BOLTON tennis champion Rachel Branagan went from playing a “racketlon” competition on holiday to winning a world championship medal in a matter of months.

Representing England and competing as part of a mixed doubles pair, Hawkshaw player Branagan returned home with silver after a successful Championship in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Racketlon is an event which combines tennis, squash, badminton and table tennis into one arduous match.

The 31-year-old Hawkshaw Tennis Club player first took part in the game in February on a holiday in Wales with her squash player boyfriend, Dave Thomas. The pair won the competition they took part in and decided to take it to the next level.

“We were looking at something on the internet and came across Racketlon and saw there was a competition in Wales so thought we would give it a try,” said Branagan. “We won the competition and the England team asked us to go along with them to Bulgaria”.

Originating in Finland, the sport is being billed as one of the fastest growing in the world. “You can tell it’s a growing sport because people are really starting to take it seriously and some of the players, especially the Germans, Austrians and Scandinavians are very professional in the way they approach the different disciplines of the event. “We were very fortunate to bring home silver medals from such a tough field.”

Branagan is an avid tennis player and has a member at Hawkshaw since the age of five. Her family has a strong connection to the club and her grandfather is one of the founding members. The full-time teacher still competes in the local leagues and coaches both young and old during the summer holidays. The passion for tennis continues and she admits that it would be difficult to ever fully focus on Racketlon.

“If I was to ever carry it on I would need to work on my squash skills,” she said. “That was the event I had never played before.

“I don’t want to sacrifice tennis. I enjoy it and play at a good level. It’s something I’ve done all my life.”