Wednesday, April 1, 2009


The Whipp report ...


Tania was first on against Manchester legend Vicky. A match up between possibly the two nicest people in the world, and an intriguing one at that. Vicky has obviously been playing very well in recent months, obviously highlighted by getting to the final of the Worlds, an outrageous feat considering she's retired! And Tania, arrived home from the other side of the world on monday after winning a her first WISPA tour title in years, so battling tiredness but on a high from her awe inspiring form. I didn't watch much of this but news kept on filtering through to the adjacent court that Tania was doing the business, but we'd already guessed that as there were several high pitched screams coming from Vicky which I assume is not usually a good sign (or is it Bozza?!). The third game was tense with both girls leading at different stages but luckily for us a tiring Tania just did enough to win the last 11-9 and put Duffield one up. A great effort, love it Tania.


I know Joel will agree with this as unfortunate as it is. Joel was a definite favourite in this match and Duffield were banking on wins from Joel, Nick and Tania. It all looked to be going swimmingly when Joel was 2-0 up. He wasn't playing his best squash (as he can play wicked when he's on and creaming the ball all over the show) but he was keeping the pace just high enough to maintain the lead. Now Tim may well be in his mid 50's (?) but he's a damn good match player. He knows what he's doing and is clever with it. He really tried to slow it down and it was working. The slower the pace became the more and more edgy Joel became. So edgy in fact it was painful to watch. The third was massive, with both players squandering a few game balls before Tim finally took it. The next two games were equally as tense with half court cross-courts and many a boast landing around the service line. It was extremely horrible to watch for a Duffield fan as Tim reeled in Joel, making him slower and slower until finally he grabbed a huge win for his team. One home fan next to me was getting so excited that he was running out of things to scream to encourage Tim, and then he popped up with "Come on Big Man!". Now Tim, like myself, is not the biggest, and also given that he's a good foot smaller that his opponent it provided Tim and I with much amusement after the match when I made him aware of such a impulsive chant. This was a brilliant effort considering Tim had been working 27 hour days last week to make Canary Wharf the rip roaring success it was (not for Nick!!).


Whoever was playing 2 tonight, whether it was me or Joey, was gonna lose, it was that simple. Pete is far too good at 2. Joey put up a fair display but in the end it was a thankless task. But for Joey to play was the difference that Duffield needed. Joey arriving back from t'egypt literally 3 hours before the match and playing actually won us the match in the end


Duffield fans were now gutted, thinking all was probably lost, obviously hoping I could win but knew it would be an up hill battle. Davide is a class player, and I'm sure most people will have seen him get results against all the top players for about a decade now. He is well known for his fiery Italian nature however. This was always going to be an interesting match up. I managed to take the first game reasonably comfortably, but from then on there was nothing comfortable about any of the other games. The match was tense and exciting riddled with tins and winners from the Whippatrons racket. I didn't want Davide to get in to too much of a rhythm, but at 1 game all and 10-6 to Davide my play seemed to be going horribly awry. Arrh, that was merely just a plan! I effortlessly clawed it back to 10 all (hmmm, effortlessly?) and then followed what seemed like 70 or 80 nail biting rallies with both of us having game balls and losing them. Eventually after some angry outbursts from The Bearded One, I pinched the game 17-15. The fourth was the same, with me going all out attack, living and dying by short shots. Again Davide reached 10 first, and after a few more disgruntled rants at the ref from "The Angry Man" I'd gone and snuck the fourth aswell. So with a few good winners at the and and a very uncharacteristic fist pump, I'd kept Duffield still in it. While I was off in my own excited fist pumping world Davide was feeling different emotion and snapped his racket over his thigh. I think it's out and out impressive and testament to the man that someone with such skinny legs can snap a racket in half with such ease! When I got home and told my wife of this her reply was "I like the sound of that guy!".


When I was going on court for my fourth game I asked Joel how Nick was going on and his reply was "You don't need to know". Very tactful Joel, but I'd figured all was not going well. But, if there's anyone in the world you'd want on your team going on in this massive situation it'd be Nick. Not only is he pretty much the best player in the world but he's bloody mint in a tight situation. El Hindi was playing pretty well and Nick wasn't at his best, but as soon as the news from my court filtered through Nick went from 4-1 down in the second to winning the next three games fairly comfortably with Wael doing some serious finger pointing at the ref along the way. So Nick did the business and were were all absolutely over the moon (not literally, that would be absurd). I'm not sure our manager Felix will ever recover, not even his snazzy shirt could detract from his tension and delight along the course of the evening.

A BRILLIANT NIGHT FOR THE DUFFIELD TRAVELLING FAITHFUL (who as ever were magnificent travelling so far. Thanks.)

Sobo with a Heavy Heart

It is with a heavy heart……

The Semi Finals (one of them anyway) pitted the current champions, Surrey H&RC against the might of the Benz Bavarian sponsored Duffield team. The latter didn’t make it to the semis last year, in no small measure because their numero uno, Nick Matthew got himself injured. Nick was back for this one and there were rumours that his presence would be the deciding factor in this nail biter. Whatever!

The line up for the home side was, in reverse order, Vicky Botwright, Captain Garner (a late replacement for Ben Ford), Davide Bianchetti, Peter Barker and Wael El Hindi.

For the visitors, Tania Bailey, Joel Hinds, Andy Whipp, Joey Barrington and Nick Matthew.

First up, the ladies put on a very decent show. I’ve never seen Tania play live before but guessed on reputation and a recent win against a strong field in KL that our Vicky would be in for a tough one here. And so it proved…. Vicky, despite extricating herself from the rigours of the WISPA tour last year, is still very fit, very mobile and a very good player. I was impressed with Tania though. She appeared to do all the right things keeping Vicky almost constantly under pressure and making the home girl work hard for every point she lost and twice as hard for every point she won.

A close 3-0 (7, 7 and 9) but nevertheless, the home team were one nil down.

On the “other” main court, the youth of Joel Hinds appeared to be telling against Captain Garner. At two love down in this crucial tie, it appeared quite possibly all over. A tie break in the 3rd that just went the way of the home player told the story of just how close this one was. With a sniff of a chance, Tim came out for the fourth and dug in…and dug in….and kept on digging in. He gave away virtually nothing free picking up the majority of Joel’s very good attacking shorts and returning them with interest to take the fourth 11-9.

And so to the decider and a monumental effort from Tim kept the scores pretty much on par through the latter stages of this game. Not to take anything away from Joel; he did all he could to force this one pushing Tim all over the court but the home player just wouldn’t lie down and ……..eventually….ran out a deserved winner 11-9 to much clapping, stamping of feet and general heckling form the sizeable home support.

One game all in matches and Surrey now strong favourites to go through to the final…..

…….that is, until Andy Whipp turned up….grrrrr…. J

I didn’t see any of the 3rd string match between Davide and Andy Whipp. On rankings at least, the home player was expected to win this one but at one game all, it sounded like Davide got most frustrated with the marking and lost a very tight tie break 15-17 in the 3rd to go 1-2 down.

The fourth was another tight affair with much frustration with the marking, from BOTH players. The away player stayed strong though to close it, and the match out on another tie break, 10-12. Well played Andy Whipp.

The pendulum swings back in a northerly direction………

The 2nd string tie between home player, Peter Barker and Joey Barrington didn’t take very long at all. Joey, just back from Egypt did well to extend the rallies and attacked with purpose and a fair amount of success in the first but once the home player had taken the first 11-7, authority was exerted and the tie was soon wrapped up 11-6, 11-4.

At the time that one finished, Messrs El Hindi and Matthew had already been engaged in battle with the first game deservedly going the way of the home player, 11-4. Could a shock result be on the cards?


Nick showed some real class in this one. Wael played extremely well in my opinion; he was forced to just to stay with Nick but the away player gave very little away. The result was a fantastic display of controlled squash that got tighter and tighter with each point won by whomever could keep up the pressure or play an ungettable winner (frequently, both were needed to win a solitary point!)

All told, the away player ran out a deserved 3-1 winner and with the victory, the Duffield team took the spoils and a place in the final.

On a personal note, even though we lost and are compelled to hand back the trophy now, this was the best PSL tie I’ve ever had the privilege of watching. All the matches were excellent exhibitions of squash player who deserved it the most. Well played to all and good luck to Duffield in the final.

You better win it now!

David Sobo