Cambridge I vs Melbourn I
Weds 31st January
Melbourn lost 7-17
Melbourn went to this match knowing they were in dire need of points, sitting around the bottom of the league. However, the opposition put out a very strong side starting with Alistair Dawson at 2 string. Ed Wheeler, the youth of Melbourn’s team, arrived having already played in a squash tournament at Harrow that day. Ali is not an easy player to overcome at the best of times and Ed was fatigued and a step off his usual pace. This was clearly frustrating for him and made all the difference to his game. He did what he could, but Ali saw out a 3-0 victory; the team were just grateful that Ed had agreed to play at all, enabling the team order to remain intact.
Kate Bradshaw (string 5) was up against Mo Zaki, a player with considerable racket skills but not great fitness. After a characteristically nervy start, losing the first two games, Bradshaw pulled her game together and, playing tight shots and making good shot choices, she managed to claim the 3rd 11-6. Having taken a 6-0 lead in the fourth, the tactical lights went out and Bradshaw made a host of poor shot choices against a very tired opponent, letting him back into the game, resulting in a 3-1 scoreline against Melbourn.
Mark Oppen at 4 string was similarly struggling against Simon Scott. He managed to steal the third game with a tight 11-9 win, but unfortunately couldn't maintain this in the fourth, losing the match 3-1 as well.
Vinod Duraiken (3rd string) played his classic game of extreme patience, excellent shot choice, brilliant movement and superb watching of the ball. Working hard but always looking the classier player, Vinod strode to a much needed 3-0 win for the team against the hard-hitting Alastair Carrington.
Last up was first string Matt Sampson. The previous encounter between Matt and James Powley had resulted in a very narrow victory for Matt who, slightly injured, had managed to hold enough form to see out the match. James was very much out for the win this time. In a see-saw match that saw the players taking games alternately, it yet again came down to a fifth deciding game. James, having played masters squash all season and in great physical shape, was able to edge out Matt who was tiring by the end of the fifth. Even numerous, outrageously good gets at the front couldn't save him this time, and James took the match in a super-tight 12-10 finish.
Skipper Mark commented it was "a brilliant effort from the team this week against our direct league rivals who'd pulled out the stops on their home courts"