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Peterborough I vs Melbourn I (25th January 2023)

Melbourn lost 5-19

The 1sts made the trip up the A1 to Peterborough hoping this might be the venue for our first win of the season.

First on court were Mark Oppen (4) against Courtney Blake and Jan Brynjolffssen (5) taking on Sean Michelson.

Mark and Courtney have played a few times before, so knew what to expect of each other – Mark moving the ball around and sometimes off-boasting, Courtney chasing for absolutely everything and pulling out some spectacular kills on his forehand. The match went the way many others had done, with very little in it but Mark gradually having the breath drawn out of him by his opponents relentlessness. All three games were close, but they were only three of them as Mark lost 9-11, 10-12, 9-11.

Meanwhile next door Jan had started OK against Sean and was right in the game up until a perplexing error on what should have been a straightforward forehand drop shot at 7-8 appeared to undermine him. The next five minutes effectively decided the match as Jan brooded on the error, lost the next two rallies and then was unable to execute the gameplan in game 2 and lost that in rapid succession. The third was more competitive but by now Sean was comfortable and in control and won 3-0, the game scores (Jan first) 7-11, 4-11, 8-11.

Miles Jeannert (3) and Paul Watson were next on, but didn’t know what they were in for when they took to the court. In bare terms it was a best-of-five that involved enough squash for six full games as Miles won the opener 11-9 and then the next four all went to tie-breaks. In bare terms the game scores were (Miles first) 11-9, 11-13, 13-11, 10-12, 13-15… but that selection of numbers doesn’t fully convey how close and exciting the match was.
Rallies were extended with Miles producing his trademark languid-and-deceptively-rapid movement to dig out Paul’s tight drops and counter-punch his way to points. Paul, meanwhile, was taking more of the aggressor role, looking to work the openings for the first attack. As the game scores show these two approaches proved incredibly evenly matched. It was anyone’s guess who was going to win, but on this occasion Paul did. Eventually. After almost as close a match as one could imagine. Almost.

And if you think that was close… the match between Vinod Duraikan (2) and teenager Aiden Fillmore was even tighter. Aiden had the better of the early stages of the game as he moved Vinod around and then found some nice kill shots to exit rallies, but as the game progressed Vinod dug it and began to retrieve the tight balls, which in turn caused Aiden to back off his attacks a bit, resulting the Vinod coming back on the scoreboard as the games progressed. Despite this the home player won the game on an extended tie-break and then took the next to move two games up. However games three and four saw Vinod turning things around as Aiden got increasingly frustrated at his inability to finish the match off, which resulted in some surprising errors from the kids racquet.
Vinod took the third and fourth each 11-9 to force the decider, and this time the Melbourn player got off to a strong start – this was the first all evening when he was up midway through a game? A sign that Vinod would cruise to the line? Not at all as Aiden, back-to-the-wall, produced some high intensity scrambling to keep sharing points. Vinod got to match ball first, but Aiden saved it. Then it was Aiden’s turn at 11-10. He made an opening… but unaccountably tinned what should have been the finishing shot. And that set the pattern – one player gets ahead, the other responds. There were some let and stroke calls in the tie-break that perplexed both players (in fact there had been a number through the match, but the marker employed a consistent standard throughout demanding a higher degree of effort to go and get the ball than either player expected (how the marker himself plays, basically 😉)). The match ebbed too and fore until Vinod finally got over the line 20-18 after drawing an error from a stretching Aiden in the front backhand corner. The game scores were 12-14, 9-11, 11-9, 11-9, 20-18.

With the overall win decided in Peterborough’s favour after the first three strings Chris Shaw (1) was playing Callum McGurk (another youngster) for pride and whatever extra points he could dredge up for the team. Chris definitely had his moments in the match, and was leading by a handful of points towards the end of the second game, but he was grounded down by Callum’s apparent ability to get absolutely everything back. This told in the end with the third game going rapidly against the Melbourn player as he went down 7-11, 9-11, 5-11.