Devonports Haverhill I vs Melbourn II
Thurs 1st November
Melbourn lost 18-10
Winter is coming. In fact, it felt like it had arrived when we got to the Haverhill courts, which are in an annex on the side of the Leisure Centre, and found the air inside to be decidedly frigid. Given that is often also the case at our place, this was home from home!
First up was Roger W (5) against Malcolm Day, an extremely strong match-up for a fifth string encounter in Division 4! It was our first indication that the Squash was going to be of a higher standard than in our previous matches. Roger initially struggled to imposed himself on Malcolm and lost a couple of tight games to get into a big hole. However Rog then adapted to the slow conditions, began to find lengths that allowed him to control the ‘T’ and with it the match, overturning that 2-0 deficit to win the next three comprehensively and claim a 3-2 victory.
Meanwhile next door, the opposite pattern was playing out. John G (4) had started well against Gary Last, winning his opening game with some good hitting to length. However Gary slowly started to turn it around, racing to cover deep and then move up to take control of the centre of the court. John was struggling with the cold walls, which slowed and caught a number of balls that on a warmer court would have been past his opponent. That left him firefighting, and despite his best efforts resulted in a 3-1 loss.
Next to take to court was Colm O’G (3), who faced Nathan Ttophi and his hipster handlebar moustache. Colm tried to ‘play’ the conditions for the first two games, going for lots of quick rally exits. This worked to an extent... that extent being the rallies did indeed end quickly, but not in Colm’s favour all that often!
More effort, more patience and a generally tighter game gave Colm the third as he worked Nathan deep and then attacked at the right times. This was repeated in the fourth, as Colm got on top and Nathan began to look frustrated and tired. However the home player dug in at the start of the fifth, and it was now nip-and-tuck. Boosted by that, Nathan closed out a 3-2 win as Colm’s excellent effort came to naught.
String 2 set Matt W (2) against Tony Archer. Your correspondent didn’t see all that much of this match, and is relying instead on interpreting the shouts drifting across to the next balcony. Matt was... frustrated. He slipped 2-0 behind as Tony’s drop shots caught him out. Game three seemed to go better, Matt moving up the court to get his own drops in, racing into a good lead and closing it comfortably. Game four was close all the way, but ultimately went narrowly against Matt as the keys points went the Haverhill players way. 3-1 in the string, and also 3-1 on strings, i.e. Haverhill had the winning bonus.
That was something Jan B (1) didn’t know as he started against James Fitzpatrick. The first two games saw a number of extended rallies, particularly down the backhand wall. James was making most of the play, but Jan was absorbing and counter-punching well. There was also a lot of contact as the players attempted to rotate, and also some questioning of marker Tony over this. But he wasn’t to be swayed and did an excellent job of keeping the game fair and moving as Jan went 2-0 up.
Game three was close enough that Jan had a chance to finish off a 3-0 win (which would later have proved helpful as the Leisure Centre attempted to close before the end!), but James stayed strong in the crucial points to pull one back. This appeared to send Jan for a loop as he lost his tactics completely, feeding the ball into James’ volley cut outs as the fourth game was over in double-quick time. That set up a decider, which Jan was back on it for. He started well, building a 9-4 lead but once again he followed this by losing his way, not moving forwards as James came all the way back to 9-9. The momentum shifted once again at this point though, Jan forcing himself up the court and from that ekeing out a small lead, which he then held on to it to the conclusion of the match, and finally of the night.
Skipper Roger commented “This was a really tight match against a strong team which we were really disappointed to lose. But if we can continue to play with this commitment, then we will beat most teams in this league”