Thursday, October 29, 2009

Now then ... the Sobo report on Surrey v Chichester

Now then…

Back to the PSL and we welcomed the COVERS sponsored Chichester for a good hiding on our home courts in Croydon. Jokes aside, on paper this looked a fairly close encounter. For the home team Peter Barker at the top of the order followed by Wa-Airmiles El Hindi (just in from NYC), Peter (Who?) Nicol, Adrian Waller and thanks to a (er herm!) mix up in dates, a debut Camille Serme.

For the away side, Azlan Iskander at 1, Robbie Temple, Alex Gough, Captain Vail and Dominique Lloyd-Water (  shameless plug).

First up, the ladies and this was always going to be a tight affair pitting World nos 18 vs 20. I told Dominique before she stepped on court that she was under strict instructions to lose gracefully but alas, she was having none of it! That said, the home girl started well on what must have been a pretty nervous occasion. The rallies were decent, Camille favouring the backhand volley dropshot. Dominique stayed strong though very much holding her own so it was with much relief that Camille closed out the first 11-8. All going to plan so far….

Next door, Adrian was doing battle with Tim. I’ll never tire of singing Tim’s praises. For us “normal” people, he is an inspiration and living proof that you do not have to be super fit etc.. to play squash at a decent level. That said, Adrian’s no fool with a racket either. Bing, bang, bosh..Adrian goes 1 up.

The evening is looking most rosy. And then…..

Back to the ladies and with Dominique exerting more pressure, Camille has started tinning those backhand drops and Dominique moves into a 4-0 lead in the 2nd game. Camille regroups to 4-6 but some quality play by the away keeps her just in front to 9-7. Two further tins from Camille and we’re all square.

Next door, Tim is out and firing. Adrian didn’t play badly but perhaps lost a little patience which was enough for Tim to level up at 1-1. Grrr…..

The  third for the ladies was looking like a crucial game. Both working really hard now. The rallies were long with good winners from both. Never more than a point or two between them, Camille was first to game ball at 10-9 but Dominique dug in to save it. Then, in my humble opinion, it seemed to me that the home girl went for a bit too much too soon tinning twice to gift her opponent the 3rd game. Somebody ‘ave a word!

Mista Nicol (or was it El Hindi…) duly did and the fourth saw Camille re-assert some authority on the game. The drops were going in again (hoorah!) and whilst Dominique didn’t really do much wrong, Camille did just enough to take the fourth to cries of Allez!, Allez Camille! from certain factions of the home support; none of whom I can confirm, speak any French! J

Next door, Adrian has snuck the 3rd, 12-10 but… Tim has taken the 4th, 11-4 so 2-2 and all to play for on both courts….

More of the same from the ladies; a really good game of squash this. Camille stayed strong to the end for a good 11-6 win in the 5th. Well played Camille. Never in doubt! Dominique was disappointed with herself and commented that she felt she could and should have done better. I thought she played well to be honest AND lost gracefully so well done on both counts J

Next door was a different story though. According to the script, Tim should have been reaching for the oxygen at this point but was unfortunately having none of it. I didn’t see much of this one but an 11-7 score in favour of the away player suggests a good final game probably deservedly won by the victor. Both courts now vacated Surrey Team Captain, Pete Smith seen pacing along the corridors muttering to himself, “why can’t these Chichester folk just lose gracefully?!?!?”… or maybe that was me….

Next up, Nicol vs Gough and on the main court, El Hindi vs Temple.

In truth both of these did not necessarily live up to their billing. Peter and Alex had a good tussle in the first; eventually won by the home player 11-9 but not before the crowd were treated to an excellent exhibition of how to hit a squash ball to good length and width from both players.

After that, either Alex got tired or injured…or a bit of both. Either way, Peter retrieved as he always does and when you add to that some excellent dying length, it was soon all over for the loss of not many more points. Good stuff.

On the main court, Robbie played ok I guess but el Hindi was rapid with his movement and got to most things thrown his way. The away player didn’t have the best of days and spent time engaged in debate with the referees.

When all was said and done, the home player strolled off court after a 3-0 win having performed his duties for the evening and more importantly, with the Surrey team having taken an unassailable 3-1 lead.

Last but not least, Peter and Azlan stepped on court. The story of this game was that Azlan played very, very well. The first was tight; very tight with no more than a point separating both players. Peter seemed to be the one making all the moves but Azlan just stuck with him playing some excellent tight squash. It was good to watch.

The home player seemed to be getting frustrated at his inability to pull away score wise from the Malaysian but Azlan stuck to his for his first game ball at 10 -9. A long rally ensued and ended with Peter appealing to the referees that Azlan had blocked his path to the ball. A no-let was awarded much to Peter’s frustration.

The second saw Peter getting more and more frustrated and his head seemed to “drop” just a little. Enough for Azlan to sniff out the opportunity and take the game 11-3 for a 2-0 lead. Oh dear.

To his credit, Peter came out for a fight in the third and managed to get his nose ahead for most of the game. However, possibly a slight injury or Azlan’s dogged determination and excellent play…probably all of the above actually allowed the Chichester No 1 to claw his way back and eventually take the game and match 11-8. A very well deserved win.

And so once the dust settled, the home team came away with the result, Squashsite’s dodgy crystal ball proved to be correct in its score prediction but….. Daryl Selby and his mates down the road hammered Guildford 5-0!

So…10th Nov has us on a sojourn down to Bristol also hoping Exeter take points of the St Georges crew and then…the (hopefully still!) top of the table clash to look forward to.

It’s getting interesting….

David Sobo

Chichester fall short at Surrey

Covers Team Chichester made the trip to Croydon, for Round 3 of the PSL, to play 2008 Champions, Surrey Health and Rackets Club.

On paper it looked an interesting tie and Covers Team Chichester was determined to erase the 0.5 whitewash at the same venue last season.

First on court Dominique Lloyd-Walter, world 22, faced world 18, Carmille Serme, who was making her debut for the Surrey side.

A fascinating match ensued.   Lloyd-Walter struggled to find a length in the first game and Serme’s volley drops, particularly on the back hand, won her several points to ensure an 11/8 win.  Lloyd-Walter fought back in the second; her length of shot slightly better and, aided by a few mistakes from Serme, she went on to win it 7/11.  The 3rd game was nip and tuck all the way.  Serme’s front court game was superb whilst Lloyd-Walter hustled to stay in the contention.  Lloyd-Walter found herself 8/10 down but she rallied well to force errors from her opponent and eventually won it 10/12.  Serme always had a slight upper hand in the 4th and played good squash – floating the ball around the court and going in short well, to take it 11/6.

The 5th followed in the same manner.  Serme had, by now, cut out her mistakes.   Lloyd-Walter’s ‘plan B’ game of just gritting it out and running everything down began to falter.  Her shot length had never been consistent throughout the match and Serme ran out an 11/6 winner to give the Surrey side first blood.
On the adjoining court Chichester’s Tim Vail, playing at 4, took on Adrian Walker.  The first 2 games were shared.  Vail took an early lead in the 3rd but squandered opportunities and eventually lost it 10/12.   “As all good ‘voles’ do, Vail managed to dig himself out of a hole!”   His experience and skill proved too much for Walker and Vail took the next 2 games 4/11, 7/11 to kick-start his winning PSL campaign.  1-all

The eagerly awaited next match was between the over 35s, Alex Gough and the squash legend that is Peter Nicol.  For those who witnessed the match, it was a joy to watch.  Mike Phillips, Team Manager, said after the match, “I was hoping that Alex could pull something out of the bag but Nicol’s general all-round play was awesome.”

The tempo, pace, speed shot-making and accuracy were all on display from the great man.  Although Gough competed well in the first game, Nicol got stronger and stronger as the match progressed.  Gough suffered a minor hamstring injury in the 3rd but by then the writing was on the wall and Nicol won 11/9, 11/4, 11/1.  2.1 to Surrey

Surrey’s Wael El Hindi, world 13, must be the strongest No. 2 string in the PSL and Chichester’s Robbie Temple, world 65, had a tough task ahead.  Although Temple competed well in the first 2 games he found himself 0.2 down.  In the 3rd Temple struggled and El Hindi comfortably took it 11/2 to give the Surrey side a winning 3.1 margin.

The last match between the No.1 strings, Mo Azlan Iskandar (world 20) and Surrey’s Peter Barker (world 9) proved to be an exciting battle with Iskandar giving a superb performance and playing one of his best matches.  Iskandar, after the match, said,” The 0.3 defeat last season, on the same court in last season’s fixture, was still fresh in my mind and I intended to make amends.” Make amends he did.  After a close opening game, which he took 9/11, Azlan took control and displayed the world-class squash which, in recent months, gave him victories over Thierry Lincou (world 8) and David Palmer (world 6).  Azlan continued to pile on the pressure and took the next 2 games and match 3/11 and 8/11.

3.2 to Surrey; an excellent evening’s entertainment all round but still no win for Chichester.   Surely on November 10th, at home to Guildford and fielding the same squad, fortunes will change.  We shall see!

Mike Phillips - Team Manager

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chapel A 2 Duffield 3

As the preview said Duffield were out for revenge after last season’s final defeat. The crystal ball was spot on but Chapel A gave Duffield one hell of a fight.Once again the music and lights were in place and the crowd packed in.

At 5 making her debut Fiona Moverley took on England Team player Tania Bailey. Fiona was a bit slow to start, maybe debut nerves, losing the first. Then she came out in the second and really acquitted herself to the task and played some great squash and tried her heart out. At one all the crowd were willing Fiona on, however the experience of Tania counted in the end and she took the match 3-1. The crowd were impressed with Fiona’s efforts.

At the same time Shaun Le Roux was having a physical battle with Joel Hinds. Both have big frames and there was not much room given but still some fantastic attacking squash was played. Joel took a break in the first game with a blood injury after being hit in the nose. This made Joel look a bit meaner but didn’t help in the first game as Shaun pushed through 11-6. The second was very similar Shaun winning 11-7 Joel pushed hard in the third but Shaun pulled out some outrageous shots to take the third 12-10.

One all.

Laurence Delasaux then went on against Whippy at 3 and Chris Simpson took on ex Chapel A player Steve Coppinger on the other court.

Dela and Whippy were trading shots and were locked in a fierce battle. There were some dubious decisions for both players causing a few shrieks of despair. Whippy took the first. Dela stemmed the attacking shots by Whipp in the second and levelled the game. Whipp then went 2-1 up again commanding the T and going berserk with constant attacking volleys. Dela looked to be feeling the pace after arriving back in the UK from Canada the same afternoon but again controlled the tempo in the fourth to level 2-2. Whipp again came flying out the blocks in the fifth and took it convincingly.

On the other court it was essential for Simpo to win to keep the match alive. He did not disappoint. In recent head to heads with Coppinger it is 1-1. Chris played superb squash defending and attacking at the right time. His excellent 3-1 win did not go un-noticed by his “groupies” that he brought with him. This made the match 2-2 and Ali vs Nick to go.

Ali was feeling under the weather but had nothing to lose as many of the crowd did expect Nick to win. However the crowd turned the volume up and really got behind the local favourite and he put everything into the match. Ali went 1-0 up, the crowd were getting edgy. Nick came back strong and took a 2-1 lead, it all looked over. Ali didn’t give in and played fantastic squash and with the crowd boiling over he levelled at 2-2. Fifth game all to play for, Nick 10-9 match ball, Ali comes back with a monster rally, crowd again going wild. Nick, British Open Champion, just had that bit extra to finish the match 12-10. Another thrilling night at Chapel A.

Thank you to Aegon Scottish Equitable for sponsoring the night and their staff for cheering throughout the night, and also that a major tennis sponsor is sponsoring squash!!!!

Mike Dickens

Surrey Storm get blown away!!

Graeme Williams reports

Last night saw Surrey Storm suffer there heaviest defeat of the season by top of the league TWP St Georges Hill.  The result highlighted where Storm need to be and showcased St Georges Hill’s faith in youth.

Harriet Ingham Making her first appearance if the season against Rachel Willmott started well losing a tight first before losing her way in the second losing it 11/2 and staring down the barrel 2-0 down.  Harriet showed great pride and ability in clawing her way back into the match taking the next two with strong attacking squash.  Momentum was with her and the decider went point for point before Harriet tried to force the issue to much making 3 mistakes given Rachel a hard earned win 3-2.

Sibling Alex was up against close friend and in form Joe Lee.  The first saw Alex happy to rally with Joe and react to his tactics meaning Joe looked comfortable before a few errors let Alex back in and gave him the belief that perhaps he could cause an upset.  Joe composed himself and closed out the game 11/9.  The second saw Alex hitting with more purpose and playing a more attacking game but Joe was moving well and producing some great attacking shots of his own winning it 11/6 before taking the third and putting St Georges 2-0 up.

Steve Meads was back playing at number 3 against Hungary number 1 Mark Krajscak.  Mark looked strong and hungry against the unbeaten Steve and although as always Steve made Mark work for every single point he was unable to really push on and Mark won in 3 making the score on the night 3-0.

Another unbeaten record was put on the line as Stacey Ross was up against Tom Richards.  Tom was moving and playing well where as Stacey after a hectic week of squash, travel and climbing out of ditches  was slightly off the pace.  Stacey got off to a flyer in the first but after that it was one way traffic as Tom controlled the rallies, and ran out a comfortable 3-0 winner.

Last up was Jesse Englebrecht against Daryl Selby.  This was an entertaining encounter played in a fantastic spirit with both players opening up the court at every opportunity.  Daryl won the first but the second saw Jesse earn 3 match balls which Daryl duly saved before concerting his first and opening up a 2-0 lead.  The third was just as competitive but Daryl always had the edge and he closed the match out 3-0 sealing a comfortable 5-0 win for TWP St Georges Hill.

Again thanks to Danny and St Georges for their hospitality and also for showing us what is needed to be a top side in this competitive league.  We will be back!

Diamonds dent Bristol's hopes

Adam Ling reports

Temple Murray 3-2 Ellie Epke 6/11 11/6 11/7 9/11 11/3 30 mins

The opening match was a fantastic display of up and coming squash. Both girls played out of their skin. The 170 strong crowd supported both players but in the end Temple Murray's superior power proved too much for the 11 year old, who flagged a little at the end. Both players should be proud of their performance and they are both names to watch for the future.

Clinton 2-3 Hardian Stiff 12/14 11/8 8/11 11/5 15/17 97mins

One of the epic battles of the psl season, you could not ask for more from the players, it was played in a great fair spirit. The crowd were in two minds, should they cheer for the Devon legend or should they  support their new boy. A supportive crowd watched a great match which Hadrian pip Stiff won in the end.

Jonathan Kemp 1-3 Mohamed El Shorbagy 11/5 9/11 4/11 10/12

Joey Barrington 3-0 David Evans 11/6 11/7 11/7 32 mins

A great match, David showed moments of magic but Joey was too consistent and and was the better player. Joey stuck to his task well and didn’t try to be too clever. He worked hard and deserved the 3-0 win

Stewart Boswell 3-1 Adrian Grant 11/4 7/11 11/8 11/6 64 mins

Boswell proved once again he is one of the best league players, after last year's disappointment with Grant spioling Exeter’s party with a defeat of Palmer, the Devon side did not want it to happen again. With the support of a 160 strong crowd, Boswell was too strong in the front corners and time after time punished Grant with the straight drop.

Exeter Happy 3-2 winners… and the crystal ball was good for once!!

Adam Lings

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bristol Schoolgirl to make Premier League history

Bristol schoolgirl Eleanor Epke will make history next Tuesday when she represents Probuild Bristol in the Premier Squash League to become the youngest player ever to compete in the 26-year history of the world's most prestigious squash league.

The 11-year-old, who heads the England U13 rankings, will face Devon's England's U17 No7 Victoria Temple-Murray in the club's 3rd round fixture against Exeter Diamonds, in Exeter.

The five-player teams in the PSL comprise four men and one woman. The Exeter tie's top string clash will see Bristol's world No10 Adrian Grant take on the home side's Australian No3 Stewart Boswell, ranked 16 in the world.

"This initiative by Exeter Diamonds and Probuild Bristol demonstrates that, whilst showcasing top professional players from around the world, the PSL can also give opportunities to junior players to further their development and gain invaluable experience," said Chris Nutley, Head of Competitions and Events at England Squash & Racketball.

"The decision taken by the two managers in selecting Eleanor and Victoria can only aid the broader development of girls' squash, particularly in the South West."

Epke is coached by Probuild Bristol team captain Hadrian Stiff at the city's Elite Squash Academy.

"I think Ellie is the best all-round young player I have coached and seen in this country," said Stiff. "She has the makings of a world number one - but she is still so young we can only wait and see, and hope she fulfils her potential."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Court Drama... MB Nottingham Vs. Oxford

Court Drama... David Coghlan

Before the match started I knew that this could be one of the tightest matches of the year. Having informed the expectant Nottingham crowd that every match was 50/50, it was a hugely exciting / heart wrenching / thrilling / rollercoaster of a night that has in all likelihood advanced my inevitable journey towards grey hair.

Emma Beddoes lost Madeleine Perry 7/11, 10/12, 7/11

First up on the show court, Emma Beddoes faced Irish international and World Number 7 Madeleine Perry. A tough match on paper for the home player but she gave it everything she had and deserved more from the match than she got. Perry took the first 11/7, her high tempo game and movement in the first impressive, limiting Beddoes attacking opportunities and keeping her constantly reaching into the corners. The second was better for the home crowd. Beddoes slowed the game, disrupting the rhythm of Perry who allowed a few errors to creep in to her own game. Combine this with some stunningly gutsy winners from Beddoes and with a backhand nick she achieved game point at 10/8. Perry simplified her game and dug in to creep back to 10/10 before two errors from Beddoes gave Perry the second game 12/10. The third game swayed between both players as first Beddoes gained a slight lead following a few unforced errors from Perry, before errors of her own and a renewed determination from Perry, allowed her to edge ahead and close out the game and match 11/7.

Eddie Charlton beat Piedro Schweetrman 11/7, 7/11, 11/6, 11/6

Meanwhile on the back court former club junior Eddie Charlton faced Dutch man Piedro Schweetrman ranked just five places apart. This was a tight match with both players moving the ball well and extending the rallies. The first was shot for shot to 7/7 before Schweetrman hit four tins to hand the first game to Charlton 11/7. Impatience shown in the first didn’t materialise in the second, Charlton hit too many short cross courts to the Dutchman’s vicious forehand who happily buried the ball taking the second 11/7. Charlton clearly recognised that avoidance of the Schweetrman fore hand was key and varied the pace well in both the third and fourth, dominating the T, minimising his opponents options and taking a well deserved victory 11/6, 11/6.

Let the pain begin...

At one match apiece, Simon Parke took the first game against Scott Handley, while on the show court a massively dominant Renan lavigne took a comfortable 2-0 lead over Chris Ryder. Then the whispering started. “Dave, this could be your year” one notable NSRC member told me. “This will be a great result tonight” said another. That was all that was needed to condemn MB Nottingham to possibly the most tense 45 minutes I’ve experienced during my 4 years running our PSL team.

Parke was dominated in the second losing 11/4. But that wasn’t the end of the world because Lavigne had just hit an outrageous volley nick winner to reach match ball at 10/7.

“Do you remember Renan’s match last year against Lee Beachill? When he lost 3-2 from 2-0 and match ball up?” asked one NSRC member. I did and i didn’t want to comprehend it, however Ryder came back fighting with three, back to the wall, no holds barred winners 8/10, 9/10, 10/10. Renan took another match ball 11/10. Pegged back 11/11. Another at 12/11, the shouting from the crowd getting hoarser. 12/12, an error, Ryder was game point up and a desperate looking Lavigne succumbed to the inevitable comeback 14/12.

Still, it wasn’t all over yet, a blip surely? Renan came back and continued playing the good fast squash that had won him the first two. The difference now was that Ryder smelt a chance and didn’t let anything go. At all. Long, hard rallies, physically draining for the players mentally draining for spectators. Neither established a lead so we reached 10/10. No matter how much we shouted or jumped up and down Ryder was on form now and again managed to play some top draw winners at the crucial moment taking the fourth 12/10 to set up a nightmare (for us) deciding fifth game.

On the back court Parke was doing everything he could to contain Handley who it seems had the brief of giving Simon a heart attack. Huge rallies, particularly hard on the legs as the ball was continually fired in short by both players. Parkey ran and ran some more narrowly losing the fourth 11/9 and then with Renan / Ryder at 2/2, Handley sneaked another hugely physical 4th game 12/10 to have the whole match hanging on the one final game between Lavigne and Ryder.

Needless to say i was now having kittens on the gallery of the show court and the tension and atmosphere around Court 10 was electric. Lavigne feeds on a crowd’s energy and having mentally regrouped looked the more hungry in the fifth. Having established another 10/7 match ball lead everybody was ready to jump up and down. Tin. Tin. Tin. 10/10. This was agony and the Nottingham crowd now joined me in the kitten birthing stakes. A tin from Ryder and Lavigne had an 11th match ball 11/10. It was the one he needed, a forehand drop winner. Lavigne flat out on the court floor, me and 100 Nottingham fans on our feet screaming! We were still in it.

Laurens Jan Anjema beat Cameron Pilley 4/11, 11/5, 11/9, 11/9

This was the first outing at home for LJ and with the tension of the previous game still gnawing at the stomach, everybody hoped for a smooth and stress free final match. Pilley had other ideas. I haven’t seen a player hit the ball so viciously or so accurately for years. Reminiscent of former Nottingham player John White, Pilley simply picked any nick on the court, hit the ball as hard as he could and it would roll. LJ could do nothing, and with a final cross court volley nick Pilley wrapped up the first 11/4 to the dismay of a stunned audience. Luckily Renan lavigne had a word and as the master of changing a match’s fortune i left them to it. LJ came back and slow balled Pilley, disrupting his rhythm and playing some beautifully deft un-returnable drops. Everything was now going the Dutch mans way and wrapped the game up 11/5 with a cross court volley nick of his own.

Parity then, the crowd where now sitting more comfortably although i had finally reached for the bottle. Pilley frustrated by the lack of pace in the game and the minimising nature of LJ’s game made error after error to hand LJ a 10/3 lead. Now unencumbered by trying to win the game Pilley went for his shots. A nick for 10/4, winner, winner, and another cross court volley nick to reach 10/7. The relaxed crowd, now being made to sit up straighter as Pilley ground out every rally with clean and error free squash, he got all the way to 9/10 before an unfortunate loose ball and an obvious stroke gave LJ the game and generated a collective sigh of relief. The fourth was tight all the way; with Pilley taking an 8/9 lead. LJ came back however and had looked the more likely winner throughout, a tin from Pilley gave LJ a 10/9 lead before finally closing the match out 10/9 and a second victory for MB Nottingham who now go joint top with Chapel Allerton.

A great night for everybody present and a fantastic advert for the league. All the players gave 110% and the crowd were well and truly put through the wringer. Newport next week so we are already looking forward to another great match.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Surrey Storm narrowly lose out again.

Graeme Williams reports

For the second time this month Surrey Storm fought valiantly but were unable to take the spoils on the road at Bristol.  Making his debut in the PSL was Mohammed Ali Anwar Reda to add a bit of spice to the top of our order.  He came in with Gilly Lane unavailable so we looked stronger than before. 

First up was a more relaxed Victoria Lust who had another tough match against Laura Lengthorne Massaro.  Victoria fought well against Laura’s class and in all the game was competing until Laura pulled away to take the first two games 11/6, 11/7.  In the third Victoria stayed with her for longer creating a game ball at 10/9 but Laura came back well to win 12/10.

On the show court Stacey Ross was getting the better of David Evans although both players were feeling a little of the base but Stacey won the big points to take a 2-0 lead.  In the third Stacey looked to be moving the better and reading David’s game to pull off some stunning winners and took the third 11/6 to level the match 1-1.

Surreys very own Peter Pan, Steve Meads was grinding down Hadrian Stiff 12/10, 12/10 before Hadrian had to withdraw due to feeling faint.  Again Surrey Storm had managed to move 2-1 ahead with the dogged determination and quality form the elder statesman of the team.  Next up was Jesse Englebrecht against the inform Mohammed El Shorbagy.  The first game was played at a high pace which suited the Egyptian as he reeled of exquisite winners from all areas as Jesse struggled to move him around as he would like.  In the second Jesse improved slowing the pace down and finding his range but at 8 all Mohammed pulled away to take a 2-0 lead.

In the third Shorbagy returned to the brilliance of the first and closed out the match 11/2 setting up a decider between the new boy Reda and the experienced Adrian Grant.

In the first Reda was too lose and had no answer to the control of Grant.  The second saw Mohammed tighten up and get in front a little more and he took it 11/8.  We were getting excited and dreaming of a first Victoria of the season but Adrian showed his experience taking the next two to seal the match for Bristol.

The nigh was a fantastic advert for the PSL with competitive games and played in a great spirit.  Bristol put on a great show with a fantastic crowed so we thank them and look forward to returning the favour next half.

Finally good luck to Stacey up in Manchester and hopefully our first win is not far away!

Guirey arrives home

Neil Guirey arrived for his morning coffee at Chapel Allerton at 9.30am. My first question to him was, “what time did you get in?”. “Three” was the reply and I left him to his coffee.

So after the long journey Chapel A returned home with a 3-2 victory. This was the score-line predicted by the team Managers and puts Chapel Allerton to the top of the table.

A special thank you goes to Peter & Sally Merchant and their son Ben Merchant for travelling to Newport to support the Chapel A side. Ben Merchant at 9 years old has recently won the Yorkshire u11 Championships (Lee and James have won this in the past).

He is coached by Neil and is a huge fan of the Premier Squash League. The Merchants were trying their best to drown out the Welsh support last night.

Next match is against Duffield at Chapel A on the 27th October.

Mike Dickens

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Newport still seeking first win

Jethro Binns reports

Chapel Allerton made the long journey south to Newport this evening for Newport’s first home match of their debut season in the PSL. After receiving a text from Shaun Le Roux telling me they had left this morning chapel A arrive this evening bemused to find that Newport was actually south of the M4 and still in the Northern Division.
On paper this evening was always going to be a bit of a tough ask for Newport who were missing Rob “I don’t want to let the ball bounce” Sutherland who is away playing the Austrian open. This meant that as suspected Greg Tippings came out of retirement to show the young ones how to do it……
Greg went on first and as it transpired he did show the youngsters how to play both opponent and referee. Greg reached 69 in the world when he was full time and used all his experience to win the match 3-0. His young opponent described Greg as being “awkward” to play which I think is putting in nicely as anyone who has had the joy of playing tips will testify.
Deon Saffery knew that it was always going to be tough playing world number 6 Jenny Duncalf and found herself 9-0 down in the first. From this point on the match became a little more contested as Deon began to cope with the pace a little better but the outcome wasn’t really ever in doubt as Jenny ran out a winner in 3.
I went on against Shaun with the match stood at 1-1. Having lost all four of our previous meetings I was hoping to turn things around but it wasn’t to be. Feeling slightly under the weather and half a yard off the pace Shaun gave me a guided tour of the back corners as he hit “joke length after joke length in it”. I didn’t really make any impression on the match as he hit the ball to the back with such severe pace and accuracy that I wasn’t able to compete around the middle and he hit picked me off as and when he liked.
The Crystal Ball had us down for a 4-1 defeat but I though that it would 3-2 and felt that Campbell Grayson stood a very good chance against Chris Simpson. Having only flown back form Hong Kong on Saturday Campbell looked in control during the first two games as he took them 11-9 11-7. Hitting some outrageous winners on the volley Campbell hit what he described as “the best shot I have ever hit”  as he slammed the ball in to the nick with a cross court volley. I thought it was something to do with the fact that his string broke as he hacked at the ball forcing it to come off weird and bounce a bit funny but he maintained that it was deliberate. Simpo fought back to take the third as campbell got a bit excited and tried to play everything in front of the short line. The fourth saw Campbell get a good lead only for Chris to pull it back to 7-7, at which point Chris played a drop, didn’t clear too well, Campbell ran through and knocked Chris’ racket out of his hand before hitting a crosscourt drive. The point was disputed with Chris suggesting that his New Zealand opponent was perhaps getting a little too excited about the forthcoming Autumn rugby internationals. However the referee felt it was Chris who had caused the interference and the point went to the All Black. The crowd were very vocal and got behind Campbell in a big way. He gave them what they wanted as he took the game 12-10 and tied the match at 2-2.
The deciding match came down to Ali Walker and Aaron Frankcomb who regularly train together in Leeds. Aaron keen to impress his home fans got off to a great start hitting some fabulous winners as Ali found the tin too may times and won the first game 11-9. The crowd sensed an upset and a first win for the PSL newcomers but it wasn’t to be. Ali decided he would volley everything and try and play at 276mph which unfortunately for Aaron he succeeded in doing  With pacey length after pacey length and volley winners from anything that wasn’t skinned Ali took the last three games fairly comfortably.
So Newport left still seeking their first win in the League whilst Chapel A left with the prospect of a 4 hour drive “back t’ north” . The crowd went home slightly disappointed but impressed to have watched such high quality squash. The players commented on how good the fans were and all look forward to future matches at Wales’s premier club……

Jethro Binns

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

St George's take the spoils

Mike Phillips reports

Last night Covers Team Chichester played St George’s Hill, Weybridge in the first home tie of the Premier Squash League season. 

First up Chichester’s Dominique Lloyd-Walter (No. 6 England and World No 22) played St George’s Hill’s new signing, Lauren Briggs who is a world top 20 player.   The first 2 games were evenly shared, 11/7, 5/11.   The 3rd game was nip and tuck all the way which Lloyd-Walter narrowly took 12/10, having previously saved several game balls.

The momentum was now with the Chichester player and she confidently started the fourth game with some good cross court drops to send her opponent the wrong way on several occasions.  Lloyd-Walter ran out a comfortable 11/3 winner to put Chichester 1.0 up.
 On the glass-back championships court, Chichester’s No 3 string, Tim Vail, played Hungarian No.1, Mark Krajcsak.   During the first game the capacity crowd enjoyed good all court squash from both players.   Vail hit several of his renowned, trade-mark nicks but unfortunately, towards the end, he twisted his ankle and narrowly lost the game he much needed, 14/16.   Krajcsak forged ahead in the second to take a 2.0 lead.   Vail showed spirit and valiantly fought back to take the next game 11/7.    In the fourth Vail battled to stay in contention and despite a tremendous effort saving a couple of match points he eventually was defeated 9/11.
1.all on the night.
Next on court Robert Downer, making his debut for Chichester, played former British Junior Champion, Joe Lee.  Downer battled well throughout but Lee’s shot selection, ability and experience, on the professional circuit, ensured he always had the upper hand.    Lee won 6/11, 3/11, 7/11
2.1 to St. George’s Hill
Chichester’s Robbie Temple played Tom Richards (St. George’s Hill).  Temple faced a tough task with approximately 30 world ranking places between him and Richards.   Richards showed he was more consistent in the rallies when it mattered most and took the match 7/11, 8/11. 8/11.  Temple, however, was involved right to the end; the only difference was that he hit too many tins.
3.1 and the match to St George’s Hill
Last match on court, in what was a dead rubber, the No.1 strings Mo Azlan Iskandar (World No.20) battled against Daryl Selby (World No.21).  In a scrappy first 2 games Selby could have been 2.0. up but in some ways Iskandar was fortunate to be at 1-all.  Both games were the same score line; in the first Iskandar lost it 10/12 after being at 10-all and in the second he managed to hold on and win 12/10.  Iskandar then gained some momentum and took the third 11/4 to put Chichester 2.1 up.  At this point the Chichester man seemed to tire quickly.  Selby’s game of moving the ball around well matched with his good physical and mental strength proved too much for the Malaysian and Selby went on to win the match 5/11, 3/11 to give St. George’s a 1.4 win on the night.
With two 1.4 defeats so far Chichester will be at full strength at the next round which takes place next Tuesday.  Covers Team Chichester will be taking on the might of Surrey Health & Rackets and a win is desperately needed.
 Mike Phillips - Team Manager

Chapel A on the Road

Mike Dickens sends his team off to Newport

Co-Manager Neil Guirey has embarked on the long trip to Wales for tonight’s game against newcomers Newport. Looking closely at the squads and fixtures this year there are strong challengers from all teams.

The crystal ball has us as 4-1 winners tonight but we feel it may well be closer.

Alister Walker returning from Hong Kong faces ex Chapel Allerton player Aaron Frankcomb. As these two have trained many times together they will know each others games very well.

Making his first start for Chapel A this season Chris Simpson has a tricky tie and again has been travelling over the past weeks.

They will be backed up by Shaun Leroux, Adam Murrills and Jenny Duncalf. Lets hope the crystal ball is right as this will be a great start to the season.

Good luck with the journey!!

Mike Dickens

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Duffield go down to Nottingham

It was with some trepidation that we welcomed our near neighbours from Nottingham on Tuesday evening. With a full strength Duffield squad, Nottingham are always formidable rivals,but with the recent unfortunate injury to Nick Matthew which negated his selection, the task was going to be even harder. This said, we had confidence with the team selection, and our new signings of Martin Knight and Steve Copping did us proud on the evening.

Match 1 - Tania Bailey vs Sarah Kippax

This was always going to be a difficult match for Tania, desperately striving for recovery from an operation at the end of last season.Sarah is always a formidable opponent and her recent form suggested that this would be a very tough match, and so it proved to be.The opening game saw Sarah take the advantage and her  current  form was emphasised when she went 2 games up.It was clear Tania was struggling with fitness and indeed, this was confirmed when,sadly,she had to retire.

Match 2 - Joel Hinds vs Eddie Charlton

Eddie came away with the first game in comfortable fashion, but we sensed Joel, who has recently turned professional and who, as a local lad and a great favourite with the home supporters, was just getting into his stride. This was confirmed as Joel prevailed to a fairly comfortable 3-1 win.

Match 3 - Steve Coppinger vs Ong Beng Hee

On his debut for Duffield, Steve produced some Squash of the highest order which, at times, was breath taking. On the night, Ong came through with a 3-1 win, demonstrating what a fine player he is.

Match 4 - Andy Whipp vs John Rooney

On paper,this was going to be a great match, with John in excellent current form, and the "Whippertron" as difficult to beat as ever, and so it proved. John took the early incentive taking a 2-0 lead. This only seemed to spur on Whippy, who, after a titanic struggle,came out as victor with a 3-2 win. A wonderful spectacle which had the home support in raptures of appreciation for both players.

Match 5 - Martin Knight vs Laurens Jan Anjema

This was a gargantuan ask of Martin on his debut, facing a very in form Laurens. On his debut for Duffield,Martin put up a brave fight and showed great potential for the forthcoming campaign.In the end, Laurens proved to strong on the night and demonstrated why he is leaping up the rankings table and came away with a 3-0 victory.

Well done to Nottingham. As always, it was a pleasure to welcome them to Duffield and we all eagerly await the return match.

Felix Frixou

Surrey H&R win opener against Surrey Storm

The first game of the season is always a nervy one and up against a much stronger Surrey Storm team this year under the guidance of Graeme Williams this turned out very nervy and tight.

Vicky Lust v Alison Waters
This was Alisons debut for us after moving to us from Guildford and she played a very comprehensive clinical match to win 3-0, 11/5, 11/6, 11/3.Her length the whole match was very good especially into the backhand corner and Vicky was just under constant pressure and couldn't keep with the pace.

Surrey Storm 0 Surrey Health & RC 1

Stacey Ross v Adrian Waller
This was an incredible hard fought game of squash with both players giving it everything. Adrian settled the quickest hitting a good length and keeping the pace up to take the 1st game 11/8. Stacey slowed it down in the 2nd and gained control of the rallies to take it 11/5. The 3rd game was point for point all the way through with some excellent retrieving from both players which Adrian sneaked 12/10. Onto the 4th and Stacey won back the control with some excellent length and width to take it 11/5. The game was now well over the hour and both players now feeling it physically the 5th just kept going point for point. Adrian saved 3 match balls and then had 1 himself which Stacey saved to go onto win 15-13 in the 5th.90 minutes of excellent squash and entertainment and it was a shame someone had to lose.

Surrey Storm 1 - Surrey Heath RC 1

Steve Meads v Ben Ford
Ben started the quickest in this game and went into a 2-0 lead 12/10, 11/9. As always Steve will always dig in and dig in he did and he took games 3 and 4 11/5, 11/9. So down to a 5th game with Steve taking an early lead with both players working so hard for every point, Ben then came back to within 1 point but Steve then had a last big effort to take the 5th 11/7. It was a great hard fought game of squash with some fantastic rallies and retrieving.

Surrey Storm 2 - Surrey Health RC 1

Gilly Lane v Alan Clyne
This turned out to be a crunch game for us and this was Alan's debut for us so he was keen to get off to a good start. Alan started very quickly and raced to the 1st game 11/6. Gilly then stepped it up a bit in the 2nd and hit a much better length and took the 2nd 11/4. Alan then came out in the 3rd and took control of the match, taking the ball early and moving his opponent to all corners to take the game 11/7 and then the 4th game 11/2. A fantastic debut for Alan and well played to get us back level.

Surrey Storm 2 - Surrey Helath RC 2

Jesse Engelbrecht v Peter Barker
This turned out to be the decider and with Peter back from the World Teams he was in the mood to finish the match quickly. He settled into a fast game, taking the ball early and hitting an excellent length to take the match 3-0 11/6, 116, 11/8. Jesse just couldn't keep up with his pace and accuracy but fought well.

Well played Peter and for completeing a 3-2 win for Surrey Health & RC

This was a fantastic evening of PSL squash and thanks to Graeme and Guildford for your hospitality. We look forward to round 2 at Home to Exeter on 20th October.

Pete Smith


Newport's debut appearance in the PSL last night ended in disappointment for the welsh wizards beaten comprehensively by the Oxford side 4-1. Esporta Oxford's debut in the competition 4 years ago ended in an away 0-5 defeat at the hands of Birmingham University. 
That season like every other since has seen fortunes of teams change from match to match with the eventual winners and runners-up from each division not obvious until the latter stages of the competition. 3 players previously squad members of Oxford were in the Newport line up last night (Francomb, Sutherland and Saffery), but despite improved world rankings by each they all lost last night! Some fantastic squash was watched by a modest crowd last night with arguably more vocal support for the away team than the home. 
The crystal ball was correct last night and after these initial encounters it would appear that Newport might struggle and Oxford might challenge for the play-offs. The crystal ball has been wrong on many occasions but if I we had to vote now (maybe controversially) I would bet on Oxford finishing 3rd and Newport finishing 5th. 
First on in the evenings play was Madeline Perry against Deon Saffrey ranked some 45 places lower to Madeline. On paper it look like being a one sided affair but Deon certainly had other idea's. Whilst Madeline took control of the early exchanges Deon simply wouldn't go away playing some superb attacking shots especially down the backhand. Madeline scrapped through the first game 14/12 and we all thought that after the punishing retrieval Deon had had to put in the next game would surely be more comfortable for Madeline. Deon dug in really well though and narrowly lost the next 11/8. In the third Deon continued attacking and mixing up the pace really well to take the third 9/11. In the final game Madeline proved a bit too strong for a tiring Deon who had one of the best games of her life.
On the other court we had a fairly new addition to the Esporta Oxford line up in Anthony Graham (British Closed & European Junior Champion). The first game was played at a really high pace with both players looking to take control and push forward. Anthony stepped in really well with some great volleying and with Jethro Binns making a few unforced errors took the game 11/6. Jethro showed his experience in the second by cutting out the mistakes and focusing on making Anthony work extra hard for each point. Jethro took the game 11/6 and continued in the same vain in the third and the forth taking the game 11/5, 11/4
One of the games of the night was Simon Rösner wr 40 and Newport local Rob Sutherland wr 71. On paper it looked like a home win would in materialise. Simon took the first game 11/4 with some excellent drop work and a few errors coming from Rob. We all thought it might be over in three but Rob really dug in and found his range and rhythm playing some exceptional stuff (particularly forehand volley drops). Rob took the game 12/10 on the tie break. The next game followed the same pattern with both players cancelling each other Rob eventually taking the game 17/15. Simon had to really dig deep in the next two and somehow managed to stem the flow of Rob's attacking squash taking them 11/8, 11/7. What a match though Rob simply played a blinder and Simon had to dig deep to come up with a fantastic win in his first match for Esporta Oxford.
Next on saw Chris Ryder wr 35 and Campbell Grayson. The opening exchanges were simply breathtaking with sharp angles being hit from all over the court and some superb retrieval work. Campbell made a few costly errors in the first and Chris took advantage to take the game 11/7. Campbell really came out firing in the second attacking the ball at every opportunity. Chris though was not not going to let the game go that easily coming through to take the second 12/10. The third was similar to the first with Grayson making a few unforced errors and it was match 11/5.
The all Australian affair was the final match of the evening between Cameron Pilley wr 17 and Aaron Frankcomb wr 39. Aaron seemed distracted by some tight refereeing calls which probably did not affect the overall result on the night but which broke down the natural flow of the game. Cameron has been a stalwart in the Oxford line up in his 3 seasons with the club, featuring in most of the matches each year. It is rare that Cameron has been beaten by a lower ranked player in the PSL and the difference in world rankings showed the edge beaten the players. Cameron moves gracefully and efficiently for a big man and with reach and great touch this gave him a distinct advantage in this match. Aaron fought a good game and each game was well contested but he succumbed 11/8 11/8 11/6
Nottingham away next for Oxford with a result to build on and Newport must rebuild at home to last year's winners Chapel Allerton which looks like a tough task.
Jason Martin and Ross Gore

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Chichester travel to Exeter in hope

Covers Team Chichester travelled to Exeter last night for the first tie of the 2009/2010 PSL season.  The campaign started with a tough draw against a side fielding 3 players inside the World top 30.

First up for Chichester, Dominique Lloyd-Walter (No. 6 England and World No 22) played Emma Chorley who is ranked inside the world’s top 80.  The first game was even until the half way point when Lloyd-Walter started to get in front and hold the ball well.  The West Country girl Chorley did not like the sudden change of direction and lost 7/11.  In the second game Lloyd-Walter stopped playing in the same vein and rallied more from the back of the court.  This suited Chorley and a close game ensued; Lloyd-Walter eventually won it 9/11. 

In the third, normal service was resumed and Lloyd-Walter started moving her opponent around the court more which, in turn, forced tin after tin errors.  Lloyd Walter forged a 0/8 lead.  Despite faltering slightly to allow Chorley back into the game the lead was too great to claw back and Lloyd-Walter closed the match 5/11.

0.1    to Chichester

On the adjoining court Chichester’s Tim Vail played World No.28, Joey Barrington.  The fitness of the Chichester man was always going to be called into question and after big efforts in the first and third games (with game balls in the latter) he was finally defeated 3.0.
Alex Gough was next on court against World No.24, Jon Kemp.  Kemp is playing at the top of his game at the moment and made the former World No 5 work very hard from the outset.  Gough battled extremely gamely but the result was never in doubt and Kemp took the match 3.0.

2-1 to Exeter ... then 3-1

On the adjoining court Peter Genever, Chichester’s number 4 string, played Tom Pashley; both Sussex players.   Genever worked hard to lead 1.2.  Unfortunately a slippery court meant they had to change to a different court and use the higher tin.  Coupled with the fatigue he was feeling, Genever never really got going again and lost the 4th and 5th games 11/4, 11/3 – giving Exeter an unassailable 3.1 lead on the night.

The dead rubber match was between Robbie Temple (World 71) and Exeter’s Stewart Boswell (World 16).  Boswell’s pace and movement was superb in the first game, hitting better lengths than Temple, and he ran away with it 11/4.  In the second game Temple dug in and made it competitive before losing it 11/8.  The 3rd saw Boswell stumble early on and lose his concentration.  The momentum suddenly swung in Temple’s favour and he took the opportunity and grabbed the game 3/11. 

In the 4th, normal service was resumed and Boswell’s tempo, length and movement returned to wrap up the match 3.1 to give Exeter a 4.1 win on the night.

In 2 weeks' time Chichester entertain St. George’s, Weybridge.  The return of  Mo Azlan Iskandar means that Chichester will be a stronger squad.  Winning can be a habit; conversely losing can quickly become the same and Chichester needs to change the habit before the season gets too far underway.

 Mike Phillips

Oxford give Newport a tough debut

Jethro Binns reports

Esporta Oxford sent PSL debutants Newport back to Wales with an 18-6 defeat last night after welcoming Newport's players and supporters with great hospitality. The Newport supporters traveled up in a minibus and were very vocal in their support of their team during the course of the evening.

First on court were myself and Anthony Graham playing alongside Deon Saffery and Madeline Perry.

I got off to a bit of a slow start which Anthony took advantage of with good effect, He punished my over hit length and worked the ball in to the right areas displaying the qualities that won him the European Junior t itle earlier in the year. After a regroup with coach Greg Tippings I began the second with a better length, found a bit more confidence with my short game and pulled the match back to 1-1 taking the game 11-6 despite some dubious refereeing decisions.

The 3rd followed a similar pattern as I discovered a backhand drop shot that I never knew I had as I won the game 11-5. It was during this game that the most interesting refereeing decision was given following a counter drop exchange in the front backhand. I asked for a let, was told by the referee was unsighted and that we would have to make up our own minds as to what decision we wanted to be made. Obviously I wanted a stroke, Anthony wanted a no let so in the end we eventually got around to playing a let.

In the 4th Anthony began to get a bit tired, stopped retrieving quite so effectively and I ran out the winner 11-4.

On the other court Madeline and Deon were having a proper battle, which on paper going tinto the match looked like it could have been quite one sided. Deon played very well by all accounts and deserved to take one of the first two games. Sh e did manage to win the 3rd 11-9 before losing the 4th 11-3. If she could have sneaked a game earlier on who knows how it could have panned out.

Following my match Rob Sutherland took on Simon Rosner. Both having had tough weeks playing at one for their countries in the Worlds last week they both seemed quite relieved to have a dead ball which encouraged attacking squash and short rallies. Simon ran away with the first game 11-4, Rob came back on with a new game plan of trying to hit every ball in to the nick which seemed to work. He began stepping into lines very early and volleying anything that wasn't “joke tight”. He took the game 12-10.

The third followed a very similar pattern as both players took the ball in short at every opportunity playing fast frenetic squash, the rallies were short but the shot making and inventiveness were first class. Both players held game balls but it was Rob who snuck the game 17-15 with some outrageous volley drops. The fourth and fifth saw Simon out maneuver rob at the front with both players determined not to see the ball bounce off the back wall. The pace was frantic w ith great drops and kills from both players but ultimately it was Simon who won the shoot out in front of an entertained audience.

Campbell Grayson faced Chris Ryder in a rematch of last year's Australian open where Campbell ran out the winner in 5. This was always going to be a tough ask for Campbell following his week in the worlds where he played 6 matches. He earned himself a 7-4 lead in the first but was pegged back as he made some unforced errors and lost the game 11-7. The second was nip and tuck with Campbell leading 9-8 following a flat roller off a good serve but again it was Chris who held his nerve to take the game 12-10.

The third saw Chris get on top as Campbell’s effort from the previous week caught up with him and Chris took the game 11-5. When asked about making his PSL debut, Campbell said that “his first time was special”.

The final match of the evening was between the two Aussies, Cameron Pilley and Aaron Frankcomb, fresh from winning Bronze at the Worlds at the weekend. Both20players were evenly matched during the first game as they stood at 8-8 but perhaps a little tired following their performances on Saturday in Denmark. However it was Pilley who took the game as he went on to take the next two 11-6 11-6.

The Crowd left entertained and Newport went home a little disappointed not to have made a little more impact on their debut but will look forward to their first home match of the season in 2 weeks where team manager Greg Tippings is considering bringing himself out of retirement “to show the boys how it is done.”

Jethro Binns

A tight squeeze for MB Nottingham

It was with confidence that MB Nottingham made the short trip across the Derbyshire border to face local rivals and multiple champions Duffield.

Nottingham looked strong on paper, with the unfortunate withdrawal of No. 1 Nick Matthew; this was exacerbated when Tania Bailey had to withdraw at 2-0 down.

Struggling with a multitude of injuries and recovering from hip surgery, 2009 has been a torrid time for the Lincolnshire world No. 19 which was only compounded when at a game down but 9/2 up in the 2nd she hit what appeared to be the hardest of walls, going down 11/9 then retiring injured. A terrible shame for Tania, who was jinxed from the moment the compere stated that she had a 100% unbeaten run for Duffield...

On the back court, Malaysian No. 1 Ong Beng Hee, playing two for Nottingham, was also struggling, clearly showing the effects of the recent world team championships. His opponent, South African Steve Coppinger seemed to have no ill effects from his own exploits in Denmark. The first was tight, quite how Beng Hee managed to scrape it I still can’t quite work out; Coppinger’s movement in the front of the court was awesome, making the normally sprightly Beng Hee look lead footed. A talking to from area manager, Pete Goodings, and a quick sugary drink and the expected service from Beng Hee began. Stepping up the court, forcing the pace. Beng Hee dominated and wrapped up the second 11/4.

As a team manager, I always try to juggle between the two matches on court it was at this point that I took leave of Beng Hee confident that his result would be a formality. No chance. When I next look over the balcony, a weary looking Malaysian is thrashing the ball into the tin to give Coppinger the third game 11/8. The fourth was pretty much the same, Beng Hee was struggling to go forward and instead of pushing the ball in short and winning points, Coppinger would leap in with a sharp counter drop to which Beng Hee had no reply. A string of errors from Coppinger at 8/8 gave Beng Hee an unlikely match ball but that was quickly clawed back before another error gave Beng Hee a second chance to wrap it up.

The rally that followed was probably the best of the match. It was clear that Beng Hee was going to go all out for this one, clearly not looking to remain on court any longer. After a swift volley exchange, one loose ball from Coppinger was buried with a back hand nick much to the relief of Beng Hee and the Nottingham faithful.

On the show court following the ladies was one half of Nottingham’s Irish contingent, John Rooney, facing local hero Andy Whipp. With the drama on the back court, I dipped in and out of this and with a strong 2/0 lead 11/9, 11/2 complacency was again my undoing. Whipp fought back to take the third 11/7 and a quick fourth 11/6. Rooney seemed to be struggling with a few refereeing decisions but it was probably the loose width that he should have been worrying about! Always quick to the ball and with vicious power, Whipp dominated the final game, not allowing Rooney any time to recover and forcing error after error.

After such a strong start, it was almost inevitable that the fifth would go to the resurgent Whipp who duly wrapped up the match 11/4 much to the delight of the Duffield ns.

Eddie Charlton followed Beng Hee on the back court like his Nottingham team mates thus far, he stormed away to a comfortable 11/5 first game victory, however, from then on Joel’s attritional game started to bear fruit. The second was hard fought with Eddie making most of the play, just not able to hit the killer shot to end the rally, with Hinds constantly making recovery after recovery.

The third and fourth followed suit, Charlton struggling to find a way to stop the irrepressible Hinds from getting the ball back in play. With smaller margins the error rate crept up from Charlton and Hinds wrapped up a tougher match than the score line may suggest.

So all down to the final No. 1 string. First time out for Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema, representing MB Nottingham after a 6 year absence from the league, his opponent, New Zealand’s Martin Knight, ranked 34 places below Anjema looked on paper like an outsider. Given the previous performance of Nottingham players I was less than confident however I was quickly assured.

LJ was dominant from the start, demonstrating the skills that have taken him up the rankings in such meteoric style. Knight gave it his all but had no answer for the tall Dutch man’s range of shots and accuracy. LJ wrapped up the match 11/3, 11/4, 11/5 and we were all ensconced in the bar eating Massarella lemon meringue pie by 10:30pm.

So a good start for MB Nottingham, a slightly odd match that swung back and for and with a result slightly skewed by the absence / injury of Nick and Tania. Given past experience however and in particular when it’s against local rivals Duffield; we’ll happily take any victory we can get!

Dave Coghlan

Chapel A off to a winning start

LEBC Group Chapel Allerton 4-1 Pontefract

It was fitting that after winning the title last season that this season should start off with a home tie against local rivals Pontefract. The crystal ball predictions had Ponte to win 3-2, which spurred our team on even more.

Team Managers Mike Dickens and Neil Guirey put on the Christmas light show and laptops and projectors beaming images onto the front walls. The dance tracks were turned up and the scene was set for a great battle.

The huge crowd were treated to:
Jenny Duncalf vs Vanessa Atkinson – sporting the new Tecnifibre outfit Jenny was looking the part but Vanessa came out of the blocks at a ferocious pace taking an 8-3 lead, Jenny soon focused and willed on by the full house clawed her way back in the game to 9-10. A winner by Vanessa snatched the first which had the champions slightly nervous. However, Jenny regrouped and soon took command of the T moving Vanessa from corner to corner. Jenny didn’t look back taking the next three games in style 11-5, 11-4, 11-2.

On the opposite court was a home debut for Adam Murrills (19) taking on 17 year old Karan Malik from India. The squash was fair and entertaining but Adam seemed to be doing a lot of running which showed. After taking the first game Karan just scraped the second 11-13. The third was again tight throughout with Adam showing some double handed back-hand skills at the front of the court reminiscent of Robbie Temple. Adam won the game 14-12 with one of the worst framed volleys ever seen, to the delight of the Chapel A supporters and jeers of “lucky boy” from the Ponte followers. Adam pushed through in the fourth 11-8 to take a great win on his home debut.

At 3 was an ex Ponte boy Shaun Leroux also making his Chapel A debut playing against Neil Cordell. Neil looked keen from the word go and Shaun seemed slightly slower to start, maybe the nerves on his debut? Neil took the first 11-6. A fired up Leroux went 5-0 up in the second with some superb kills. The deficit was too much for Neil to pull back and Leroux finished the game off in style with a disguised back hand drive 11-5. The third and fourth were a similar outcome with Leroux starting to impose himself on the rallies with heavy hitting sending Neil scrambling in the back then pulling him to the front with accurate drops. Neil made some tremendous dives which pleased the crowd. Shaun proved too strong winning 5-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-6.

Number 2’s pitted Laurence Delasaux against Lee Beachill. Dela had trained with Lee when he was a youngster at Ponte and was looking forward to getting on court with the former World Number 1. The match was a display on how to hold your opponent, Lee the master still pulling out some outrageous shots and Dela the apprentice making his opponent work as hard as possible all the time. Dela took a 2-0 lead reasonably quickly. Again the match was very fair and played in good spirits. Lee turned it up a notch in the 3rd and the cries from the balcony of “come on beach” were growing louder. Lee took the third 11-5. The Chapel A supporters cheered Dela on in the fourth and again he was making Lee do the work. Dela won 3-1 (the apprentice wins this time), the match was filed with high level shots, skill and accuracy. Lee smiled throughout and looked like he enjoyed the game.

Number 1’s was a battle of the England team mates, Alister Walker and James Willstrop. In the first game it looked like James meant business and was in no mood for Chapel A to chalk up a 5-0 victory. Ali was solid and competed well with the first two games being 10/12, 9/11. Alister is now ranked 12 in the world and looks as if he can certainly hold his own against the top ten boys. James however continued his form and won the 3rd 11-7.

Good start for Chapel Allerton 4-1. The beef sandwiches were fantastic and the comment of the night went to the Ponte supporter who won an England shirt signed by Alister Walker in the raffle, “if I wash it enough will the Chapel A players name come off ???”

Mike Dickens