Know the Game - Rackets
Rackets: Get to know the fastest game in town
So we've been long lobbied to write a piece on Rackets, which is the predecessor of 'Squash Rackets', simply now known as 'Squash'. For a history of the game click here, we are not going to get into that too much.
Rackets : The Game
The game is played exclusively in North America and the United Kingdom. There are around 28 courts in the UK, some of which are not considered active or are used for other sports. There are 8 active courts in North America.
But how best to describe the most exhilarating of games? In a nutshell, if you stretched a squash court about 3 times in length, in all directions, installed some solid walls, and played squash on it with a golf ball, you'd be pretty close. It scores like Squash used to, with points only won when serving. In the U.K the server gets 2 serves, in the U.S just one.
The court is 30 feet wide, 60 feet long and at least 30 feet high. A rock hard 1.5 inch white ball is hit with wooden rackets which are strung ultra tight. This results in some serious velocity and unlike other racket sports, the ball appears to gain pace when hit into the side walls. The hardness of the ball not only makes for a quick game, but for a potentially dangerous one, so safety is paramount. There are many more lets in Rackets than in Squash as a result, and in a doubles match this number rises even further.
There have been a few arguments over the years as to whether it is the fastest ball sport. The ball has been recorded going at speeds of over 150mph, which the Jai Alai community can better according to the Guinness book of records. If it were possible to measure the speed of a ball during an actual rally (rather than hit out of the hand) this record could no doubt be challenged.
Rackets : The Major tournaments
The Rackets Calendar traditionally runs from September until April with major tournaments in the UK being, amongst others, the 'British Open Singles', the 'Invitation Singles', the 'British Amateur' and the 'British Open Doubles'. The majority of major Rackets events are played at The Queens Club in London, with more minor and qualifying tournaments played at numerous venues around the U.K.
In North America major events include the 'U.S Amateur', the 'Canadian Amateur' at the Montreal Racquet Club and the 'U.S Open', which changes venue every year.
Rackets is well known amongst participants as an extremely social sport. As a game with a high degree of difficulty, many competitors are resigned to achieving limited success in tournaments, and thus set their sights on success at the bar.
Rackets : The Players
There have been 23 World Champions since 1820, a mixture of professionals and amateurs. Almost all have come from the U.K or the U.S aside from the current World Champion James Stout (Bermuda) and the 1903-1911 Champion Jamsetji Merwanji (India).
Stout is also the current World Doubles champion with his partner Jonathan Larken.
In the last 10 years, the Singles Amateur game has been dominated by Britain's Alex Titchener-Barrett who was also World Doubles Champion on two occasions, with two different partners.
Young players of note coming through the ranks include the U.K's Tom Billings, who won pretty much everything he could do in the 2016/2017 season, and his doubles Partner Richard Owen.
To find out more about Rackets check out The Tennis & Rackets Association
Photo's courtesy of Tim Edwards at Plough Studios