Noticeboard Post

Herts Summer League - Melbourn 2 vs Nuffield 4, 6th June 2023

Melbourn won 11-5

The Seconds latest match in Division 4 saw us taking on league leaders Nuffield 4ths. We knew the St. Albans side were top, but it seemed they didn’t until they saw the updated league table on our noticeboard!

Having boosted our visitors confidence (oops) we dived into the match starting with the top string on account of both players – Jan Brynjolffssen of Melbourn and Alexander Craig of Nuffield – being present and ready to go, and that not being the case for any other string. At least Jan thought he was ready… taking six attempts (literally!) to knock a spare ball up to the balcony, and having to resort to throwing it instead suggested otherwise! Accuracy? What’s that?
Jan took this shonky form into the start of the first, and swiftly found himself 8-2 down. However it seemed infectious as Alex went from looking imperious early on to making some strange shot choices and odd unforced errors. That allowed Jan to come fighting back and emerge with the game under his belt 15-13. When the same pattern – Alex racing into a big early lead, Jan grinding it back and edging the game, similar to the point of an identical score – repeated in Game 2 Jan suddenly found himself leading two-love. To his general bemusement. If Alex got his patterns right… which he did in game 3, Jan also taking his foot off the pedal a bit in a physical match. This proved a bad move as once Alex’s confidence was back there was only one winner, Jan eventually going down 15-13, 15-13, 2-15, 6-15, 5-15.

The top string took long enough that the match now split on to two courts, Liam Murphy facing Mhairi Gritz at second string on court 1, and Colm O’Gorman (3) playing Julian Craxton on court 2.

On paper Liam looked to have his hands full against Mhairi, who is a familiar face to some at Melbourn (she is a former Cambridge Squash Club and Cambs County Team player), as the Nuffield player counts the Scotland O35 team amongst the sides she currently represents and came in with decent results this summer. However it didn’t prove that way at all as the match-up in styles worked beautifully for Liam, Mhairi’s mixture of low, hard pace and sharp boasts not getting the ball past 6’4” Liam’s long reach – as he continually closed down her boasts he took Mhairi’s game away from her. Mhairi tried to battle, pulling out a notably thunderous backhand drive-kill in game three, but Liam always had a response – specifically an ultra-tight backhand drop a few points later that matched the power-kill as a spectacular winner, and also generally as he came through 15-3, 15-9, 15-9.

Meanwhile Colm was trying to figure out the puzzle that is Julian next door without much help from teammates. Which was unfortunate as Julian is a longstanding competitor on the Herts Squash scene with a well-known and particular style. Forewarned would have been somewhat fore-armed, though there is only so much one can do against a player who can drop or kill-boast from seemingly anywhere! For three games Colm struggled away as he tried to figure out how to deal with Julian’s mix, digging in hard to win the second but losing the other two and generally not really enjoying the experience (few do against Julian!).
A chance to talk it through with teammates after game 3 finally added clarity (don’t go for ‘good’ shots, and don’t wrong-foot – simply play the ball away from where Julian is standing so he has to run) and from there Colm looked in command, cruising through game four 15-6 and then doing the same in the fifth, though Julian did help rather in this one with three unJulian-like backhand drop errors (the first was one he would make 99 times out of 100) that turned a potential 7-6 deficit for Colm into a comfortable 9-4 lead. He converted that well though, rounding off a 9-15, 15-9, 11-15, 15-6, 15-5 win.

After the game Colm commented he was “Delighted win the team's performance this evening, continuing the good run of form over the last few weeks. A special mention for Jan who competed so well against a top player in Alex.”