Comberton II vs Melbourn II
Tues 11th December
Melbourn lost 1-4
Melbourn 2nds draw in the first round of the Hereward Cup was less than ideal – away at Comberton 2nds, who just happened to be the leaders of Division 3 with a perfect 9 from 9 record! The good news was the hosts regular no.1 was unavailable, pushing everyone else up a spot. But would that be enough to cause a shock?
First on court were the 4th strings, John G for us and Sean Sallis for Comberton. Sean used his impressive speed around the court well in the first game, cutting off John’s attempted shots to depth at half-court and going in short himself to take it comfortably. However John struck back in the second, getting a bit more penetration on his shots to draw a number of errors from Sean’s racquet. Not all of them that forced, if we are honest... That showed hope, but Sean cleaned things up in the third and fourth and took both not necessarily comfortably but without undue panic to put the hosts one up.
Next door Sean H (5) was playing against Ollie Thorne. As in the fourth string, the first two games were shared, Sean falling behind but then levelling up. The third was nip-and-tuck, but it was Sean who had the first game ball. However this wasn’t converted and an overly aggressive return on the next point saw him game ball down instead, which Ollie converted. That was the turning point as the home player won the fourth to put his side two to the good.
Gareth J (3) had followed John on to court. He was taking on Casey Miller, who also plays for the Cambs Ladies side. Gareth won a tightly contested first game as he was able to counter-punch often enough to sneak home, but then dropped too deep in the second which Casey ran away with. Gareth forced himself forward in the third and it was back to the pattern of the first, extended rallies just shading Gareth’s way. He was 2-1 up, but another slow start in the fourth meant we were back at 2-2. A more focused display at the start of the decider saw Gareth build a narrow lead, which he extended up to what looked like a match-winning 13-7 advantage. However, at this point he clearly began to reach for the finishing line, going for winners on every shot and with that the match changed. Casey won five straight rallies with solid play to recover to 12-13, only for Gareth to pull off a boast that looked somewhat fortuitous to give himself two match balls. However, once again it was “just hit a winner”, and these quickly evaporated. By now the momentum was all with Casey and she took the next two points as Gareth succumb 3-2, and with it Melbourn’s chances of progress disappeared.
Matt W (2) was not to know this, as he was mid-battle with Graham Broughton at the time. For the fourth time out of four the opening two games were shared as Matt started slowly but then found his range. It continued to be nip-and-tuck for the rest of the match, which eventually went 3-2 Matt’s way without your correspondent watching on. Can you tell?
The final match pitted Jan B (1) against Harry Hennessey. The warning signs for Jan were immediately apparent as Harry raced into a 5-0 lead in the opening game. Jan was struggling for consistency in his hitting, whilst Harry was getting comfortable and playing his shots. A late game comeback pushed Jan into double figures but not closer, and that was 1-0. Could the Melbourn player repeat all his teammates tricks and win the second? It would have to be from 0-5 down again if he wanted to. And in fact, he didn’t get close. The last two points summarised the game well, Jan playing a desperation but effective and very tight top-spin pick-up drop shot and Harry responding the next rally with an ‘anything you can do’ nicked overhead volley! Game three also saw the Comberton player race away, 4-0 this time, and then cruise to victory.
Skipper-for-the-day Jan commented “We pushed them for the win and because of that it was an enjoyable evening’s Squash. We can take away that we are competitive with the best team in Division 3, which should breed confidence for our chances in Division 4 when the league resumes in the New Year.”