Hunts County I vs Melbourn I
Weds 10th October
Melbourn lost 6-18
Melbourn Men’s 1st squash team played away at Hunts County this week.
Aidan Hird (5) played a competitive opponent in Andy Reynolds. The first game was reasonably close but the points slipped away near the end of the game and Aidan wasn’t able to convert. Aidan reset his game plan in the following game to deliver a far more solid performance that gave him the game and in fact the subsequent ones as well, landing him a very well deserved 3-1 match win and on his debut for the team.
Mark Oppen (4) was pleased to be playing the Hunts Captain, Colin Griggs. Their last meeting was at least a couple of seasons ago. The opening rally was long; this usually is taken as a precursor of how the match style will unfold and Mark wasn’t wrong as the first game was generally line and length, with very little in the way of short play or much mixing of rallies. The long rallies took their toll and Mark dropped the first.
In the second Mark took better control, mixing the rallies up to move Colin around, and this did work to a degree as the second game was marginally closer, but alas he wasn’t able to convert. In the third game Mark’s legs were feeling it and although this sometimes (aka often) means the end, it was very pleasing to see the playing standard was actually better, with more variety, shot selection that extended the game points out, but fortunately for Colin he won the game 13-11 and match.
Malik Bilen (3) was up against Steve Mason, a very tall chap (certainly compared to Malik) athletic and has a solid, play-all-day type of style. This combination was to prove tricky for Malik as the first game was close and with some long rallies. Malik was able to deploy all his retrieving abilities to keep the ball and Steve moving and with some excellently executed shots, took the first game 11-9.
Perhaps the intensity of the first game had taken its toll slightly on Malik’s movement for the subsequent games. But he kept going, showing a different style of play as he was managing to get in front of Steve (no small feat) more frequently, to take the ball earlier, creating himself more variety from the front of the court. This variety was actually working but Steve kept his game going and Malik was faced with 2 games to 1 down, going into a potentially match changing fourth game.
Malik rose to the challenge in the fourth game, applying the changes he had made in the previous games but focused more on his accuracy. That gave him the edge and he was rewarded with another chance, taking his match to a deciding fifth. This was again closely fought but maybe it was the intensity of the previous game, but Malik wasn’t quite able to recreate that level in the fifth and what would prove the deciding game and match for his opponent.
Ed Wheeler (2) was playing a very strong match player, Mike Bull. Mike’s strengths are his racket skills, along with timing, and that makes him a formidable opponent. Thankfully Ed can’t be swayed lightly at such reputations and he really played some excellent squash in the opening game, shot accuracy was tip-top (new racket apparently) and his movement was there too, and this made Mike’s squash life difficult. Mike fought back as the game went on, but Ed stuck his mark firmly to his ground, winning the first 11-6.
In doing that, there will be the chance (highly likely more like) that Mike will bite-back and this did happen. Ed stuck in there, keeping himself moving (maybe even more than before) and also shifting Mike about the court as well. that kept the scores reasonably close and game convertible. It was a shame that Ed wasn’t able to do so, but on top of having to be playing harder he was not having that accuracy from the first game. It was the extended rallies and reaching that created inaccuracies and small errors to creep into Ed’s game and this unfortunately caused him to lose the next two games, and his match 3-1.
Matt Sampson (1) was playing Robert Dadds, who, similarly to Matt, is a highly skilled player and the ingredients were there to see a potentially close match from the two players. However Matt didn’t start well and it wasn’t long before Rob was well ahead in the opener. You could see Matt was struggling this week and soon the first game over. Matt played better in the second game, mixing the rallies and moving Rob around a little more that gave Matt the time he required to deploy a drop/hold or excellent length shot to gain a point. These opportunities didn’t happen often enough for Matt, largely because of Rob’s excellent court movement that kept Matt from taking ownership of the rallies. The second game was better for Matt but it was looking decidedly like Rob would take the deciding game unless Matt could come up (or out of a hat) with something to gain some traction. Unfortunately for Matt it wasn’t his night and he lost the third game and his match 3-0. [editor’s note – Rob’s current world ranking is 302…]
1sts skipper Mark commented "It was disappointing to lose the match 6-18 after some close games, but Hunts are league leaders and we have to be respectful of that"