Benz-Bavarian Duffield and Integrity Surrey Health & Racquets - the two teams that contested last season’s final – top the Group A and B tables in the Premier Squash League (PSL), respectively, going into next year’s second half of the 30th season of the world’s most prestigious squash league.
South African Stephen Coppinger clinched a 3/2 away win for former champions Duffield over University of Birmingham when he beat experienced Englishman Chris Ryder in straight games in the top string decider. Ryder, a 33-year-old former world No33 from Leamington Spa – and the World University champion in 2006 – surprised the crowd by announcing his retirement from professional squash after the match.
The fifth round win extends the Derbyshire club’s Group A lead to 16 points head of nearest rival Coolhurst London.
“I’m pleased to have a good lead going into the Christmas break,” said jubilant Duffield team manager Felix Frixou. “The team did really well, especially without our long-standing number one Nick Matthew, who only arrived back today from Hong Kong where his title success in the Hong Kong Open takes him back to No1 in the world next year.
“In fact we were delighted that Coppinger made it back in time, or otherwise we would have really struggled.”
A blistering 5/0 home win over Winchester takes title-holders Surrey Health back to the top of the Group B tables – overtaking west country rivals Exeter Diamonds - who suffered their first defeat of the season, going down 3/2 to Team Chichester away from home.
“It was a good response to our defeat to Exeter in the last round,” said Croydon club Surrey Health’s team manager Pete Smith. “We needed a win, and the team did it – which was especially good as we haven’t had our number one Peter Barker for most of the season.”
Surrey Health No4 Tim Garner celebrated his 25th consecutive season in the league with an impressive straight games win over 23-year-old full-time player Phillip John Bull. Garner was presented with a specially-engraved bottle of champagne by team manager Smith.
“I still remember making my national league debut at Bromley Town all those 25 years ago – at the time so excited to have the chance to play in the top league,” said 43-year-old Garner, a former world No26. “And it’s brilliant to still have that chance a couple of decades on, though it is still disconcerting when you play someone who wasn’t born on your debut!
“It was a great win for the team tonight. Maybe I will retire on the back of a five nil … but maybe not!”
Chichester celebrated their win over Exeter after the first three matches – with wins by Robbie Temple, Olivier Pett(over long-time coach and ‘birthday boy’ Tim Vail) and Jaclyn Kemp ensuring the Devon club’s first defeat of the season.
“It was nice to end Exeter’s unbeaten run,” said Chichester team manager Mike Phillips. “We’ve got good strength in depth and thought we could win at 3, 4 and 5. Ollie’s win was particularly good, against Tim, his coach, and will be very good for his confidence.”
The other Group B tie also saw a comprehensive 5/0 win when Luxfords St George’s Hill snatched an away victory atUWE/Elitesquash Bristol. The win sees the Weybridge club share second place in the tables with Exeter – both just five points adrift of Surrey Health, on 71 points.
League newcomers Coolhurst London hold onto second place in Group A, despite going down 3/2 to Chapel Allerton. There was everything to play for when the Leeds club’s Chris Simpson took on the visitors’ aptly-named Steven London- and won 11-1, 11-6, 11-4 to clinch victory for Chapel Allerton.
But just a single point behind Coolhurst are former champions Air-IT Nottingham, who crushed Yorkshire visitors AJP Pontefract 5/0. It was Nottingham’s in-form Emma Beddoes who put the hosts ahead with an 11-9, 11-4, 13-11 victory over higher-ranked English rival Sarah Kippax.
Air-IT Nottingham 5 AJP Pontefract 0
Alan Clyne bt Lee Beachill 11-4, 11-9, 11-6
Eddie Charlton bt Adam Taylor 11-1, 11-1, 11-0
Chris Fuller bt Chris van der Salm 11-6, 11-6, 15-13
Ollie Holland bt George Wileman 11-4, 11-4, 11-4
Emma Beddoes bt Sarah Kippax 11-9, 11-4, 13-11
University of Birmingham 2 Benz-Bavarian Duffield 3
Chris Ryder lost to Stephen Coppinger 11-13, 8-11, 7-11
Jaymie Haycocks bt Joel Hinds 11-6, 11-9, 10-12, 11-3
Bradley Hindle bt Scott Handley 10-12, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-7
Scott Young lost to Adam Murrills 5-11, 12-10, 4-11, 10-12
Deon Saffery lost to Laura Massaro 11-3, 4-11, 4-11, 8-11
Chapel Allerton 3 Coolhurst London 2
Chris Simpson bt Steven London 11-1, 11-6, 11-4
Shaun le Roux bt Joshua Masters 11-5, 11-5, 11-6
Matthew Sidaway lost to Joe Green 8-11, 11-13, 2-11
Julian Tomlinson bt Nick Sutcliffe 11-5, 9-11, 11-9, 11-5
Carrie Ramsey lost to Madeline Perry 6-11, 7-11, 11-5, 2-11
Team Chichester 3 Exeter Diamonds 2
Jonathan Kemp lost to Laurens Jan Anjema 4-11, 9-11, 11-9, 6-11
Rex Hedrick lost to Olli Tuominen 7-11, 11-7, 7-11, 8-11
Robbie Temple bt Joey Barrington 2-11, 13-11, 11-9, 11-8
Olivier Pett bt Tim Vail 11-3, 11-7, 11-8
Jaclyn Kemp bt Victoria Temple Murray 11-7, 11-8, 11-1
UWE/Elitesquash Bristol 0 Luxfords St George’s Hill 5
David Evans lost to Borja Golan 11-13, 8-11, 11-7, 4-11 (44m)
Michael Harris lost to Tom Richards 11-7, 9-11, 7-11, 9-11 (36m)
Hadrian Stiff lost to Joe Lee 9-11, 11-6, 11-9, 3-11, 0-11 (51m)
Thoboki Mohohlo lost to Charles Sharpes 9-11, 14-12, 7-11, 6-11 (46m)
Lea van der Zwalmen lost to Dominique Lloyd-Walter 7-11, 7-11, 6-11 (18m)
Integrity Surrey Health & Racquets 5 Winchester 0
Adrian Grant bt Robert Downer 11-3, 11-13, 11-6, 8-11, 11-1
Adrian Waller bt Alex Phillips 11-7, 11-5, 11-6
Davide Bianchetti bt Scott Fitzgerald 12-10, 11-6, 10-12, 11-4
Tim Garner bt Phillip John Bull 11-7, 11-7, 11-5
Alison Waters bt Emily Whitlock 11-6, 11-4, 11-4