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The handmade ball is struck with a classic wooden racket and arrives at the front wall close to 160 mph.

The handmade ball is struck with a classic wooden racket and arrives at the front wall close to 160 mph.

The court, languishing about eight metres beneath the gallery, takes the role of a gladiatorial arena and the players, the gladiators themselves. It is truly a magnificent game and one that must be experienced at school.

Quite simply, it is not a game for the feint-hearted. Rackets is the father of squash much as Real Tennis was the father of the modern sport of tennis, which we all play and was spawned in the 18th century being played in the debtors prisons. It is even mentioned in Charles Dickens' novel, The Pickwick Papers.

Rackets attracts sportsmen and women of all age groups and all abilities, though team players are generally the most able and skilled at hand-eye coordination in the school. Cricket, Squash and Tennis players tend to be the best equipped to cope with the technicalities and skill of Rackets.

There are 14 schools on the Rackets circuit including Harrow, Eton, Tonbridge and Charterhouse. Malvern College competes against all these schools in matches throughout the winter terms where the boys play doubles and get to travel to all the best schools in the country. Malvern also competes at The Queen's Club in London where the Public Schools Championships (doubles and singles) are held at the end of the Michaelmas and Lent terms respectively.

The Cricket and Rackets Professional at Malvern is Noel Brett, an ex-cricketer (Surrey Cricket Board). His job is to coach the boys the technical aspects of the game, to oversee the boys' development and also to string rackets and cover the handmade balls. He has huge experience and arrived at Malvern College with a coaching record that is second to none.