Maximum points victories by Benz-Bavarian Duffield and Exeter Diamonds in the second round of the Premier Squash League (PSL) have taken the teams to the top of the Group A and Group B tables, respectively, in the world’s most prestigious squash league.
Three times champions Duffield celebrated their win away from home, beating a less-than-full-strength AJP Pontefract5/0. Making her debut for Duffield and fresh from her title triumph in last month’s Carol Weymuller Open in New York,Laura Massaro put the Derbyshire club ahead with an 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 win over England team-mate Sarah Kippax.
Team-mates Aqeel Rehman, Chris Fuller and Andy Whipp followed world number two Massaro’s straight-games-winning lead to put victory beyond the Yorkshire host club’s reach.
But Indian Harinder Pal Sandhu desperately tried to earn a consolation point for Pontefract, saving match balls againstJoel Hinds to force the decider into a fifth game. But Hinds kept Duffield’s sheet clean by winning the game 11-7 to push the visitors to the top of the group tables.
It was an even later Group A finish in nearby Leeds where league newcomers Chapel Allerton went down to visitors MB Nottingham in a nail-biter. World No4 Jenny Duncalf raised home hopes with a four-game win over Scottish internationalLisa Aitken – and veteran team manager Simon Parke further lifted spirits by carving out an impressive 10-12, 11-6, 11-5, 10-12, 11-4 victory over Nottingham’s Mark Fuller.
But Nottingham wins by Ollie Holland and Lewis Walters forced a decider between Dutchman Dylan Bennett and Nottingham stalwart Eddie Charlton. Bennett dew level after Charlton took early honours – but, with midnight fast approaching, it was Charlton who held his nerve to close out the match 11-8, 7-11, 11-7 11-8 to give former champions Nottingham their second win of the season, and third position in the points table.
It went to the wire in the West Midlands too where University of Birmingham hosted Oxford Health & Racquets.Madeline Perry, the 13-time Irish champion, and Richard Birks twice gave the visitors the lead, but the advantage was cancelled out by home wins from Chris Tasker-Grindley and the Birmingham top string Chris Ryder.
And so it was that the second strings found themselves fighting for the overall win. The battle went the full distance, with 21-year-old Essex man Ben Coleman ultimately emerging triumphant over the home team’s 20-year-old Nathan Lake, winning 8-11, 11-9, 12-10, 3-11, 11-3 to clinch victory for Oxford.
It was after a four-year break from the PSL that triple Commonwealth Games gold medallist Natalie Grinham made a powerful return for Exeter Diamonds by beating former England international Dominique Lloyd-Walter to put the Devon side ahead against Surrey club TWP St George’s Hill.
To the delight of the home crowd, the wins kept coming – as Michael Harris, Tom Pashley and Tim Vail also soundly defeated St George’s Hill opposition. And, contrary to expectations, the final match was also completed in record time – renowned marathon regular Joey Barrington seeing off the visitors’ Stephen Meads 11-5, 11-2, 11-2 in just 26 minutes to provide Exeter with the 5/0 win which takes them to the top of the Group B tables.
“We just like to have top players playing top squash in the South West,” said a delighted Exeter Diamonds team managerAdam Lings later. “We often get forgotten, but we love to try and upset the big boys!”
Team Chichester also consolidated a good start to the season by winning their second tie in two weeks. And their victims were PSL title-holders Integrity Surrey Health & Racquets, the Croydon club which celebrated a record third successive title last season.
The defending champions looked in good shape when Londoner Alison Waters and 17-year-old Richie Fallows, winner of last week’s Nordic Junior Open in Sweden, put the home team 2/0 up.
But visitors Chichester fought back – wins by Welsh veteran Alex Gough and Anthony Graham setting up a decider between Surrey Health’s Italian number one Davide Bianchetti and Jonathan Kemp, the England left-hander making his Chichester debut this season. To the dismay of the home crowd, Kemp prevailed 11-7, 15-13, 11-8 to put Chichester into second place in the Group B tables.
Another 3/2 win completed the Group B programme – but this time it was the home club which had cause for celebration asWinchester Racquets & Fitness held off the challenge of UWE Bristol. The turning point in the evening came when South Africa-born Tristan Eysele, making his PSL debut, recovered from 2/1 down to beat Welshman David Haley and level the tie for Winchester.
After the next two matches were shared, it was left to former full-timer Stacey Ross to defeat Irish touring pro Arthur Gaskin 4-11, 11-7, 18-16, 11-6 and clinch victory for home club Winchester.
RESULTS: Premier Squash League, 2nd round
Chapel Allerton 2 MB Nottingham 3
Dylan Bennett lost to Eddie Charlton 8-11, 11-7, 7-11, 8-11
James Earles lost to Lewis Walters 6-11, 6-11, 6-11
Simon Parke bt Mark Fuller 10-12, 11-6, 11-5, 10-12, 11-4
Matthew Sidaway lost to Ollie Holland 11-7, 8-11, 4-11, 8-11
Jenny Duncalf bt Lisa Aitken 11-9, 4-11, 11-9, 11-7
AJP Pontefract 0 Benz-Bavarian Duffield 5
Harinder Pal Sandhu lost to Joel Hinds 9-11, 11-5, 9-11, 16-14, 7-11
Lee Beachill lost to Andy Whipp 7-11, 7-11, 12-14
Alex Hodgetts lost to Chris Fuller 10-12, 4-11, 6-11
Taminder Gata-Aura lost to Aqeel Rehman 4-11, 8-11, 7-11
Sarah Kippax lost to Laura Massaro 6-11, 5-11, 5-11
University of Birmingham 2 Oxford Health & Racquets 3
Chris Ryder bt Scott Handley 11-9, 11-5, 11-6
Nathan Lake lost to Ben Coleman 11-8, 9-11, 10-12, 11-3, 3-11
Chris Truswell lost to Richard Birks 11-5, 10-12, 4-11, 7-11
Chris Tasker-Grindley bt Kristen Johnson 10-12, 11-7, 11-5, 11-7
Sarah-Jane Perry lost to Madeline Perry 13-15, 8-11, 9-11
Winchester Racquets & Fitness 3 UWE Bristol 2
Stacey Ross bt Arthur Gaskin 4-11, 11-7, 18-16, 11-6
Robert Downer lost to David Evans 7-11, 3-11, 9-11
Scott Fitzgerald bt Thomas Ford 13-11, 11-2, 11-6
Tristan Eysele bt David Haley 11-6, 9-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-5
Catherine Finlayson lost to Kip Quiney 11-5, 5-11, 11-8, 6-11, 5-11
Integrity Surrey Health & Racquets 2 Team Chichester 3
Davide Bianchetti lost to Jonathan Kemp 7-11, 13-15, 8-11
Tim Garner lost to Anthony Graham 9-11, 6-11, 12-10, 4-11
Steven London lost to Alex Gough 8-11, 3-11, 11-3, 11-6, 8-11
Richie Fallows bt Alex Ingham 12-10, 11-9, 12-10
Alison Waters bt Lauren Briggs 11-2, 11-6, 11-5
Exeter Diamonds 5 TWP St George’s Hill 0
Joey Barrington bt Stephen Meads 11-5, 11-2, 11-2 (26m)
Tim Vail bt James Simpson 11-7, 11-5, 11-4 (26m)
Tom Pashley bt Philip Nightingale 13-11, 11-2, 8-11, 11-3 (42m)
Michael Harris bt Jamie Wilde 11-6, 7-11, 11-4, 11-5 (36m)
Natalie Grinham bt Dominique Lloyd-Walter 11-3, 11-6, 11-7 (19m)
PSL TABLES (after 2nd round):
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