Thursday, October 30, 2008

UniSport Guildford v Exeter Diamonds - Tue 4th Nov

Preview from Ian Robinson as Guildford take on the high-flying newcomers ...

UniSport Guildford v Exeter Diamonds
Gilly Lane v Jonathon Kemp
Stacey Ross v Mohamed El Shorbagy
Steve Meads v Rob Sutherland
Jamie Mathews v Peter Creed
Alison Waters v Tory Temple-Murray

We welcome new boys to PSL, Exeter Diamonds for our second home match of the PSL season. Driven on by the motivational win against south coast rivals PNH Properties Chichester, UniSport Guildford entertain their guests in good spirits and no little optimism. Exeter Diamonds are setting a fast pace at the top of the league table so far this season and this will be a very challenging night for the UniSport Guildford team.

Jesse Engelbrecht is on PSA absence with tournament duty in Canada, so the team is led for the first time by American Gilly Lane making his debut in UniSport colours. Gilly has spent time in Guildford training in the past and is no stranger to local members. He has driven his world ranking up to number 86 and is making a impressive impact on the PSA scene. Englishman Jonathon Kemp is the opposition at number 1 string for Exeter Diamonds, he has a world ranking of 31. The odds here are stacked against UniSport Guildford, but it will be a good measure of how much progress Gilly has made.

There is a mouth-watering match at number 2 string with local hero Stacey Ross matched against Mohamed El Shorbagy. The Egyptian is World Junior Champion and is making his debut for Exeter Diamonds and is on fire at the moment. He recently won through to the quarter finals of the World Open where he finally succumbed to the World number 1, Amr Shabana. Stacey Ross always enjoys his encounter with the Egyptian but it will be interested to find out how the two players match up now. The fear is that Shorbagy may well have put some distance between the two of them and it make take a super human effort for Ross to make much headway.

In the middle order the evergreen Steve Meads may well have too much experience for Rob Sutherland and Jamie Mathews is given a second opportunity to show his mettle after a good debut performance against Chichester. Alison Waters has the opportunity to take a look at the next generation of English squash players in Tory Temple-Murray, but should know too much to dent the Guildford players increasing unbeaten record.

We look forward to a great evening of squash.

Ian Robinson

Friday, October 24, 2008

St George's fall 3-2 again

For the second match in a row TWP St George's Hill went down 3-2 in The Premier Squash League last Tuesday night. The young Weybridge side were pipped by an experienced Bristol team containing several stars of squash.

Young Rachel Willmott for TWP battled hard against Bristol's World no 45 Vicky Hynes gaining great match experience but unfortunately no games as Hynes romped to victory.

Meanwhile Walton's British Junior Champion and rising star Joe Lee put huge pressure on former World no 2 Peter Marshall storming to the first game but just losing out as Marshall snatched the second with some fine touch play. Marshall visibly tired but became more accurate as he did so using his "legendary" two handed style to great effect. The third game was crucial and Lee failed to convert his chances whilst Marshall showed many of the qualities that had made him a World Class player. Marshall took that game and fought off a spirited comeback from Lee in the fourth to give his side a two match lead.

TWP's Mohamed Nafizwan Mohamed Adnan or Wan for short took to the court against Bristol's team captain Hadrian Stff and started sluggishly putting his side in more trouble as he lost the first game. Some persistant rallying and nice touches gave Wan the edge in the second and Stiff offered little resistance in the third. The fourth game was more evenly contested but Wan showed some of the form which has taken him to number 60 in the World and number 3 in Malaysia to pull a match back for TWP St George's Hill.

The eagerly awaited class between former British Open Champion David Evans and local boy Tom Richards failed to live up to it's post match billing. Tom has recently risen to number 49 in the world and last week took World number 10 Ong Beng Hee to five games at The World Open in Manchester whilst Evans has regained top form following a coaching stint in Jersey. Evans totally dominated the centre of the court and Richards struggled to put pressure on the tall but elegant Welshman. Unfortunately for TWP this was not to be Richards's night and he went down three games to love.

The final clash of the evening between TWP's top star Daryl Selby and Adrian Grant the World number 10 was an exhibition of exquisite squash skills. Selby's ball striking and control were superb whilst Grant moved in the same predatory manner as a young Mohamed Ali, anticipating Selby's best shots and countering with his own precise attacking strikes. On this performance 25 year old Selby could yet go on to become one of the world's best players. He took the first two games with style and narrowly lost out in a nail biting third as Grant clawed his way back into the match. The fourth game was evenly matched but Selby showed exceptional character to pull off an excellent win delighting the large St George's crowd.

TWP St George's travel to Chichester on November 4th and play at St George's Hill at 7pm on Tuesday 11th November against local rivals Unisport Guildford. Spectators are welcome and tickets can be purchased from 07905 102095.

St George's Hill players performed well in the recent World Open in Manchester with Daryl Selby reaching the last sixteen and Tom Richards coming so close to defeating World number 10 Ong Beng Hee in the first round. Joe Lee beat Irish champion and World no 79 John Rooney in qualifying but went down to Egyptian wonder kid Mo Shorbagy who reached the quarter finals.

Danny Lee

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It’s not the end of the world…. Yet

David Coghlan on Oxford v Nottingham ...

MB Nottingham made the journey south on Tuesday to face a supremely strong Oxford side. With the late withdrawal of Simon Parke due to illness, a tough job didn’t get easier as we drew on our larger squad, pulling in talented young Nottingham star Eddie Charlton at four.

Emma Beddoes was always going to have a tough night against recent World open semi finalist Madeline Perry, however Emma is more than capable of punching above her weight so I had a hope we may be able to pick up a point or two here. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be. Perry showed the same form she’d displayed the week before in Manchester to dominate Beddoes taking the match fairly comfortably, 11/3 12/10 11/3 not before adding insult to injury, or should that be injury to insult as Madeline clonked Emma soundly on the forehead in the second.

On the court next door a pumped up Charlton was looking to upset the formbook and make it two weeks of PSL misery for Scott Handley after his defeat at Pontefract. Again MB Nottingham were denied as Handley managed to contain the youngster, a case Nottingham are familiar with over the last couple of seasons of being close but getting no reward. The PAR scoring leaves no margin for error, the 3-0 score line not giving Charlton the credit he deserves for pushing Handley all the way, 11/9 11/9 11/8

Irish international Arthur Gaskin found himself pushed up the order to 3 against Chris Ryder a player enjoying some excellent form recently. The result was never really in doubt even though Gaskin made Ryder work for every point and kept scoring level at the early stages of each game. The match was wrapped up and Oxford already had the tie in the bag 11/6, 11/6, 11/2

So playing for pride and with MB Nottingham still without a single point on the board it was Renan Lavigne taking on former teammate Borja Golan in the two-string match. Things didn’t start well. Lavigne didn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders at first as Golan reached game ball 10/7 in the first forcing Lavigne to dig in and minimise his errors. This late surge hauled Lavigne level at 10/10 before Golan closed out the game 12/10. Exactly the same story in the second, Golan reached game ball but again this seemed to focus Lavigne who again closed the gap before Golan again closed out the second 12/10. Nightmare. So close and still no points for MB Nottingham.

Ong Beng Hee had a chat with Lavigne between games and whatever he said worked a treat. Lavigne stood up the court in the third, soaked up pressure from Golan’s wickedly effective attacking boast and kept the Spaniard moving to win the quick third game 11/3. Bengy had another whisper in Lavigne’s ear and the fourth went the same way as Golan looked to be struggling slightly with his movement levelling the match 11/6. So with two points on the board and the momentum now with Lavigne I was confident for the fifth. Both players gave it their all, even for a dead rubber you could see that neither player wanted to lose as they both chased down absolutely everything. Level at 8/8 Lavigne missed an easy backhand drop that Golan hadn’t even moved for, handing the Spaniard a slight advantage but having a greater negative effect on Lavigne. The remaining rallies were tight but a no let descision at 10/8 gave Golan the match, much to the disgust of the French man who made his feelings known to the officials with typical Gallic flair.

The match between World No. 10 Ong Beng Hee and Cameron Pilley was my one confident tip for an MB Nottingham victory and hugely important to prevent Oxford getting full the 20 points available. How wrong I was. Pilley looked stronger than I’ve ever seen him before and was simply relentless for the entire 99 minutes of the match. Bengy sneaked the first 13/11 after weathering a strong fight back from the Australian before Pilley came right back to take the next two games 11/9 11/7. Oxford now had 19 points on the board and I was willing Bengy on, to try and stop the whitewash that was now looming large. Bengy crept over the line in the fourth 11/9 but it was clear who looked the stronger in the fifth as Bengy tried hard to keep the pace high and keep the tall Australian twisting and turning. The fifth was a see saw as both players battled tooth and nail for victory, any late arrivals would never have known this was a dead rubber, a testament to the players and also the importance they place on PSL matches. At 13/12 to Pilley it was the Malaysian who felt aggrieved by the officials as a stroke call handed Pilley a hard fought but well deserved win to give Oxford an incredible 20 points.

Before we set off for Oxford I was prepared for a defeat. Having chatted to Jason the week before he was almost apologetic that he was able to field such a strong team, (Yeh right) however the nature of the loss was mildly annoying even to me. In reality even if Bengy and Renan had won we would have only got 6 points as opposed to 4 so it really isn’t that bad. Honestly. We are already setting our sights towards 4th November and a fantastic home tie against local rivals Duffield.

Its already clear just two games into the season that the PSL is at its most competitive this year. I honestly can’t decide who will make the play offs come March, however if we miss out by two points no doubt everyone will have great fun reminding me about this result…

David Coghlan

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Andy Whipp reports

We got our Premier League season off to a winning start in a match which was always going to be close and a crowd pleaser against a full strength Pontefract team.


This was a good women's match to watch with two excellent players. The first two games were close with the games shared, but at 1 game all Vanessa managed to pull away after a few hard rallies and in the end showed her class to emerge the 3-1 winner. Laura put up a great fight especially given that she's been struggling with a few niggling injuries and illnesses in the previous month. Everyone knows Laura can create upsets and I'm sure as the season wears on she will only get better and better.


Joel and Neil were on the back court at the same time as the popular local fire-fighter was battling away on the glass back, but still managed to draw a decent crowd, maybe wondering how his hair was styled this week. Joel can just do everything a bit too fast for Neil who is a very good, accurate player. Neil seems to be gradually getting a bit quicker these days but just seemed generally a bit rushed by Joel's fast paced game. The were several low drop shops from both players but even though Neil put up a great fight and made the second and third games close, Joel just had a bit too much power to emerge as the 3-0 winner. A good debut for Joel back at Duffield after several years away. A great addition to our team.


This was never going to be a dull match to watch, with two players who were always going to play shots and run around quickly. This was one of the key ties marked by both teams as I'd got the victory at the end of last season in a tough match but Sourav of late has been playing extremely well. Unfortunately for me Sourav played very well not putting a foot wrong. The match was played at a crazy pace with both of us running and running and running after balls that should have been given up on to the delight of the packed crowd (but not my little legs!). Sourav won the first game 11-9 which turned out to be crucial as he just gained in confidence from that and just played too well. He was moving very well and played some fantastic shots and credit to him as he came away with the 3-0 win. I kept on running like an idiot till the last point but just felt a tiny bit rusty with a lack of good matches under my belt early on in the season. The crowd were disappointed their player had lost but were impressed with Sourav and loved the entertainment as always.


Joey and Lee then went on. With Joey expecting to win as Lee has recently had surgery on his leg, he made a good start and took the first game. As most of the crowd didn't know about Lee's recent venture under the knife, there were all sorts of mumbles from the crowd wondering why Lee had some dodgy strapping on his knee that quickly became loose with the sweat and started flapping around, exposing his bloody wound. Lee actually played some great stuff, showing off how good he is with the racket by playing some fantastic volleys and took the second game to level. Lee continued to generally control the rallies but started to struggle more and more with his movement displaying some painful grimaces along the way. He fought well and continued to play some great shots along the way, but Joey stuck to his task very well and won 3-1. Very nice for Joey to get off to a winning start on his debut. Another new addition to the team this season which will without a doubt make us the team to beat this year in The Premier League.


With the match score at 2-2 it was fitting it was left to the two top players in the country to decide the overall outcome. Nick and James always have great matches with Nick tending to get the better of them in recent years, but with Nick's absence for so long last season with his shoulder injury and with James' outstanding form over the last year it was always going to be close. This was a brilliant match. The pace was very high and the quality even higher. Nick went 2-0 up and it was up to James to try to save the match for his team. He came out and stuck with Nick up to 9-9, until Nick won the last two points to win 3-0 in a superb match. Nick played so well as did James, and apart from one or two tins from James I don't remember any tins, impressive in a match played at that high a pace with some lovely short shots. Nick is obviously feeling good these days to play at that pace for the whole match against someone like James.

A great night loved by everyone there who went to watch. As always the Duffield fans were brilliant as commented by Joey who seemed glad he'd come to play for Duffield. Our next match is in two weeks against Nottingham away, so let's hope we continue the winning start to try to reclaim our title.



Great night for Guildford

UniSport Guildford 4 beat PNH Properties Chichester 1
Ian Robinson reports

Jesse Engelbrecht 3 beat Alex Gough 0
11 - 5, 11 - 5, 11 - 2

Stacey Ross 3 beat Robbie Temple 2
9 - 11, 11 - 6, 12 - 14, 12 - 10, 11 - 8

Steve Meads 3 beat Peter Genever 1
2 - 11, 12 - 10, 11 - 5, 11 - 5

Jamie Mathews 1 lost to Nafzahizam Adnan 3
13 - 11, 5 - 11, 1 - 11, 6 - 11

Alison Waters 3 beat Dominique Lloyd-Walter 0
11 - 4, 14 - 12, 11 - 4

UniSport Guildford 4 beat PNH Properties Chichester 1

UniSport Guildford welcomed a beleaguered PNH Properties Chichester to the Varsity Centre and cashed in. PNH Properties were deprived of the services of Tim Vail (whose wife was expecting an imminent arrival) and at the last minute Azlan (injury). UniSport were able to welcome Steve Meads back for his first appearance of the new season as well as giving a first appearance to World Deaf Champion Jamie Mathews.

Alison Waters was first into action against Dominique Lloyd-Walter for the visitors - in point of fact Lloyd-Walter is now a local player living and training in Guildford. Waters is in good form at the moment despite not playing quite at her best in the recent quarter finals of the World Open. Lloyd-Walter is a tough opponent these days and it was credit to the improvement made by Waters that she got off to a lightning start and was able to bank the first game with relative ease. The second was a different matter Lloyd-Walter played with increasing confidence and had game ball but in the end the resilience of Waters was enough to take a 2 - 0 lead. Lloyd-Walter was doing a lot of work with the constant speed and pace around the court of the Guildford player and in the end the relentlessness of Waters play was the decisive factor giving UniSport Guildford a great 3 - 0 start to the match. 1 - 0.

Jamie Mathews, the World Deaf Champion, played enterprisingly to take a 1 game to 0 lead against Nafzahizam, the Malaysian, who was a last minute deputy for Azlan his more senior compatriot. After the initial surprise of finding himself a game behind, the visitor started to find his rhythm and using his considerable athleticism to good effect managed to draw level. Mathews was clearly finding the retrieving of the Malaysian disconcerting and increasingly debilitating. He was unable to replicate the quality of shots that had been so effective for him in the first game and alarmingly he lost the decisive third game scoring only 1 point. The Malaysian now was full of confidence and try as Mathews did to force his way back into the match, the visitor was controlling play too well and ran out a 3 - 1 winner to level the match scores at 1 - 1.

Steve Meads and Peter Genever were again doing what they seem to do on an annual basis and that is compete furiously against each other in this fixture in PSL. For the first time and marking the passing of the years, it was removed from the gaze of the Championship Court as both players now play at number 3 in the team order and therefore are condemned to do battle on the outside court. Meads has been troubled by a back injury recently and was reluctant to withdraw but was by no means certain of his fitness to contest. Certainly Genever came out of the blocks at full speed and matched by Meads timidity the score was suddenly 10 - 0 to the Chichester player - it was quickly pocketed 11 - 2 and the Guildford player had to regroup or, perhaps, some grouping at all would have been nice... The second was altogether a more engaging contest from a Guildford point of view, as Meads got into his inimitable style and fought to the end as he often does to steal the second on the tie break. Finding his rhythm, Meads took control of the match and finished off the second win of the night for UniSport Guildford by winning the third and fourth games at 11 - 5. A well deserved win for Guildford meant that a positive match result began to look like a possibility. 2 - 1.

Stacey Ross is now playing at number 2 string for UniSport Guildford and has looked a little short of matches. Celebrating his 35th birthday, he was tested to the full tonight by up and coming youngster Robbie Temple, PNH Properties Chichester, who smelt blood and had good cause to believe that he could win. Temple is fleet of foot and does a passable impression of Peter Marshall with his two handedness. He is a fearsome prospect for the established players, but it was his errors that let him down in the end and he was more than a little influenced to his detriment by the contribution of the match official. Ross playing well in patches did not believe that he was playing well and Temple was totally unfazed by the talented opposition and frequently fired his own brand of winners into the front of the court when least expected. Ross gained in confidence as the match wore on and worked hard to play himself into real form so that the shots started to work. It was a decidedly edgy match and as a result the movement patterns were not great and bordered on the untidy, thus the match official was probably overworked. Both the third and fourth games could have gone either way after the first two games levelled the score. The fifth game was always controlled to greater or lesser extent by the Guildford favourite. It was very jittery until 7 - 7 when Ross managed to find enough resolve to complete the business and hold back the tide of youth for one more year. UniSport Guildford, 3 - 1, had now clinched their first home win of the season, which will hopefully not be their last. The number 1s were still to play.

Jesse Engelbrecht newly appointed as number 1 for UniSport has not been high on confidence since his elevation, but lacks nothing in enthusiasm and commitment. Alex Gough has been a long term fixture in the higher echelons of the PSA rankings but has recently moved to an executive role within the PSA as their newly appointed Chief Operating Officer and is therefore regularly seen in a suit rather than a track suit. As odd as this may seem to his many fans, it has inevitably taken its toll as he no longer commits the time to the hours of work required to maintain excellence at the World Class playing level. Sensing his opportunity Engelbrecht made a positive start and was determined not to be ambushed by his very tricky opponent. Moving smoothly and with great economy of effort Engelbrecht set about asserting his authority over his ageing opponent. It was apparent that Engelbrecht could convert this into a comfortable win providing he could keep his head and concentrate on playing positive error free squash. Gough, try as he might, is not the force that he was last year and was not able to hold back the tide of an increasingly confident Engelbrecht. UniSport Guildford had now increased the winning margin to 4 - 1.

It was great night of squash played in front of a full house at the Varsity Centre against our great rivals from the south coast - it does not get much better than this. It certainly compensated for the disappointing voyage to Bristol where the score was reversed. With Guildford players all coming into form now, book your tickets early for the next match at home to Exeter Diamonds on Tuesday 4th November starting at 7pm.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Nottingham nick narrow win

David Coghlan reports on Nottingham v Chapel Allerton

Excitement and anticipation at Nottingham squash club last night as MB Nottingham’s first PSL fixture of the 2008/2009 season approached. Facing league new comers Chapel Allerton, it was only after a major delay that we finally got our season underway as we waited for three of our team to negotiate the huge traffic jams on the M1. As a result of this, we had a slightly topsy turvy match order but it did mean that the restless Nottingham crowd got an early chance to see summer signing and US national champion Julian Illingworth make his Premier Squash League debut.

Julian Illingworth vs Scott Arnold - 11/9, 11/1, 5/11, 11/6

I had heard only good things about Julian before this match, a young rapidly improving player that could cause some real upsets amongst the establishment at the top of the PSA rankings. It was easy to see why as soon as the match got under way on Nottingham’s show court.

The first was fairly even up to 5/5 as both players kept the ball tight and long, however Illingworth began to find his range, with some ultra attacking long drop shots which is the trade mark of his game. Pushing Arnorld into the back, Illingworth would seize even a slightly loose drive and fire it in short before moving straight up the court and volleying Arnold’s reply. Illingworth quickly closed out the first 11/6 and romped the second 11/1, seemingly hitting winners at will from any where on the court. Arnold tightened his game in the third, reducing Illingworth’s attacking options and minimising his own errors. Illingworth’s own attacking game seemed to falter, Arnold was reading the short balls better and keeping Illingworth well and truly contained, taking the third 11/5. Illingworth started the fourth strongly with renewed aggression, wrestling control of the T from Arnold as he extended an early 4/1 lead. Illingworth’s attacking style was back in control, adding confidence, as a frustrated Arnold struggled to contain the American, eventually succumbing 11/6 to rapturous applause from a hugely impressed Nottingham crowd.

Arthur Gaskin vs Steve Coppinger - 10/12, 0/11, 11/4, 7/11

Arthur Gaskin, Irish International and late replacement for injured Lewis Walters was one of the players stuck in traffic so had to have a quick warm up before jumping straight on the back court with South African Steve Coppinger. My concerns that Arthur may be a bit stiff and sluggish were quickly put to rest as Arthur established a huge 8/3 lead in the first with Coppinger looking slow to the ball. Playing some of the best squash I’ve seen from the young Irishman, Arthur dictated the pace of the match pushing Coppinger deep with tight mid pace length followed by punishing short volleys, keeping Coppinger off balance who could do little but chase the ball and wait for an error. From this point, and after a brief discussion with the referee to clarify that the games were now played to 11 and not 9, the game changed. Coppinger reduced his error count to zero as he soaked up what the Irishman could throw at him, forcing Gaskn to take more chances and attempt more winners. The result had an air of inevitability about it as Coppinger hauled back the deficit, with Gaskin chasing everything down pushing for that one winner that would take him over the line. Coppinger had other ideas, managing to force errors from Gaskin and dragging himself level at 10/10 before another tin saw him take the lead for the first time at 11/10. Coppinger quickly wrapped up the game 12/10 as a clearly furious Gaskin rued the loss from such a strong position. The second game was clearly a hang over from the first for Gaskin as he went down 11/0 to a now flowing Coppinger.

The third was much better as Gaskin put his mental demons aside and played a similar game to the first, dominating the T and controlling the pace. This time there was no capitulation as Gaskin weathered Coppinger’s retrieval to take an important 11/4 win. By the fourth Gaskin was starting to feel the pace as Coppinger stuck to his game plan, keeping Gaskin moving and forcing his opponent to hit winners if he wanted to win the game. After a tight start with both players working hard, covering the whole court during brutal rallies, it was Coppinger that managed to force the errors from his opponent. Gaskin rallied hard but ultimately couldn’t keep the ball away from Coppinger eventually going down narrowly 11/7.

Sarah Kippax vs Jenny Duncalf - 5/11, 5/11, 5/11

The ladies were second on the show court, as Sarah Kippax was another Nottingham player affected by traffic issues. Before hand this looked like a tall order for Kippax, Duncalf is on top of her game at the moment and at a career high ranking of 5 in the world, would be unlikely to show any mercy with a player ranked 25 places lower. However with two tournament titles to her name in almost as many weeks Kippax, was in good form, confident and eager to take a big name scalp.

Kippax had a game plan, mix things up, keep Duncalf moving front to back, disrupt her rhythm and keep her guessing. For the most part this was a sound idea and when it worked, was hugely affective. However Duncalf’s footwork and court coverage was hugely impressive, she soaked up the changes in pace and direction to counter attack whatever Kippax could throw at her. Duncalf’s defensive length was also tight to the wall, minimising any further attack from Kippax.

The match was ultimately fairly comfortable for Duncalf, however Kippax held her own and showed flashes of brilliance at the front of the court, Duncalf played very well and was ruthless in her shot execution. The highest ranked female player in the PSL at least Kippax can take heart that it shouldn’t get any harder than this!

John Rooney vs Chris Simpson 11/6, 10/12, 11/5, 11/7

With Chapel Allerton now 2-1 up it fell to Irish International and Nottingham regular Rooney, to stop the rot and salvage something for the home team. Beforehand this match had been identified as the pivotal tie, a fact both players were well aware of so there was certainly no holds barred for the entirety of the match.

Rooney raced to a 4-0 lead in the first, dictating the pace with great lobs followed by deft drops that kept Simpson constantly under pressure. After a brief stall and a string of points from Simpson, Rooney eased through the first game 11/6 much to the relief of the packed viewing gallery. The second was much tighter. Neither player giving an inch and Simpson managing to get pretty much every ball back in play, most of the time with interest, stalling Rooney’s attack and on more than one occasion counter attacking to great effect. Rooney dominated the T and largely dictated the pace of the game however it was Simpson’s relentless retrieval that was amazing, a fact that would have ground down many an opponent both physically and mentally. From game ball down Simpson simply didn’t stop fighting, clawing back to level the game at 10/10. The demoralising nature of your opponent doing this was clear for everybody to see as Rooney put two reasonably comfortable balls in the tin to hand the important second game to Simpson.

It’s a testament to Rooney’s mental toughness that he came back out in the third and straight away continued to apply pressure to his opponent. Simpson’s retrieval was on some occasions truly amazing, however Rooney wasn’t fazed and kept the relentless Simpson moving with high lobs, sweet volley drops and a wicked change of pace that clearly took its toll. With Simpson physically wilting at the end of the third Rooney capitalised taking the game 11/5 and a 2/1 game lead.

With Nottingham fans hoping Simpson would now be spent, it was impressive to see Simpson come back on in the fourth and continue chasing down every ball without any apparent sign of the fatigue that appeared in the third. The theme was the same as earlier games, Rooney dictating play, pushing Simpson to the back with great length followed by working volleys. With nothing between them at 7/7 it was three errors forced by a combination of Rooney’s tightness and the inevitable mental and physical toll of the game that gave Rooney match ball. At 10/7 with firstly a tentative let call, then a no let from a Rooney winner, the game was in the bag and MB Nottingham had levelled the match with just the No.1 string players left to play

Ong Beng Hee vs Jon Harford 11/8, 11/7, 11/3

MB Nottingham’s Malaysian star and current World No. 10 is beginning his 3rd season at Nottingham and has already given confirmed availability for the first three fixtures, something the team really missed last year. In his first year at Nottingham Bengy, was unbeaten, getting results against notable players such as James Willstrop, Nick Matthew and Cameron Pilley, he is always a fantastic player to watch and in his current rich vein of form, will be a player of concern for every Premier League team MB Nottingham meets.

With the late withdrawal of Chapel Allerton’s number 1, Alastair Walker through injury, this always looked like a tough job for the World No 60 Harford and that it was. Harford battled hard during the first keeping pace with Bengy and even leading at 7/6 before Bengy’s incredibly deft length and effortless movement started to get results, taking the first 11/8. The second followed suit as Harford worked hard for every point, but Bengy looking so relaxed, seemingly chose exactly where he wanted to put the ball at any time, taking it 11/7. The third was a formality, as an obviously frustrated Hardford had nothing to challenge the dominance of Ong Beng Hee wrapping the game up 11/3 and giving MB Nottingham a great first match victory.

A fantastic night for MB Nottingham and a great start to the Premier Squash League season. My congratulation to the team, who acquitted themselves fantastically and worked hard for the win, lets hopes that this continues in two weeks as we travel to Oxford and then on 4th November as we play host to the East Midlands Derby, taking on former champions Duffield.

David Coghlan

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Surrey v St George's ... the SOBO report

The celebrations of last seasons victory lasted well into October…punctuated by Vicky’s retirement (sort of) from squash, Davide’s anger management courses, the odd victory or two against David Palmer by Peter and Wael going about his business winning the Petrosport Open, albeit in his back garden …

That said and done, onto the main event. The St. George’s crew have a young look and feel to them and Manager, Danny Lee should be congratulated for fielding such a team in the PSL; Rachel Wilmott, Joe Lee, Tom Richards, Mark Krajcsak and led by Daryl Selby.

First up on the main court, Vicky vs. Rachel.

In truth, the result here was never in doubt but Rachel acquitted herself well in the first and third before succumbing to a 3-0 defeat. The most amusing part of this match was watching the two ladies attempt to depart the court at 9-6 only to be ordered back by the (most scary) ref who advised them that scoring was to 11 for the ladies as well as the men this season!

Vicky in particular looked somewhat puzzled before duly winning the next two points anyway. Still, most amusing.

Surrey 1 – 0 St George’s

On the adjacent court, Ben Ford was half asleep against young Joe Lee. Truth be told, I don’t think Joe did anything amazing on there. He was solid, error free and hit some pretty decent stuff but Ben by comparison seemed to be trying to kill the points early and unfortunately, it wasn’t working. Joe picked up most things with interest and deservedly took a 2-0 lead.

Of all our team, Ben Ford has the game I personally, most admire and whilst logic would suggest that at 2-0 down and looking pretty knackered against a young and fit opponent, it would be all over pretty quickly, it was all change in the third.

His shots were tighter which gave him more time on the ball and he deservedly took the third game. However, despite a monumental effort in the fourth, Joe kept his discipline to sneak the fourth on a tie break for a well earned 3-1 win. Well played mate!

Surrey 1 – 1 St George’s (grrr…)

Davide vs. Mark
This was another that turned out to be pretty straightforward. Davide looked comfortably throughout but the match was most notable for an incident in the second. The ref made a decision; not massively controversial by any stretch but with enough doubt for Davide to get somewhat upset.


Instead, his anger management trainer (Vicky Botwright) was seen making finger-on-lips gestures at her Italian “patient” and despite an obvious struggle, he adhered. Imagine if you can, Davide with all the gesticulation but the mouth remaining firmly shut. Most amusing.

Anyway, that aside, a good, solid 3-0 win earnt without too much drama. Well done Vicky.

Surrey 2 – 1 St George’s (Happy days…)

Tim Garner vs. Tom

I apologise but I didn’t see any of this one but I’m told that Captain Tim put in a valiant effort and even had the audacity to burgle a game from Tom RichardsJ All said and done though and despite a quality effort by our captain, a 3-1 victory for St George’s in this one.

Surrey 2 – 2 St George’s (grrr…)

Peter vs. Daryl
And so, with the tie poised at two matches apiece, the number one strings took to the court. Peter Barker, having recently returned from a jaunt to the US where he beat David Palmer not once but twice in Chicago and Baltimore must have been full of confidence. Daryl Selby on the other hand hasn’t been making the same waves as Peter but, (and I say this with a begrudging respect for the opposition…) he has an uncanny knack of beating quality opposition when it matters; just ask both Peter and Stewart Boswell. Daryl is annoyingly GOOD if you get my drift.

So good in fact that despite some monster rallies and superb retrieval from both players, Daryl took a 2-0 lead and looked on course for an almost shock result. Peter duly came good though and after almost two hours and the odd questionable call from the ref, Peter and the Surrey Health & Racquets team emerged 3-2 victors.

Surrey 3 – 2 St George’s (Never in doubt!)

Much closer than we might have hoped but the TWP sponsored St. Georges outfit in truth, deserved every point they got. Their next match is against Bristol. If Daryl plays Adrian, I wouldn’t plan on anything other than a room at a local hotel as I guarantee that it’ll go the full distance!

Talking of distance…as for the champions, I believe our next fixture has us on an Israelites journey down to Exeter. Anyone know what the time difference is down there?

As you were…

David Sobo

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bloggers Wanted - prizes to be won !

Just days to go until the new PSL season kicks off, and with the new season comes some new and (hopefully) exciting marketing developments. As you will be able the see we have a new PSL website, which as well as the usual fixtures, results, and news, will give clubs, players, and most importantly fans the chance to get involved.

Which brings me nicely onto our first website competition of the year. We are looking for 11 bloggers (one fan representing each PSL team) to keep us updated on everything that goes on at your PSL club throughout the season - we want all of the news, gossip, events, and reaction from inside the club, and only you, the fans, can do that properly!

The competition is pretty straight forward, all you need to do is email me ( with your name, the team you support, and tell me why you should be your team's blogger for this season (in 50 words or less). I will then pick the fan with the most convincing argument (keep it clean!) from each club, and those fans will receive tickets to the 2009 National Championships at the National Squash Centre, courtesy of England Squash. The competition closes on Friday 24th October, so get those entries in!

That should be enough blogging from me for one day, apparently we have a World Championships to organise, but before I go you might like to know that we will have a range of PSL posters for your notice boards and bedroom walls (if that is what floats your boat). They will be made available to download from this site shortly, as well as being available from your England Squash Area Manager, but here is a sneak preview: