Surrey League – Grafton 1 vs Spencer 2 – Match report
They say that it is important to head into every match with a clear game plan and that was definitely the case as Spencer 2 lined up against second-placed Grafton 1 last night. Mike P summarised the plan very nicely as follows: “Make sure that we start at 7.30pm, win all our matches 3-0 and then we can finish early so that we can watch the second half of the England game in the bar…!” A fine strategy so let’s get on with it!
First up was Dan against Luke at first string. Luke is a good player and is on a good run this season, hence one of the reasons for Grafton’s elevated position in this league. However, a very close first set resulted in a few big points at 13-13, including a pretty close call for a potential double-bounce however it did not quite go Dan’s way and Luke sneaked the first set. Luke then played the second much stronger, making the most of the home court advantage which is all about avoiding letting the ball bounce in the back corners (as it normally dies and is hard to retrieve). Luke capitalised on this by winning the volley battle and by playing lots of lofted lobs to trap Dan in the corners and comfortably took the second set. Dan bounced back after some good coaching from Mike P and found himself in a good position at 12-12 in the third set but Luke then played a couple of outstanding drop shots and suddenly the match was over – a 3-0 win to Luke.
Next up was Danny at fourth string, looking to extend his fine run of points for the mighty Spencer Squash Club. He probably should have won the very close first set but pulled back the second to level the tie at 1-1 and then played some good squash in the third set, moving his opponent around and opening up the court well to go 2-1 ahead. Another strong lead in the fourth set looked sufficient for a victory however Danny somehow managed to lose three match points and then his opponent sneaked it 16-14 to level at 2-2. Could this prove costly to the team?! Danny stormed ahead in the fifth and, despite some good resilience from his opponent, there was only ever going to be one winner as Danny won 3-2 for another great victory. Well played!
On the other court, Mike P at third string went comfortably ahead for a 2-0 lead against a competent player who he controlled with good movement and an improved level of shot selection. However, this strategy went missing in the third set as both players got drawn into smacking the ball as hard as possible and a number of strokes were awarded as a result. After a good chat with Dan at 2-1 down, Mike started the fourth strongly by hitting the ball into the empty parts of the court and took the ball much earlier to storm to a 3-1 victory. Very well played!
So finally at second string, the entire outcome of the match rested on Leon’s battle with Mike Horseman. Bring it on! The players noted that a strong 3-0 victory would fulfil our team plan of watching the second half of the England match with the satisfaction of a fine win. Mike started slowly and a combination of Leon’s shot selection, execution and superior movement put him 2-0 ahead and in a commanding position. However, Leon’s change in shot selection allowed Mike back into the game and the Horseman buckled up his saddle and cantered back to take the third set. Mike grew stronger as the match went on and it soon became clear that South African Leon was not in the slightest bit interested in watching the England game (who could blame him given the 0-0 scoreline!) and hence all of the players from both teams soon became resigned to the fact that the remainder of our evening (and the start of our normal bedtime routine) was going to be spent watching Leon and Mike chase a ball around the squash court…! Mike pulled back 2-2 and Leon went into the fifth set with a clear game plan set out by his coaching team and fan club. However, a poor start early on in the fifth asked a lot of Leon to pull things back at 8-2 down and despite a fantastic effort to battle back into contention he was never going to win this final set as Mike sealed an impressive 3-2 victory in the final match.
So overall, another 2-2 draw for the third time in a row and some more requirements for some basic mathematics…! Fortunately, after the drama of last week’s counting, it proved a slightly easier task this week as we all soon concluded that Grafton had sneaked the tie on countback games by 9-8 to earn the extra bonus point for an overall 10-8 scoreline. And so the players headed into the now totally empty bar for a quick pint and for Danny to eat half of the opponent’s evening dinner pizza. Well played overall and so close to winning some big points against a strong team, however eight points is still a good outcome and this result continues to open up our gap against the lower teams. We are clearly currently in the right division for us and let’s keep on picking up valuable points to ensure our safety.
No match next week against the now withdrawn Oxshott but we then have a massive game the following week against Christophers who currently sit near the bottom of the table but are a very strong side when they field their best team – which they no doubt will do against us given that it is a huge local derby…!