As part of the 25th Anniversary of the
re-opening of Cheltenham College’s rackets court, twenty-one of the
country’s rackets professionals were hosted at College over the weekend for
their annual Singles Competition. The tournament, staged at a different school
or club each year, was last hosted by College in 2000.
The game, the forerunner of squash, is
played by over 60 pupils and demands a super eye for a ball, athleticism and a
degree of caution with the ball flying around the court upwards of 100mph.
The standard of play as the competition
moved through to the semi-finals on Saturday afternoon was excellent: College's court has a reputation for being both fast and true, and the viewing
gallery was treated to some spectacular rallies. Whilst the local rackets
professional, Mark Briers went out in the second round, Ben Snell, himself an OC, the number 2 seed and Head Rackets professional at
Queen’s Club, West London, could not quite overcome the Radley College
professional, Mark Hubbard, no. 3 seed, and lost the final game 15-14. In the
other semi-final, Will Hopton, the top seed who is professional in Chicago USA,
overcame Ryan Tulley, the Wellington College professional and no. 4 seed, 3-0.
The final on Sunday morning was a
hard-hitting affair and in the first game, honours were fairly even, with Will
Hopton emerging on top with his dogged retrieving and consistency of serve.
Games two and three saw the Chicago professional, 15 years his opponent’s
junior, take control and was a comfortable winner in the end. This is his third
title. The Headmaster of College, Dr Alex Peterken, presented the trophy.