Wednesday, March 11, 2009

UniSport Guildford 3 beat TWP St. George's Hill 2

Ian Robinson reports ...

Jesse Engelbrecht 1 lost to Mark Krajcsak 3
8 - 11, 5 - 11, 11 - 7, 6 - 11

Steve Meads 3 beat Neil Hitchens 0
12 - 10, 11 - 4, 11 - 7

Phil Rushworth 3 beat Phil Nightingale 0
11 - 9, 11 - 7, 11 - 3

Mick Biggs 2 lost to Adam Fuller 3
10 - 12, 13 - 15, 11 - 8, 11 - 8, 9 - 11

Alison Waters 3 beat Rachel Willmott 0
11 - 4, 11 - 3, 11 - 5

UniSport Guildford 3 beat TWP St George's Hill 2

UniSport Guildford had a narrow 3 - 2 win for the second Premier Squash League match in succession, this time over near rivals TWP St George's Hill. Both teams were less than full strength but TWP St George's Hill suffered more from unavailability. Nonetheless UniSport could only beat what was put in front of them and this was successfully achieved in a hard fought but entertaining evening of squash at the Varsity Centre. These PSL points being especially important for UniSport in their quest to avoid propping up the table at the end of the season, now only two matches away. The supporters witnessed some strong performances for the last match of the season at home.

Alison Waters was defending her unbeaten run and was a formidable prospect for Rachel Willmott. The World number 6 was in a hurry and quickly established a 6 - 0 lead before the university student could respond. The Waters surge was constant and the power plays meant that Willmott was left doing a lot of retrieving, ultimately to no avail. The result was never seriously in doubt and Waters was left with two more matches this term to protect her unbeaten record for the second season in a row. This was the just the start UniSport wanted and Waters has not failed to deliver in all the matches she has played. 1 - 0 to UniSport.

While this was kick starting the match for UniSport, on the outside court local hero Mick Biggs had the supporters cheering from the squash court roof tops as he shrugged off the disappointment of a 2 - 0 deficit to mount a major come back. By rights the home fans felt that Biggs was more than a little unlucky not to win one of the first two games if not both of them, but Fuller was cute enough to produce winners and accuracy at the crucial moment when Biggs' self belief was at its lowest ebb. However Biggs is very game and roaring back he came. He was more relaxed as he stared defeat in the eyes and thus started to play better. His shots became more accurate, chancing his arm with some outrageous winners and equally playing some tighter more controlled squash building leads in the third and fourth game, which he did enough to convert and tie the scores at 2 - 2. The fifth game was roller coaster with neither player looking convincing, interspersing outrageous winners with some poor errors. In the end it was Fuller who held his nerve clinching a 'lottery' match by two clear points in the fifth. The match score was now level 1 - 1.

Steve Meads made a full recovery from his ankle injury and took his place in the UniSport ranks which is always a comfort to his legion of supporters. Irrepressible as ever, Meads clearly a little ring rusty took time to settle but clawed his way back from game ball down to take the first game with his usual brand of controlled squash and solid defence. Thereafter Meads was to exert a control that was always too much for Neil Hitchens to match. Try as he might the visitor never had sufficient attacking ideas to threaten Meads and in the end home fans were relieved to see their veteran campaigner put another notch on his win record. This gave UniSport another lead with the prospect of only needing one more tie to clinch the match and winning points. 2 - 1 to UniSport.

Jesse Engelbrecht and Phil Rushworth both entered the fray at the same time, which made it difficult for the supporters to spread themselves across two courts to check progress. Phil Rushworth was matched with a more experienced professional opponent in Phil Nightingale and certainly gave away inches in height, but amply made up for it in terms of nippiness around the court. Hardly David and Goliath except in terms of world rankings. The first game was a clumsy affair with Rushworth showing some positive shot making and Nightingale being hurried out of the middle of the court. The referee was called to adjudicate early on deeming that Rushworth should make more effort to get to the ball but later adjusted that view to decide that it was Nightingale that should move off the ball more. While this situation was being sorted out the match was very scrappy, once the decision making was established Ruishworth started to take control of the play and did not allow the taller man any leeway to play his game. With Rushworth attacking and controlling well and Nightingale defending, the balance of play changed very little for the remaining games. This led Rushworth home to a much deserved victory on the night and one which will leave his opponent with much to ponder. Rushworth was duly awarded Man of the Match and received a bottle of champagne for his efforts - a distraction that is clearly not required bearing in mind the next fortnight brings two more very important PSL challenges...

It was duly left to Engelbrecht to tidy up proceedings and hopefully add a further point to the UniSport points tally. Matched against Mark Krajcsak, who had flown in from Hungary that afternoon, Engelbrecht struggled for form and did not look his normal cheerful self. Krajcsak is ranked 10 places higher in the World rankings so this was no easy match. In the early stages Engelbrecht competed hard in the rallies but frequently made errors and became frustrated with the way he was playing, not that he was playing that badly. The Hungarian by contrast is a player in good form and has had some confidence building results recently on the tournament circuit. For two games the frustration was palpable in Engelbrecht's play and was made no better by the fact that the visitor controlled much of the play. The third game saw Engelbrecht start to fire and play how he knows he can but then the fourth was back to the earlier frustrations as Krajcsak eased home as more errors came from the Engelbrecht racket. This was a 3 - 1 reverse at number 1 string, which was not unexpected but overall 3 - 2 victory had been achieved and it was a big relief to earn a third win of the season and gain some respectability in mid table.

The next match of the season sees us make the journey to Surrey H & R Club in Croydon and this is followed by the rearranged match against Chichester on Tuesday 24th March, which is the last match of the season. See you in Croydon...

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