Getting to know: Holly Ranson

  • Current World #1 Girls Junior, Racketlon
  • 2024 British Racketlon Champion: Women’s Elite, Women’s Doubles & Mixed Doubles
  • Current England #22 Girls Junior, Squash

Holly Ranson, aged 16, was born in Reading and currently lives in Berkshire.

She’s studying for her GCSEs at Queen Anne’s School in Caversham. She began her love of racket sports at the age of 4 playing badminton, going on to compete at county level and in national tournaments, where she ranked in the top 20 for several years.

She also played table tennis at county level as a 10 year old, learnt to play tennis at Queen Anne’s school when she was 13, and 2 years ago she took up squash. And she’s now World Girls Junior #1 in the combined discipline of racketlon.

RACKETLON: In racketlon you play your opponent at table tennis, badminton, squash and then tennis – in that order. Each is played to 21 points and the player with the most points overall wins. (Ed: It’s brutal!). To find out more visit Racketlon.net (for international tournaments) or Racketlon.co.uk (UK circuit).

Rankings/Results

  • World #1 Girls Junior, Racketlon
  • World #7 Women’s Doubles, Racketlon
  • World #8 Women, Racketlon
  • UK #3 Women, Racketlon
  • England #22 Girls Junior, Squash
  • Winner of Women’s, Women’s Doubles & Mixed Doubles, 2024 British Racketlon Championships
  • 11th in 2024 English Junior Squash Championships

(Correct as at 25 April, 2024. Sources: FIR rankings and SquashLevels)

Please tell us a bit about your journey in racket sports.

My grandad is a massive rackets sports fan, and from the age of 3 or 4 he would spend hours playing badminton in the garden with me and my twin sister.

Holly with Grandad Des (and over-sized badminton set!)
Ranson sisters: Emma and Holly. Or is it Holly and Emma?!

Aged 6 I joined Swifts, an amazing junior badminton club in Surrey, where I played for 8 years. I started training with Berkshire badminton when about 7 and was playing U12 county badminton by about the age of 9.

My mum was a keen tennis player in her youth and so we also had tennis lessons for 6 months when we were 5. But I preferred badminton and didn’t pick up a tennis racket again until I was 13.

I’ve played U17 county squash this season. Play senior county badminton and still compete in Senior and Junior badminton England tournaments, including nationals. I’ve also played U17 county table tennis this year and am women’s singles champion at my local tennis club.

Why did you move into racketlon? What do you like most about it?

I was beginning to fall out of love with badminton when I was about 13, as it had got very serious and I wasn’t having as much fun anymore; and worrying about who I was playing, my ranking and how I was doing in tournaments. My mum got chatting to a dad at a tournament and he told her about racketlon. And as I was already quite good at table tennis and had just had some tennis lessons at school we decided to enter a tournament.

I played my first racketlon tournament at the beginning of 2022. I’d only played squash once before the tournament. and played in the under 16 boys category as no other girls entered! I came fourth out of eight, but I won all my table tennis and badminton games. That spurred me on to go and practise and improve the other two sports.

Of the 4 sports, which do you enjoy the most and why?

I enjoy squash the most because everyone is so friendly, it’s really fast and great for fitness. And you forget everything else while you are playing. I also enjoy the tactical side of it!

Tell us a bit about your squash journey.

After my first racketlon tournament I started having regular lessons with Craig Banyard the Berks junior coach. He is a lovely coach and really got me going. I was also so lucky to join Caversham Park Village Squash Club (CPV). Everyone is so friendly there and it is a very inclusive club. James Knight has been fantastic, giving up hours to hit with me and help me improve, and he has also included me in league matches for the club.

Playing against experienced men from other clubs, as well as in the CPV box league has really helped me improve. Sarah Parr has also really supported me and hit with me regularly, and Rick Wetherall has been brilliant too, giving up his time to coach me regularly for a year. Luke Gojnic has also supported me during school holidays. I am really excited about Carla Khan helping to drive women and girls’ squash forward in Berkshire.

Who was your biggest influencer in any of the four sports?

It has to be my grandad. He was still playing racket sports in his 70s and had played them all. He’s one of my biggest supporters now.

What has been your biggest success as a junior?

I was really happy to play in the squash nationals this year and play really competitively in all my matches.

In racketlon I was part of the U21 B team at the Racketlon World Championships and we won the whole event, beating the French team, the Austrian number one seeds and the British number one team on the way to the title. I won all my individual matches in the event, and it was a lot of fun being part of a team.

Winners of 2024 U21 Racketlon World Championships, Rotterdam

What’s it like competing at senior level?

It can be tough as there are many fantastic women playing at the moment. However, it is great to see the standard across the world and it inspires me to train harder to try and be competitive with them.

How do you balance your school work with your training? What does your training regime look like?

I have a very busy schedule! My school day is long, 8am to 6:15pm three days a week and 8-4:30pm on the other two days. However, my school is very supportive of my sports and my badminton coach comes into school to coach me. I also have a tennis session during a lunch break, and use one of my PE sessions to use the gym.

After school I train or play sport nearly every night of the week. I try to have a table tennis hit on a Monday, although this is the one that doesn’t always happen. I play squash on a Tuesday, box league or a hit with someone or I play badminton adult club league matches. I coach badminton on a Wednesday evening and then sometimes play a squash league match afterwards. Badminton training is on a Thursday evening and I go to tennis academy after school on Fridays. I am often not home until 9:30/10, but I am used to this level of activity.

I have tournaments nearly every weekend – a mixture of Badminton England U19 and senior tournaments, Senior County and U19 matches, Squash England tournaments and U17 county matches, junior county table tennis, Racketlon Uk tournaments and internationals. If I play in an international, I take 2 or 3 days off school as the tournaments are three days.

It can be hard juggling training and schoolwork, but my teachers are very supportive and I try to use my time at school wisely. I very rarely bring homework home. Sport gives me a mental break from school work.

I love all sport and love watching live sport, and I’m a massive Newcastle United fan. I also enjoy watching stand-up comedy and I read a lot of detective novels, so this is how I relax.

What qualities do you think are essential for success in racketlon?

Patience. As the games are long and you can feel out of it in one sport, but then you can come back in another.

Never give up! I’ve lost table tennis 21-3 before, but still won the match.

Game management and discipline. As every point counts you don’t want to give away too many points in your better sports, or your weaker ones!

Perseverance. You won’t beat the top players in the world quickly, and sometimes you lose matches you would expect to win, but you have to stick at it and look for small improvements. For example, just three extra points in table tennis might make the difference between winning and losing.

2024 British Racketlon Championships, Mixed Doubles medalists.
Winners: Holly Ranson & Matthew Davidson (middle)

We’re trying to build the number of female squash players in Berkshire. What advice can you give to inspire other girls and women to take up the sport?

There are loads of great clubs around, and it is very sociable. It’s brilliant for fitness and lots of opportunities for match play at different levels. You can improve really quickly with a bit of coaching and lots of match practice.

What are your future squash and racketlon goals and aspirations? Are there any tournaments or achievements you are specifically aiming for?

In racketlon, I’d like to be competitive with the top five players in the world and I would eventually like to win the ladies singles world championships, but that is a long term aim.

In squash, I want to keep improving and start to challenge the best juniors in my age group. I also want to keep playing league squash for my club and win more matches.

2024 British Racketlon Championships, Women’s Doubles Winners: Holly Ranson & Matilda Parslow

Give us 2 truths and 1 lie about you

  • When I was born I was given a Winnie-the-Pooh bear which was bigger than me.
  • I fainted and fell off a stage in a school assembly when I was 8 and spent a night in hospital having completely lost my memory.
  • My dog won an award at Crufts.

If you could play any of the 4 sports against any past or present player – male or female – who would it be?

I’d like to have a hit with Sarah-Jane Perry, but not a match!

If you could invent a new rule for racketlon or squash, what would it be?

VAR for lets and strokes because it works so well in football 😜.

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