Over 150 players from all over the UK and beyond are set to compete in what’s been described “Wimbledon of racketball” in Sheffield this weekend – with The Templand Group’s backing.
The first ever Bluebell Wood British Racketball Open marks a new milestone for one of the UK’s fastest growing sports. World and National squash and racketball champions are participating, with one calling the tournament the “Wimbledon” of their sport – alongside players from 13 to 78 years old.
All will compete for the biggest ever prizes in the history of racketball, while helping to raise vital funds for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice.
Sheffield has become a hub for racketball. “Easy to play, but hard to master,” the sport is played on a standard squash court but using a shorter racket and a bigger, bouncier ball. This makes hand-eye coordination easier than squash and the ball easier to strike so the game gives longer rallies.
Hosted at world-renowned tennis, squash and racketball club, The Hallamshire, the Bluebell Wood British Racketball Open takes place on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th October. Spectating is free of charge and the event is family-friendly. It will welcome some of the biggest names from racketball and squash, including:
• Amber Marshall, Current British Racketball Champion
• Sarah-Jane Perry, Current British National Squash Champion
• Tim Vail, 10 times British Racketball Champion
• Nick Matthew, 3 times World Open and 3 times British Open Squash Champion
Mark Fuller, Head of UK-Racketball, said,
“The Bluebell Wood British Racketball Open is groundbreaking for the sport and for Sheffield. With the biggest prize money in racketball history, a record number of grades and a doubles grade for the for the first time in the history of a major racketball event, it has attracted players from all over the UK, and overseas making it a truly global event.
“We are thrilled to welcome over 150 entrants from 13 to 78 for the first ever Bluebell Wood British Racketball Open, which we believe will become the biggest racketball tournament in the world.
“This event could not take place without the help of The Templand Group, financially supporting the tournament to further promote the charity Bluebell Wood. It’s been such a difficult year for everyone, including sportspeople who love competing and charities which depend on fundraising events, so we are delighted The Templand Group has enabled the tournament to happen.”
Participants will include:
Amber Marshall, Current British Racketball Champion, who said:
“I’m so delighted to be playing in Racketball’s first ever British Open as it is these major events that players like myself train and prepare for. It is great to have the opportunity to come up against experienced and talented players. It’s not just playing at these tournaments that I find exciting, it’s the support of the organisers as well as well as the spectators which makes the experience such a great one.”
Three times World Squash Champion, Nick Matthew OBE, who said:
“I’ve been looking forward to this event for a long time. Nowadays I’m on the other side of the fence on the coaching side of things so it’s nice to get chance to compete again whether that’s squash or racketball. We have a great community of Racketball players at Hallamshire and many have either entered or will be down supporting the event. It’s set to be a great showcase for the club and the sport.”
Ten times National Racketball Champion Tim Vail, who said an inaugural British Open championship is “an amazing thing for the racketball and Squash 57 community.”
Vail added, “this is the Wimbledon of Racketball/Squash 57. Mark has put a tremendous amount of effort into racketball over the past 12 years and should be very proud at putting on this event.
“I am lucky to have had a prolonged career at racketball and the chance to try and win this event means a lot to me. I’m making it a bit of a family thing by bringing my son up to play in it for fun as well.”
Sarah-Jane Perry, Current British National Squash Champion, who said:
“It’s been great to see the UK racketball tour growing over the past few years and the addition of the British Open is fantastic.”
The tournament features a £5,000 prize fund, split evenly between the men’s and women’s A Grades (£1000 to each tournament champion, £500 for each losing finalist, £250 for losing semi-finalists and £125 for all losing quater finalists), and provided by headline sponsor, The Templand Group.
Jason Denmark, CEO of The Templand Group, said:
“Mark Fuller, the Hallamshire Club and the wonderful charity, Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice should be applauded for their vision and collaboration which has enabled this major sporting event to take place. I am overwhelmed by their wholehearted support since we discussed showcasing the event back in 2019.
“This could be the largest racketball event in the world in the years to come …. and its home will be Sheffield! A city steeped in sporting history and tradition, supporting a children’s charity close to many people’s hearts within the region. I couldn’t ask for more. Let the games begin!”
Winners will be presented with trophies handmade in Sheffield by Raven Silverware. Trophy sponsor Paul Gosney of City Taxis said “City has long supported grassroutes sports and community events, helping ideas grow from dream to reality. We are delighted to back the tournament.”
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 and we’re incredibly grateful to be a part of it.
“As a charity we need to raise over £5m each year to keep our doors open for the families who need us so the funds raised through the Bluebell Wood British Racketball Open really will make a world of difference.
“We’d like to say a big thank you to the Templand Group for their vision and generosity and we’ll look forward to the big weekend. Best of luck to everyone competing.”
Spectators are welcome and the tournament is free for spectators (entry is full and now closed for players). An after-party on Saturday evening is £10 per person. The tournament takes place at The Hallamshire, 716 Ecclesall Road, Sheffield, S11 8TA on Saturday 16th (9am-7:40pm) and Sunday 17th October (9am – 4:20pm).