Alex Renwick, a St John’s Academy Year 13 student, is the new National Schools Rackets Champion. Alex triumphed in the 2019 Renny Cup final held at The Queen’s Club on 14 December. He beat his opponent from Cheltenham College in three straight games.
Rackets is a unique sport with very few courts, in fact it is played in only fourteen schools in the country. These are Independent Schools such as Eton, Harrow, Marlborough, and Radley. Alex was the only state school competitor in the 2019 Renny Cup. Alex trains with the Marlborough College Rackets club, under coach Robert Wakely, who was the Renny Cup champion 43 years ago.
It was Alex’s grandfather who first introduced him to rackets when he was 12. Alex’s father, Rob Renwick, was one of the founding members of the Marlborough Rackets evening club in 1985 and since then has played frequently. Now Alex is keeping the family tradition of rackets alive. He trains at Marlborough College, competing mainly in friendlies against Marlborough College students on training afternoons.
2019 was the third year he has entered the National Schools Racket competition. He told marlborough.news, “It got very tough after the quarter-finals as I was up against the first seed in the semi-finals and it was a very long game.”
According to Alex, who is also a national league hockey player with Bath Buccaneers, the key to success is “to keep your fitness levels high so that you can keep the rallies going longer and outrun your opponents.”
Rackets is the faster version of squash with ball speeds of up to 160 mph. It is played on a hard walled court 60 feet long and 30 feet wide, with a wooden racket and a ball that resembles a golf ball. The game is played as either a singles or doubles match in an enclosed court.
A player can only score points while serving – 15 points being needed to win a game. Rackets originated in the debtors’ prisons of the mid-18th century. It is even mentioned in Charles Dickens’ novel, The Pickwick Papers.
Mr M Bush is Master in charge of Rackets at Marlborough College, “Alex is delightful in nature – quiet and modest, but has a steely competitive streak that shone through this week. A very proud moment for St John’s, the College and the town of Marlborough – Well done!”
Despite his success at rackets, Alex’s dream is to be an international hockey player. As a first step he hopes to study at Bath University next year in order to keep a close connection with Bath Buccaneers.