Rackets

Rackets World Singles Challenge 2017

Updated: 06 Dec 2017
Published: 18 Nov 2017

Jamie Stout retains his World Title, winning 5-0 after the second leg against Tom Billings. Saturday 18th November.


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Rackets World Singles Challenge 2017

Qualifying Results

Jamie Stout beat Tom Billings 15/10

A packed gallery for the second leg at the Queen’s Club witnessed the second leg of the World Singles Challenge. Both players were superbly prepared and acknowledged their massed supporters. Champion, Jamie Stout, with a commanding 4-0 game lead from the first leg, opened the match to find Challenger, Tom Billings in top form. Billling claimed the service back and ran into a 6-0 lead in his first hand. Stout was not to be underestimated and eventually broke back, inching himself back into the match. Points came and opportunities presented themselves but Stout eventually drew level; both players at the peak of their respective games. Both players retrieved exceptionally, reading the play, to produce spectacular rallies. Ultimately, it was Stout’s precision which made the difference, crafting winners inches above the tin, whilst recovering seemingly impossible Billings’ winners. The game reached 13-10 Stout when an unfortunate point off the door produced Championship Point. Billings produced an astonishing point to keep the match alive. The match remained locked at 14/10 with two further Championship Points missed. But inevitably Stout played out the point to win the game, the match and retain his World Title.

Former champion, John Prenn was joined by lifelong Rackets doyen, Charles Hue Williams and new RWCC Chairman, Mark Farmiloe, to present the prizes. Thanks were given to sponsors PlayBrave and Pol Roger.

Jamie Stout beat Tom Billings 15/4 15/11 15/0 17/14

The World Champion was in top form as he started the defence of his title. Jamie Stout led from the front, establishing a 5-0 lead in the first game. Challenger, Tom Billings, was also playing well and rallied back strongly. But Stout played a supreme fault free game, hitting perfect length and edged towards the opening game, winning 15/4.

The second game was a classic as Billings' confidence grew. Although Stout made the early running, leading 3-0, then 5-2, Billings dug deep to level and then establish a slim 7-5 lead. Back came Stout to level and then develop his own 10-7 lead. Both players were playing astonishing shots to generate breath-taking rallies, thoroughly enjoyed by the packed New York gallery. Again Billings recovered to 10-all and then his own slender 11-10. But the World Champion used his local knowledge to tip the balance and win the next five points without reply, winning the game 15/11 to establish a two game to love lead.

After the excitement of the second game, the third proved to be one-way traffic. Billings had produced sublime Rackets to match Stout but the Champion now stepped up his game to an entirely new level. Points slowly accumulated as Stout closed in; Billings fought valiantly but it was Stout who was producing a masterclass, eventually securing the third game 15/0. The gallery, especially the travelling contingent, were subdued; but everybody appreciated the Champion's display.

Stout was now in the ascendency and carried his dominance into the fourth game, establishing the early running, leading 3-1 and then 6-2. Billings now matched his illustrious opponent, producing his top form, but still the Champion moved on, increasing his lead further to 9-3. Again, Billings stepped up and now started to regain ground, recovering points slowly against the free-flowing Stout, and after three further hands levelled the game before creating his own lead 11-9. The earlier subdued gallery were now in full voice - the game could go either way. Stout came into serve but again Billings held his own and then scored again on his own hand, to lead 12-9. Stout fought back to 11-12 but again Billings drove on to reach 14-11. After an unbelievable rally to save game point, Stout inched back to 14-12 and then 14-all on the next hand. Billings called a set to three but the momentum was now with the Champion. Winning three points without reply took the fourth (and final) game 17/14, and create a four games to love lead.

The conclusion of the match will be next week at the Queen's Club where Stout will be odds on the retain his title. But Billings showed his fighting colours and ran the Champion very close in two of the four games - arguably deserving the win the last one. He should be proud, has earned his place in history and will certainly be able to challenge on his own court.

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