Monday, December 7, 2009

The First Bump on the Journey...

It was with a depleted squad that MB Nottingham welcomed an equally under strength Chapel Allerton in the last Premier Squash League fixture before Christmas. As yet unbeaten, a victory would consolidate our position at the top of group A and extend our advantage by some margin. On paper we looked to be in a tough position, however with all the players fired up and a real determination demonstrated by everybody so far this season, a couple of big results weren’t a million miles away.

Oliver Holland lost Chris Hall 8/11, 11/9, 3/11, 2/11

First up for his debut was recent U17 national junior champion Oliver Holland against full time coach and former Sheffield Hallam University student Chris Hall. Both players started cagily, sizing each other up waiting for opportunities to attack. A couple of costly errors from Holland gave Hall the edge who managed to close out the first 11/9. Following a chat from team captain Simon Parke, Holland looked more focussed and relaxed, tightening his game up, minimising options for his opponent and extended a 6/0 lead. Hall managed to close the gap somewhat, but couldn’t quite reel Holland in who took a deserved second 11/8. The third and fourth were one way traffic as a visibly tired Holland couldn’t maintain the intensity and consistency of the second. Sensing weakness Hall closed out the match with steady squash, waiting for the errors he knew would come from a frustrated Holland. Oliver did himself proud in what must have been quite a daunting match, a real star of the future and no doubt a member of our PSL squad for many years to come.

Sarah Kippax lost Jenny Duncalf 6/11, 3/11, 8/11

On the show court Nottingham’s Sarah Kippax had the unenviable task of taking on new world No. 2 Jenny Duncalf, who on the back of three consecutive WISPA tour title’s is in the form of her life. Sarah is never one to throw in the towel and gave as good as she got, sticking in the rallies, moving Jenny around and firing some top quality drops into the front of the court. A string of points for Duncalf snuffed out the first 11/6 who maintained her incredible court coverage and blistering performance into the second quickly wrapping it up 11/3. A change of tack from Kippax in the third paid dividends, slowing the ball to the back, attacking quickly on the volley rattled Duncalf but she still had some in the tank and after keeping level to 8/8 managed to keep her cool and finish off the match 3/0.

Simon Parke beat Steve Siviter 11/6, 2/11, 11/6, 5/11, 11/8

Second on the back court Simon Parke, recovering from a throat infection took on the unrelenting Steve Siviter, known to me as a player that can upset the established order in the squash world. Parke started well, dominating the T extending the rallies and moving Siviter around the court taking the first a comfortable 11/6. The second went all wrong, Siviter seemingly hitting winners from everywhere. Parke chased everything down as expected, but Siviter always had an answer, dictating the pace and volleying short and tight. The third swung back towards Parkey who upped the tempo, reduced Siviter’s time and dictated the pace closing out the game 11/6 and taking a 2/1 lead. The fourth was a repeat of the second, Parkey let his foot off the pace and Siviter seized the opportunity. Parke struggled to maintain the necessary pace, a possible sign of the remnants of infection but all credit to Siviter he placed the ball in all the right places and didn’t give Parke any freebies. So 2/2, the balcony is packed and nervous. A clearly drained Parke used all of his guile and match experience to keep his hopes alive. Trying to dominate the T and force the pace Parke was up against it but knew what he had to do and fought through the clearly obvious pain to pull a lead. An unfortunate and out of character frame into the tin from Siviter was all that was needed to give Parke a hard fought match and 3 points for MB Nottingham.

John Rooney Lost Laurence Delaseux 11/9, 7/11, 8/11, 2/11

We had identified this match as a pivotal to the tie, so it was with some relief that we watched Rooney establish a 10/4 lead in the first. Delaseux was sluggish, he miss hit a couple of balls in the back hand corner which was surely due to his mental state having just flown in from the US. Great, we thought. It was at this point that Delaseux started to play the squash which has seen him rise 100 places in two months and also why he has won the last three events he’s entered. He clawed back with a combination of winners and errors from Rooneybut couldn’t quite catch the Irishman who eventually emerged a relieved victor 11/9. It was all downhill from then on though, Delaseux had clearly blown the cobwebs away and was flowing freely. Rooney battled hard extending the rallies and forcing his opponent to work but he couldn’t get the killer shot or extend any sort of advantage. Delaseux fought to a 2/1 lead 11/7, 11/8 and then blew through the fourth as a clearly demoralised Rooney succumbed to an 11/2 loss and confirmed MB Nottingham’s first defeat of the season.

Renan Lavigne beat Alisatair Walker 12/14, 12/10, 11/2, 8/11, 13/11

So with nothing to play for it was a battle of pride at the No. 1 string, but if there is one player you want in your corner its Renan Lavigne. Unbeaten so far this PSL season and having already won two epic encounters 3-2 in front of the home crowd, everybody hoped for another outrageous display and that is exactly what they got!

The first was played at a frantic pace, Walker moving effortlessly and controlling the T, Renan chasing everything, working so hard to move Walker from teh T and gain the upper hand. Of course it went to a tie break with Lavigne losing out narrowly 12/14, we feared given the amount of work he had done it would be a downward spiral for the next two. No chance. Renan came back still flying, forcing the pace, disrupting Walkers rhythm, looking to volley at every opportunity and force errors. Walker battled but couldn’t deal with Lavignes relentless retrieval, going lower and lower with drop shots that could beat the French man, errors crept in and Walker became frustrated. Lavigne snatched teh third 12/10 then romped to the third 11/2 thanks to error after error from Walker. The fourth was tight, a double bounce wasn’t called at 4/4 which frustrated Walker allowing Lavigne a 6/4 lead before settling into disciplined line and length waiting for the opportunity to attack. This paid off as Lavigne fired up, caught a few errors levelling the match at 2/2.

The fifth was epic. Lavigne focused and patient, opened up a 5/1 lead then 6/2 before a battling Walker came back point by point with ultra disciplined squash to have the first match ball 10/9. After a ridiculous rally with full stretch retrieval from both players, Walker was out of position, Lavigne hit a great length but Walker gave it a full length dive just missing a flying boast and an unsuccessful appeal for a let. 10/10, back and for a tin from Walker levelled the game at 11/11. Lavigne dug in, ground out every shot with stunning determination, one winner ,another and 130 Nottingham supporters on their feet. An incredible result, Lavigne is easily the darling of Nottingham Squash Club at the moment and after a match like that we didn’t really feel like we had lost!!

David Coghlan

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Newport get a win at last

Peter Creed reports

It was a dark wet Tuesday night, in the well-supported squash club that Newport’s PSL team were seeking their first win.  With a slightly weaker side that usual the Pontefract players made the long treacherous drive to the Welsh team for a bottom of the league clash. With players like James Willstrop, Lee Beachill and Saurav Ghosal missing from their starting line up, Greg Tippings picked a worthy side to gain that crucial win that could take the Port off the bottom.  6:45 approached, and still no away side was present. Was the first win really going to be a walk over? No, the young Pontefract team arrived and within 20 mins the teams were announced and the first matches were starting.

Stacey Preece vs Anna Santa-Maria were the 1st match on court 2. Both players started off very tentative, with rallies being won quite quickly due to nerves of their first appearance being very evident. Stacey began to take control around the middle parts of the each game, and broke away playing the important points better than her opponent. Anna has a good variety of shots, but errors at crucial times cost her the match, as Stacey continued to apply good pressure to win 3/0 (11-7 11-7 11-6). A good performance, and it’s a shame Stacey doesn’t get the chance to play more Wispa events due to other commitments, as the effort and quality is there.

David Haley Vs George Wileman was a battle of the youngsters on court 3 “Sam Williams Court”. Dave began well and took an early slender lead of 6-3 producing some good control around the middle of the court, followed by some quality finishing shots. A minor lack of concentration allowed George to take advantage of a few errors from Dave, as he began to react instead of taking the initiative. George’s confidence began to grow, and Dave’s movement and confidence started deteriorating. The Pontefract youngster seemed to notice this, and took his opponent in short when possible, which paid big dividends as he took the match 3/2 (11/13 11/9 11/4 9/11 11/6).

Number 3 String was between myself Peter Creed and George’s older brother, Sam Wileman on court 2 the “K Newall court”. The first game was a well-fought affair, where although the score was close, Peter didn’t deserve to even take the game to tie break. After a few minor adjustments and some stern words from C.Robertson, Peter started to hit better length and applied more pressure on his opponent. Peter continued to take more control after this and the errors for Sam began to grow.  A few scrappy rallies, rugby tackle from Sam on match ball gave the crowd some joy, before Peter Closed out the match 3/1 (12/14 11/7 11/3 11/6).

Rob Sutherland Vs Karen Malik was a very quick encounter as Rob minced the opposition in 16 mins. I didn’t get to see most of the match but the points I did catch Karen wasn’t the most energetic and gutsy player I’ve seen. After watching quite a few Indian PSA players who play with their heart and run everything down, I was quite surprised to see a lack of effort from the 17 year old, maybe he wasn’t 100%? Bob took the match 3/0 (112 11/4 11/3).

Last on court was Campbell Grayson “GB” our adopted Welsh Kiwi who has been living at the WIS for the last few months, against an out of sorts Harinder Pal Sindu. This was a very fast paced match where both players attacked at will. Campbell’s quick hands got him out of ferocious rallies many times, and although Harinder hit a lot of accurate kills and volley drops, his error count was also to high to compete with the Kiwi looking to put a good performance on his last match for Newport’s PSL team. As Campbell said “ay I was on fire then ay”, and came out with the win 3/0 (11/3 11/5 11/8).

This concluded the night and Newport’s first win in their debut PSL season, which took them above their opposition and off the bottom of the north group. Thanks to everyone who came to support and all the sponsors and organisers for a good night.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A long Old Night for Surrey Storm

Surrey Storm made the long trip to Exeter in search of their first win in the last fixture of 2009.  On arrival hopes were boosted by the news that Joey Barrington had withdrawn at number 2 for Exeter meaning they had to hand a late call up to Marwan el Shorbagy and the rest of the side all moving up a place.

First up was Marwan vs. Alex Ingham at number 5.  Alex snuck the first 11/9 moving the ball around comfortably and attacking with conviction when the chance arrived.  The second followed a similar pattern with Marwan taking the final few points to level 11/9.  A bad start in the next saw Alex playing catch up for the rest of the game and the young Egyptian closed it out 11/5 moving to within one game of his second win on the bounce.  Alex was unable to interrupt Marwan’s momentum in the fourth who impressively took the game 11/7 and with it the match.

Stacey Ross was back at number 3 where he is unbeaten this season and he was up against James Snell.  Stacey won in 3 tight games, 2 of which went to tie breaks but Stacey played the big points better and levelled things up for the Storm. 

In the girls match Victoria Lust was struggling to find her rhythm against Emma Chorley who was moving well and seemed intent on causing an upset.  Emma took the first 2 games on a tie break before Vicky responded by winning the 3rd 11/9.  We were looking forward to a comeback before Emma slammed the door shut by regaining her dominance taking the fourth 11/5 and with it our hopes of victory.

Jesse recently back from injury was fighting hard against fellow South African Clinton Leeuw.  The first 2 games were shared 11/9 and looked like it might go all the way but at the end of the 3rd and 4th Jesse short of court time ran out of steam and Clinton took them 11/6, 11/8 respectively guaranteeing Exeter the match.
The last match on saw Julian Illingworth Surrey storm’s number 1 making his debut against the inform Jonathan Kemp. There was not a lot between them in the first 2 with some great attacking squash and at 1 game all the crowed hoped it may go to 5.  Jonathan came out flying in the 3rd and Julian was always behind eventually losing it 11/5.  It was role reversal again in the 4h as Julian aided by some great winners took the game by the scruff of the neck before Jonathan clawed his way back to 9-9 before eventually winning it 11/9. 

This was a great advert for the PSL as the game was played in a great manner with both players respecting each other and the referees showing squash at its entertaining best.

Massive thanks to Tony, Adam and all the staff at Devon & Exeter for their hospitality and running a great evening.  We look forward to seeing you in March.

Graeme Williams

Surrey Health & Racquets Club v TWP St Georges Hill

Pete Smith reports
This was an important match for both teams with us trying to recover from our loss at Bristol and St Georges Hill trying to keep their unbeaten run going. All was set for a well contested night with 2 strong teams out!
Here we go and it didn't disappoint!!
Alison Waters v Rachel Willmot
First up on the main court was Alison who was in no mood to hang around and determined to get us off to a flyer. Alison was on top form and out did Rachel in every department to record a convincing 3-0 win, 11/2 11/2 11/4.
Surrey Health & RC 1 St Georges 0
Alan Clyne v Joe Lee
This was a fantastic game of squash enjoyed by the crowd and had everything. Joe started the quickest and settled well into his game and Alan struggled at first to get the length and width required so Joe took the 1st 11-7. Joe came out in the 2nd firing into an 8-3 lead but Alan suddenly started mixing it up with boasts and taking the ball early in short with more variation and clawed back to take the 2nd 11-9.
This was now a top class game of squash with both players going for it, retrieving well, but Alan started to get on top with his continued variation and managed to take the 3rd 11-4 and the 4th 11-7. Well played to both players who received a standing ovation from the crowd.
Surrey Health & RC 2 - Ste Georges Hill 0
Davide Bianchetti v Tom Richards
Whilst Alan and Joe were fighting it out on the other court Davide and Tom started to battle. Tom came out firing and Davide struggled with the pace and changes of direction to take the first 2 games 11/2 11/4. In the 3rd Davide started to get into the game and took a 6-3 lead but Tom came racing back to take the game 11-6 and the match 3-0. Well played Tom!
Surrey Health & RC 2 - St Georges Hill 1
Peter Nicol v Nicolas Mueller
This was experience against youth and what a match it turned out to be. Nicolas started well with pace as was determined not to let Peter settle and took the 1st 11-5. In the 2nd Peter came out mixing the rallies up with lobs, drops, late flicks and this put Nicolas under pressure and force mistakes so Peter levelled it at 1-1. 11-7. This was turning into a fantastic game of squash with excellent retrieving and lots of variations of play and the 3rd turned out to be the crucial game and Nicolas edging it 12-10 and go 2-1 up. I think Nicolas thought Peter was tired but Peter came out in the 4th and played a perfect game of squash which had Nicolas all over the place to take the 4th 11-4.
Now into the 5th and the crowd were just loving it, Nicolas came out quicker and raced into a 6-0 lead but Peter was fighting all the way but just got edged out 11-5 in the 5th. Well played to both players and it was 50 minutes of pure entertainment and a top effort, a standing ovation again from the crowd!
Surrey Health & RC 2 - St Georges Hill 2
Peter Barker v Daryl Selby
We'll down to the decider and this was going to be tight with the World Num 7 and 11 in action. Peter was very focused and started the 1st game well with excellent variations of pace and control and took the 1st 11-9. The 2nd was again point for point with both players playing excellent controlled squash and waiting for opportunities to take the advantage, It was tight all the way until Daryl conceded a couple of strokes at the end of the 2nd which meant Peter went onto take the game 11-8. Daryl came out fighting in the 3rd and upped the pace as he knew he had to get back into it for his team and went into an 8-6 lead but Peter kept to his game plan of variations of pace and made a push late in the 3rd to take it 11-9 and the match 3-0. Again an excellent high quality game of squash enjoyed by the crowd.#
Surrey Health &RC 3 - St Georges Hill 2
This was a really high quality night of squash and demonstrated everything that the PSL is and the crowd had a ball.
Thanks to Danny and his team and we look forward now to the 2nd half.
Next home game Tues 19th January 2010 v Surrey Storm - See you there??

Chichester welcome Bristol

This Tuesday Covers Team Chichester welcomed a very strong Probuild Bristol Squad for Round 5 of the Premier Squash League and the 3rd home fixture of the season.  The Bristol team’s top 2 players are ranked in the World’s top 15.

First on the glass-back court was Chichester’s Dominique Lloyd-Walter who played World No.8 Laura Massaro.  The first 2 games were shared; both score lines the same - 5/11, 11/5.  In the third, Lloyd-Walter stormed to a 7/2 lead before Massaro clawed her way back, using her effective boast to maximum effect and eventually she clinched the game 11/13.   In the 4th Massaro, with her generally tidy game, continued to dominate the match in the same vein.  Lloyd-Walter, however, struggled to find a consistent length and Massaro took advantage and won through 2/11 to put Bristol 1-up on the night.

On the adjoining court Chichester’s No.4 and team stalwart, Peter Genever, played the ‘Squash Legend’ and former World no. 2, Peter Marshall.  A truly great match ensued.  Marshall got off to a great start, wrapping up the first 2 games 7/11, 8/11 before a titanic 3rd game, in which Genever saved 4 match balls before clinching it 12/10.  The rallying and movement displayed by both O35 players was immense.   Genever, renowned for his fitness, ground his opponent down taking the 4th, 11/7.  After over an hour’s play Genever eventually won the 5th, 11/7, completing a memorable match between 2 great rivals.

1-    all

Next on the championship court Chichester’s Alex Gough was up against the World Junior Champion, Mohammed El Shorbagy.  Giving away 20 years, Gough equipped himself well in the first game and had numerous chances to take the game before losing it 9/11.  Shorbagy moved the ball around the court well and used great shot selection throughout the match.  Gough continued to battle gamely and was competitive in all 3 games but the age difference took its toll.  Shorbagy’s speed and ability to cover everything proved too much for Gough and he went on to win 7/11, 8/11 to put Bristol in a 2.1 lead.

Next on was Tim Vail, another Chichester stalwart player, playing David Evans, former World No.3 and 2000 British Open Champion.  Evans dominated the first 2 games, cutting the ball off well with Vail struggling to get forward.  In the third Vail found his length and started to feed off this and taking control of the front, aided by a few uncharacteristic tins from Evans, Vail took the third.  In the 4th Evans regained domination of the court, despite Vail’s valiant efforts.  Evans proved too strong on the day and won the match 1.3 to give Bristol an unassailable lead.

Last match was between the No.1 strings, Adrian Grant [World no.10] and Chichester’s Robbie Temple.  The match was an entertaining one with the 50 ranking place difference being very much apparent at the business end of all 3 games.  Temple battled well and certainly had many chances to take a game but Grant’s experience at the next level helped him to win the match.  Nonetheless, the 12/10 and 13/11 score lines in the second and third games showed just how close the games were.

1.4 to Bristol

A Christmas break follows and time for Chichester to regroup in readiness for the second half of the season.  Iskandar returns to the squad but Lloyd-Walter will be missing for the first 2 fixtures so it really will be down to the men to provide the spoils.  With a bit of luck on the Covers Team Chichester’s side a mid table position at the end of the season would be a great accomplishment.

  Mike Phillips - Team Manager