TIM VAIL proved he remains a class above after picking up his fourth National Racketball Championship title.
The Lee-on-the-Solent Tennis, Squash and Fitness Club professional triumphed in an exhilarating final against Northamptonshire’s Mark Fuller – coming from 2-0 down to triumph 3-2.
The 33-year-old looked set to suffer a final whitewash against the British number 12 at Edgbaston Priory in Birmingham.
Trailing 2-0 and 6-1 in the crucial third game, a fourth national title looked beyond Vail.
But he somehow managed to claw his way back into the reckoning, winning the game 11-9, before winning the next two 11-3, 11-4 to seal a remarkable comeback.
Vail said his point-winning shot when the score was 6-1 in the third game proved the turning point in an enthralling final.
‘I was very relieved that I got that point,’ he said.
‘I knew when I got that I had the chance to get back into it and I could see he was going a little.
‘I had to take advantage of it and grab my chance. Luckily, I did’
Vail, who last won the British crown back in 2004, was greeted to a surprise party on his return to his home club in Lee-on-the-Solent.
Many members turned out to honour his achievement – something that was appreciated by the club professional.
‘It was really nice,’ said Vail.
‘I’ve won the National Championships before – most recently back in 2004 – but for the club to recognise it with a sliver plaque from all the staff and players was great.
‘I’m going to have a couple of months off now as the season is pretty much finished.
‘Things like the league games and the new campaign don’t start again until September so I haven’t got a lot planned at the moment.’
Simon Cox, the director of Lee-on-the-Solent, said Vail’s success was a fitting way to mark the club’s centenary.
‘It’s good for the club to be associated with it but it’s also good for Tim, as it’s what he does for a living,’ said Cox.
‘He’s a very good player and this year is the club’s centenary so to have a British champion for the first time in our 100th year is great for the club.’
Vail booked his place in the final with a 3-1 win over Yorkshire’s Dominic Hamilton in the semi-final.
Prior to making his way to the last four, he saw off the challenges of Ben Brown (3-1), Peter Billson (3-0) and Anthony Graham (3-1).
Losing finalist Fuller progressed to the showpiece finale without losing a game in his knockout matches.
He defeated Jonathan Harford (3-0), Dean Alder (3-0) and Mike Edwards (3-0).