The Masters Squash scene in the UK is a very healthy one, with a circuit of regional events leading up to the National Championships in February and the British Open Masters,and of course 2012 sees the World Masters in Birmingham, which everyone will be working towards.
Masters Chairman Martin Pearse reports from the latest regional event, the East of England Masters in Bury St Edmunds …
- East of England Masters, 16-18 Dec 2011 with links to other regional reports
East Of England Masters
Bury St Edmunds, Dec 16th-18th 2011
For the first time in memory the weather at Moreton Hall was inclement – to say the least. Snow curtailed one or two journeys and poor Colin Shields was stuck on the AI M for five hours and was forced to scratch. Our travelling knight of the road, Glen Ragou gave up on the Friday night from snow bound Lancashire but showed his mettle by arriving on the Saturday. The Sunday morning (circa 2am) saw him voted as the oldest dancer in Bury’s one and only night club. Commitment!
To the Squash.
The Women’s 50/55 was in one group, but partly sectionalized. Tammy Bennett beat newcomer Dawn Pearson, before losing 3-1 to no 1 seed Karen Hume in the Semi Final. In the other half, Lynne Davies from Wales, beat Carolyn Roylance but then was overturned by a very happy Jane Law, for the latter to reach the Final. This was won by Karen.
In the W O40/O45, Bea de Dreu Spitze beat Rina Einy and Fran Wallis’ match with Mandy Akin was cut short when the former scratched – injured – in the second game. In the WO45 Final (although the group Semi) Bea and Mandy slugged it out for over an hour, full of top quality squash, nip and tuck. Someone has to win, and when it’s 10/9 in the fifth, it’s hard to take. Bea was the lucky one.
In the WO40 section, Isabella Tyrell won the interesting Semi with Sam Mueller in a tight 3-0, Tyrell’s tennis and racketlon pedigree showing at the crucial times as she weathered the formidable hitting power of Mueller and placed the ball into parts of the court that weren’t sympathetic to Sam. In the Final, Tyrell fell behind 1-2 to Bea, but came back strongly to win the last two – to record the Title.
The W O35 saw top class newcomers, potential England players, which adds a new flavor in the mix. As long as they all play in the Closed and subject to points qualification, they will be in with a chance. Top of the tree was Lisa May, who beat the favourite Alexa Prior in a high quality match. Third was Katie Lawrence followed by Zoe Owens.
In the Men’s O70/75, all players were over 75 except for Adrian Wright, just 70, who was, obviously in a class of his own. However, having four World Champions in one group was a treat for connoisseurs, and out of the more aging stars, John Woodliffe emerged the winner.
The MO65 saw a stronger draw than Exeter with Graham Fisher totally outplaying a lack lustre Mike Clemson, now Chairman of Yorkshire Squash and looking to visit all 100 plus clubs under his domain. As there isn’t a keener, genuine squash enthusiast in the whole globe, it is certain he will rack up some miles! In the event, Fisher won 9/1 9/2 9/4. In the other half, Dave Hardern beat Nigel Belle, before crashing out to World Champion Chris Ansell 1/9 2/9 7/9.
Martin Pearse beat Tony Clifford 3-1 and then completely overpowered Ansell, 9/2 9/2 9/4 in the first Semi Final. The latter , normally a slow starter, just never seemed to get going as the Chairman dominated the T.
In the other half, newcomer Chris Goodbourn beat Rob Smith, 9/2 9/0 9/2. Fisher 9/2 10/8 9/5 before meeting Martin Pearse in the Final. The first game saw Pearse power in to a 8/0 lead but the break saw the Middlesex player slow the match right down to level at 1-1. Goodbourn led 5/0 in the third before Pearse re-asserted the pace to level at 5/5, but Goodbourn took a 2/1 lead with three tight back hand drops. The fourth was exactly the same, a comeback to 7/7, but the day belonged to Goodbourn as he closed out the match 9/7 to record his first Regional.
The Men’s O60 was a much weaker draw than usual, missing Jones, Brown, Featherstone, Graham and Cherlin. In the event double handed Mick Broomhall took full advantage to record his second Regional, overturning no 1 seed Larry Grover and Phil Godfrey 10/9 7/9 8/10 9/7 1/9 before beating Terry Norman 9/6 9/7 9/7 in the Final.
Earlier Norman had scraped past an erratic Geoff Howes and then the Irish player had outplayed Peter Smith.
The Men’s O55 was also missing Cowley, Alexander, both spectators, and Bativala, as well as the stranded Shields and the injured Drysdale. Stuart Hardy gave himself some much needed points when he beat fellow contender Ian Holmes – there are six players eyeing one free spot in the international Team before he played Steve Johnson. The latter was far too powerful early on until Hardy got the message. Fight Fire with fire. Then the match got much, much more even and Johnson would have been pleased to come out of the match with a 3-1 victory as it was nip and tuck at the end with one or two interesting decisions……… The other half saw Duleep Adihetty in full flow and his feathered touch proved too much for all his opponents including Johnson in the Final. 9/5 9/7 9/0
The O50’s saw the re-emergence of Greg Pearman fresh from RAC duties (not as a Patrolman!) He beat Ian Bradburn, the conqueror of the Flying Doctor Chris Harland 9/6 9/5 10/9 and in the other half, James Ockwell concede through injury after beating Jeremy Goulding. John Cordeaux at no 2 scraped the quarters 3-2 with Ged Martin, before jumping the Semi to meet Pearman in the Final. The match was evenly contested until Pearman ran away with the third and then stayed just in front in the fourth to record the title.
In the O45’s, a weak draw missing a whole host of contenders, Gunter, Scott, Loach. Watkins, to name a few. But the English no 1 was there, Eamonn Price and he found the courts to his liking, beating Nigel Bacon and Andrew Eilfield 2-9 9/6 9/5 9/1 to meet Marc Aldridge in the Final.
The latter had removed Martin Geear, victor over seeded Mark Hildred – in the Semi 4/9 9/3 0/9 3/9
The Final saw Price victor 9/4 9/0 9/4.
The O40 section saw Andrew Cross beat Norfolk’s Rob Hambrook and then a battle royal with our Court Jester Ragou 9/11 11/7 6/11 11/6 11/9 – to enter the final.
John Hanson went out closely to 46 year old Steve McLoughlin, interesting to see him play his proper age group with Price!!
In the Final it was nip and tuck 2-2 before Cross emerged the winner 11/7 10/12 11/7 7/11 11/3.
In the O35’s Jago Nardelli dropped out (again!) leaving the coast clear for Ian Cox as he took out Christian Donelan and Mat Lowery. At the other end, Jamie Goodrich had the mother and father of a match with Barny Elworthy who must have been a marathon runner in a previous life
The Final between old friends Goodrich and Cox saw the latter power into a 1-0 lead with some incredible power (but he is a Policeman). Goodrich, however, is now learning the finer art of squash from the injured Richard Millman and his feathered drops, feathered volleys and not so feathered everything else, were too much for our DC and Goodrich recorded yet another title.
Maybe Barny, whose game a year or so ago mirrored Jamie’s, could make the trek up to Broadland Squash Club to learn about feathering ??
Finally, thanks to Peter, Ann and Holly at Bury, Roz and Brian, for all their hard work on the desk and Colin and Peter for the refereeing.