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Herts Summer League - Letchworth 2 vs Melbourn 2, 9th July 2024

Melbourn lost 1-12

Derby day! Well, from our perspective, Letchworth being our shortest away trip of the season. It also paired us with one of the two teams we lost to in the first half of the campaign. Could you reverse this (the answer, dear reader, as you can see from the line above, is ‘no!’).

First on was Roger Woodfield (3), who was up against Chris Saynor. This match promised a contrast in styles as the knock-up suggested Chris had more power and better movement, but with a less classical technique than Rog. Long rallies were not going to be Roger’s friend (they never are any more) so his aim was to try and keep them short… and end them with a winner. Chris was more interested in extended exchanges, but early on he worked out that Roger was going to hang deep to cover any drives, and that meant cutting the ball in short was going to be effective. This pressured Roger to find good lines and lengths at the start of the rally to prevent Chris dropping. Unfortunately he only successfully managed this in the later half of the second game, resulting in a 5-15, 11-15, 8-15 loss. Chris later estimated the longest rally of the entire match was five shots!

Next on was Jamie Ware (2) against Jason Tinsey. This was another challenging encounter for the Melbourn player as Jason is a deeply tricky opponent, who moves well and hits a clean ball when going straight... but also no hesitation (at all!) to bring out his deadly boast shots to kill rallies off. Jamie coped well with this in the first game, up on his toes to prevent his blood getting totally twisted as he was moved into unexpected front corners, but not quite well enough as Jason shaded the game anyway. Jamie came out firing in the game two though, playing the same way but with that bit sharper purpose and determination in both shots and especially movement. This meant he was forcing Jason deeper into the back corners in some rallies, and simply asking him to play many extra shots in others (not what Jason is used to). Both elements drew errors, levelling up the score. However that level of intensity was hard to maintain, and we should also note that Jason himself responded, which meant games three and four saw Jamie being “Full Tinsey’ed”. Final score was 11-15, 15-9, 6-15, 5-15
Jamie fist-pump count: Plenty. Meter broke.
Jamie’s shout-at-self-for-perceived-error-after-winning-rally count: Three

Those scores meant the evening was Letchworth’s: the only question to answer from Jan Brynjolffssen (1) vs Jason Attwood was the scale of our loss. Things didn’t look promising for Jan when he fell 8-1 down in the opening game. It wasn’t that Jan was playing badly, or the rallies were easy (or short!) wins for Jason. It’s just that, after 15-20ish shots up and down the walls it was always the home player finishing things off. What was needed was more intensity and purpose in Jan’s Squash. Which he found to make things much closer to 50/50 in point pick up, but from so far down game 1 was gone. Game 2 featured a number of lung-busting rallies, some of them verging on the spectacular. There was one when Jason even executed a behind-the-back shot to keep himself alive (Jan killed the next ball anyway, the spoilsport!); another when Jan played a cross-lob from front backhand corner, cross-drive from front backhand corner, backhand straight volley-drop 1-2-3 shot combination that was executed at somewhere near the maximal level he is capable of. But that it took all three attacking shots to win a rally says something about Jason’s movement. And the pressure that applied told in two key moments – errors from Jan at 12-13 and then 13-14 in the second game, and then a string of them from 7-all in the third. It all added up to a 8-15, 13-15, 10-15 loss for Jan and Melbourn being beaten 1-12 overall.