Tuesday’s short away trip to Ponte was always looking tough as soon as the lineups were announced. On paper it looked like a 3-2 either way but thankfully this time it went our way!
First matches on were Jenny and Sarah, and myself v Adam Taylor. I personally was pleased with my progress after some calf problems recently and managed to negate Taylor’s flicks and drops to win the first 11-6 and quite a tough 2nd 12-10. Luckily Taylor decided to clip the tin regularly in the 3rd for me and i took it 11-5…..nice to get off in 3 for a change!
Meanwhile Jenny was playing well, shooting short with her usual accuracy and taking the first game. The trend continued in the 2nd but halfway through Jenny pulled up with a problem in her IT band (outside of the quadriceps for the uninitiated). She decided to continue on and went even more attacking to take the 2nd. The problem seemed to worsen in the 3rd though and unfortunately Jenny had to retire and forfeit the match to Kippax. Disappointing for Jen and us but the main thing is for her to get fit and we wish her well in the upcoming Hong Kong Open.
Following myself was Chapel’s Shaun Le Roux against former world no1 Lee Beachill. This match seemed like a sure thing for us but you always have to be on your guard against this kind of class, even if they are not fit! And the first game proved to be so as Beach displayed some of the subtle holds and incredible timing that took him to the top. But Shaun is a much improved specimen and he managed to stay calm against the onslaught taking the first game 12-10. It was always going to be downhill physically for Beach after that but it was still an entertaining match, Le Roux coming out on top 3-0.
The game following the girls was the crunch match as they say….two players of a similar ranking in our own Chris Simpson against Indian No1 and World Championship quarterfinalist Saurav Ghosal. Simpo has had a disappointing last couple of PSL matches and was ultra keen to put things right. His focus was 100% all the way through and after two closely contested games of fantastic squash, he finished the demoralised Indian Champion 11-1 in the 3rd to clinch the win for Chapel.
So the No1s turned out to be a dead rubber but this did not lessen the excitement for the packed crowd in anticipation of witnessing two of the best players in the world James Willstrop and Daryl Selby battle it out. Daryl recently beat Willstrop 14-12 in the 5th in Qatar and with James sometimes struggling in PSL, we felt we were in with a shout. Daryl got off to a superb start, moving very fluidly and finding just the right balance of play, attacking at the right time virtually error free.
Daryl took the first game but Willstrop looked up for this one and slowly began to improve his volleys, kills and drops forcing his Essex opponent to scurry to all four corners of the court, and took the 2nd and 3rd games with breathing space. Both Daryl and I felt he needed to pick up the pace a little in the fourth to take the game to the Yorkshireman, and he managed to do that but also opened up the court a little too much and by now,
Willstrop was absolutely lethal at the front! There was some breathtaking squash and incredible retrievals but in the end the Ponte No1 was the winner 3-1.
A great night and a great win for us and hopefully a springboard for another victory against Coolhurst at Chapel on December 10th!!
Pontefract (14+6) 2-3 Chapel Allerton (30+17)
James Willstrop 3-1 Daryl Selby 7-11, 11-5, 11-3, 11-6
Saurav Ghosal 0-3 Chris Simpson 6-11, 8-11, 1-11
Lee Beachill 0-3 Shaun le Roux 10-12, 5-11, 7-11
Adam Taylor 0-3 Simon Parke 6-11, 10-12, 5-11
Sarah Kippax 3-2 Jenny Duncalf 8-11, 9-11, 8-3 rtd