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Herts Summer League - Melbourn 2 vs Chantry 1, 11th June 2024

Melbourn won 12-1

The 2nds were in the rare position of coming into this match against Chantry Squash Club (which is in Bishop’s Stortford… though this match was in Melbourn) on the back of a defeat – could we bounce back against a side in the lower reaches of the table.

First on was Jamie Ware (3), who takes no responsibility for the loss seven days prior as he wasn’t playing in that one… nor could he claim anything much about the four wins out of five preceding that as this was Jamie’s seasonal debut! It pitted him against Will Kirkham.
Your correspondent didn’t see much of this match as I was still involved in the session on the next door court, so we go with Jamie’s own words on this “It was a conquest for the ages, a true David vs Goliath, where my opponents brute strength was met with my messy movement but importantly tinning it a bit less than him! 😂”
Will’s power caught Jamie off balance initially, leading to an early 5-3 lead in the opening game for the Chantry player, but once Jamie adjusted to the speed of travel of the ball he had more game, pushing Will deep and taking advantage of this with drops and crosscourts when he had Will on the run to kill points. That saw the opener turned around, and a comfortable second for Jamie. The third went Will’s way initially as he built a 7-2 lead, but Jamie fought back to close things out in straight games despite a slight late wobble (13-12 at one point). It finished 15-7, 15-6, 15-12 in the Melbourn’s favour.

Next up was Colm O’Gorman (2) against a familiar figure on the Herts Squash scene, Paul Carter. Sometimes a contrast in styles is a challenge. Other times coming up against somebody wanting to play the same way as you do is a problem… and here Colm was having to cope with Paul’s insistence on playing against the grain crosscourt drops. The bitter bite!
Basically all three games followed the same pattern – Colm initially struggling with rhythm against the super-attacking play, but gradually reconciling himself to the chasing into the front corners and the deep hitting needed. Once he did that he took charge of each game, forcing Paul into really deep positions from where counter-attack wasn’t really on. 4-6 in the first, 5-7 in the second and 4-9 in the third consequently turned into a 15-8, 15-7, 15-11 straight games win as Colm put together was exceptional runs of point gathering: 8-in-a-row in the opening (4-6 to 12-6), 10-in-a-row in the second (5-7 to game) and another 8 point burst in the third (4-9 to 12-9… though 4-3 to 4-9 had preceded it during Paul’s best spell of the match).

… and that meant we were 2-0 up going into the top string match. Given all the 2nds previous fixtures this summer had finished 2-1 one way or the other, and also Jan Brynjolffssen (1) was up against Mark Douglas, who had beaten him 3-0 the last time the players met (at Chantry last summer) another narrow win seemed in the offing. However, despite trailing for most of the opener Jan ended it was a good sequence of points to shave the game and find himself 1-0 up.
The second saw Mark’s style taking charge, picking Jan’s shots off earlier than expected and using the Melbourn’s players recovery movement against him. It looked like being a heavy loss in the game, though a late recovery drew more respectability on the scoreboard; still it was 1-1.
The third game proved to be the key one, staying nip-and-tuck most of the way through… until, at the death, Jan put together a sequence of pressuring rallies that drew mistakes (possibly not full forced…) from Mark to once again see Jan run away with things from at the death. And then there was the fourth. In this one the atypical errors from Mark’s racquet came in the early phases of the game, a string of balls going into the tin as 4-4 rapidly turned into 10-4 in Jan’s favour. Mark finally won a point then, looked down at his strings and found one was broken! Opinion varied to when it had happened – was it that rally, or was it responsible for the tins? But whatever the cause, the five point gap was decisive, Jan holding and extending it to hold 7 match balls (14-7). He tried to win in style on the first, messed that up, so went for anti-style instead on the second chance as a shanked backhand dropped short, which Mark could only tin.
15-12, 10-15, 15-11, 15-8 overall, and a full 12 point evening for the 2nds for the first time this summer.