Former champions Benz-Bavarian Duffield will go into next year’s second half of the Premier Squash League (PSL)season as the only unbeaten team, after beating University of Birmingham 3/2 in the fifth round of the world’s most prestigious squash league. The Derbyshire club clinched victory in Birmingham when top string Nick Matthew, the world champion from Sheffield, notched up his 30th successive league win since October 2007 by beating world No48 Chris Ryderin straight games.
The three-time champions (in 1998, 2006 & 2007) went into the lead with wins by former British Junior champion Millie Tomlinson and Chris Fuller. But the hosts struck back to draw level after Nathan Lake and Welsh champion Peter Creed recorded victories.
But world number two Matthew, a Duffield stalwart for ten seasons, was determined to reach his impressive PSL milestone – and despatched Ryder 12-10, 11-7, 11-2 to not only extend his club’s unbeaten record this season but also extend their lead at the top of the Group A tables to 28 points.
“I’m really proud of Nick – not just as a player that any team would give their right arm for, but for his loyalty to Duffield and his skills as a role model and ambassador for our sport,” said team manager Felix Frixou. “I just want to say thank you and well done to all our squad.”
There were two other notable results in the Group: Oxford Health & Racquets beat MB Nottingham 3/2 to leap into second place in the tables, while AJP Pontefract defeated fellow Yorkshire club Chapel Allerton 4/1 to jump two positions to third place – their highest ever position.
While Oxford’s top-ranked Spaniard Borja Golan and Irish champion Madeline Perry both recorded straight games wins, team-mates Kristen Johnson and Scott Handley went down in five-game battles – leaving squad number one Cameron Pilley to play the decider. The Australia number one was tested over four games by Nottingham’s Alan Clyne, but Pilley eventually downed the top-ranked Scot 11-8, 8-11, 11-9, 11-6 to delight the Oxford fans.
“It was a fantastic night here in Oxford after Nottingham pushed us all the way,” said jubilant Oxford team manager Ross Gore. “Closing the gap on Duffield is also a huge bonus. Fingers crossed we can keep the momentum going into the second half and make the playoffs.”
The opening match in Pontefract produced a significant upset when Chapel Allerton’s world No6 Jenny Duncalf went down in four games to England team-mate Sarah Kippax – only three days after Duncalf was preferred to her lower-ranked compatriot for the final of the Women’s World Team Championship in France.
Kippax’s first win over Duncalf in more than three years inspired further success for the hosts as Taminder Gata-Auraand Lee Beachill posted five-game wins to put victory beyond the Leeds club’s reach. In the final match between Pontefract hero James Willstrop, the world number one, and Chris Simpson, it was the visitors’ top string who took the opening games before forcing the match into five games. Willstrop suffered a hard fall late in the match, but the Leeds-based 29-year-old eventually ground out an 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 4-11, 11-9 win.
After a slow start, title-holders Integrity Surrey Health & Racquets posted their first 5/0 win of the season when they beat Winchester Racquets & Fitness in Group B. Londoner Alison Waters, the world No4 who was unbeaten for England last week in Nimes, led the winning way for the Croydon club, followed by team-mates Richie Fallows, French newcomer Gregoire Marche and England internationals Adrian Grant and Peter Barker.
The maximum points win takes Surrey Health to the top of the Group B tables for the first time this season. “It was a really good game tonight and well done to Winchester who put up a good fight,” said Pete Smith, the home team manager. “Great to be back on top after half way – but we’ve got a long way to go yet. Looking forward to the second half.”
Exeter Diamonds jumped up to second place in the tables after a crushing 4/1 home defeat of Team Chichester, the Sussex club’s first loss of the season. The visitors’ former world No5 Alex Gough suffered an injury midway through the third string battle, conceding the match to Exeter’s Tim Vail – and later wins by Finn Olli Tuominen and top DutchmanLaurens Jan Anjema confirmed the Devon club’s fourth win of the season.
And the second 5/0 victory this season by TWP St George’s Hill did little to improve the Group B table position of last season’s runners-up. A near full strength squad saw St George’s beat UWE Bristol without dropping a game, but the Weybridge club still languish in fourth place.
“TWP St George’s Hill fighting back with solid win over Bristol,” tweeted team manager Danny Lee later. “Realistically need an unbeaten second half to reach play offs.”
RESULTS: Premier Squash League, 5th round, Tuesday 20 November 2012
University of Birmingham 2 Benz-Bavarian Duffield 3
Chris Ryder lost to Nick Matthew 10-12, 7-11, 2-11
Peter Creed bt Andy Whipp 11-5, 11-6, 11-8
Nathan Lake bt Adam Murrills 9-11, 11-3, 11-6, 11-5
Chris Tasker-Grindley lost to Chris Fuller 6-11, 11-7, 7-11, 9-11
Katherine Quarterman lost to Millie Tomlinson 1-11, 3-11, 2-11
AJP Pontefract 4 Chapel Allerton 1
James Willstrop bt Chris Simpson 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 4-11, 11-9
Lee Beachill bt Dylan Bennett 7-11, 11-5, 11-8, 6-11, 11-3
Sam Wileman lost to Simon Parke 6-11, 3-11, 7-11
Taminder Gata-Aura bt Matthew Sidaway 8-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-8
Sarah Kippax bt Jenny Duncalf 3-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-9
Oxford Health & Racquets 3 MB Nottingham 2
Cameron Pilley bt Alan Clyne 11-8, 8-11, 11-9, 11-6
Borja Golan bt Eddie Charlton 11-6, 15-13, 11-4
Scott Handley lost to Lewis Walters 11-7, 4-11, 10-12, 11-9, 10-12
Kristen Johnson lost to Mark Fuller 6-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-7, 6-11
Madeline Perry bt Emma Beddoes 11-5, 11-6, 11-6
Exeter Diamonds 4 Team Chichester 1
Laurens Jan Anjema bt Jonathan Kemp 11-2, 11-5, 11-2 (29m)
Olli Tuominen bt Robbie Temple 11-4, 11-5, 11-6 (33m)
Tim Vail bt Alex Gough 6-11, 11-7, 5-0 ret. (30m)
Michael Harris lost to Alex Ingham 4-11, 6-11, 7-11 (32m)
Aisling Blake bt Zoe Shardlow 11-2, 11-3, 11-1 (15m)
Integrity Surrey Health & Racquets 5 Winchester Racquets & Fitness 0
Peter Barker bt Stacey Ross 11-9, 11-4, 11-5 (29m)
Adrian Grant bt Alex Phillips 13-15, 11-5, 12-10, 11-7
Gregoire Marche bt Adam Auckland 7-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-9
Richie Fallows bt Tristan Eysele 10-12, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7
Alison Waters bt Selina Sinclair 11-1, 11-1, 11-4
TWP St George’s Hill 5 UWE Bristol 0
Daryl Selby bt David Evans 11-7, 11-8, 11-3 (31m)
Tom Richards bt Thomas Ford 11-5, 11-2, 11-4 (28m)
Henrik Mustonen bt David Haley 11-3, 11-2, 11-6 (30m)
Charles Sharpes bt Sam Ellis 11-1, 11-5, 11-5 (24m)
Dominique Lloyd-Walter bt Rebecca Quiney 11-6, 11-2, 11-6 (20m)