Thursday, February 17, 2011

Two in a row for Ponte

Malcolm Willstrop reports

With both teams almost at full strength - Oxford lacked Borja Golan, Pontefract were without Vanessa Atkinson - the line-up promised a great deal and in the event delivered.

Madeline Perry, looking as fit as ever, proved too pacy for Kirsty Mcphee, whose racket skills kept her in the games, and she gave Oxford a start, winning 3-0. Meanwhile two relative veterans, Simon Parke and Scott Handley, both of whose enthusiasm for the game remains undiminished, were battling it out and at one all it was anybody's match. Parke though, proved the stronger and gradually pulled away to win 3-1, levelling the matches.

Lee Beachill began slowly, losing the first game quickly to Jamie Haycocks, but working his way in to contention he led 2-1; Haycocks, however, as might be expected, finished the stronger and won 3-2.

Indian No 1 Saurav Ghosal, in good form, always had control against the persistent Chris Ryder and although the three games were close, ghosal's finishing ability and speed around court gave him the decisive edge.

So the match was level at 2 all, the outcome depending on the top string match between James Willstrop, perhaps vulnerable after Manchester, and Cameron Pilley, certainly capable of taking advantage if the world number 4 was not somewhere near his best.The first game was fiercely contested, high pace and aided by three unforced errors in a row from Willstop, Pilley forced a tiebreak . Willstrop would have won the game 13-11 if a backhand drop had not found the tin, but it was the Australian who took the game 14-12.

From then on Willstrop produced a bewildering display of shotmaking and finishing. Unplayable, winning the second 11-1 he took the third 11-3 and the fourth 11-5. Pilley powerless, to give Pontefract a 3-2 win.

The packed house left more than happy and home supporters well pleased with a second consecutive win.

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