Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Team Chichester – v – Exeter Diamonds

In the penultimate round of the PSL, Team Chichester (currently 4th) - looking for its third win on the trot, and 5th for the season - played Exeter Diamonds (currently in 3rd place).  According to the PSL’s Crystal Ball, only a 5.0 win could keep Chichester in with a shout of the play-offs.  A 3.2. win either way could knock the other out of contention by the end of the night.

Making her home debut for Chichester, Nicolette Fernandes (World No.45), wasted no time in delighting the home crowd with a routine 3.0. win over Victoria Temple-Murray.  The Exeter player competed well in many of the rallies but lacked the experience at the cutting edge and as the match wore on Victoria hit the tin more frequently.  Nicolette won comfortably 11/6, 11/4, 11/2.

Meanwhile on the glass-back court Chichester’s Tim Vail played Exeter’s Peter Creed who, in January this year defended and retained his Welsh National Championship title.  Vail looked generally in command throughout the match, with Creed retrieving but not taking control.  The 3 games were tight but Vail had the variety and edge in most departments to run out a 3.0 winner.

2.0. to Chichester

The Chichester machine continued to roll on.  Alex Gough, revitalised from his brilliant win over Joe Lee last week and, with another week’s training, gave another sterling performance.  Gough had far too much experience for Exeter’s, Mike Gregory.  Gregory competed well in many of the rallies and hit several of his trademark nicks but Gough’s superior anticipation and movement proved a bridge too far.  Gough did not waver and his 3.0 victory gave Team Chichester a winning margin.

3.0 and the match to Chichester.

Next on court the number one strings Max Lee (Chichester) and Campbell Grayson (Exeter) had a ‘battle royale’.  The match was very tight throughout with little to separate the players.  Lee took the first game 11/7 before Grayson dug in and worked hard to take the next 2 games.  Both players moved the ball to all quarters of the court and in the fourth Grayson built up a lead but Lee began to run down and retrieve everything to clinch it 11/8.  It was now down to the wire and was nip and tuck all the way with Lee building an 8/7 lead before 2 unforced errors let Grayson back in.  Grayson hung on and took the fifth 9/11 thus saving Exeter from a whitewash defeat.

Finally the number 2 strings got underway.  Chichester’s Olly Pett was looking to avenge his 3.0 defeat to Jonny Harford at Exeter at the beginning of the season.  This time Pett was determined to get out quickly and pile on the pressure and subsequently he took Harford by surprise.  Pett dominated from the outset and with very few unforced errors he came through a good 3.0 winner to give Chichester a 4.1 victory; a third win on the bounce and five wins out of nine this season.

The squad’s final match is away to Bristol and Robbie Temple, who has done extremely well in the last 2 matches, will be replacing Alex Gough and Lauren Briggs is also set to return.  Team Chichester will be looking for a final 3rd place position in the PSL southern division which, in recent seasons, is a major achievement.

Mike Phillips
Team Manager

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Two in a row for Ponte

Malcolm Willstrop reports

With both teams almost at full strength - Oxford lacked Borja Golan, Pontefract were without Vanessa Atkinson - the line-up promised a great deal and in the event delivered.

Madeline Perry, looking as fit as ever, proved too pacy for Kirsty Mcphee, whose racket skills kept her in the games, and she gave Oxford a start, winning 3-0. Meanwhile two relative veterans, Simon Parke and Scott Handley, both of whose enthusiasm for the game remains undiminished, were battling it out and at one all it was anybody's match. Parke though, proved the stronger and gradually pulled away to win 3-1, levelling the matches.

Lee Beachill began slowly, losing the first game quickly to Jamie Haycocks, but working his way in to contention he led 2-1; Haycocks, however, as might be expected, finished the stronger and won 3-2.

Indian No 1 Saurav Ghosal, in good form, always had control against the persistent Chris Ryder and although the three games were close, ghosal's finishing ability and speed around court gave him the decisive edge.

So the match was level at 2 all, the outcome depending on the top string match between James Willstrop, perhaps vulnerable after Manchester, and Cameron Pilley, certainly capable of taking advantage if the world number 4 was not somewhere near his best.The first game was fiercely contested, high pace and aided by three unforced errors in a row from Willstop, Pilley forced a tiebreak . Willstrop would have won the game 13-11 if a backhand drop had not found the tin, but it was the Australian who took the game 14-12.

From then on Willstrop produced a bewildering display of shotmaking and finishing. Unplayable, winning the second 11-1 he took the third 11-3 and the fourth 11-5. Pilley powerless, to give Pontefract a 3-2 win.

The packed house left more than happy and home supporters well pleased with a second consecutive win.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Duffield back on track at Nottingham

Chris Nutley reports

It was always going to be tough for Nottingham as they played host to Duffield who were keen to get the second half of the season off to a flier and move into second spot in the league.  Testament to Nottingham’s commitment to the PSL they had a full house for what looked on paper a probable 5-0 drubbing.

Nottingham’s team manager and compere for the evening Dave Coghlan set the scene for the evening –  as he introduced the teams onto court and then briefly interviewed all 10 players – hardly John Inverdale, more Alan Partridge, but very entertaining all the same.

First on the showcourt was Emma Beddoes against Jaclyn Hawkes:  Emma got off to a flier and duly took the first 11-5 before seeming to turn off and lose the next and quickly finding herself 10-4 down in the third.   Something then triggered a resurgence and she fought back to 9-10 before a tinned drop handed the game to Jaclyn.  Emma continued her revival and levelled things by taking the 4th and quickly taking a 7-3 lead in the decider.  However errors suddenly started to creep in and Jaclyn fought back to sneak it 9-7.  An entertaining start to the evening but Emma was ultimately undone by too many unforced errors that denied her a good scalp.  1-0 to Duffield.

On the second court flatmates Chris Truswell and Joel Hinds locked familiar horns.  There were some long rallies in the first game, with the training partners anticipating each others shots, but Joel’s speed and accuracy was telling and he took it 11-8, and eventually ran out a comfortable 3-0 winner.  Duffield 2-0

There was no belated  valentines love shown on the same court in the next match, as brothers Chris and Mark Fuller engaged in an intriguing battle.  Chris, five years younger was expected to win, but knew a tough battle was in store. A great first game swung one way then the next with Chris nicking it 11-8.  He then took the next 11-7 to go 2 up and looked in control.  However Mark was determined not to let his kid brother have things his own way in the third winning 11-4. Chris finally settled the sibling spat 3-1 as he took the fourth 11-7 and the match 3-1.  Match secured for Duffield 3-0

Back on the showcourt Lewis Walters was looking to get Nottingham back into the match against World No41 Steve Coppinger.  Again a shock looked on the cards as Lewis matched his higher ranked opponent and deservedly took the first 12-10.  The second was just as competitive with the home crowd getting right behind Lewis, but Steve started to exert his authority to level things with with a tight 11-8.  This seemed to drain the energy out of Lewis and Steve went on to ease to victory 3-1.  Duffield looking good for a 5-0 whitewash.

The final match on court was the one the packed house had come to see – World Champion Nick Matthew against home favourite Eddie Charlton.  It was never going to be a classic with Nick far too strong for any upset to be a realistic prospect.  However Eddie played his part, and was a little cheeky at times to the World No1, which delighted the crowd.  Eddie dug deep and got involved in some great rallies but Nick’s unrelenting pressure was simply too much and a 11-2, 11-6, 11-3 victory ensued.  A good professional performance by Duffield that puts them firmly in the hunt for a semi-final berth.

Whilst Nottingham were on the wrong end of a hiding the home crowd were excellent and appreciated a great PSL night.

Team Chichester – v – Surrey Health & Racquets Club

Team Chichester welcomed Surrey Health & Racquets Club to Chichester Racquets and Fitness Club for its second home match of the Premier Squash League this half of the season.  A formidable Surrey line-up included 4 men inside the World top 55 and the World No. 3 lady player, Alison Waters; a tough task lay ahead for the home side.
Hannah Wright-Davies from Chichester, and making her debut, battled bravely throughout the match and indeed gave a very good account of herself.   Backed by a very vocal Chichester crowd Hannah made a nervous start against the World No.3, Alison Waters.   Hannah, however, dug in and certainly made Alison work hard for her 2/11, 5/11, 5/11 victory.
On the adjoining glass-back Chichester’s Tim Vail found World No. 53 Adrian Waller a very tough opponent.  Over the years they have played each other many times with Waller improving in recent clashes.  This time he was moving well clear of Vail and proved to be too strong on the night to clinch a 7/11, 5/11, 8/11 victory for Surrey
Next on the glass-back Olly Pett, who last month won his first PSA title in Chicago, faced Surrey’s Simon Roesner (German No.1 and World No. 33).  Roesner started off dictating proceedings, taking the ball very early and keeping Pett on the back foot and raced to a 0/9 lead before closing it out 2/11.  The second game continued in the same vein, with Pett looking too hard to hit winners and he found the tin too often.  Roesner maintained the pressure and took the second 4/11.
In the 3rd Pett settled down and became more patient – looking for the working shot instead of the winning shot.  He began to grow in confidence and found his length of shot and began to force errors from the German to take the 3rd game 11/5.  The 4th started evenly, shot for shot, before Roesner eased away and began to dominate with a fast attacking game and, once again, Pett began to find the tin.  Roesner closed the match 5/11 to give Surrey an unassailable 0.3. lead.
Next on court Chichester’s Robbie Temple, currently World ranked No.73, took on World No.18, Adrian Grant.  Temple came out of the blocks very quickly and kept Grant under pressure for the first 2 games and despite Grant getting his game together towards the end of the 2nd Temple took them 11/8, 11/9.  At the beginning of the 3rd Grant took advantage of a decision which upset Temple and Grant moved away, giving himself daylight to take the third 6/11.  The fourth was neck and neck until the latter stages when Temple hit some outrageous nicks to close out the match 11/6 to put Chichester on the score sheet.
Finally on the glass-back Mo Azlan Iskandar (World No.13) made his welcome return to the Chichester squad.  He played World No.8 and England No.4, Peter Barker in a much anticipated match.    Both players started at a furious pace, with nothing to choose between them.  Barker was moving well and nudged ahead with error free squash to snatch the 1st game.  Iskandar battled back by employing some deft drop shots.  Both continued to move around the court with admirable speed with Iskandar eventually taking the second.  Iskandar maintained the pressure and a few errors began to creep into Barker’s game and a few hit tin shots from Barker gave Iskandar the game for a 2.1 lead.  In the fourth game it was nip and tuck all the way until midway, when an extremely hard rally had Iskandar being dragged around the court to the point of exhaustion.  Barker then pulled away to level the match and take it to a decider.
In the final game Barker edged to a 1/3. lead before another lengthy hard rally ensued which Barker won to increase his lead to 1/4.  He extended the lead to 2/9 but Iskandar was not finished.  He threw everything he had left to gain another 2 points before Barker took control and wrapped up the game and match 5/11 after 1 hour 23 mins.
1.4 to Surrey
The next match for Chichester is away to Winchester on March 1st.

Mike Phillips - Team Manager

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

1st February: Team Chichester – v – UWE Bristol

Team Chichester welcomed UWE Bristol to Chichester Racquets and Fitness Club for its first home match of Premier Squash League this year.  Both teams were fielding below top strength squads but a competitive fixture, however, looked on the cards.

Lauren Briggs opened the proceedings.  She has proved to be a very reliable player for Team Chichester this season and once again she did not disappoint.  Briggs stormed through to a straight sets victory; dropping only a few points on the way.


On the adjoining glass-back Chichester’s Pete Genever, making a welcome return to the squad,  had his hands full against Bristol’s, Dan West.   Genever stormed to a 10/5 lead in the first game but after a fightback from his opponent he only just closed out the game 12/10.  In the second game he once again took a commanding 10/5 lead, only to lose concentration, find the tin regularly and then lose the game 10/12.  From then on both players battled evenly with Genever just coming through to win the next 2 games and edge out a 3.1. winner.

2.0 to Chichester

Next on the hard back court Brandon Hanley made his debut for Chichester.  On the night he was in full flow and, aided by some outrageous nicks, convincingly closed out a 3.0 win to give Chichester an unassailable 3.0 lead.

On the glass-back court Chichester’s Nic Birt built up a 10/0 lead against Theo Anderson before being hauled back to eventually take the game 11/7.  Anderson, thereafter, grew in confidence and ground out a scrappy, hard fought 1.3 victory to put Bristol on the score sheet.

Finally, the dead rubber match between Chichester’s Tim Vail and Bristol’s proved to be the match of the night, and the longest at 68 minutes.  A close 1st game went to Bristol as Serme’s speed around the court enabled him to claw back an early deficit and win it 8/11.  He carried on in the same vein in the second to comfortably win 2/11.  In the 3rd Vail started hitting more strong and straight shots to give Serme little to attack.  The game swung to and fro; Vail struggled to keep his straight game in check before he finally got it back on track to win through 13/11.  A similar pattern in the 4th but an exhausted Vail started and finished strongly with a lapse of concentration during the middle period.  Nonetheless he battled well to take it 12/10 to take the match to the deciding 5th game.  By now Serme sensed that Vail was increasingly tiring and took advantage by making him work harder for every point.  He closed out the match 5/11.

Chichester won 3.2. 
The next match is at home on Tuesday 15 February against Surrey Health and Racquets Club.  Team Chichester will field its strongest men’s squad and Hannah Wright-Davies (a Member of Chichester Racquets & Fitness Club) makes her debut. 

Mike Phillips - Team Chichester Team Manager