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Main Draw 2012-13

Main Draw:

Friday 28th June


Neither player wanted to retain or win the championship in these circumstances. And the likelihood of a re-match in the near-term is slim. In light of this, and the impressive performance both players made throughout the tournament the committee has taken the unprecedented step of declaring the fixture tied; both players will share the title this year. Very well done to them and all competitors who helped make this one of the best championships for many a year.



Friday 14th June (Final)


Hi drama! After a long wait, Kyle and John came on court for the main event, the final to determine the 2012/13 Club Champion. Smiles in the knock-up, but it was clear both knew they had a tough match ahead with the outcome far from certain.   

 Kyle made the stronger start, moving his opponent around the court and ruthlessly killing any loose balls. At 5-1 up in the first, Kyle was looking good. He shaped for a backhand drive but elected for a drop; John, already moving back in anticipation of the drive, sprang forward…and yelped. With the change of direction he had torn his Achilles’ tendon. After a brief Stuart Pearce “I’ll run off my broken leg” moment he came off court and the match was abandoned.




The tournament committee are currently in discussions on how to proceed. The hope articulated by Kyle was that the match could be re-scheduled. And that would certainly be popular with the many spectators who came to watch a match that promised so much. Updates to follow…





Wednesday 12th June (Semi Finals)


First on were 13-times reigning Club Champion John Merriman, and teen supremo George Stanford. The viewing gallery had a final’s night feel as people jostled for a vantage point. Paul Finch officiated. George made a sparkling start, pushing John all over the court. But John’s legendary retrieving allowed him to weather the onslaught. Back and forth on the serve, it was fully 5 minutes before the first point was won (going to George). George continued, edging ahead with a 6-4 lead, but John started reeling him in, eventually winning the 1st 9-6. 35 minutes after the match started John was 2-0 up, having won the 2nd 9-2. At first glance there was little change in play from the 1st game, but John’s fitness was starting to tell; his retrieving was no longer extending the rallies, he was putting on more and more pressure, limiting the effectiveness of George’s shots. This trend continued into the 3rd, with John going 6-3 up (we’ll strike his miss-hit that earned that point from the record). But a rallying call from mum “come on George, are you 16 or 60?” chivvied George back into form. Alas it was not enough, with John smashing a hard, low backhand crosscourt from the front to win 9-3 and take his place in the final.


U15 national captain Kyle Finch and 2-times Club Champion Dave Brierley contested the remaining final’s spot, this one marked by Matt Merriman. We all knew Kyle would come out strong and hungry to add another title to his growing portfolio, but suspected Dave’s experience (his first Club Championship title was won the year of Kyle’s birth) would equip him to deal with this upstart. But Kyle was on fire! Dave did nothing wrong, looking mobile, cutting out crosses well, and hitting good width and length. But still Kyle won the first 2 games 9-0. Dave was determined to get something from the match and picked up the first 2 points of the third, but Kyle moved on to an 8-2 lead and served for the match. Dave successfully defended that point, but could not do so a 2nd time, with Kyle winning 9-2 to end a very impressive display.


John Merriman will play Kyle Finch in the final on Friday at 8:30pm.



Monday 13th May


The last quarter final match was placed this evening between Neil Piper (#8 seed and 2nd Team Captain) and Kyle Finch (#2 seed and England u15 Captain!). In the same spirit as Kyle played, I won’t drag this out…Neil played well but Kyle was on top throughout and won 3-0. The game was played in very good humour and Neil’s running commentary was far better than this.



Friday 10th May


The rescheduled quarter final between Dave Brierley and Matt Merriman was as exciting as the billing suggested. Dave started strongest, working up to an 8-4 lead in the first, with big points coming from perfectly executed boasts. But Matt was on fire, and brought things back to 8-8 before Dave won 10-8. The team talk for Matt in the break seemed to work, he came on looking more determined, with more pace and better width (nullifying Dave’s boast to some extent). But still, anything loose and Dave was ruthless. Matt put a couple of unforced drops down to give Dave a 5-2 lead, but Dave was working hard and Matt was looking fresher. Then, in a repeat of Matt’s game with James Wadley, his opponent fell and there was a brief pause while Dave walked off an injury. Matt regained some focus in the intermission and sensing something introduced more variety – this time he picked up some points from boasts. Matt got to 8 first, but this time Dave pulled it back to 8-8. Matt called 2, and Dave went on to win 10-8, forging a 2 game lead. The 3rd started off in the same fashion, with Matt putting in everything (and Dave looking the fresher of the two). But the variety and effort were paying off, with points coming his way. From 4-4 Matt went straight through to an 8-4 lead. With an audacious backhand volley drop on the return of serve Dave ended the run and started to string some rallies together himself, pulling things back to 7-8. But a stroke against Dave put the pressure back on. Still he hung on. More back and forth on the serve. Then a stroke against Matt on his server. But alas, Dave was unable to capitalise, and Matt won control back and won the 3rd 9-7. Unfortunately I was late for my table by now so missed the 4th…but Dave won to book his place in the semi-finals. Great game! 



Thursday 9th May


First on, John Merriman took on son and contender Tom Merriman. In an epic match John went on to win…but not before a squeaking moment with Tom serving for the first match!


Next on was the much anticipated match between George Stanford and Alex Finch. Alex glided round the court as if on rails and had an elegance in his shots, but George was too ruthless, effective and (above all) controlled for Alex this time, and went through as winner into the semi-finals (to play John).



Wednesday 8th May


Two matches were played tonight in the Main draw, both rescheduled from yesterday. #1 seed and 14 times club champion John Merriman played Andrew Codrai (over 35s club champion 2008, 2009 & 2010). It is difficult for me to be objective in this report, not because I was playing, but because it pains me to acknowledge that no matter how hard I tried – I simply got nowhere! Afterwards, as I stretched, undertook a mental review of the game, and did a 20 minute cool down (over a beer), I was reminded of a conversation I heard between two members stood by the entry forms for the championships 1 month ago; one said to the other “I don’t see the point of entering…I’m not going to win”. At the time I thought they were missing the point a little, these competitions allow you to meet and compete with players you may not otherwise have a chance to. I now think they were right…avoid John at all costs!


Someone who may have some sympathy with me is Bob Broadbridge, who tackled #4 seed Dave Brierley. Bob threw everything at Dave, but Dave looked sharp and that is not good news for the rest of us. Bob won some good points, but as he riley noted afterwards, there was little satisfaction as he knew he’d be made to pay in the next rally!


Well done John and Dave, they go on to play Tom and Matt Merriman respectively in the quarter finals, completing the line-up.



Tuesday 7th May


First on in round 2 of the main competition were George Stanford and Chris Luetchford. George set his stall out from the off, winning the opening game 9-0. But that score does not tell the whole story. Chris’ retrieving was exceptional, working his way back into rally after rally that seemed lost. And, what’s more, played great shots at full stretch to put the pressure back on George. But despite this George played through to a 3-0 win and a place in the quarter finals.


The next seed to make an appearance was Matt Merriman against James Wadley. At one point the ball was hit at less than 200 mph…but that may have been a trick of the light! Matt won the 1st despite James hitting some fantastic passing shots. But then all went wrong at the start of the 2nd – James pulled up with a sore calf after the 1st rally whilst “going to the ‘T’”. I think there is a lesson for us all there? After a couple of minutes of stretching (and half a can of Deep Heat) they were back underway. The first few rallies were a little tentative, but then it was game on again. James gave it a real go, but ultimately Matt showed why he’s the #5 seed and went through to win.


Following them on court were Neil Piper and Graham King. With club rankings considered this was always going to be an interesting game and it didn’t disappoint. Whilst Neil went on to win 3-0, each game was close – indeed each rally was hard fought. The tempo of the game was quite different from Matt and James’ game earlier, but the well worked rallies (pressure drops followed by precision lobs) made for a great contrast to watch.


After Neil and Graham came Adrian James and Alex Finch, Mercifully we are in an age of political correctness where inferences about an individual can no longer be drawn from their attire. Suffice to say they both looked very pretty in pink. Very pretty. But there was more to this match than just an advert for Nike’s new carnation collection; Ady was keen to win quick – making audacious shots, and Alex was keen to get some match-practice under his belt (yes – he actually wore a belt to reinforce this!). Despite Ady’s best efforts Alex went on to win the first 9-4 and the next 2 games to set up a tantalising QF match against George. 


Last on that court were Nigel Lush and Kyle Finch. It was Nigel’s 2nd match of the night – I asked if he had enough left in the tanks having gone to a 4th with Danny. Calmly he replied “he’d be fine unless it went to 5”. I worry that Nigel’s mouth may have been writing cheques his body couldn’t cash, for Kyle took control of the game early on and never let go. Kyle won and will face Neil Piper in the quarter finals. (I know Nigel was joking!)


Meanwhile…Tom Merriman was in an epic battle with Chris Hobley (taking 1hr 20mins in total). Like children, you shouldn’t have a favourite, but of all the ties tonight I’d have bought this one a slightly bigger Christmas present than the others. The work-rate was 10/10, the accuracy was 10/10. And that was just the warm-up! Neither player could take a lead, with the points going neck and neck. Tom brought the scores to 8-8 in the 1st and Chris called “set 1” – a gamble which paid off and he took the game. The 2nd was just a close and again, just nicked by Chris. By now Tom’s coaching team were in full voice and their talk must have been inspiring for Tom came on to win the 3rd 9-2 and emphatically keep the tie alive. Chris then re-doubled his efforts, forging a commanding 7-1 lead in the 4th (just 2 points from a quarter-final place). But it was a game of 2 halves, and Tom came back to take that 9-7 and take the match to a 5th! Predictably this too was nip-and-tuck the whole way, with Tom again bringing the score to 8-8 (after Chris had missed his earlier opportunity serving for the match). Once more Chris called “set 1”. Matt and John both audibly gasped from the gallery! This time Tom made no mistakes and 83 shots later won the rally and the match! Absolutely fantastic game. Well done both!



Monday 6th May


Just one Main comp match played today, one of Nigel’s rearranged fixtures; Nigel arrived early on court looking tanned and healthy but complaining of a week's over-eating.  Sorry Nigel, that's what you get for going on a cruise!  Paul turned up ten minutes later and attempted to throw his opponent off guard with 'heavy gardening' stories.  Having ascertained that neither was fit to play they set off strongly with some clever serving and beautiful nicks, Nigel winning the first game with several overhead backhand kills to the front corner.  Paul took a lead in the second game but Nigel fought back and turned on the pace to regain control and win a second.  Paul admitted to being tired now (Nigel could also be heard puffing from the balcony-too many courses for dinner perhaps?) and though Paul again took a lead with some great serves, Nigel triumphed once more and the match was won 3-0.



Monday 29th April


The club’s 42nd squash championships kicked off this evening with 7 great 1st round matches. First up was Chris Luetchford vs. Mark Brown. Mark went off like a startled gazelle, winning the first 2 matches 9-1 and 9-0! But Chris dug in and the tide started to turn, with him eventually winning out 3-2. What a start!


Following them on court came Ben Vincent vs. Andrew Codrai. Ben, in his first senior championships, played very well, pushing Andrew around the court and chasing well. Andrew was lucky Ben only realised late that it is good to play drops when your opponent is fat, slow and at the back of the court, and went on to win. Ben will enjoy the plate competition and undoubtedly come back stronger for next year’s cup.


Meanwhile, on the other court, old allies Bob Broadbridge and Dilip Chakrabarti contested their opening match. Dilip moved well and was purposeful in putting the ball around the court to get Bob twisting and turning, but ultimately Bob was hitting better length and came off ahead in enough rallies to win and book his place in the next round.


Next up, Natalie Morant took on Tom Merriman. Natalie’s shoes were lovely. Whenever given the chance, Tom struck the ball as cleanly as ever, but Natalie’s retrieving was second to none and every rally was a marathon. Tom was on top though and went on to win in a match far closer than the game-score reflected. 


By now it was clear there would be no one-sided matches. And Ady James vs. Mike Willis was another belter. Before even the squash had started it was a battle of the tans, “Holiday” Ady vs. “Honeymoon” Mike. Honeymoon started strongest, winning the first game, but Holiday got better as the game progressed and turned the tide, winning a hard-fought 5 setter after the best part of an hour!


Meanwhile James Wadley was taking on skipper Danny Quigley. Danny rightly raised an objection to James’ shorts which were so large they more “Bermuda” than “Bermuda shorts”! He claimed and administrative error had led to them being in his kit back, but there were few errors in how he played, eventually beating his skipper 3-1.


The last Main draw match was played by Graham King and Rob Motson. This was Rob’s first championships, but it was clear he was no stranger to the court, pushing Graham very hard. Graham won the first game, and – most importantly – won the last too, earning him a 2nd round match against Neil Piper, whilst Rob moves into the plate (where, on the strength of that performance, we can expect big things).


The final 1st round game, Nigel Lush match with Paul Finch, will be rescheduled for next week.