With a round still to go, former champions Benz-Bavarian Duffield and reigning champions Integrity Surrey Health & Racquets confirmed their places in the Premier Squash League (PSL) play-offs after contrasting fortunes in the ninth round of the world’s most prestigious squash league.
Croydon-based Surrey Health did so in fine style in Group B, despatching UWE Bristol 4/1 at home to secure a place in the end-of-season semi-finals for the seventh year in a row.
Frenchman Lucas Serme, ranked 98 in the world, claimed a career-first victory over Londoner Adrian Grant, the world No17, to save Bristol’s blushes – but the two games won by Grant resulted in a 19-point win for the home team, and a nine-point lead at the top of the Group B tables.
Second-placed Exeter Diamonds strengthened their bid for a place in the semi-finals for the first time with a resounding 5/0 home win over Winchester Racquets & Fitness – eight-time Dutch champion Laurens Jan Anjema ensuring maximum points for the Devon club by wrapping up the night with an 11-7, 11-3, 8-11, 11-5 win over the visitors’ world junior champion Marwan El Shorbagy.
TWP St George’s Hill, runners-up for the past two seasons, staged a late bid for the knockout stage by beating Group B rivals Team Chichester 5/0 at home - Daryl Selby and Tom Richards avenging defeats by Jonathan Kemp andMohd Nafiizwan Adnan, respectively, in the earlier meeting in the season – and Charles Sharpes stemming a fight-back by Olivier Pett in the fourth string clash to beat his Chichester opponent 11-4, 11-2, 10-12, 12-14, 11-9 in 73 minutes.
But despite their success, the Weybridge club – in fourth place with 117 points – can now only sit back and watch Exeter (137 points) and Chichester (122) fight out a tenth round clash to see which team joins Surrey Health in the semis. Exeter can still top the group tables to have home advantage against the second-placed team in Group A.
Unbeaten this season in Group A after the first seven rounds, Benz-Bavarian Duffield suffered their second defeat in a row at Oxford Health & Racquets – but the five points earned were enough to clinch their place in the play-offs.
It was Austrian number one Aqeel Rehman who made the biggest contribution towards the Derbyshire club’s modest points tally when he beat Oxford stalwart Mark Cairns 11-9, 2-11, 11-6, 11-8.
But wins by Madeline Perry, Ben Coleman, Scott Handley and top-ranked Spaniard Borja Golan gave the home side a 4/1 win and cemented Oxford’s position in second place in the Group A tables with 123 points – 13 behind Duffield.
A 4/1 away win by former champions MB Nottingham over AJP Pontefract kept the East Midlands club’s play-off hopes alive. Victories by Emma Beddoes, Greg Lobban, Declan James and Lewis Walters gave Nottingham a vital 17 points to take third place in the tables behind Oxford.
And Nottingham host Oxford in the crucial tenth round tie in Group A which will produce the group’s second semi-finalist.
The other tie in the group also ended in a 4/1 away win – when Chapel Allerton beat University of Birmingham to strengthen their hold on fourth place in the tables. Sarah-Jane Perry was the Leeds club’s surprise winner, beatingJenny Duncalf 12-10, 11-8, 11-8 in a career-first win over the former world No2.
But, despite being only two points adrift of Nottingham in the latest tables, Chapel Allerton can do nothing to stop Oxford and Nottingham battling it out for the group’s second semi-final slot.
RESULTS: Premier Squash League, 9th round, Tuesday 5 March 2013
AJP Pontefract 1 MB Nottingham 4
Siddharth Suchde bt Eddie Charlton 12-10, 11-5, 11-5 (38m)
Lee Beachill lost to Lewis Walters 11-9, 4-11, 9-11, 8-11 (38m)
Thoboki Mohohlo lost to Declan James 6-11, 11-5, 7-11, 14-16 (53m)
Alex Hodgetts lost to Greg Lobban 5-11, 3-11, 8-11 (24m)
Julia Lecoq lost to Emma Beddoes 7-11, 7-11, 6-11 (20m)
University of Birmingham 1 Chapel Allerton 4
Chris Ryder lost to Ong Beng Hee 12-10, 6-11, 2-11, 5-11
Peter Creed lost to Chris Simpson 7-11, 6-11, 7-11
Jaymie Haycocks lost to Shaun le Roux 7-11, 11-7, 7-11, 5-11
Nathan Lake lost to James Earles 14-12, 11-13, 6-11, 8-11 (73m)
Sarah-Jane Perry bt Jenny Duncalf 12-10, 11-8, 11-8 (30m)
Oxford Health & Racquets 4 Benz-Bavarian Duffield 1
Borja Golan bt Andy Whipp 11-5, 6-11, 11-9, 11-3
Scott Handley bt Adam Murrills 11-7, 11-5, 11-5 (31m)
Ben Coleman bt Chris Fuller 11-7, 11-13, 11-6, 11-4
Mark Cairns lost to Aqeel Rehman 9-11, 11-2, 6-11, 8-11 (45m)
Madeline Perry bt Lily Taylor 11-7, 11-4, 11-2
Integrity Surrey Health & Racquets 4 UWE Bristol 1
Peter Barker bt Arthur Gaskin 11-2, 11-7, 11-5
Adrian Grant lost to Lucas Serme 4-11, 5-11, 11-8, 14-12, 8-11
Adrian Waller bt Thomas Ford 11-6, 11-8, 11-8
Richie Fallows bt Sam Ellis 12-10, 11-8, 11-4
Alison Waters bt Emma Chorley 11-5, 11-2, 11-1
Exeter Diamonds 5 Winchester Racquets & Fitness 0
Laurens Jan Anjema bt Marwan El Shorbagy 11-7, 11-3, 8-11, 11-5 (38m)
Olli Tuominen bt Robert Downer 11-6, 11-8, 11-5 (35m)
Tim Vail bt Scott Fitzgerald 12-10, 8-11, 4-11, 11-8, 11-1 (42m)
Michael Harris bt Phillip John Bull 11-1, 11-4, 11-9 (24m)
Aisling Blake bt Jane Allman 11-4, 11-7, 11-6 (21m)
TWP St George’s Hill 5 Team Chichester 0
Daryl Selby bt Jonathan Kemp 4-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-1
Tom Richards bt Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan 11-3, 11-8, 11-9
Joe Lee bt Robbie Temple 11-7, 11-5, 11-7
Charles Sharpes bt Olivier Pett 11-4, 11-2, 10-12, 12-14, 11-9 (73m)
Dominique Lloyd-Walter bt Annabelle Collins-Ballands 11-5, 12-10, 11-8
10th & final round fixtures (26 March):
Benz-Bavarian Duffield v University of Birmingham
Chapel Allerton v AJP Pontefract
MB Nottingham v Oxford Health & Racquets
Team Chichester v Exeter Diamonds
Winchester Racquets & Fitness v Integrity Surrey Health & Racquets
UWE Bristol v TWP St George’s Hill
PSL TABLES (after 9th round):
|St George’s Hill||9||5||4||26||19||92||67||117|