R1: Millie shines in Duffield opener

By Mark Eklid, Derbysport 

SH11263THERE will be tougher challenges ahead for Benz-Bavarian Duffield but their opening Premier Squash League match of the season was everything they could have hoped for.

Nottingham were despatched 5-0 in the first fixture of the 2015 campaign as last year’s beaten finalists, without either of their world champions, gave an early warning that the depth of their squad will make them a threat again.

Chris Simpson was a winner on his debut for the Derbyshire club, taking on the number one spot in the absence of Nick Matthew, but it was Millie Tomlinson, standing in for Laura Massaro, who earned most praise from Duffield team manager Felix Frixou.

SH11272The women’s match was the one Nottingham felt gave them their best chance of a point but World University champion Tomlinson came back from losing the first game to beat Amanda Landers-Murphy 9-11, 11-5, 11-6, 14-12.

That was a good scalp for the 22-year-old, back in the country after three years at Yale University in the USA, against a New Zealand opponent who has been as high as 35 in the world rankings.

“Millie was outstanding,” said Frixou. “I can see why England Squash rate her so highly.

“She was nervous in the first game and for a first time back in front of a good crowd that’s understandable but once she relaxed and started to enjoy her squash she played really well.

“You can see how she has worked on her physique in America and her game has come on a long way. It’s unbelievable how she has improved since she has been at university.”

With Andy Whipp cruising to victory over Chris Longman and Declan James proving too strong for Ollie Holland, Duffield had the honour of being the first PSL team this season to put victory in the bag.

SH11267The win was especially satisfying for James, the Nottingham-born youngster who was allowed to leave his home-town club last season.

Joel Hinds dropped the second game to Dougie Kempsell 14-12 as his opponent’s persistence forced too many errors but the Duffield player was soon back in his rhythm and closed the match in four.

It was a fast and entertaining contest and Kempsell then left to complete a 10-hour round trip drive back home to Edinburgh to prepare for flying out to a tournament in Italy the following morning.

All that was left was for Simpson to mark his debut with a win and though Chris Fuller put everything into making it a tough night for the world number 26, especially in the second game, the match brought another point for Duffield.

SH11266“I think Chris showed everybody what he is capable of,” added Frixou. “His movement around the court was phenomenal.”

Simpson is set to revert to the number two spot as Duffield make the trip next Tuesday to Pontefract, who were 3-2 winners over league newcomers Leicester in their opening fixture.

Matthew and Massaro are likely to return to the side, having been allowed extra time to recover from playing in the US Open, and there could be a first match at four for Richie Fallows or Ashley Davies.

Benz Bavarian Duffield 5 Nottingham 0