With only a single point separating the top two Premier Squash League (PSL) teams in Group A – and just a ‘games loss’ total providing the difference between the pair leading Group B – the tension is already mounting after Tuesday’s third round of the 30th season of the world’s most prestigious squash league.
Exeter Diamonds became the third team to top the Group B tables this season after a resounding 4/1 away win overWinchester. 2012 European Junior Champion Emily Whitlock scored an early win for the hosts after beating Victoria Temple Murray 11-7, 11-8, 11-6 – but it was one-way traffic for visitors Exeter thereafter, with decisive wins by Tim Vail, Joey Barrington and Finnish number one Olli Tuominen.
Dutch champion Laurens Jan Anjema rounded off the evening by despatching Scot Greg Lobban 11-7, 11-6, 11-2 to give Exeter their third successive win of the season.
But title-holders Integrity Surrey Health & Racquets also maintained their unbeaten run this season with a 3/2 victory over county rivals Luxfords St George’s Hill – a win which sees the Croydon club sharing the Group B lead with Exeter, both on 49 points.
Surrey Health owe their success to stars Adrian Waller and Gregoire Marche – Englishman Waller twice fighting from behind to topple career-long rival Joe Lee 5-11, 13-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9, and Frenchman Marche crushing higher-ranked Englishman Tom Richards 11-9, 11-3, 11-3.
“Won my match tonight against TomRichards ! 11/9 11/3 11/3 !” tweeted the exuberant 23-year-old from Aix-en-Provence later. “The team won 3/2 as well !! Good job guys !! :)”
Surrey Health team manager Pete Smith added: “It was a good win for the team tonight – they (St George’s) were strong and it could have gone either way. But Greg played out of his skin – we really needed to win that one – it was high intensity squash!”
But Team Chichester made sure that they are very much still in the race for the Group B title after beatingUWE/Elitesquash Bristol 4/1 at home to move into third place in the tables. The evening was characterised by two Kemp/Serme clashes, with a third Kemp looking on as honours were shared.
Chichester number one Jonathan Kemp, fresh from reaching the Toronto Cup final in Canada at the weekend, rounded off the evening perfectly for the home fans by beating France’s Lucas Serme 9-11, 11-4, 11-6, 12-10 – while, earlier in the evening, Jonathan’s wife Jaclyn Kemp (the former New Zealand No1 Jaclyn Hawkes playing her first competitive match for more than a year) narrowly lost to Lucas’ sister Camille Serme, the world No7, 11-6, 9-11, 11-9, 5-11, 6-11 as baby daughter Maia Kemp looked on!
Action in Group A was no less dramatic, with last season’s runners-up Benz-Bavarian Duffield making up for a surprise Round 2 loss by beating Chapel Allerton 4/1 away from home. The tie opened with a battle between two of England’s leading women players Jenny Duncalf and Laura Massaro, both double British National champions. World No8 Duncalf took a 2/0 lead, but Duffield’s world No2 Massaro fought back to clinch the match 13-11 in the fifth!
Veteran PSL campaigner Simon Parke, the former world No3, was the Leeds club’s sole winner – while Duffield’s never-say-die unranked player Andy Whipp produced one of the night’s most astonishing results when he beat Chapel Allerton’s world No24 Chris Simpson 11-8, 4-11, 11-9, 15-13.
The Derbyshire club’s number one Nick Matthew, in his first PSL outing since winning the World Championship title for the third time earlier this month, brushed aside England team-mate Daryl Selby 11-6, 11-1, 11-9 in the night’s final match.
“The team did me proud tonight,” said Duffield manager Felix Frixou. “Nick had spent the day recording a ‘Question of Sport’ programme, yet put everything he had into that win – and as for Andy, I’ve never seen anything like it. He was just inspired!
“The crowd was amazing – they were there from the very first ball of the night through to the very end,” added Frixou. “It was not just a good night for the teams, but a good night for squash!”
Selby tweeted after his match: “Disappointing loss for the team tonight against Duffield. Wish I could have played better but world champ too good.@ChapelAClub we’ll be back”
Duffield top the tables with 46 points – but close on their heels, with 45, are PSL debutants Coolhurst London, their round two victors. With wins by Irish No1 Madeline Perry, Adam Auckland, Ben Coleman and Malaysian No1 Ong Beng Hee, the southern newcomers were on course for a maximum points home win over AJP Pontefract.
But the Yorkshire visitors had a trump card in the form of Indian number one Saurav Ghosal. The world No17 from Kolkata pulled off a major upset over Coolhurst’s top-ranked German Simon Rosner, the world No 13, by winning 11-6, 7-11, 11-5, 11-9 to reduce the London club’s winning margin to 4/1.
But without doubt the most dramatic clash of the night took place in the East Midlands where Air-IT Nottingham hostedUniversity of Birmingham. After four matches, the score was tied at two-all. And after four games between the hosts’ Scottish number one Alan Clyne and Birmingham’s top-ranked Australian Cameron Pilley, the score was again poised at 2/2.
But, much to the sheer delight of the home fans, Clyne recorded his first ever win over Pilley when he beat the world No16 11-8, 11-5, 7-11, 7-11, 11-6 to give Nottingham a 3/2 win – and third place in the tables, just five points adrift of Duffield.
“I was very happy to get the win in the deciding match of the night,” said a jubilant Clyne afterwards. “I feel like I was due to get a win because the rest of the team put in such a fantastic effort tonight. The crowd were unbelievable and kept me going in the fifth. So happy!”[box]
RESULTS: Premier Squash League, 3rd round, Tuesday 19 November 2013
Air-IT Nottingham 3 University of Birmingham 2
Alan Clyne bt Cameron Pilley 11-8, 11-5, 7-11, 7-11, 11-6
Chris Fuller bt Peter Creed 11-4, 8-11, 11-6, 11-3
Mark Fuller lost to Jonathan Harford 11-9, 11-8, 7-11, 9-11, 8-11
David Wardle lost to Joel Makin 6-11, 9-11, 9-11
Emma Beddoes bt Deon Saffery 11-2, 11-8, 11-8
Coolhurst London 4 AJP Pontefract 1
Simon Rosner lost to Saurav Ghosal 6-11, 11-7, 5-11, 9-11
Ong Beng Hee bt Lee Beachill 11-9, 11-7, 12-10 (33m)
Ben Coleman bt Chris van der Salm 11-4, 11-5, 11-8 (36m)
Adam Auckland bt Taminder Gata-Aura 11-2, 11-1, 11-4 (21m)
Madeline Perry bt Sarah Kippax 6-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-13, 13-11
Chapel Allerton 1 Benz-Bavarian Duffield 4
Daryl Selby lost to Nick Matthew 6-11, 1-11, 9-11
Chris Simpson lost to Andy Whipp 8-11, 11-4, 9-11, 13-15
Dylan Bennett lost to Declan James 9-11, 6-11, 9-11
Simon Parke bt Scott Handley 9-11, 12-10, 11-4, 11-5
Jenny Duncalf lost to Laura Massaro 11-5, 11-7, 8-11, 7-11, 11-13
Team Chichester 4 UWE/Elitesquash Bristol 1
Jonathan Kemp bt Lucas Serme 9-11, 11-4, 11-6, 12-10 (43m)
Rex Hedrick bt Jethro Binns 6-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-5
Olivier Pett bt Sam Ellis 11-8, 11-6, 11-3
Anthony Graham bt Stuart Hadden 11-7, 11-4, 11-7
Jaclyn Kemp lost to Camille Serme 11-6, 9-11, 11-9, 5-11, 6-11 (51m)
Winchester 1 Exeter Diamonds 4
Greg Lobban lost to Laurens Jan Anjema 7-11, 6-11, 2-11
Robert Downer lost to Olli Tuominen 11-13, 8-11, 3-11
Alex Phillips lost to Joey Barrington 5-11, 11-7, 2-11, 7-11
Angus Gillams lost to Tim Vail 6-11, 4-11, 5-11
Emily Whitlock bt Victoria Temple Murray 11-7, 11-8, 11-6
Integrity Surrey Health & Racquets 3 Luxfords St George’s Hill 2
Adrian Grant lost to Borja Golan 4-11, 8-11, 10-12
Gregoire Marche bt Tom Richards 11-9, 11-3, 11-3 (36m)
Adrian Waller bt Joe Lee 5-11, 13-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9
Richie Fallows lost to Henrik Mustonen 9-11, 9-11, 6-11
Alison Waters bt Dominique Lloyd-Walter 11-3, 11-1, 9-11, 11-4