Surrey League – New Malden 4 vs Spencer 2 – Match report
Last night was one of the most exciting evenings of squash in the history of Spencer Squash Club! All three teams played on the same night which is pretty unusual for a Thursday evening during half-term week…! Our second team lined up against New Malden 4, hoping to get some good points on the board after a tough first match against the division leaders. Unfortunately we were missing Leon, who is currently on a specialist archaeology expedition to Jamaica, plus our team number one Dan was not really healthy enough to play this match but took one for the team.
First up was team captain Dan, playing against Andrew who was a good player with a range of tight shots but somebody who on paper the team would expect Dan to register a win against. However, this did not prove to be the case and despite four very tight sets, most of which could have gone either way, Dan did not have enough energy or health for this match and in the end only managed to pick up the second set in a disappointing 3-1 defeat. No need to fear though as the remainder of the team all looked set to battle hard for victory.
Dale was playing on the other court at third string against “Da Kid” although I did not have the pleasure of witnessing this game. Dale did not promise match during the pre-match build-up when he admitted that he had completely forgotten about the match until captain Dan’s Whatsapp message about an hour before it started, by which time he had already enjoyed a few beers with his friends and had to rush away from the pub promptly to gather his match kit! Impressive commitment from Dale although one could argue that it was a poor piece of planning all-round…! Despite this, Dale arrived full of happiness and energy, although it took the team a while to locate him within the New Malden squash club premises and he was eventually discovered doing some kind of Spencer Club ritual dance movement in the corner of a dark room. Maybe one for the future! I don’t recall the exact scorelinesin the match but it lasted a very long time with both players trading form and lots of tight moments in each set. Unfortunately for Dale, his opponent is actually their fitness coach and hence did not tire throughout the match and eventually pipped Dale 17-15 in the fifth set! Well played all…!
Mike P stepped up at second string, following some very strong recent form and lots of focus on his match-winning strategy. With Danny also starting his match at fourth string on the other court, the Spencer team were confident that we had a great opportunity to pull this match back and to potentially sneak a countback victory. Especially given Danny’s pre-match quote of: “I feel like nobody will ever beat me with my amazing new squash racket” – would this come back to haunt him…?! However, despite Spencer Club’s optimism, the crowd were actually treated to two of the closest matches that you will ever wish to see and the only shame was that they both took place at the same time as I would have personally loved to have enjoyed both of them in full! After about 15 minutes of play, both first sets were poised at 17-17 only for Spencer Club to lose them both 19-17. Mike’s second set was also incredibly close and again went to 17-17, only for him to lose 19-17 again and go 2-0 down! Danny however manager to pull back the second set and level the tie at 1-1.
Mike was full of energy and desire but needed a change of strategy and hence team coach Dan had “a few words” during the interval. Fortunately, this combined with his opponent Rik’s fading fitness, managed to work and after another few long sets, Mike levelled the match at 2-2, despite Rik’s clear strategy to destroy Mike’s concentration with lots of friendly commentary throughout the match and some longish “breaks” between key points. On the other court, Danny stormed ahead 2-1 with some commanding squash in the third set and things looked good for Spencer Club. Dan then decided to have a quick word with Danny to simply inform him that the next set was a big one which we really needed him to win and that he was playing really well and should carry on doing exactly the same as he was currently doing. However, Danny declared that this was “the worst piece of squash coaching ever” and even his opponent declared that the entire match changed after this piece of “coaching”. It didn’t appear to be terrible advice given how well Danny was playing at that stage however something clearly did go wrong as Danny lost the remaining two long sets, including what I recall was another 19-17 in the fifth, to go down 3-2 in a classic encounter! Let’s remind ourselves of Danny’s pre-match “I am invincible” quote and ponder as to whether that is the real reason why he lost – as opposed to the “worst piece of coaching ever” allegations…!
That meant game over for Spencer Club who were now 3-0 down on the night but Mike still had the opportunity to salvage some pride in the final set of the fixture. With his opponent feeling pretty tired and on the back foot, one would assume that a winning strategy had to be to keep the ball away from his opponent and to move him around the court, however strategy often fades with tiredness and Mike narrowly lost the final set, having returned too many serves cross court onto Rik’s volley and too many counter-drops when Rik was stranded at the front of the court instead of moving him forwards and backwards (I believe that it may have been another 19-17 although I was ready for bed by that stage of the night!). Hard luck Mike but a good 3-2 victory for Rik.
So overall, a 4-0 victory which really was much closer than the scoreline reflects. We could and probably should have won all of these individual matches but the New Malden guys battled hard and will be very satisfied with their hard-earned victory. 15-7 overall which is not bad points for a 4-0 defeat but means that we desperately need to get a few good results in order to move up the table. Fortunately we have two matches next week against Sandown Park and Purley, with a full team available. Well played everybody and hard luck!