Melbourn 1 vs Berkhamsted 2
Weds 7th August
Melbourn won 11-5
Last week we won 2-1, the two strings won including one victory from two games to one down (indeed match ball down). History couldn’t repeat itself, could it? Maybe it could.
The first string on to see if it could was the middle one, Kate B (2) taking on Derek Brown. Kate had the upper hand for the first game as she looked well in command, with Derek not really doing much. Slow first games appear to be Derek’s thing as he also dropped the opener to Jan in the reserve rubber before stepping up noticeably thereafter, and he tightened things up again in the second of this one. Despite that Kate put on a spurt from 8-all, playing really good attacking cut-out squash, and got herself five game balls at 14-9. Perhaps inspired by what had got her to this point she went for the quick kill on the first three, and just got the quick error instead! Kate then flipped completely the other way, staying conservative. This led to two very extensive rallies, but Kate lost both of them as well. 14-all. However, at this point Kate found the inch perfect return volley kill (might as well die a lion as a lamb!) to earn another game ball, and this time forced Derek to stretch forward for a power kill and flick his recovery out (just), and it was two games to love.
When Kate led 7-3 early in the third she looked well on course. However one rally won in the next eight changed that. Kate dug in however and after an epic rally at 13-all she had match ball. This was another fairly long affair, but one without any notable chances for Kate as Derek played solidly to save it. Kate also dug in well to save a game ball at 15-14 but couldn’t survive another at 16-15. Game four was nip-and-tuck in the early phases until a run of points from mid-game got Derek 14-11 up. However, this time it was Kate’s turn to stubbornly refuse to make an error when game ball down, grinding her way back to all square with some excellent movement and defending. She got herself to match ball again at 15-14, but once again Derek played well to save it though Kate did have a few half-openings during the exchange that in less fraught circumstances she may have committed greater to.
That second chance proved the turning point of the match as Kate was once again beaten 17-15 in the game, and then fell 7-1 down early in the decider. She battled hard from here, closing to 9-12 at one stage, but an excellent off-balance kill from Derek won him that rally and set up the close out. Game scores were insanely tight, Kate ending up on the wrong end of a 15-11, 16-14, 15-17, 15-17, 9-15 loss.
Next on were Chris F (3) and Roger Greenfield. Roger likes to play a pacy game, and for much of the opener Chris got drawn in, trying to outhit him. This left him 11-5 down at one point and though he nearly closed the gap he was just edged out. The comeback had been down to more considered Squash, and game two saw Chris continue that, slowing down the pace of his shots and taking a more forward position on the court, which worked a treat as he levelled up comfortably. However he couldn’t keep it going in game three as Roger found his touch on the kills in the early going, establishing a lead he determinedly hung on to for the rest of the game.
Chris was rather frustrated to be 2-1 down, but channelled that superbly well, hitting the ground running in the fourth and fifth games. He was 6-0 up in the third, a basis for an eventual easy claim of the game, and then 8-4 up in the last which likewise had him on top to stay. Considered hitting, giving the ball loft down the walls and cut-out volleying were the basis of Chris eventually winning 13-15, 15-5, 10-15, 15-7, 15-8.
That put everything on the top string game, which pitted Chris S against Brendan Murphy. This was looking good from the outset as Chris took command. The first game was particularly impressive and clean, Chris making basically no errors as he won it 15-4. Brendan was fighting as hard as he could, and produced a number of excellent rallies and a few remarkable touch winners. However Chris was just that half-a-pace quicker around the court, working his opponent out of position over the course of rallies, and also over the course of the games as in both the second and third Chris won a string of late points to claim a 15-4, 15-9, 15-9 victory.
1sts skipper Jan (in armchair general mode) commented “This was another good win after a good evening of Squash. Both Kate and Chris Fowell’s matches could have gone either way, so them being shared 1-1 seemed fair. Chris Shaw put in a very clean performance to seal the win.”