Rackets Sandhurst Cup 2018

On 24 March 2018, 8 pairs descended on the Rackets court at The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst to battle it out for the annual Sandhurst Racket Cup. 

The Sandhurst Rackets Cup is an open competition aimed at servicing military and ex-military but is also open to civilian players, some of whom have historically travelled from North America to play in the tournament. 

The rules of rackets are very similar to squash but it played in a concrete walled court approximately 3 times as long and twice as wide as a regular squash court with a ball not too dissimilar to a golf ball. Elite players will regularly hit the ball at over 150mph which makes it a very exciting game to both play and spectate! 

Preparations both on and off the court had gone well. Capt Olly Snell, an Apache pilot with the AAC, had done an excellent job of putting the tournament together and despite the cavalry’s best efforts to derail the programme with a late arrival, the day still ran very smoothly.

On court, Maj Johnny Black had been on a spring cleaning mission to tidy the somewhat dilapidated court, albeit with help of the indigenous labour force, otherwise known as Officer Cadets. 

This year, Capt Chris Atkins (W 05-10) had enlisted the help of his former (rackets) partner, Dave Mackenzie (SF 05-10). Despite an 8 year break in their special relationship on court since playing in the national school doubles tournament in 2010, both appeared to remember how to play together. 

They fought through to win against the formidable serve of Lt Col Stephen Seagrave and his partner Charles Fraser (St 74-79) in the group stage, before dispatching Oliver Buckley (W 67-71). and Andrew Thompson to go through to the semi-final. 

The right and left handed combo of Atkins and Mackenzie then had to face the older and more experienced AAC duo of Brig Paul Tennant and Capt Olly Snell who were both on form and up for a fight! Atkins and Mackenzie were the beneficiaries of some dubious, and somewhat tactical, ‘lets’ at crucial moments which, combined with Mackenzie’s consistency put Tennant and Snell on the back foot. Identifying their opponent’s strength during the rallies, Atkins and Mackenzie dominated from the service box which eventually put them through to the final. 

Atkins and Mackenzie were then pitched against the more youthful pairing of Lts Charlie Marlow-Thomas and Adam Kula-Przezwanski. Marlow-Thomas took great delight creaming shots hard and low, but Atkins and Mackenzie fought to make every point count; Atkins’s moderate athleticism even surprised his own partner at times. To compound issues for Atkins and Mackenzie, Kula-Przezwanski regularly put a stop to his opponents progress with carefully guided killer shots down the line that almost always proved too good for Atkins.

Ultimately, it was the reliability of Mackenzie’s serve at critical points that that put the pair in a strong position with Atkins finishing off as required to clinch a 2-0 victory. 

Chris Atkins (W 05-10)

Below are photos of the Winners’ award ceremony and the Winners holding the cup.