Melbourn I vs Portugal Place CUSRC I
Wed 28th November
Melbourn won 15-12
In a tweak to the normal order, Ed (2) was first on against Ben Robinson. The first game was close, Ed was playing some good squash but just missed out on points at the closing end of the game to lose his opener 8-11. The second was a different story, Ed played improved length, minimising mid-court counter attacks from his opponent and was looking good as he claimed the second 11-8 to level the scores.
The third game was a step backwards, as Ed' shots were giving away too much of the middle of the court again. This put him under a lot of pressure making the returns. This pressure compounded the points loss for Ed as it forced his racket swing away from the ideal angle-to-the-ball, handing stroke points to his opponent. The third game was lost 6-11. In the fourth Ed wasn't able to regain the form he had In his second game and he unfortunately lost the forth 5-11 and his match 1-3.
Meanwhile next door, Dan (5) was taking on Max Tan. It was a one of two-halves as Dan played well early on to take the first and second games 11-7 & 11-5 to then lose the third and fourth games 9-11 & 9-11 respectively. His opponent was largely playing out-of-his-skin, making some "how-on-earth did he get that" retrieval shots, which only added to the tension and excitement of the match for the spectators.
Dan's experience came into play in the fifth as he had to dig-deep to stay in the rallies and with some amazing retrievals he managed to keep the scores close throughout. When the scores were 10-10 it really was a case of cross-your-fingers and hope, as the rallies were exceptionally close and hard fought, from both players - thankfully Dan kept the composure up and eked out the next point to take his game to a match ball serve. Serving for the match Dan had to defend his opponents last ditch retrievals and fight for the ball to finish on a perfect cross court ball to win the fifth 13-11 and his match 3-2.
Next on was Mark (4), who faced Andrew Boyd. The opening game was close in the early stages but Mark wasn't able this week to control the ball (that cut finger from doing DIY 1 hour before playing may have had something to answer for!) as he'd like for the critical points and we saw him lose the game 7-11. The second game was closer as Mark kept the rallies going to make as many chances as possible and take some points. However, some bad luck from a dead nick and a loss of focus during a critical serve meant Mark lost the second game 9-11. Going into a third game, Mark played well but still wasn't taking the upper hand by varying the pace and although the closest game of his match he lost the third 10-12 and his match 0-3.
That left Melbourn needing to win the two remaining strings, starting with Malik (3) against Thevesh Theva. This match was shaping up to be a roller-coaster as Malik narrowly missed out on the first game 9-11, but subsequently regaining his ground by taking the second game 11-8. The third game was a tough one as Malik struggled with his shot accuracy and his opponents racket skills started to claim the points. Malik lost the third 6-11.
Going into a match critical fourth game Malik focused at playing it simple, keeping the rallies tight that gave him the opportunities he needed (and room) to play a vital drop shot or counter shot from his excellent court movement. The effort paid off as Malik won the fourth game 11-4. Going into a deciding fifth, by the midway point the scores were evenly matched and it was through Malik's determination that he finally won the game 11-9 and match 3-2.
So it all came down to Matt against Luis North at top string. Things were looking comfortable as Matt led his opener 8-1, that is until Luis found his range and timing on our courts. Gradually he clawed his way back to level the scores, and soon afterwards claimed the opening game 11-9. After such a come-back it was with some relief that Matt countered this attack in the second to level the games one-a-piece through a concerted effort to keep his shot accuracy as high as possible throughout.
The third game was very tight and Matt really worked exceptionally hard to keep the points close; this was the critical game of the match, the one which needed to be won to stand any chance of a match win. However Matt played the ball, Luis was always there to retrieve it, and it was only from Matt's ability to hold his shots, lift a seemingly ungettable drop that he gained the narrowest of advantage. With the scores levelled 10-10 it was hard to predict the final outcome, but through some very tight rallies, Matt forced two errors from Luis' racket and he claimed the third game 12-10.
The effort of winning the third had taken its toll on Matt's physical reserves and it was apparent he may have to forfeit the fourth to try and conserve his energy going into a fifth. This was how the forth panned out as Luis continued his physical onslaught around the court and Matt was looking decidedly out-for-the-count as he lost the game 2-11!
So how can you call it, an opponent that looks like he's still a spring chicken and a less-than-sprightly Matt going into an overall team match deciding fifth game. Well, the squash was great in the fifth, Matt had regained some of his former movement and the scores were incredibly neck-a-neck. The rallies were exciting to watch, Matt was playing similarly to his second game, patiently drawing the rallies out to a critical point where he could drop or inject a counter paced shot to the back of the court. With the scores again pinned at 10-10 it was a tense watch whether, with each serve and return, the ball would die in Matt's favour - amazingly, through a bad return from Luis that handed Matt a stroke ball and a last ditch (lengthy) rally Matt won the fifth 12-10 and his match.
Skipper Mark commented that it was “the closest and most exciting win of the season so far, it was an incredible team result. “