyed such an exciting match. The club and Mark put on a fantastic tournament and hope to be back for many more.”
Women’s Champion Sarah-Jane Perry said: “I really enjoyed playing at the British Racketball Open. It was particularly great to see so many enthusiastic players in all categories and I’m in no doubt that this will increase further in years to come. The event was well organised and showcased the sport of racketball incredibly.”
The youngest player who took part was 13 and the oldest player was 78.
Organisers have already announced the event will return to Sheffield in 2022.
Shannon Gossage, Bluebell Wood’s regional fundraiser for Sheffield, said: “It’s a real honour to have such a prestigious and exciting new tournament bearing our name.”