Kimbolton 1 vs Melbourn 2
Weds 29th January
Melbourn won 20-3
The 2nds came back with maximum points from their away trip to Kimbolton 1sts, but not without some struggles along the way.
Late arrivals meant the third strings kicked off the evening alongside the fifths, sort of like County Championship matches where the string playing order runs 5, 3, 1, 4, 2. Those pitched Gareth Jones against Adam Jessup and Roger Woodfield versus Tom Giles (son of St. Ives player Nick) respectively.
Starting with Roger, whilst young Tom hit the ball nice and cleanly and could play up and down the wall, he couldn’t match Roger for court craft. Well, Rog has probably been playing Squash for three times as long as Tom has been alive. At least. That proved to be the decisive factor as Roger always held the upper hand and won 3-0, to Tom’s evident frustration at losing to a veteran. We have all been there, kid.
Things were not so straightforward for Gareth next door, or rather on the back-to-back court (Kimbolton have an unusual set up of two glassbacks with a small walkway in between). Indeed Gareth looked in real trouble when he trailed 7-1 after around two minutes play. He stabilised somewhat after that, but still lost the first comprehensively. The chat after the first came be summarised as ‘You have tried to beat him playing his game, and it didn’t work. Why don’t you try making him play yours instead?’ but maybe expressed a bit more sharply. And guess what? This DID work. Gareth ran away with the second. Adam is a bright bloke himself though and he knew he needed to change up in response. That made the third closer, but when it went narrowly Gareth’s way he was on course for the 3-1 win he duly completed.
Next up was the first strings, which kept with the County theme. This set Jan Brynjolffssen against Darcie Mounter, who, at 17/18 years old is already a Cambs County player and who subsequent googling discovered is the current #270 on the Women’s world rankings. She knows one end of the racquet from another is what I’m getting at here. Despite that Jan was able to mostly control the first two games, generating enough pace and width to make Darcie turn and retrieve, allowing him to dictate play from the front court. The next two went the Kimbolton player’s way as she stepped up her game and Jan came slightly off his [pre-match advice from Kate, who knows Darcie from the Cambs County team, was to watch out for her cutting off the ball on the volley at the service line as she will direct these shots crosscourt with slice into the nick; well I did watch out for them… they were very impressive, particularly in these two games!]. That set up a decider. The opening phases of the game saw Jan build a lead. When he got that to 13-9 things looked set, but a string of strokes given away blew the advantage. Still, Jan got himself to match ball at 14-13. And then snatched at a high backhand volley and tinned it. He had another chance at 15-14 but that was saved. Then at 16-15 it was Darcie’s turn to have the ball on her racquet on the backhand volley. But she also snatched at the chance and tinned the ball! So Jan had another go a 17-16… and did exactly the same again. Who wants to win this??? Luckily for Jan he got a fourth chance at 18-17 and this time, finally, he put a backhand drop shot that was both up and too tight for Darcie to reach. *phew*
This all took rather a while, which meant Matt Walker (2) and Mark Cousins finished at pretty much the same time. I didn’t see much of this game, being on the other court at the time, but from what I did and heard it sounded like Matt was on top and always that few points ahead most of the way through each game. There were a few shouts of “Matthew!!!” as Matt berated himself for a missed shot. But that is pretty standard fare. If Matt is not doing this, it’s actually more worrying! As such finding out he won 3-0 with all games around the 15-9 or so mark sounds about right.
Last on were Colm O’Gorman (4) and home skipper John Tose. Up to around 10-all in the first game it was tight as Colm struggled to figure out how to cope with John’s variations. What might have happened if John hadn’t made a number of back-to-back unforced errors to gift Colm the opener is open to speculation. But once one up Colm settled a little, began to move better and because of that was getting to the ball fractionally early so was also striking it cleaner, and generally took command. The second was still reasonably close, but not the third which Colm rattled through in under five minutes to round off a 3-0 win.
Skipper Roger commented “This was a great team effort to win all 5 strings. The highlight was Jan’s 1st string match with a very talented young player, he had to dig very deep to win the 5th game 19-17.”