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Main Draw
Plate Competition

Friday 25th January 2013

The climax of the competition, with semi-finals and finals in both the Plate and Main competition; in the Main, Kyle Finch (-12) took on Mark Brown (+12) earlier in the day and slipped through 25-20 into the first final spot (and a chance to defend his title). The first match of the evening, also in the Main, saw Adam Blythe (+11) take on Matt Merriman (-11). Adam had confidently progressed through all his earlier rounds, but in Matt he found an opponent determined to make the final. Matt knuckled down and reeled in Adam to ultimately win 25-19 and set up an intriguing final with Kyle.

In the Plate, beaten Main finalist from last year Chris Luetchford (-2) played his team captain, Danny Quigley (+1) in one of the closest handicapped fixtures in the tournament. Chris showed his skipper no leniency (despite a wobbly start) and just edged it 25-24 to take the first Plate final spot. His opponent would be the winner of Tom Merriman (-9) and Andy “Superman” Tyler (+8). Tom looked great in the warm-up and the smart money was on him, but Andy showed he had a trick or two too, and hit his best line and length of the tournament to romp home 25-18.

Without much rest, Andy was back on court against Chris for their Plate final. Chris (-7) looked like a man avenging his final defeat last year and really took the game to Andy (+6).


Whether it was Chris’ determination or a little fatigue from Andy we will never know, but Chris went on to take the win and the Aercon Cup Plate title for 2012/13.




Waltzing in late (and sniffling a little from a cold) came Kyle Finch (-4) for his Main final against Matt Merriman (+3). Mind-games or not, Kyle seemed to have the upper hand in the pre-match banter, with even his shoes looking (ever so slightly) cooler than Matt’s. But it was the squash we’d come to see, and soon they were underway. Matt struck the ball cleanly and purposefully, driving the corners and making his drops, but in Kyle he found an opponent who retrieved everything, and hit even better length!



The lead chopped and changed through the match, but Kyle finished strongest, winning 25-21 and successfully defending his Aercon Cup title (watch out for a -30 handicap next year!).  




Thursday 24th January 2013

While Chris cheated with an 80 minute warm up, Natalie prepared for the match by troughing down a plateful of fish and chips. Not content with this self-imposed handicap she returned serve after serve with a loose cross court drive which Chris ruthlessly (and somewhat un-sportingly in my opinion) smashed into the nick with unerring accuracy.

Despite Natalie’s best efforts to intimidate with shows of bad temper, the chips lay too heavily on her brain (I know, I know but SOMETHING was stopping it working) and Chris was triumphant at 25-18.


Tuesday 22nd January 2013

It was Quarter Final night in both the Main Draw and the Plate. 8 matches were played:


Earlier on, Dilip Chakrabarti (+3) had played Mark Brown (-4) in the QF tie in the Main Draw. Mark worked Dilip hard to earn a 25-19 win and a place in the semis.


First up in the evening, Adam “Bandit” Bedford (+5) took on Matt Merriman (-5) in their rearranged 2nd round game in the Main Draw. Both players had each other scampering around the court with some great rallies. On balance, Matt was edging ahead, bringing the scores level at 17-17. That should have been it for the Bandit, but a change of gear and 4 quick points put a whole new complexion on the tie. Cometh the hour, Matt dug in, and took 8 of the last 9 points to win 25-24.


The first scheduled Main Draw QF game saw Martin Sparshott (+1) play Adam Blyth (-1). By his own admissions Martin struggled to get in to the game and Adam went on to win 25-17. Martin does himself a disservice as there were some great rallies. Adam moves into the first Semi Final spot with one of the best records of any player in the tournament and is therefore hotly tipped for a Final place.


Meanwhile in the Plate, Andy Tyler (+8) hop, skipped, jumped, tripped (and at one point flew) past Rob Jarvis (-8) in a rearranged 2nd round fixture. Like so many of the matches thus far, both players went for absolutely everything. The frenetic pace was matched with equally frenetic scoring and the points piled in. In no time they were at 24-23, with Andy winning the last rally to go through to the QFs 25-23.


Following them, also in the Plate but this one a QF tie, Dave Brierley (-7) played Tom Merriman (+7). They started the match with a 14 point spread, and the gap remained largely unchanged throughout. Dave played his graceful, pin-point game, but an injury and Tom’s retrieving and counterattacking got the better of him and Tom booked his place in the Semi Finals this Friday.


Back to the Main Draw, the fully rested Matt Merriman (-4) now took on Andrew Codrai (+4). Matt dominated from beginning to end – which was a touch frustrating to say the least – and comfortably cruised to a 25-21 win.


Matt will be tough to beat in the final stages, but there are a few who fancy their chances, not least the next two on court, Jon “Giant Killer” Woolgar (+20) and Kyle Finch (-20), the current Aercon Cup holder. Everyone prepares for matches in different ways; I put my favourite T-shirt on the radiator so it is not too chilly when I put it on, Kyle plays Angry Birds, others stretch. Jon elected to spend 9 hours in the car driving to Cornwall and back! Perhaps as a consequence of this he decided not to rally hard, and instead to go for winners off most shots and – with a couple in the bag – looked good for another slaying. But Kyle was tenacious, unflappable, and most of all – clinical in his shots. He held his nerve at 19-23 down to win 25-23 and earn a place in the SFs  - and the nick name of “the Surgeon” for the rest of the tournament.


Last up were Nigel Lush (-8) and Andy Tyler (+7) who had bewilderingly gone home between his early match and this to get an even baggier pair of shorts. It is difficult to know if this was a deliberate ploy to gain advantage, but the wind certainly caught his sail and he cruised home to a 25-10 win. 7 shots and 7 outright winners to finish the game left Nigel wondering what Andy had stood in! 



Monday 21st January 2013

High drama with 7 matches contested:

In the main draw, Ady James (-2) played Martin Sparshott (+2) early…so they could get to the Saints game. Saints finished with a draw, and there was very little to separate Ady and Martin as the game finished with nearly the same points gap at 25-22 to Martin. Martin goes through to a quarter final tie with Adam Blyth.

The first scheduled fixture saw Jon Woolgar (+16) a.k.a. “Giant Killer” take on Dave Brierley (-23). For reasons of political sensitivity I forget the score, but safe to say Jon got another scalp, and Dave is looking forward to “Plate Squash” for the rest of the week.

Next on was a rearranged plate fixture between John Merriman (-18) and Danny Quigley (+17). Danny had been burnt in the earlier and was set to make amends. John threw the kitchen sink at him but Danny plugged away and secured a hard-fought 25-18 win to be the first confirmed competitor to be playing on Friday night. Well done!

The fixtures then came thick and fast (as a second court became available). Court 2 saw Finch the Younger (-12) play Finch the Wider (+12). Paul is very clever. Paul has watched every minute of his son’s training. Paul knows his son’s game inside out. So it was somewhat of a mystery that he allowed Kyle (Aercon Cup winner 2011/12) to come back to 19-19 all! In fairness, Kyle played ruthlessly to eat into Paul’s advantage. But, confounding those who believe you can’t teach and old dog new tricks, Paul sprang in to life in the next few rallies to forge a 24-21 lead. Even then (sorry Paul) the smart-money was on Kyle - who steamed through to a 25-24 win. Paul is consigned to the gallery, but Kyle has won an intriguing quarter final fixture against the Giant Killer!

Meanwhile on Court 1 Dilip Chakrabarti (+3) took on racquetball buddy (but fierce squash rival) Bob Broadbridge (-4). The omens weren’t good with Dilip smirking at the handicap and asking if they needed to spin for serve (he was sure the lower handicapper started?. As expected, it was close throughout; squash…racketball…badminton…tiddlywinks…these 2 were not going to give an inch. But there had to be just one winner, and this time it was Dilip, winning 25-21.

Following the Finches were Graham King (+3) and Andrew Codrai (-4). I can’t say much for Andrew’s game, though I note he has worn the same t-shirt for his last 9 matches and a change may be in order? As for Graham, he revelled in Andrew’s attempts to lob him, putting away tidy volley-drop after tidy volley-drop. Andrew made up some quick points early on, but then it was neck and neck for the majority of the game. Thankfully (and I mean that) in the 42nd rally Andrew got a lob over Graham. Combined with a couple of errors late on from Graham, Andrew sneaked a 25-19 win. Andrew’s opponent will be the winner of Matt Merriman and Adam Bedford’s game.

Last on were Mark Brown (+3) and Rob Jarvis (-3). This was the joint lowest spread of points for any match thus far and therefore…if the handicapper had done his job…this should have been another close finish. The joy of sport is that it does not always follow the rule book…and at one point the score line was 24-15! I put my hand up here and confess I don’t know to who was leading…I was playing at the time, and the 3 people I asked were so excited re-telling the tale I lost the detail! What the final score reveals is that Mark won 25-24…and I did hear Rob tinned the ball to hand Mark the victory. Rob, so sorry to report it like that. You have a plate game against Andy Tyler next and I ask you to channel your reply into that (sorry Andy!). Mark goes on to play Dilip in the quarter finals.


Sunday 20th January 2013

Some rescheduled games have been played over the weekend:

In the main competition Adam Blythe (+9) beat Chris Hobley (-9) by 25-19 to become our first quarter finalist in the main competition. And Dilip Chakrabarti (+6) beat Nigel Lush (-6).

And in the plate, John Merriman (-35) beat Dave Marchant (+17) by 25-21 to set up a match against Danny Quigley.


Thursday 17th January 2013

Day 2 had another 5 cracking games.

Jeff Burnham (+4) played Martin Sparshott (-4) earlier in the day in a rescheduled match. I didn’t see the match, but Martin overturned the 8 point deficit to win 25-18. Martin moves on to the 2nd round whilst Jeff takes his place in the plate.

The first scheduled game saw Tom Merriman (-12) take on Jon Woolgar (+11). Tom worked so hard to make up the huge points differential, but ultimately Jon’s attacking drops left Tom too stretched. A few drops down towards the end of the game gave Jon the match 25-16 with a score-line that doesn’t convey how hard both players worked.

Next on court were Neil Piper (-6) and Bob Broadbridge (+6). Neil had been strong-armed into entering, and I’m glad so as he added some measured class, working hard to eat away at the points gap. The score got to 21-14 and still looked finely balanced before Bob won 6 of the last 7 points to take the 2nd round spot. It is a timely reminder to me that – by definition – we can’t all win, but the success of the tournament hinges on the great levels of participation and a sting of hard games for the ultimate winner that means – above all – it is a trophy worth winning. We are all contributing to that. Thank you.

The 3rd of the scheduled games saw Paul Finch (+5) play Peter Des Clayes (-6). Peter is the current club Vintage champion and Over 35 runner-up. So no doubt – and much to the delight of Mrs Des Clayes I’m sure – he had his eye on more silverware for his mantelpiece. This was not evident however when he served out on the first point and made absolutely no inroads into the 11 point deficit in the first 12 rallies. But class told and with a big push he brought the score-line to 18-16. By his own admissions, Paul got a little anxious at this point, but proved he too could put a ball where he wanted to if absolutely pushed :-) and finished strongly to win the match 25-19. He has earned himself a 2nd round fixture against the current Aercon Cup holder – one Kyle Finch.

Last on were Dave Marchant (+13) and Andrew Codrai (-13). First blood went to Dave in the mind games as he played a box match immediately prior to our game. I like to think I evened things up with a skilful spin of my racket to win first serve. I can’t comment much on my performance, but can say that Dave made few errors, anticipated well, and played some lovely drops. Fortunately for me a couple of those drops went down from winning positions after Dave had worked good positions, and I snuck through 25-24. Many thanks to the handicapper and to Dave for a friendly and fun game.


Wednesday 16th January 2013

Welcome all to the first tournament update. 5 cracking matches played tonight, each as different from each other as could be possible!


First up were Ady James (+3) and Chris Luetchford (-3). Ady got off to quick start but Chris gradually brought it back to even points with the majority of the match no more than 3 points difference. There was an unorthodox moment when they forgot the score and decided to spin the racket to see who got what points! Ady stayed tight but Chris looked on top as they got to 21 all...then 3 unforced errors from Chris and a crazy nick from Ady meant the fixture went Ady's way 25-21.


Hot on their heels were Andy Tyler (+5) and Mark Brown (-5). Mark shot off like a startled gazelle, chalking up 10 points before Andy got his first. Unfortunately for Andy, Mark maintained that momentum, catching Andy with some tight drops, and going on to win 25-14.


Next up were Natalie Morrant (+12) and Chris Hobley (-13). This was the first of the bigger points difference games and - as handicapper - I was anxious to see how it would go! Natalie won the first point with a tasty drop and turned to the gallery exclaiming "there are 25 more where that came from". She only actually needed 11 more - but try as she might Chris chased down every one, hauling the scores back to 16-14. Having worked him hard, Natalie then turned it on and started scoring points at the same rate as Chris. The score went to 24 all and the final rally was an absolute belter - ultimately won by Chris with a fantastic drop.


Adam Bedford (+4) and Danny Quigley (-4) then took to the stage. Adam had not played for some time so had been handicapped quite generously...but from the first few rallies it started to look like an error had been made. Danny played nice tight squash but Adam was everywhere and played some cracking shots. He earned a 25-5 win, and a cut in his handicap from +8 to -6! Danny graciously accepted my apology and will seek revenge on his Plate opponent (so beware!).


Last up were John Merriman (-17) and Graham King (-16). There won't be many spreads as big as that in the competition so this was always going to be interesting. With 42 points to get to Graham's 9, John needed a run-rate of around 4-1. He worked his butt off and did fantastically well (managing 3-1) but Graham did what he had to...few errors, great retrieving and classy attacking shots. A great match that Graham went on to win 25-12.