With all but one of the six Premier Squash League (PSL) ties concluding in dramatic 3/2 finishes, it was a tense night of seventh round action in the world’s most prestigious squash league.
Title-holders Integrity Surrey Health & Racquets looked assured of a resounding victory at Team Chichester when the Croydon club’s Karim Abdel Gawad, the world No24 from Egypt, took a 2/0 lead in the fourth match with the team already 2/1 up. But the Sussex side’s Robbie Temple, ranked almost 40 places below the Egyptian, refused to give up and battled back to record a sensational 11-13, 10-12, 11-9, 11-6, 11-9 upset victory in 76 minute to bring the home team back into contention.
But Surrey Health still had a mastercard in top string Adrian Grant, the London left-hander ranked 17 in the world. After a close first game against the Chichester number one Jonathan Kemp, ranked more than 20 places below, Grant closed out the match 11-9, 11-6, 11-6 to give Surrey Health a 3/2 win.
The victory moves the defending champions back into second place in Group B – eight points adrift of Exeter Diamonds, the Devon club who stunned last season’s runners-up TWP St George’s Hill 3/2 away from home.
Exeter’s heroes were Irish international Aisling Blake, top-ranked Finn Olli Tuominen, and unranked veteran Tim Vail – the 35-year-old who retired from the Tour some five years ago, yet twice came from behind to beat rising young proCharles Sharpes 3-11, 11-9, 10-12, 11-7, 11-6 to clinch the visitors win.
Tuominen beat home side newcomer Mohd Ali Anwar Reda, an Egyptian ranked 47 in the world – but St George’s number one Daryl Selby finished the night on a high note when he beat Dutch star Laurens Jan Anjema 11-3, 12-10, 10-12, 11-8.
Elsewhere in Group B, Winchester Racquets & Fitness inflicted a seventh successive defeat this season on UWE Bristol – Winchester’s Marwan El Shorbagy rounding off a successful night for the visitors in the Egyptian’s first match of the season by beating fellow University of West of England student Lucas Serme 11-9, 5-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-8 in 66 minutes to give his side a 4/1 win.
Former champions Benz-Bavarian Duffield maintained their season-long leadership of the Group A tables in a 3/2 home win over AJP Pontefract. Lancashire’s world No3 Laura Massaro and Nottingham-based Chris Fuller put the Derbyshire hosts ahead, while the Yorkshire club’s world No3 James Willstrop and Indian star Siddharth Suchde levelled proceedings.
But it was 22-year-old Mancunian Adam Murrills who proved to be the Duffield hero on the night when the world No119 beat former world No1 Lee Beachill 11-9, 11-8, 8-11, 11-9 to ensure that his team maintained its 100% winning record this season.
It was a delighted Oxford Health & Racquets team manager Jason Martin who reported the 3/2 win his side achieved over University of Birmingham to strengthen their position in second place in the Group A tables.
But it was a nail-biting first string clash which proved to be the decider after wins by club stalwarts Ben Coleman and Mark Cairns – a 45-year-old who beat 19-year-old Oliver Mapp in a performance described by Martin as ‘the best in the world by a player of his age’ – were nullified by Birmingham victories from Katherine Quarterman and Welsh champion Peter Creed.
Fresh from a 28th Tour title triumph in Chicago, top Spaniard Borja Golan faced the Birmingham number one Chris Ryder. World No10 Golan dropped the opening game, but quickly adjusted to the Oxford court as he went on to close out the match 3-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-9 to clinch a popular home club win.
“We’re delighted to have held our second position in the group and look forward maintaining this run through to the play-offs at the end of the season,” said Martin.
MB Nottingham move up to third place in the tables, overtaking Chapel Allerton after beating the Leeds club 3/2 in another clash which went to the wire. Early Nottingham wins by Emily Whitlock and Mark Fuller were wiped out by Chapel Allerton victories by former Nottingham players Shaun le Roux and Chris Simpson.
All eyes were then on top strings Alan Clyne, the home team’s Scottish number one, and Ong Beng Hee, the top-ranked Malaysian who celebrated his 33rd birthday 24 hours earlier. Beng Hee battled to draw level after Clyne took the opener – but then managed only five further points as the Scot delighted the Nottingham crowd with a tie-winning 11-2, 10-12, 11-3, 11-2 victory.[box]
RESULTS: Premier Squash League, 7th round, Tuesday 5 February 2013
MB Nottingham 3 Chapel Allerton 2
Alan Clyne bt Ong Beng Hee 11-2, 10-12, 11-3, 11-2
Eddie Charlton lost to Chris Simpson 10-12, 11-7, 11-6, 4-11, 6-11
Declan James lost to Shaun le Roux 11-9, 3-11, 6-11, 12-14
Mark Fuller bt Simon Parke 11-5, 4-11, 11-6, 13-11
Emily Whitlock bt Samantha Ward 11-6, 11-4, 11-1
Benz-Bavarian Duffield 3 AJP Pontefract 2
Joel Hinds lost to James Willstrop 5-11, 4-11, 6-11
Andy Whipp lost to Siddharth Suchde 8-11, 3-11, 11-13
Adam Murrills bt Lee Beachill 11-9, 11-8, 8-11, 11-9
Chris Fuller bt Thoboki Mohohlo 11-6, 5-11, 11-3, 11-6
Laura Massaro bt Kirsty McPhee 11-3, 11-1, 11-7
Oxford Health & Racquets 3 University of Birmingham 2
Borja Golan bt Chris Ryder 3-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-9
Scott Handley lost to Peter Creed 11-9, 10-12, 8-11, 10-12
Ben Coleman bt Jaymie Haycocks 11-7, 12-10, 9-11, 11-9
Mark Cairns bt Oliver Mapp 13-11, 11-7, 11-8
Julie Peachey lost to Katherine Quarterman 7-11, 5-11, 8-11
UWE Bristol 1 Winchester Racquets & Fitness 4
Lucas Serme lost to Marwan El Shorbagy 9-11, 11-5, 8-11, 11-8, 8-11 (66m)
Hadrian Stiff lost to Alex Phillips 11-7, 3-11, 4-11 ret. (19m)
Thomas Ford bt Scott Fitzgerald 9-11, 3-11, 11-7, 14-12, 11-9 (48m)
David Haley lost to Adam Auckland 5-11, 5-11, 11-7, 6-11 (43m)
Kip Quiney lost to Rachel Willmott 7-11, 11-13, 11-8, 11-13 (27m)
Team Chichester 2 Integrity Surrey Health & Racquets 3
Jonathan Kemp lost to Adrian Grant 9-11, 6-11, 6-11
Robbie Temple bt Karim Abdel Gawad 11-13, 10-12, 11-9, 11-6, 11-9 (76m)
Olivier Pett lost to Adrian Waller 12-10, 7-11, 10-12, 5-11
Anthony Graham lost to Davide Bianchetti 6-11, 7-11, 13-11, 6-11
Lauren Briggs bt Lauren Selby 11-7, 11-6, 11-6
TWP St George’s Hill 2 Exeter Diamonds 3
Daryl Selby bt Laurens Jan Anjema 11-3, 12-10, 10-12, 11-8
Mohd Ali Anwar Reda lost to Olli Tuominen 3-11, 5-11, 5-11
Joe Lee bt Joey Barrington 11-4, 11-4, 14-12
Charles Sharpes lost to Tim Vail 11-3, 9-11, 12-10, 7-11, 6-11
Dominique Lloyd-Walter lost to Aisling Blake 7-11, 8-11, 5-11
PSL TABLES (after 7th round):
|St George’s Hill||7||3||4||17||18||65||57||80|