Competition hotting up for men’s GB Euros selection

GB Men’s captain John Leach has warned his ‘Brit Boys’ that the clock is ticking on their bids to make the team for this October’s European Championships. The Bandeja’s RJ Mitchell reports.

John will select an eight man squad for the GB team competing at the Europeans after the final selection event – the FIP Rise London HOP Padel Open from August 1st to 6th. But with little over a month to go until the biggest padel event to be played on British soil this year, and GB No 1 Christian Medina Murphy, No 2 Sam Jones and No 3 Louie Harris all nailed down, the other contenders are in effect in a selection shoot-out for five places.

GB No 2 Sam Jones.

The battle for a place on the plane to an as yet unknown venue has also been heated up by the emergence of a new Scottish contender, Sam MacNeil, who has shot up to No 6 in the GB rankings after headline victories at Guernsey Padel Club and NTC during a red-hot streak of form in June.

John Leach (second left) and Sam McNeil (right) on court with football stars Jens Lehmann and Patrick Vieira.

As he reflected on the big calls that await him, John said: “It’s a crucial time of the year. The FIP RISE London HOP event leads up to the European Championships so it’s a big opportunity for players to show their level. I will be picking the team pretty much after it. It’s probably the last chance to ‘show me what you’ve got’ when it comes to the players putting forward their strongest case for selection.

“Leading up to it there are tournaments domestically and internationally that players are competing in and, for example, we have a Grade One at Rocks Lane on July 21. I’d expect all the guys looking for GB selection to play that. Also there are a lot of FIPS around Europe and I’m looking for players not based in the UK to be playing in as many of these as possible.

“So it is really the competition phase now and it is important that the players get as many matches under their belts as possible ahead of FIP London.

“Obviously there will be a combination of some British guys pairing up but also a lot of the players based overseas will have regular partners and will want to maximise the points they get by playing with them. It’s important that they also play with their regular partners on the FIP tour but any GB pair is welcome and this will be a good opportunity for me to look at these partnerships. It’s eight players in the squad with three couples on match day so the guys know what they are aiming for.”

Who will co-star?

With the big three of Murphy, Jones and Harris already pencilled in, the time has come for the supporting cast to step forward. The Frankie Langan and Sam MacNeil partnership, which prevailed at Guernsey earlier this month (and with both players also enjoying success with other partners), is making a powerful case for inclusion.

“Frankie and Sam had a great win out in Guernsey a few weeks back and Sam is definitely moving himself into the picture now and these guys are both players to watch out for,” said John. “Sam is moving up the rankings and has had some good victories in other UK tournaments. He is now pushing for a place in the team and the next few weeks are going to be very important to him in that regard. We also have Ryan Wyatt back in the mix after injury which is a positive.”

When it comes to the next generation the GB skipper is keeping his radar switched on: “We are looking at the young guys and how well they perform over the next few weeks with the likes of Theo (Garton) Ethan (Bardo) and Jake (Bewley). We want to see how they will step up. It’s exciting to see how they will play in this next spell, this a key time for them”

Ethan Bardo, on John Leach’s radar along with Theo Garton and Jake Bewley.

Seniors duty

It has been a busy time for John, who also captained the GB men’s seniors and super seniors sides to 10th and 9th places at the inaugural European Senior Championships in Alicante recently

Looking back he said: “Overall it was a little disappointing in our placements as we were aiming for top eight in both categories but what I was most happy with was the amount of victories in the pairs events (that ran alongside). “We now have a real volume of players who have experienced competition at the very highest level in Europe and that is something we will undoubtedly benefit from going forward.”

In terms of highlights John had no doubts: “I’d say in the seniors Ben (Gudzelak) and Javier (Etayo Fernandez) going through their events unbeaten was a fine showing and in the supers Nick Holloway in the 60s was also unbeaten, so well done to him.” 🎾