Duffield Clinch Dramatic PSL Final
Duffield clinched the 2006 Premier
Squash League title in a dramatic final tonight (Saturday) at
the National Squash Centre in Manchester. The Derbyshire
club led 2/0 before Churchill Edgbaston Priory staged a
mighty fight back to draw level – then, to the delight of the vociferous
East Midlands supporters, claimed the PSL trophy for the first time
since 1998 when team No1 Nick Matthew, the British champion, beat
the Birmingham club's Australian star Stewart Boswell in the
"It was a fantastic team effort," said long-time
Duffield manager Brian Hargrave at the presentations afterwards.
"There were two occasions earlier in the season where we failed to
capitalise on match balls which would have won us the ties – and I
thought to myself earlier tonight, 'surely we can't do this a third
Yorkshireman Laurence Delasaux gave Duffield
an early lead in the finale of the THB Clowes-sponsored league
when he beat Hadrian Stiff in four games. Delasaux, from Hull,
was making his PSL final debut - but Stiff, a Bristol-based Devonian
from Exeter, knows what it's like to compete in the league climax: The
33-year-old England No18 did so in 1998 – when he led tonight's
opponents Duffield to the title for the first time!
Delasaux, at 20, the youngest player in the final,
recovered from a game down to triumph 9-6, 5-9, 9-3, 9-6 over his Priory
opponent - and was delighted with his relatively error-free performance
in his first ever meeting with the experienced Englishman: "All credit
to Hadrian, he made me work hard for my victory – but I managed to keep
a good length throughout the match and came through OK. Playing for a
team always puts that extra pressure on you – which makes you want to go
that extra yard."
The star women's match between England team-mates and
Commonwealth Games bronze medal-winning women's doubles partners
Tania Bailey and Vicky Botwright took more than an hour to
resolve on the all-glass showcourt at the NSC. And again Edgbaston took
the opening game through Botwright - before the Duffield crowd screamed
for joy when Bailey fought back to win 6-9, 9-2, 9-6, 9-1 to open up a
2/0 lead for the Derbyshire club.
Bailey, the 26-year-old world No9 from Stamford in
Lincolnshire who became British National champion for the first time in
February, was recently elevated to England No1 – though Botwright is
ranked five in the world. "I'm thrilled to be called England number
one, but I think of Vicky as the country's number one as she's ranked
higher than me in the world," said Bailey.
"I knew I had to play well to beat Vicky tonight – I
felt comfortable on the court and feel a lot fitter than I have done for
a long time. This may be Vicky's 'local' court as she's based here in
Manchester, but I always play well on it – it's where I won my national
title earlier in the year - and winning that, and doing well in the
Commonwealth Games, has given me a real boost."
It was only shortly after Bailey's game ended that
Duffield's lead was pared back as Priory's newly-capped England
international Peter Barker raced to a straight games victory over
Welsh international Gavin Jones. Barker, the only player in the
final to boast a 100% turnout for his club this season, failed to put a
foot wrong as he wrapped up his 9-2, 9-4, 9-2 win in just 27 minutes.
But Jonathan Kemp then put in a blistering
performance which raised Duffield's hopes of an early triumph when he
opened up a two-game lead against fellow left-hander Adrian Grant,
the third England international in the Edgbaston squad.
Grant, the world No16 from London who is ranked 10
places higher than his Duffield opponent, admitted later that he had to
raise his game in the third game – but Kemp pulled back in the fourth to
reach match-ball. Grant saved that, and fought on to gain three game
balls before finally pushing the match into a fifth game.
To the relief of the Edgbaston section of the crowd,
Grant eventually claimed the match 6-9, 9-11, 9-4, 13-11, 9-3 after 77
agonising minutes to leave a mouth-watering decider between the two top
Boswell and Matthew have enjoyed parallel careers,
with both playing major parts in their respective countries'
international team successes – most recently in the Commonwealth Games
in Melbourne - and both in fine form.
But it was Matthew, the world No7 from Sheffield, who
had the upper hand throughout the decider – and Boswell, despite leading
his club to victory in the league in both 2001 and 2003, who this time
"I was really up for it tonight," said the delighted
Duffield No1 after his 9-5, 9-7, 9-7 victory in 37 minutes. "I wanted
to make sure I got a good early lead, and by the time I'd won the second
game, I was confident I was there," said Matthew.
"I felt I'd lost a few crucial matches early in the
season, and I said to manager Brian before the match that I wouldn't do
It was an emotional Brian Hargrave who clasped the
trophy for the second time since 1998, following the club's third
appearance in the final.
"There's been a tremendous team spirit this season
and our supporters have been simply fantastic – in fact they've probably
contributed towards a good few points tonight," explained Hargrave.
"But ultimately it's the players who do it on court – and I'm very proud
of them tonight."
Hargrave paid tribute to Benz-Bavarian,
sponsors of the team for the past nine years. Felix Friloux, of
Benz-Bavarian, echoed his appreciation of the success: "Two wins in
nine years? That's really special – it's been really good to have been
involved – you just couldn't ask more of the players than they achieved
"For a small village like Duffield in Derbyshire to
produce a team like this is great – it will undoubtedly inspire more
kids to get involved, and that's what it's all about," added Friloux.
But Duffield's Jonathan Kemp – interestingly, a
member of Edgbaston Priory's title-winning squad five years ago –
perhaps summed the evening up best: "It's days like this that you play
squash for – the big crowd and the big occasion. There's nothing like
Premier Squash League Final,
National Squash Centre, Manchester
Benz-Bavarian Duffield 3 Churchill Edgbaston
Nick Matthew bt Stewart Boswell 9-5, 9-7, 9-7 (37m)
Jonathan Kemp lost to Adrian Grant 9-6, 11-9,
4-9, 11-13, 3-9 (77m)
Gavin Jones lost to Peter Barker 2-9, 4-9,
Laurence Delasaux bt Hadrian Stiff 9-6,
5-9, 9-3, 9-6 (42m)
Tania Bailey bt Vicky Botwright 6-9, 9-2,
9-6, 9-1 (66m)
Semi Finals, Thursday 18th May
Strings & Chichester Deride PSL North/South
Oberthur Strings Tewkesbury and Team Chichester shocked
Churchill Edgbaston Priory and Benz-Bavarian Duffield,
respectively, in tonight's first semi-finals legs of the Premier
Squash League (PSL) – taking their fancied northern opposition the
full distance at home before each going down 2/3 in dramatic ties 48
hours before the teams meet again in the reverse second leg fixtures.
Strings Tewkesbury, runners-up in the South Group,
entertained the mighty Priory squad which won all but one of its North
Group ties over the season and finished way out in front of all-comers
in the end-of-season group table.
The Birmingham club opened up an early lead when
England international Vicky Botwright, the world No5 from
Manchester, beat the home team's Pakistan number one Carla Khan
9-5 9-0 9-2, and Hadrian Stiff defeated Welshman Rob
Sutherland, also in straight games.
But the Oberthur-sponsored underdogs fought back in
dramatic fashion. On adjacent courts, home heroes Daryl Selby
and Alex Stait faced higher-ranked England internationals
and Peter Barker.
Selby, the 23-year-old world No46 from Essex, climbed back from two
games down to beat Grant, the world No15, 8-10, 3-9, 9-7, 9-5, 12-10 –
and Stait, the Manchester-based world No58 prevailed in five close
games against Barker, the world No23, to win 10-8, 11-13, 6-9, 10-8,
Both matches were decided on strokes - and both
finished almost simultaneously!
The visitors' Australian international Stewart
Boswell denied a fairy-tale ending for Strings, beating fellow
Australian Cameron Pilley 9-1, 9-7, 9-7 in the top string
decider as Edgbaston Priory secured their 3/2 win.
"I'm really proud of my team – the way they all
played was magnificent," said Strings manager Wendy Maitland.
"The crowd was treated to brilliant squash here tonight – and it was
certainly one in the eye for those who thought we would be hammered by
"I was especially pleased for Daryl and Alex, who
produced fantastic results - in both cases probably the best scalps of
their careers," added Maitland.
The other fixture also produced its share of
outstanding results – with the top string encounter again providing
the tie-decider. The opening women's match between Chichester's
Linda Elriani and Duffield's Tania Bailey was always
certain to set the tone for the evening's entertainment ahead – and
the England team-mates did not disappoint.
Elriani, the world No8 from Eastbourne out for
revenge for her defeat by the Lincolnshire lass from Stamford in this
year's British National Championship final, took the first game. But
Bailey, who replaced Elriani as No1 in the latest England rankings,
fought back to take the next three games - and the match – 7-9, 9-1,
Yorkshire's Laurence Delasaux stretched the
Derbyshire club's lead by beating the hosts' Tom Richards in
five games – but Chichester came back with a vengeance, club stalwart
beating world-ranked Jonathan Kemp 9-7, 6-9,
9-5, 2-9, 9-7, and club coach Tim Vail overcoming Duffield's
French international Renan Lavigne 9-5, 11-9, 3-9, 11-9.
It would have been a tall order for Chichester's
Ben Garner to make a serious impression against the visitors'
world number seven-ranked Nick Matthew – but the world No39
from Surrey took a close-fought second game to level the match before
Matthew, Duffield's second British National champion, imposed his
authority to win 9-4, 8-10, 9-4, 9-6.
Semi-finals, 1st leg
Team Chichester 2 Benz Bavarian Duffield 3
Ben Garner lost to Nick Matthew
4-9, 10-8, 4-9, 6-9
Peter Genever beat Jonathan Kemp
9-7, 6-9, 9-5, 2-9, 9-7
Tim Vail beat Renan Lavigne
9-5, 11-9, 3-9, 11-9
Tom Richards lost to Laurence Delasaux
9-5, 3-9, 7-9, 9-4, 5-9
Linda Elriani lost to Tania Bailey
9-7, 1-9, 8-10, 0-9
Oberthur Strings Tewkesbury 2 Churchill
Edgbaston Priory 3
Cameron Pilley lost to Stewart Boswell
1-9, 7-9, 7-9
Daryl Selby beat Adrian Grant
8-10, 3-9, 9-7, 9-5, 12-10
Alex Stait beat Peter Barker
10-8, 11-13, 6-9, 10-8, 9-5
Rob Sutherland lost to Hadrian Stiff
8-10, 8-10, 5-9
Carla Khan lost to Vicky Botwright
5-9, 0-9, 2-9
2nd leg, Thursday
18 May 2006
Benz Bavarian Duffield v Team Chichester
Nick Matthew v Ben Garner
Jonathan Kemp v Peter Genever
Renan Lavigne v Tim Vail
Gavin Jones v Tom Richards
Tania Bailey v Suzie Pierrepont
Churchill Edgbaston Priory v Oberthur Strings
Stewart Boswell v Cameron Pilley
Adrian Grant v Rodney Durbach
Peter Barker v Alister Walker
Hadrian Stiff v Philip Nightingale
Vicky Botwright v Selina Sinclair
End Of Season
Duffield Celebrate Return To PSL Play-Offs
stunned Manchester/Pontefract supporters
at their home courts at the National Squash Centre in
Manchester by beating
the 2004 champions in the final round of the Premier Squash League
to claim the last place in the end-of-season finals play-offs.
The 4/1 victory takes the
Derbyshire club ahead of the trans-Pennine cooperative in the North
Group" denying the finalists for the past two years a chance to compete
for the national title for a third time. Duffield, in the
play-offs for the first time in four years, join Group winners
Churchill Edgbaston Priory" and will meet the top two teams in the
With Oberthur Strings
Tewkesbury already assured of a place, it took a 3/2 win for Team
Chichester over University Sport Birmingham to push the
Sussex club ahead of Tewkesbury in the final South Group placings"
leaving the Gloucestershire club to face Edgbaston Priory, and
Chichester to take on Duffield.
With just two points separating
Manchester/Pontefract and Duffield before the tie, a simple win was all
that was required.
England team-mates Jenny
Duncalf and Tania Bailey faced each other in the opening
clash. Duffield's Bailey, hot from winning her first WISPA
World Tour title for six years, took the opening game" but Duncalf,
ranked two places higher at world No8, delighted home supporters by
moving 2/1 ahead.
Bailey was not to be denied,
however, and persevered for 84 minutes to carve out a 9-1, 7-9, 6-9,
9-0, 9-4 victory to give Duffield the lead.
Fast-rising Welshman Gavin
Jones needed just 37 minutes to extend Duffield's grip, beating the
home club's long-standing team stalwart Nick Taylor 13-11, 10-8,
Frenchman Renan Lavigne
then mounted a second remarkable comeback for the visitors when he
recovered from 0/2 down to beat Manchester/Pontefract's former British
Open champion David Evans 4-9, 6-9, 9-7, 9-6, 9-7 in 57 minutes"
sealing a victorious night for Duffield.
The home club gained a
consolation point when Lee Beachill coasted to a 9-5, 9-5, 9-7
win in 24 minutes over Jonathan Kemp. In the final 'dead'
rubber - which was as 'live' as it was possible to be - Nick Matthew
defeated his Commonwealth Games doubles partner and England
team-mate James Willstrop 9-4, 10-8, 7-9, 5-9, 9-7 in 60 minutes
to extend Duffield's winning margin to 4/1.
"We really got ourselves out of
jail a couple of times tonight," said a delighted Duffield manager
after his team's astonishing win. "Gavin was
8/4 down in his second game, but came back to win it, and Tania threw
everything she had into her final game to survive her tough match.
"And we knew Renan's would be a
crucial match, and probably would be won on stamina" and that's what
happened. After his disappointing match last week, he was really
fired up tonight. Everybody was really delighted for him" it was
probably his best ever match for us.
"Overall, the rub of the green
just seemed to go for us tonight" at last - and I'm delighted for the
team and all our loyal supporters," added Hargrave.
The other North Group battle
also produced a significant outcome" if little to do with play-off
entertained 1999 champions
registered a 5/0 win" their first in five years in the league. The
victory also signalled the west midlands club's final match in the PSL.
"What a great way to sign off,"
said team manager Stephen Russell afterwards. "We've had
five very successful years in the league" including winning the title
last year" but it's time to do something else, perhaps organising
professional tournaments at our club."
Russell paid respects to his
loyal team members and thanked "everyone who has supported the team over
the five years both home and away."
Team Chichester confirmed their
place in the play-offs for the fourth successive year with a 3/2 win at
University Sport Birmingham" clinching victory after the first three
matches with wins from Linda Elriani, Tom Richards and team
captain Tim Vail.
The Birmingham University hosts
salvaged the next two rubbers when Joel Hinds" fresh from taking
England through to the finals of the European Junior Team
Championships in Switzerland" beat Chichester stalwart
Peter Genever 9-4, 9-5,
9-11, 9-5, and Joey Barrington defeated the Sussex squad's number
one Ben Garner 9-1, 7-9, 9-5, 9-5.
Final round results:
Anthony Ricketts beat
9-7, 4-9, 9-6,9-4 (49m)
Alex Gough beat Duncan
9-3, 9-6, 9-3
Scott Handley beat
9-5, 7-9, 11-9, 9-5
Chris Ryder beat Arthur
9-4, 9-6, 9-4
Shelley Kitchen beat Sarah Kippax.
9-7, 9-2, 9-3
Benz-Bavarian Duffield 4
James Willstrop lost to Nick
4-9, 8-10, 9-7, 9-5, 7-9 (60m)
Lee Beachill beat Jonathan Kemp
9-5, 9-5, 9-7 (24m)
David Evans lost to Renan
9-4, 9-6, 7-9, 6-9, 7-9 (57m)
Nick Taylor lost to Gavin Jones
11-13, 8-10, 6-9 (37m)
Jenny Duncalf lost to Tania
1-9, 9-7, 9-6, 0-9, 4-9 (84m)
University Sport Birmingham 2
Team Chichester 3
Joey Barrington beat Ben Garner
9-1, 7-9, 9-5, 9-5
Joel Hinds beat Peter Genever
9-4, 9-5, 9-11, 9-5
Steve Coppinger lost to Tim Vail
2-9, 9-2, 7-9, 1-9
Chris Truswell lost to Tom
8-10, 1-9, 9-6, 5-9
Laura-Jane Lengthorn lost to
1-9, 6-9, 9-3, 7-9
Play off preview
Former Champions In Final
For PSL Play-Offs
Manchester/Pontefract (2004) and
Benz-Bavarian Duffield (1998) go head-to-head tonight (Tuesday) in
the final round of the Premier
Squash League (PSL)
in a battle for second spot in the North Group – and a place in the
end-of-season finals play-offs.
Just two points separate the two clubs – but a simple win will decide
the outcome of the team which will join North Group leaders
Churchill Edgbaston Priory in the play-offs against the top two
teams from the South Group, Team
Whilst Tewkesbury have completed their 'qualifying' campaign,
Chichester are also in action tonight – taking on
University Sport Birmingham in a bid to win at least six points to
go ahead of the current Group leaders to be sure of avoiding Edgbaston
Priory in the play-offs.
National Squash Centre at
will host the
Manchester/Pontefract & Duffield tie – which boasts no fewer than five
players ranked in the top 10 in the world, and seven players who
competed in the recent
’s home advantage, and
full-strength squad, makes them clear favourites.
The travelling loyal band of Duffield supporters will be hoping to get
their just reward - provided that
Nick Matthew has fully recovered from the sickness which forced him
to retire last Tuesday. The world No7 from
takes on higher-ranked fellow
Yorkshireman James Willstrop,
the home team's No1 whom he beat twice last month.
The women's rubber will see
Jenny Duncalf and Tania
Bailey face each other.
Duffield's Bailey is ranked two places lower than world No8 Duncalf –
but Bailey is in fine form having just won her first
WISPA World Tour title in six years at the
Vassar College Class of 1932 Open in the USA.
The other North Group tie taking place tonight sees title-holders
The full-strength hosts will be led by Australia's world No5
Anthony Ricketts, while long-time Nottingham star
Simon Parke will hope that his win in last week's
Colets Open in Surrey will inspire him and his team to their first
PSL victory of the season.
Tuesday 18 April 2006
Wolverhampton v Nottingham
Anthony Ricketts v Simon Parke
Alex Gough v Duncan Walsh
Scott Handley v James Wright
Chris Ryder v Arthur Gaskin
Shelley Kitchen v Sarah Kippax
Manchester/Pontefract v Benz-Bavarian Duffield
James Willstrop v Nick Matthew
Lee Beachill v Jonathan Kemp
David Evans v Renan Lavigne
Nick Taylor v Gavin Jones
Jenny Duncalf v Tania Bailey
University Sport Birmingham v Team Chichester
Joey Barrington v Ben Garner
Joel Hinds v
Jonathan Harford v Tim Vail
Steve Coppinger v Tom Richards
Laura Lengthorn v Linda Elriani
10th Round Report 11th April
Commonwealth Games Hero Nicol Fails To Lift Croydon Into PSL Play-Offs
England's Commonwealth Games hero
Peter Nicol gave
Surrey Health & Racquets a much-needed win in their tenth and final
round of the Premier Squash League (PSL) at Team Chichester
– but it wasn't enough to carry the Croydon club into the PSL
play-offs in their debut season as the Sussex side claimed the other
four rubbers to earn a 4/1 tie victory.
Surrey H&RC plummet to third place in the South Group
table, behind Chichester and Oberthur Strings Tewkesbury – both
of whom are now assured of play-off places. The Gloucestershire
club beat University Sport Birmingham 4/1to top the table – but
Chichester have next week's delayed ninth round tie in hand and could
yet overtake Tewkesbury.
There was high drama in the North Group where
Churchill Edgbaston Priory hosted Manchester/Pontefract and
beat the 2004 champions 4/1 to avenge their defeat earlier in the
season. The Birmingham club finished their season a massive 41
points ahead of all-comers to ensure a play-off place for the fifth time
in six years.
Elsewhere, 1998 champions Benz-Bavarian Duffield
slumped to a 2/3 defeat by title-holders
Wolverhampton to hold
onto third place in the group, just four points behind
Manchester/Pontefract. The two teams will now battle for the
second play-off place in the group when they meet next week in
Manchester for the rearranged ninth round fixture.
Team Chichester made a strong start against the PSL
newcomers when England international Linda Elriani whitewashed
the Croydon club's Jane Gardner, and Tom Richards
recovered from two games down to beat the visitors' former European
Junior champion Chris Simpson 4-9, 6-9, 10-8, 9-7, 9-7.
Chichester stalwarts Tim Vail and
Peter Genever extended the club's lead
with straight games wins over Surrey H&RC's Tim Garner and
Phillip Barker, respectively, to ensure a place in the play-offs for
the fourth year in a row.
But the in-form Nicol made sure of potentially
valuable consolation points for the Surrey side. In his first
match on home soil since winning two gold medals in the Commonwealth
in Melbourne, then reaching the final of the PSA Masters in
Bermuda, the 33-year-old former world No1 beat Ben Garner 9-6
8-10, 9-5 9-6.
Despite managing the Strings Tewkesbury team
throughout the season, Wendy Maitland left it to the last fixture
before making her season's debut as a player – but failed to convert a
match ball in the fourth game against Georgina Stoker before
going down 7-9, 9-4, 9-7, 9-10, 5-9 to the University Sport Birmingham
Maitland's squad, however, made up for her
disappointing start by picking up the remaining rubbers to clinch the
club's second successive place in the play-offs.
It was nip and tuck throughout the well-attended tie
in Derbyshire between Duffield and Wolverhampton – with the home club's
newcomer Jennifer Knibbs recovering from a nervous start to beat
the visitors' Fiona Moverley 5-9 9-2 9-5 9-2.
A lame performance by Duffield's Laurence Delasaux
saw the club quickly lose their advantage when Chris Ryder
despatched the hosts' fourth string 9-4 9-2 9-2. A similarly
unsettling experience for long-suffering Duffield manager
Brian Hargrave came
later when Frenchman Renan Lavigne squandered two match balls in
the fourth game to lose 9-5, 6-9, 9-2, 12-14, 3-9 to Wolverhampton's
But Hargrave was quick to gain comfort from an
unexpected 9-6, 9-7, 9-2 win by Jonathan Kemp over experienced
and in-form Welsh international Alex Gough.
Local hopes were raised in the decider when
Duffield's England international Nick Matthew took the first game
against Australia's world No5 Anthony Ricketts. But the
mood changed when, after a game lasting only seconds, Matthew threw in
the towel complaining of sickness – and Ricketts claimed an 8-10 9-3 9-0
(ret.) win, and Wolverhampton a 3/2 victory.
Edgbaston Priory were in commanding form in their
home tie against Manchester/Pontefract – though it was the trans-Pennine
cooperative which recorded the first victory when Lee Beachill came back
from 1/2 down to beat Australia's Stewart Boswell 9-2 3-9 3-9 9-3
9-6. Priory players demonstrated strength of character when both
Adrian Grant and
Vicky Botwright both recovered from losses of the first two games to
triumph in five – Grant against long-time Manchester team stalwart
Nick Taylor and Botwright against England team-mate Jenny
The late final battle between Priory's David
Palmer and the visitors' James Willstrop – ranked two and
three, respectively, in the world – providing a fitting climax to the
night. Palmer prevailed 10-8, 9-7, 7-9, 9-6, much to the delight
of the packed Priory gallery.
10th round results 11th
Churchill Edgbaston Priory 4
beat James Willstrop
10-8, 9-7, 7-9, 9-6
lost to Lee Beachill
2-9, 9-3, 9-3, 3-9, 6-9
beat Nick Taylor
7-9, 8-10, 9-4, 9-7, 9-2
beat Andrew Whipp
9-2, 9-7, 9-7
beat Jenny Duncalf
2-9, 7-9, 9-7, 9-3, 9-3
Benz-Bavarian Duffield 2
lost to Anthony Ricketts
10-8, 3-9, 0-9 ret.
beat Alex Gough
9-6, 9-7, 9-2
lost to Scott Handley
9-5, 6-9, 9-2, 12-14, 3-9
Delasaux lost to Chris Ryder
4-9, 2-9, 2-9
beat Fiona Moverley
5-9, 9-2, 9-5, 9-2
Oberthur Strings Tewkesbury 4
University Sport Birmingham 1
beat Joey Barrington
9-7, 10-8, 10-8
beat Jonathan Harford
9-0, 10-8, 9-6
Alex Stait beat
7-9, 9-5, 8-10, 10-8, 9-6
beat Chris Truswell
9-5, 9-3, 10-8
lost to Georgina Stoker 7-9, 9-4,
9-7, 9-10, 5-9
Team Chichester 4 Surrey
H&RC Croydon 1
Ben Garner lost
to Peter Nicol
6-9, 10-8, 5-9, 6-9
beat Phillip Barker
9-4, 9-6, 9-6
Tim Vail beat
9-6, 9-3, 9-7
beat Chris Simpson
4-9, 6-9, 10-8, 9-7, 9-7
beat Jane Gardner
9-0, 9-0, 9-0
Tuesday 4 April 2006
Surrey Health Move Up In PSL, Despite Guildford
In the only ninth round Premier Squash League
tie played on Tuesday, UniSport Guildford beat county
rivals Surrey Health & Racquets Club 3/2 away from home in a
victory which avenged their earlier 5/0 drubbing by the Croydon club and
rounded off their 2005/06 season in impressive style.
Despite the absence of squad No1 Peter Nicol,
England's double gold medal hero of last month's Commonwealth Games
in Australia who is now competing in the PSA Masters in Bermuda,
Surrey Health move into top place in the South Group points table" with
next week's tenth round tie at Team Chichester set to decide the
two teams which will go forward from the group to the semi-final
play-offs against the top two clubs from the North Group.
Alison Waters, also
a member of England's successful Games squad in Melbourne, put the
University of Surrey team into the lead with a straight games win over
the hosts' Lauren Briggs. Ben Ford levelled the tie with
a 9-6 9-5 9-6 victory over Guildford's Neil Frankland.
But it was the third string clash which Surrey H&RC
team manager Pete Smith conceded was "always going to be the one
which would decide the outcome of the night"" and so it proved to be as
Germany's rising teenager Simon Rosner battled for five games
against Guildford's experienced Zimbabwean No1 Jesse Engelbrecht.
It was nip and tuck throughout the exchanges, but it
was Engelbrecht who ultimately emerged triumphant to record a 10-8, 1-9,
9-2, 4-9, 9-6 victory to put the visitors ahead.
UniSport stalwart Stephen Meads, who had only
just stepped off a plane from Hong Kong where he had been coaching the
country's national squad, clinched victory for Guildford with a 12-10
9-7 9-7 win over the home team captain Tim Garner, runner-up in
the weekend's BSPA Grand Prix event at the Croydon club.
Italian number one Davide Bianchetti beat
Stacey Ross 9-5, 9-7, 9-5 in the final top string rubber to earn
three further vital points for PSL debutants Surrey H&RC.
Surrey H&RC Croydon 2 UniSport Guildford 3
Davide Bianchetti beat Stacey Ross 9-5, 9-7, 9-5
Tim Garner lost to Stephen Meads 10-12, 7-9, 7-9
Simon Rosner lost to Jesse Engelbrecht 8-10, 9-1,
2-9, 9-4, 6-9
Ben Ford beat Neil Frankland 9-6, 9-5, 9-6
Lauren Briggs lost to Alison Waters 3-9, 4-9, 1-9
8th Round Report, Tuesday 7th March 2006
Edgbaston Priory Stretch North Lead, While Strings
Tighten Up In South
A last ditch win by Churchill Edgbaston Priory
in tonight's (Tuesday) eighth round of the Premier Squash League
(PSL), sponsored by insurance specialists THB Clowes, extends
the Birmingham club's lead to 30 points in the North Group" and
virtually assures their place in the end-of-season play-offs. A similar
nail-biting 3/2 victory by Oberthur Strings Tewkesbury sees the
Gloucestershire regain top position in the South Group, a single point
ahead of Surrey Health & Racquets Croydon whose 3/2 win pushes
former group leaders Team Chichester into third place.
A long-awaited first win of the season looked on the
cards for former champions Nottingham as the hosts forged a 2/1
lead against Edgbaston Priory" squad third and fourth strings
James Wright and Arthur Gaskin beating Priory's Adam
Stevenson and Peter Creed,
respectively, after the visitors' Rebecca Botwright fought off a
string challenge from Sarah Kippax, ranked 11 places lower in the
world, before beating the Nottingham player 9-10 9-1 9-5 10-8 in 56
Devonian Hadrian Stiff levelled the tie for
the West Midlands visitors, before rising English star
Peter Barker beat
Nottingham stalwart Simon Parke 9-6 9-7 11-9 to clinch victory
for Edgbaston, their sixth of the season.
Priory's main rivals for the North Group title, suffered their second
defeat of the season" going down 4/1 to PSL champions
teams were fielding depleted squads, with many of the world's top
players currently undergoing final Commonwealth Games
preparations in Melbourne. Hosts Wolverhampton were already celebrating
victory" boosted by "the result of the night" when veteran Mark
Cairns beat the visitors' 24-year-old Andrew Whipp 6-9 9-2
9-6 9-6" before Welsh Commonwealth Games team-mates Alex Gough
and David Evans took to the court for the top string clash.
Wolverhampton team manager Stephen Russell
introduced the pair to the packed crowd by thanking the players for
"postponing their trip to play a more important match tonight!". In what
was only his second win against his long-time national rival in more
than seven years, Gough beat Evans 9-3 9-4 9-7 in 41 minutes to seal the
4/1 victory for Wolverhampton.
Both ties in the South Group kept the crowds on the
edges of their seats until the final balls were struck. Fresh from her
success in the Swiss Open in Geneva on Sunday, Lauren Briggs
caused a major upset when she defeated world No13 Laura-Jane
Lengthorn" ranked 15 places higher" 9-7 5-9 9-7 9-7 to put Surrey
H&RC into an early home lead against University Sport Birmingham.
Club debutante Simon Rosner, the first German to compete in the
league, extended the Croydon club's lead with an impressive 9-3 9-11 9-4
9-4 win over Joel Hinds" but the Birmingham University side came
back to level the tie thanks to notable victories by Jonathan Harford
and Steve Coppinger.
The decider was a 74-minute marathon in which Italian
Davide Bianchetti, leading the Croydon squad for the first time,
romped to a 2/0 lead against Joey Barrington" but the fast-rising
English star battled back to force the match into a fifth game.
Bianchetti maintained his focus to win 9-3 9-3 1-9 6-9 9-6 to take
Surrey HR&SC into a close second position in the table.
There was even greater drama in the other South Group
clash when UniSport Guildford entertained Oberthur Strings
Tewkesbury. Victories by Pakistan No1 Carla Khan and Alex
Stait for the visitors, and by Neil Frankland for Guildford
meant that a win by second string Stephen Meads was essential if
the home team's hopes were to be kept alive. The 35-year-old former Tour
pro was facing fast-rising Daryl Selby, the 23-year-old from
Essex whom he edged out in Sunday's semi-finals of the North of
Scotland Open in Aberdeen.
The score reached 2-2 in games and 8-8 in the decider
when Meads caressed a drop shot into the front backhand corner" and, in
trying to reach the ball, Selby's elbow accidentally struck Meads on the
back of the head. The match came to a halt for ten minutes while
team-mates tried to stop the bleeding from Meads' wound. On the
resumption of the match, plucky Meads won the first point after a long
rally, before Selby took the next to bring it back to 9-9. But it was
Meads who forced the ultimate advantage by winning the next two points
to earn a courageous 9-6 8-10 9-7 4-9 11-9 victory" before heading off
to the local hospital for treatment.
In the tie decider, Tewkesbury's Australian No1
Cameron Pilley proved too strong for Guildford's Stacey Ross,
winning 12-10 5-9 9-1 6-9 9-4 to give Strings a 3/2 victory.
8th Round Results
Tuesday 7 March 2006
Nottingham 2 Churchill Edgbaston Priory 3
Simon Parke lost to Peter Barker 6-9, 7-9, 9-11
Duncan Walsh lost to Hadrian Stiff 4-9, 1-9, 1-9
James Wright bt Adam Stevenson 9-4, 9-1, 9-6
Arthur Gaskin bt Peter Creed 10-8, 9-0, 8-10, 9-6
Sarah Kippax lost to Rebecca Botwright 10-9, 1-9,
5-9, 8-10 (56m)
Wolverhampton 4 Manchester/Pontefract 1
Alex Gough bt David Evans 9-3, 9-4, 9-7 (41m)
Scott Handley bt Nick Taylor 8-10, 9-11, 9-6,
Mark Cairns bt Andrew Whipp 6-9, 9-2, 9-6, 9-6
Chris Ryder bt Shaun le Roux 9-2, 5-9, 9-2, 9-6
Fiona Moverley lost to Jenna Gates 4-9, 1-9, 2-9
UniSport Guildford 2 Oberthur Strings Tewkesbury 3
Stacey Ross lost to Cameron Pilley 10-12, 9-5,
1-9, 9-6, 4-9
Stephen Meads bt Daryl Selby 9-6, 8-10, 9-7, 4-9,
Jesse Engelbrecht lost to Alex Stait 6-9, 4-9,
Neil Frankland bt Philip Nightingale 9-6, 4-9,
Rachel Willmott lost to Carla Khan 3-9, 1-9, 3-9
Surrey H&RC Croydon 3 University Sport Birmingham
Davide Bianchetti bt Joey Barrington 9-3, 9-3,
1-9, 6-9, 9-6 (74m)
Phillip Barker lost to Jonathan Harford 3-9, 2-9,
Simon Rosner bt Joel Hinds 9-3, 9-11, 9-4, 9-4
Chris Simpson lost to Steve Coppinger 6-9, 9-7,
6-9, 9-5, 5-9 (47m)
Lauren Briggs bt Laura-Jane Lengthorn 9-7, 5-9,
9-7, 9-7 (69m)
7th round Report, Tuesday 21 February
Edgbaston Priory & Chichester Extend PSL Leads
Churchill Edgbaston Priory
and Team Chichester extended their leads in
the North and South Groups, respectively, after tonight's (Tuesday) 7th
round ties in the Premier Squash League (PSL) – the Birmingham
club defeating West Midlands rivals Wolverhampton 4/1 and the
Sussex coast club edging a 3/2 away victory at UniSport Guildford.
The most comprehensive win was achieved by Surrey
Health & Racquets Croydon, who celebrated their first outing of the
New Year by beating last season's South Group champions Oberthur
Strings Tewkesbury 5/0. Meanwhile, 1999 champions
Nottingham failed to
register their first win of the season, going down 1/4 at home to East
Midlands rivals Benz-Bavarian Duffield.
Edgbaston players built up a healthy lead for the
hosts against Wolverhampton, with Hadrian Stiff and Peter
Barker winning in four games, and England No1 Vicky Botwright
playing her first match since sustaining a foot injury in New York at
the beginning of the month – and comfortably beating Wolverhampton's
Emma Chorley 9-1 9-0 9-2 in 29 minutes. The visitors gained a
consolation point after a 74-minute marathon between
Adrian Grant and
Wolverhampton's Alex Gough. Grant drew level after Gough forged a
2/0 lead, but it was the 35-year-old Welshman Gough who survived the
28-minute fifth game to record a notable 9-3 10-8 6-9 3-9 9-6 upset.
however, was Edgbaston's star performer. The 27-year-old Australian, who
spent most of last year fighting back from a long layoff with a mystery
back ailment, was playing at top string for the first time this season.
He faced compatriot Anthony Ricketts, the in-form Wolverhampton
No1 and world No4 who reached last week's Canary Wharf Classic
final in London. Boswell was in stunning form, and defeated Ricketts for
the first time in almost four years 9-6, 9-3, 5-9, 9-1 in 45 minutes to
clinch the home side's 4/1 victory.
Derbyshire club Duffield kept alive their hopes for a
place in the end of season semi-final play-offs by moving up to second
place in the North Group points table after beating Nottingham. The tie
provided the first opportunity for the 1998 champions to show off their
two British National champions – and both players duly delivered
championship performances: Women's champion Tania Bailey did not
allow her opponent a single point as the Lincolnshire lass crushed
Nottingham's Sarah Kippax 9-0 9-0 9-0 in just 20 minutes.
After the hosts picked up their sole point when Irish
international Arthur Gaskin beat Duffield's Paul Hargrave
9-6, 9-6, 6-9, 9-6, it was left to the visitors' recently-crowned
British men's champion Nick Matthew to finish the tie with a
flourish – repeating his win over Simon Parke in the Nationals in
Manchester by beating his Yorkshire county colleague 10-8 9-7 9-6.
In fourth place in the South Group on the eve of the
tie against Strings, Surrey H&RC Croydon leapt up to second place after
their 5/0 drubbing of the Gloucestershire club. Part-timer Stephanie
Brind scored a significant win for the visitors, beating Pakistan
No1 Carla Khan 9-7 1-9 9-4 9-5. Fresh from his triumph in the
British Junior U19 Championships at the weekend, Hampshire's
Chris Simpson beat Surrey's Philip Nightingale 9-6 9-4 13-11
to extend the Croydon club's lead.
But Croydon star Peter Nicol, the former world
No1 and world champion, provided an appropriate climax for the visitors,
beating the Tewkesbury club's South African No1 Rodney Durbach
11-9 9-6 5-9 9-2 to ensure maximum points for the league newcomers.
In the other South Group clash, it was neck-and-neck
throughout the evening with three matches going to fifth-game deciders
before the final match was left to decide the winners of the tie. Hosts
UniSport Guildford took an early lead when Londoner Alison Waters
beat opponent Suzie Pierrepont after the Team Chichester star
suffered a thigh strain midway through the third game which caused her
to concede the match at 9-2 9-2 2-2 in Waters' favour.
The University of Surrey squad's 'man-of-the-match'
award winner Jesse Engelbrecht put in an impressive performance
to beat Chichester's in-form Tim Vail 9-7, 9-7, 6-9, 2-9, 9-7. In
the top-string decider, Guildford's Stacey Ross delighted the
packed crowd when he took the opening game against the visitors' Surrey
champion Ben Garner. But Garner pulled back the deficit, then
Ross suffered seven unforced errors in the third game which soon gave
his opponent a 2/1 lead. The pair battled in the fourth, but it was
Garner who ultimately prevailed 6-9 10-8 9-2 9-7 to give Chichester the
3/2 win which stretched their lead in the points table to 12 points
ahead of Croydon and Tewkesbury, both of whom are level on 70 points.
round Results, Tuesday 21 February 2006
Nottingham 1-4 Benz Bavarian Duffield
Parke lost to Nick Matthew 8-10, 7-9, 6-9 (43m)
Walsh lost to Gavin Jones 6-9, 4-9, 7-9 (29m)
Wright lost to Laurence Delasaux 9-5, 10-8, 6-9, 7-9, 5-9 (57m)
Gaskin beat Paul Hargrave 9-6, 9-6, 6-9, 9-6 (42m)
Kippax lost to Tania Bailey 0-9, 0-9, 0-9 (20m)
Churchill Edgbaston Priory 4-1 Wolverhampton
Boswell beat Anthony Ricketts 9-6, 9-3, 5-9, 9-1 (45m)
Grant lost to Alex Gough 3-9, 8-10, 9-6, 9-3, 6-9 (74m)
Barker beat Scott Handley 6-9, 9-2, 9-2, 9-4 (35m)
Stiff beat Chris Ryder 4-9, 11-9, 9-6, 9-7 (49m)
Botwright beat Emma Chorley 9-1, 9-0, 9-2 (29m)
Guildford 2-3 Team Chichester
Ross lost to Ben Garner 9-6, 8-10, 2-9, 7-9
Meads lost to Peter Genever 6-9, 9-6, 5-9, 9-4, 7-9
Engelbrecht beat Tim Vail 9-7, 9-7, 6-9, 2-9, 9-7
Frankland lost to Tom Richards 5-9, 9-5, 6-9, 12-10, 6-9
Waters beat Suzie Pierrepont 9-2, 9-2, 2-2 ret.
Strings Tewkesbury 0-5 Surrey H&RC Croydon
Durbach lost to Peter Nicol 9-11, 6-9, 9-5, 2-9
Selby lost to Davide Bianchetti 6-9, 8-10, 9-7, 6-9
Sutherland lost to Phillip Barker 3-9, 7-9, 9-7, 5-9
Nightingale lost to Chris Simpson 6-9, 4-9, 11-13
Khan lost to Stephanie Brind 7-9, 9-1, 4-9, 5-9
6th Round Report
Manchester/Pontefract At Bay – And Chichester Bounce Back
Churchill Edgbaston Priory
and Manchester/Pontefract resumed
their campaigns for success in the Premier Squash League in the
New Year with identical 4-1 wins in tonight's (Tuesday) sixth round
ties, with the Birmingham club maintaining their three-point lead over
the trans-Pennine cooperative at the top of the North Group points
table. The lead has changed, however, in the South Group after Team
Chichester pulled off a 3-2 home win over rivals Oberthur Strings
Tewkesbury to replace the Gloucestershire club at the top of the
Edgbaston Priory hosts
Benz-Bavarian Duffield took a quick lead when full-time firewoman
and part-time squash player Laura Hill scored a stunning 9-2 9-10
9-2 9-4 win for the Derbyshire club over Manchester-based world No27
Rebecca Botwright. It turned out to be a good night for
non-full-timers when Edgbaston's Hadrian Stiff, a 33-year-old
from Devon who last played on the PSA Tour three years ago, held
off the challenge of Duffield's fast-improving world No40 Gavin Jones,
beating the 25-year-old Welshman 11-9 4-9 6-9 9-1 10-8 in 53 minutes.
Priory stalwarts Peter Barker
and Stewart Boswell also recorded notable wins for the
visitors – over Frenchman Renan Lavigne and Englishman
Jonathan Kemp, respectively – leaving team-mate David Palmer,
the world No4 from Australia, to contest the final rubber against
Duffield No1 Nick Matthew.
The pair met only 24 hours
earlier in a Super League clash – but Palmer reversed that result to
ensure the vital extra points needed by Edgbaston to maintain their
North Group lead, and beat the English world No9 10-8 6-9 9-5 11-9 in 58
also lost the opening match in their tie at Pontefract against
bottom-placed Nottingham when the visitors' Sarah Kippax
beat Kirsty McPhee 6-9 9-4 9-7 9-3. But it was downhill for the hosts
thereafter as Andrew Whipp, Nick Taylor and David Evans
all gained straightforward wins over their Nottingham opponents to
leave home hero James Willstrop to face long-time Nottingham
stalwart Simon Parke in the end-of-evening top string battle.
The Yorkshire pair always
provide an entertaining spectacle for the loyal crowd – and tonight was
no exception. Willstrop, focused on success in next week's British
National Championships in Manchester, battled for four games to keep
Parke at bay, eventually taking 38 minutes to win 9-7 10-8 2-9 9-7 to
strengthen his team's position in second place in the North Group – 14
points ahead of Duffield and 54 ahead of bottom-placed Nottingham, who
are still looking for their first PSL win of the season.
Coming into tonight's tie, Team
Chichester were in third place in the South Group table. But fine early
performances by Sussex players Linda Elriani and Tim Vail,
and Surrey's Tom Richards, put the hosts into a 3/0 lead over
league leaders Oberthur Strings Tewkesbury – British champion Elriani
crushing the visitors' Selina Sinclair in 14 minutes for the loss of
just a single point.
The Gloucestershire club,
national semi-finalists in their debut season last year, reduced the
deficit when Daryl Selby fought back from two games down to beat
Chichester star Peter Genever 6-9 7-9 9-3 13-11 9-5, then South
African Rodney Durbach held off the challenge of Chichester's
Ben Garner to win 9-6 9-11 9-7 10-8.
The 3-2 result takes Chichester
to the top of the table by the narrowest margin over Strings – both
teams sharing 66 points but the Sussex clubs holding a better 'games
lost' figure than their rivals.
The other South Group battle saw
the league's two University sides battle for honours in the West
Midlands, with University Sport Birmingham hosting UniSport
Guildford. Matches were shared going into the top string clash –
with the hosts claiming the early lead through wins by Laura-Jane
Lengthorn and Steve Coppinger and the University of Surrey
squad fighting back with confident straight games victories by
Scotland's Neil Frankland and Zimbabwe's Jesse Engelbrecht.
The decider was an exhilarating
display of squash – with Guildford's ex-pro Stephen Meads taking
on the fast-improving young Joey Barrington. Meads was in
excellent form, fresh from national coaching duties in Hong Kong – but
Barrington, the 26-year-old son of the legendary Jonah Barrington,
was untouchable – and soon despatched his opponent 9-3 9-2 9-4 to give
the Birmingham squad a notable 3-2 win.
6th round, Tuesday 31 January
Manchester/Pontefract 4-1 Nottingham
James Willstrop beat Simon
Parke 9-7, 10-8, 2-9, 9-7 (38m)
David Evans beat Duncan Walsh
9-4, 9-2, 9-3 (22m)
Nick Taylor beat James Wright
9-7, 7-9, 10-8, 9-2 (38m)
Andrew Whipp beat Arthur
Gaskin 9-5, 9-4, 9-3 (19m)
Kirsty McPhee lost to Sarah
Kippax 9-6, 4-9, 7-9, 3-9 (45m)
Benz-Bavarian Duffield 1-4
Churchill Edgbaston Priory
Nick Matthew lost to David
Palmer 8-10, 9-6, 5-9, 9-11 (58m)
Jonathan Kemp lost to Stewart
Boswell 5-9, 4-9, 3-9 (22m)
Renan Lavigne lost to Peter
Barker 8-10, 9-7, 8-10, 7-9 (51m)
Gavin Jones lost to Hadrian
Stiff 9-11, 9-4, 9-6, 1-9, 8-10 (53m)
Laura Hill beat Rebecca
Botwright 9-2, 9-10, 9-2, 9-4 (49m)
University Sport Birmingham
3-2 UniSport Guildford
Joey Barrington beat Stephen
Meads 9-3, 9-2, 9-4
Jon Harford lost to Jesse
Engelbrecht 7-9, 8-10, 4-9
Joel Hinds lost to Neil
Frankland 4-9, 6-9, 6-9
Steve Coppinger beat Phil
Rushworth 9-5, 9-6, 9-5
Laura-Jane Lengthorn beat
Rachel Willmott 9-2, 9-5, 9-1
Team Chichester 3-2 Oberthur
Ben Garner lost to Rodney
Durbach 6-9, 11-9, 7-9, 8-10
Peter Genever lost to Daryl
Selby 9-6, 9-7, 3-9, 11-13, 5-9
Tim Vail beat Greg Tippings
5-9, 9-3, 9-4, 9-4 (29m)
Tom Richards beat Rob
Sutherland 6-9, 9-6, 8-10, 9-6, 9-3
Linda Elriani beat Selina
Sinclair 9-1, 9-0, 9-0 (14m)
Reconvene In Sixth Round PSL Ties
resumption of the 2005/06 Premier Squash League, with the sixth
round ties providing the first action of the New Year, will give
Churchill Edgbaston Priory and Oberthur Strings Tewkesbury
the chance to strengthen their grips on leadership of the North and
South Group points tables, respectively.
Priory, led by Australia's world No4 David Palmer, visit
Benz-Bavarian Duffield – but the Birmingham squad, champions in
2003, will be keeping a close eye on action in Pontefract where
Manchester/Pontefract, just three points adrift of Priory in second
place, host Nottingham.
Derbyshire club Duffield are themselves only six points behind their
visitors in the North Group points table, and both teams approach the
fixture having lost only one tie out of four played so far this season.
Duffield will be led by Yorkshire's world No9 Nick Matthew.
Yorkshireman James Willstrop, who celebrated a career-high world
No2 ranking last month and led England to success in the World Team
Championships in Pakistan, will lead the Manchester/Pontefract
attack tonight at his own home club. The 22-year-old faces Nottingham
No1 Simon Parke, who is also from Yorkshire.
highlight of the South Group fixtures will be the clash between Strings
and hosts Team Chichester, who are in third place in the group,
eight points behind their Gloucestershire opponents. The Sussex squad
will be led by Surrey's Ben Garner, who will face the Strings'
No1 Rodney Durbach, from South Africa. Just four world ranking
positions separate these two PSA Tour players.
tie in the group is an academic clash between the two University squads
in the league – with University Sport Birmingham hosting
UniSport Guildford. Joey Barrington will face the University
of Surrey's No1 Stephen Meads in the top string battle.
6th round, Tuesday 31 January 2006
Benz Bavarian Duffield
Churchill Edgbaston Priory
University Sport Birmingham
Laura Jane Lengthorn
Oberthur Strings Tewkesbury
Chichester Shock Surrey In Round Five of
The conclusion of the first half
of the Premier Squash League season could have seen Edgbaston and Surrey
take control of their Northern and Southern groups, but in the event
both groups were left with everything to play for in the second half.
In Manchester the 2004 and 2003 champions, Manchester/Pontefract
and Churchill Edgbaston, met to decide who would lead the
Northern group. Unbeaten Edgbaston knew they had a battle on their hands
when the home team took both the opening ties 3-2 - Nick Taylor and
Jenny Duncalf getting the hosts off to a great start - and guaranteeing
a late-night finish.
Peter Barker pulled one back for Edgbaston, but James Willstrop's 3-2
win over Adrian Grant sealed the win for Man/Pont before Lee Beachill
added an extra point with another five-game victory over Edgbaston's
Meanwhile in Wolverhampton the defending champions were fielding
their 2005 final-winning team at home for the first time. But
Benz-Bavarian Duffield were in no mood to join in the party, and
when Renan Lavigne and Paul Hargrave put the visitors 2-0 up
Wolverhampton clearly had a task on their hands.
Lawrence Delasaux and Tania Bailey completed the win for Duffield before
Anthony Ricketts earned a consolation point for Wolverhampton, who will
need a miracle in the second half if they are to retain the title.
In the Southern group Oberthur Strings Tewkesbury went to the top
of the table as they won 3-2 away at newcomers University Sport
Birmingham, thanks to an unexpected - and unpredicted - away win by
Chichester at Surrey Health and Racquets.
At the University courts hosts Birmingham took the first and last
matches of the evening, but Strings, winners of the Southern group last
season, sealed the match with wins by Daryl Selby, Alex Stait and
At Surrey Health & Racquets, Team Chichester came up with
probably the shock result of the season. Linda Elriani, in her first
competitive match for two months, beat world number three Nicol David in
straight games to set up a possible upset. Aaron Franckomb put
Chichester ahead with another upset win against Tim Garner, and when Tim
Vail outlasted Phillip Barker Surrey's hopes of topping the group were
So, both groups are left with "all to play for" in the second half, with
the next round of matches on 31st January.
Duffield Get Out of Jail and
Return to PSL Play-Offs
Benz-Bavarian Duffield stunned Manchester/Pontefract supporters at their
home courts at the National Squash Centre in Manchester by beating the
2004 champions in the final round of the Premier Squash League (PSL) to
claim the last place in the end-of-season finals play-offs.
This tie paraded no fewer than five players ranked in the top 10 in the
world and 7 players who were involved in the recent Commonwealth Games.
Manchester’s home advantage made them clear favourites. With just two
points separating Manchester/Pontefract and Duffield before the tie, a
simple win was all that was required. The travelling loyal band of
Duffield supporters had to change their route when Taro reported that
the Mancunian Way was closed. This provided the ideal opportunity for
the merry band to enjoy the muddy congestion on the A6 at the Flagge
“point to point” races and sights of Denton before reaching the
Manchester stadium. The Chairman has now started his 2006 Christmas list
with Satnav top of the agenda.
Supporters in place the contest began 30 minutes later than scheduled
The crystal ball had predicted that all five rubbers could go either way
with much depending on how the players have recovered from their recent
First on court was Welsh No 2 Gavin Jones playing Nick Taylor
Manchester’s favourite son who had come close to beating Adrian Grant in
the previous round. A nip and tuck first game saw Taylor save on 2 game
points before Jones squeezed home 13-11. The second game seemed destined
to go the other way as Taylor established leads of 6-2 and 8-4. Jones
threw caution to the Manchester wind and reeled off 6 consecutive points
without a hand out to take the game 10-8. Jones always had the edge in
the third game and after 37 minutes had put the first point on the board
in favour of the visitors.
Meanwhile on the show court England team-mates Jenny Duncalf and Tania
Bailey faced each other in the opening clash. Duffield's Bailey,
hot from winning her first WISPA World Tour title for six years,
impressively took the opening game 9-1 and raced to a 5-0 lead in the
second before jet lag and possibly a little over celebrating after her
USA triumph took their toll. Errors began to creep in and the tin became
a target. Duncalf grew in confidence and took the second game 9-7 and
the third followed a similar pattern as Duncalf, ranked two places
higher at world No 8, delighted home supporters by moving 2-1 ahead.
Nick Mathew gave his team mate some sound advice between games. The
encouragement from the noisy Duffield supporters seemed to inspire
Bailey and strength returned her legs with the result she took the
fourth 9-0. Bailey raced to a 5-2 lead in the fifth which was pegged
back to 5-4 before Bailey finally broke Duncalf’s brave resistance.
Bailey has played much better but she showed why she is National
champion by grinding out a great result for her team and her
perseverance over for 84 minutes was rewarded by a victory to give
Duffield a 2-0 lead.
On the outside court Renan Lavigne was really fired up after feeling
distraught last week after failing to take advantage of two match balls.
Lavigne was determined to make amends. The game plan was to rely on
Renan's stamina and rally David Evans hoping that the Welsh Giant would
tire and that's what happened. Evans had to work hard to take the first
two games 9-4 9-6 in 20 minutes and stood 7-5 up in the third. Lavigne,
as ever fought like a tiger, and somehow took the game 9-7 as Evans
shook his head in disbelief. The fourth reached 7-6 to Lavigne with
never more than one point advantage but again Lavigne frustrated the
Welshman thanks to a fluke shot which made his manager start to think
this could be Duffield’s night. T
The Duffield supporters had now amassed behind the outside court sensing
this was Duffield’s best ever chance of making the play offs. Lavigne
battled as Evans demonstrated that his racket skills had not deserted
him even though his legs were starting to wilt. The score reached 6-5 in
favour of Evans but Lavigne levelled and established 2 match points at
8-6. Player and manager exchanged glances with Lavigne afterwards
admitting that he thought your truly looked relaxed whilst deep down he
was anything but. Evans saved the first match ball and thoughts of “deja
vou” went through the mind. Lavigne held his nerve took the game and
match 9-7 to clinch the play off spot. Lavigne did a French jig and a
high five and Duffield were in the play offs. Hand shakes all round and
with great sportsmanship displayed by the Manchester players and
This was without doubt Lavigne’s best performance in a Duffield shirt
and what better time for the charismatic Frenchman to win in style.
Everybody was really delighted for him
Jon Kemp had the unenviable task of going in court with the play off
place secured but having to face Lee Beachill who saw him off in 24
entertaining minutes 9-5 9-5 9-7
In the final 'dead' rubber - which was as 'live' as it was possible to
be - Nick Matthew defeated his Commonwealth Games doubles partner and
England team-mate James Willstrop 9-4, 10-8, 7-9, 5-9, 9-7 in 60
minutes to extend Duffield's winning margin to 4/1.This was one of the
most skilful and competitive dead rubbers ever seen and a credit to both
players. The racket skills and court coverage was unbelievable. The
competitiveness was reflected by a mid court collision which could have
badly injured either player. It finally went 9-7 to Matthew in the
fifth to add icing to the absent Massarella cake. .
It was a night when Duffield could have walked on water. Overall he rub
of the green just seemed to go for us tonight – at last - and I'm
delighted for the team and all our loyal supporters and a reward for the
Squash Committee’s support even though the Treasurer may have to revise
The sportsmanship throughout was exemplary. The refereeing was
consistent and fair very. The hospitality and presentation was superb
and despite Mr Cubbins predicted a result 2.5 to 2.5 when I had
predicted 3-2 with a final rubber decider and the bias hope that on this
occasion the small village Club from Derbyshire would prevail against
the Manchester- Pontefract consortium big guns.
The 4/1 victory took the Derbyshire club ahead of the trans-Pennine
cooperative in the North Group – denying the finalists for the past two
years a chance to compete for the national title for a third time.
Duffield, in the play-offs for the first time in four years, join Group
winners Churchill Edgbaston Priory – and will meet the top two
teams in the South Group.
With Oberthur Strings Tewkesbury already assured of a place, it
took a 3/2 win for Team Chichester over University Sport Birmingham
to push the Sussex club ahead of Tewkesbury in the final South Group
placings – leaving the Gloucestershire club to face Edgbaston Priory,
and Chichester to take on Duffield.
The Duffield supporters are now making plans to visit Mr Crabtree
country in Chichester a repeat of the 1998 play offs, when Duffield went
on to take the title after a count-back on games won over two legs
winning in Chichester but losing at home. First leg away to Chichester
on Tuesday 16 May. The second leg is home at Duffield on Thursday 18 May
Additional match Sponsor contacts most welcome!
(End of Season PSL)
GROUP A: NORTH
GROUP B: SOUTH
FULL REPORT Round 5
Manchester/Pontefract Beat Priory, But Birmingham Club
Stay Ahead In PSL
In a dramatic fifth round Premier Squash League clash at the National
Squash Centre in Manchester between 2004 champions Manchester/Pontefract and
2003 winners Churchill Edgbaston Priory, the home side pulled off a 4-1
victory - but failed to dislodge the hitherto unbeaten Birmingham club from
top of the North Group points table. There was also a shock result in the
South Group where league newcomers Surrey Health & Racquets Croydon went
down 2-3 at home to Team Chichester, leaving Oberthur Strings Tewkesbury to
reclaim pole position in the group.
The secret to Edgbaston Priory’s surprise ‘success’ in their seemingly
heavy defeat in Manchester was in picking up maximum possible points in the
four matches they lost - all by 3/2 margins! In the first women’s match
covered by the www.psalive.tv streaming - which provided live worldwide
coverage of the PSL for the first time - the hosts’ Jenny Duncalf twice came
from behind to beat England team-mate Vicky Botwright 2-9 9-4 7-9 9-4 10-8
in 82 minutes to reverse the result of her last meeting with the Manchester
star on the same court two months ago.
Further Manchester wins by Nick Taylor and James Willstrop ensured victory
in the tie for the hosts, but squad number one Lee Beachill extended the
margin to 4-1 with a 6-9 9-7 6-9 9-1 9-2 triumph in 57 minutes over the
Edgbaston top string David Palmer, the world No7 from Australia.
Elsewhere in the North Group, title-holders Wolverhampton suffered their
third defeat of the season – going down 1-4 at home to 1998 champions
Benz-Bavarian Duffield. Australia’s British Open champion Anthony Ricketts,
the world No3, was the hosts’ sole winner – beating England’s world No11
Nick Matthew 9-3 9-3 9-1 – but Duffield stalwarts Renan Lavigne, Laurence
Delasaux, Paul Hargrave and Tania Bailey all triumphed to keep the
Derbyshire club’s league title hopes alive, just three points behind
Led by in-form world stars Peter Nicol and Nicol David, Surrey Health &
Racquets Croydon were widely fancied to topple Team Chichester and finish
the first half of season at the top of the South Group. But England No1
Linda Elriani, playing in her first match since a hamstring injury layoff,
gave the Chichester visitors the perfect start to the evening when she took
on Malaysia’s world No3 Nicol David, fresh from the best run of her career
which included winning the British Open title and Carol Weymuller Open
trophy in New York last month. Elriani, the world No6 from Eastbourne,
crushed David 9-6 9-1 9-6 in 37 minutes.
Chichester’s Australian newcomer Aaron Frankcomb and squad stalwart Tim
Vail also claimed significant wins to clinch the tie for the Sussex club –
but top string Peter Nicol recovered some Croydon pride when he beat the
visitors’ Ben Garner, the younger brother of the Croydon third string Tim
Garner, 4-9 9-6 9-7 9-3 in 26 minutes.
It was Oberthur Strings Tewkesbury’s middle order that provided the might
to overcome University Sport Birmingham 3-2 in the other tie in the South
Group. Fast-improving Gloucestershire stars Alister Walker and Alex Stait
beat the home side’s Joel Hinds and Steve Coppinger, respectively, after
Essex’s rising star Daryl Selby defeated the Birmingham University squad No4
Jaymie Haycocks 9-6 -6 3-9 9-4.
Winners of the South Group last year in their maiden season in the PSL,
Strings now approach next year’s second half of this season at the as group
points table, seven points ahead of Croydon.
PREMIER LEAGUE RESULTS
Tuesday 15 November
Manchester-Pontefract 4-1 Churchill Edgbaston Priory
Lee Beachill 3-2 David Palmer 6-9, 9-7, 6-9, 9-1, 9-2
James Willstrop 3-2 Adrian Grant 9-6, 5-9, 9-6, 8-10, 9-7
David Evans 0-3 Peter Barker 6-9, 2-9, 3-9 (35m)
Nick Taylor 3-2 Hadrian Stiff 5-9, 9-4, 4-9, 9-4, 10-8
Jenny Duncalf 3-2 Vicky Botwright 2-9, 9-4, 7-9, 9-4, 10-8
1-4 Benz-Bavarian Duffield
Anthony Ricketts 3-0 Nick Matthew 9-3, 9-3,
Alex Gough 1-3 Renan Lavigne 6-9, 7-9, 9-3, 2-9
Scott Handley 1-3 Lawrence Delasaux 10-8, 4-9, 6-9, 3-9
Mark Cairns 0-3 Paul Hargrave 8-10, 9-11, 3-9
Shelley Kitchen 1-3 Tania Bailey 6-9, 4-9, 9-7,
University Sport Birmingham 2-3 Oberthur Strings
Joey Barrington 3-2 Rodney Durbach 10-8, 6-9, 9-6, 8-10, 9-5
Joel Hinds 1-3 Alister Walker 1-9, 9-11, 9-5, 7-9
Steve Coppinger 0-3 Alex Stait 6-9, 8-10, 6-9
Jaymie Haycocks 1-3 Daryl Selby 6-9, 6-9, 9-3, 4-9
Laura Lengthorn 3-0 Jenny Wright 9-4, 9-3, 9-0
Croydon 2-3 Team Chichester
Peter Nicol 3-1 Ben Garner 4-9, 9-6, 9-7, 9-3 (26m)
Phillip Barker 2-3 Tim Vail 9-7, 10-12, 4-9, 9-5, 3-9
Tim Garner 0-3 Aaron Franckomb 8-10, 8-10, 6-9 (42m)
Chris Simpson 3-0 Martin Greenslade 9-2, 9-7, 9-4 (20m)
Nicol David 0-3 Linda Elriani 6-9, 1-9, 6-9 (37m)