Melbourn 2 vs Comberton 3rds
Mon 10th February
Melbourn won 17-5
The Seconds looked to continue their chase for promotion against mid-table side Comberton last Monday.
First on was Colm O’Gorman (5) against Keith Maloney. Colm started the first game well and was ahead midway through when three errors in a row through him rather. He then went conservative, trying to play good squash, error-free conservative Squash. Unfortunately he did so with court conditions ill-suited to that sort of game. The weather was wrong. Reader, I sense your scepticism from here; Squash is an indoor game, what difference can the weather make? Let me explain. The front walls at Melbourn are also outside walls of the building. When the weather outside is cold, as it was on this evening, those walls get cold as well. And cold plaster is less elastic than warm plaster. To use the jargon, it plays ‘dead’. What this means is the ball doesn’t ping off the wall but instead it losses energy and floats more slowly than expected.
This is what was undermining Colm when, to cut out the errors, he started hitting at 80% power. His shots were now flopping off the chilly wall, allowing Keith to intercept at half-court. For rest of the opening game and the entire second Colm was at a loss – he was making the shots he wanted, he was moving well and yet here he was, 2-0 down. Fortunately he took the advice onboard that it wasn’t possible to overhit on these courts and that he should just give it some welly and make absolutely certain that any drive went past Keith and forced him to retrieve from a back corner. And what a difference! Suddenly Colm was absolutely dominant. It was effectively two different matches, Keith winning the first two games 15-13 and Colm the next three 15-4, 15-5, 15-4.
It's not an issue to get Mark Asker (4) to give the ball some oomph; doing that is his game. In Mark’s case it was just consistency and being cool that was going to see him home against talented teenager Bertie Elmes. After a few errors when over-pressing in the opening game Mark settled down and trucked happily through the next two. Bertie made the third a battle, but one Mark eventually won to round out a 15-10, 15-7, 15-11 success.
Gareth Jones (3) followed Mark on to court 1 to take on Neil Stutchberry. The first half of the first game was a touch took attacking from Gareth resulting in either balls going down or shots that needed fizz from the front wall to work, which of course wasn’t available on an evening like this. However more focused, considered play in the last rallies took him home and from then on it was increasingly one-way traffic as Gareth kept his foot on Neil’s throat. It finished 15-10, 15-9, 15-5.
Matt Walker (2) was up against a similar stylist in Martyn Symmonds. Matt threw in his usual slowish start to drop a number of points behind early in the first, but once he got his gameplan of lifting the ball over Martyn or otherwise getting him turning and retrieving from the back this deficit was overturned and the first game was won. That established a pattern that saw Matt win through the next three by decently comfortable margins, the Melbourn player eventually triumphing 15-8, 15-9, 15-10.
Last one was Jan Brynjolffssen (1) against Ashok Babbar. Jan was wary before the match; he may have won won both their previous meetings, but the last one had been close and Ash had been registering good results in other matches recently. The first game started OK for the Melbourn player, staying level pegging until mid-game, but then Ash won a run of points with his deceptive boasts to get five game balls. Jan saved one, then two, then started to get confident he could recover this. Three, four, were pulled back… but not the fifth. D’Oh! Game two also went the Comberton players way in pretty similar circumstances as he powered away late game taking advantage of looseness from Jan who was struggling with his length (proving his earlier suggestion that “You can’t overhit on these courts” was a fallacy). The third got very tense as both players knew it could be either the end of a first win, or a turning point. It went to a breaker and both had game or match balls. Eventually it was Ash who took it 17-15, neatly killing a loose forehand from Jan with another deadly forehand drop. Final scores, Jan first, were 13-15, 10-15, 15-17.
Jan, skipper for the evening, commented “Colm had to dig deep and reset, but once he did he was in control for the rest his win and that set us on our way. 17 points is a good return for the evening, and it keeps us right in the mix for second spot.”