Noticeboard Post

Herts Summer League - Allenburys v Melbourn 2, 16th May 2023

Melbourn 2 travelled to Allenburys knowing a tough  was on the agenda, with our winter league colleague Gareth Jones playing at string 3.

First up at string 3, Colm was playing a very familiar face in Gareth Jones, knowing their levels are almost on a par and so expecting a long hard match. The first game was tit for tat until at 9-9 Gareth took control to string together 4 points. Colm hit back with 3 of his own, but Gareth served out to 15-13.

It looked like being a closely fought match all through, however in the second game Gareth made numerous forced and unforced errors to hand the initiative to Colm, who gratefully took it and served out for a comfortable 4-15 win.

It appeared that momentum had shifted, Colm was playing well however Gareth was determined and composed himself early in the third, however the momentum shifted over and back with mistakes creeping in on both sides. At 7-7, like in the first, Gareth regained control and with a combination of deft touches and hard driving, took a 11-14 lead. Colm fought back to 13-14 but again a mistake handed the game to Gareth.

Colm was feeling the pressure early in the fourth and slipped behind, scrambling to be 4 points behind at 7-11. 4 points in a row brought the game level, however Gareth steadied himself and played some superb drops, sensing Colm tiring and saw the game out 11-15 and the match 1-3.

Next to play, at string 2, were Liam and Ian Collin. Watching the warm up, it became clear that here were two equally matched players, at least in terms of height. It transpired they played a similar style too.

The first game started in a very measured way by both players with neat, flowing squash, high accuracy and few errors. Liam had some unforced mistakes, but stayed level with some really tight squeezes that gave his opponent nothing to hit. Both players were doing a good job of staying in the game without taking too many risks and each had game points. Ian took one of his opportunities and the game 17-15.

Both players had a chance to show off impressive corner-to-corner speed as Liam pushed effectively in the second and play began to open up. This suited Liam well, and he quickly took a seven point lead before a run of errors and some inspired play by Ian brought it back to parity at 11 all. From then on, every rally was a full-tilt stretch for both players, with Liam recovering from sitting on the floor to win one point, but the game finally escaping him, again frustratingly for Liam, a narrow loss 15-13, and he was 2-0 down having played great squash.

Liam played attacking squash to pull out a lead on the fourth, his opponent unable to take control of a rally initially. However with both players appearing to tire after a mammoth effort in the first 2 games, both making mistakes and handing the initiative to the other, it was Ian who was able to use his experience to edge Liam and take the game 15-12 and the match.

Aidan at string 1 was up against Ben Griffith, a contrast in styles with Ben’s touch play and Aidan’s power, both with excellent movement and accuracy.

Aidan started with some powerful cross courts, out of reach of Ben and slipped into an early lead. Ben started to retrieve a bit more but Aidan kept the pressure on to take a 2:7 lead with a well disguised drop. Ben stopped Aidan’s momentum and they traded scores followed by a few mistakes and it was 8:10. Ben was started to find his rhythm but Aidan ramped up the pressure again to stride ahead only for Ben to haul him back again to 11:13. Another powerful cross court gave Aidan game ball but he couldn’t take the first one, but took the second in style.

The second game started in a similar vein. A disguised and accurate boast followed by a tight powerful drive and then a tidy unexpected drop gave Aidan a 1:4 lead. Ben however was determined, recovered and went on a run of 4 points taking advantage of Aidan’s unforced errors. They traded scores and then Aidan uncharacteristically missed a few relatively easy kills, then redeemed himself with some beautiful squash sending Ben around the court. But Ben was finding it easier to retrieve and held on, then started to dominate, applying pressure and scoring at will, it was 13:7 all of a sudden and the game was beyond Aidan, Ben taking it 15-8. Aside from the odd unforced error, it was high quality squash and great entertainment.

The third game started with some tricky tactical rallies and it was 2 all, Ben applying more pressure stretching Aidan and forcing the errors. Ben’s energy was up and it was 3:9. Both players traded mistakes before Ben again found the back corner and then a volley drop to go 4:12. The squash standard was rising, a very impressive showing by both players. Some hard fought rallies were edged by Ben and he had game ball which he duly took it 15-5 to go 2-1 up.

Aidan decided to revert to what had worked well in the first and started the fourth game applying power and pressure, Ben retrieving superbly but Aidan was not making the mistakes of games 2 and 3, rather it was Ben making them now. Aidan was up 3-6 after another disguised drop. They traded points and again Aidan stretched Ben to go 9:4 and looked like he had regained control. Some wonderful rallies followed by some glaring errors from both players as they tired, but Aidan was still ahead 9-12. Ben however had other ideas and somehow took back the initiative and forced the mistakes from Aidan to edge head and take the game 15-13 and the match 3-1.

Captain Colm was very happy with the team’s performance against a very strong Allenburys side ‘it was a great night of squash, each match was closely fought and perhaps we could have nicked a few more games but fair dues to Allenburys who deserved the win’.