Surrey League – Sandown Park 2 vs Spencer 2 – Match report
Many of you will remember squash matches at Sandown Park:
· The first part of the evening is typically spent queuing up on the A3 for the long journey;
· The second part involves driving round Esher several times wondering where on earth the squash club is;
· Phase three involves starring silently down the dry-slope ski run, thinking of holidays in France and wondering whether this old grey ski run can really being anywhere near as enjoyable;
· And finally, you arrive at the club, park about a kilometre away, walk up the hill next to the dry ski slope and then re-charge your batteries as you enter the older squash courts in the western world.
Well times have changed my friends…! Yes you still queue for ages; yes you get lost and yes you still walk up the steep hill. But the squash courts are now brand new and the other night they were baking hot…!
First up on first string was Dan against Sandown’s number one Charlie, ranked around 15% higher than the Spencer Squash Club Captain. Things did not look good as Charlie went 2-0 up early on (something that rarely happens to Spencer Club’s Charlie…!), however he looks like he was struggling with the heat and the gaps between the rallies seemed to increase as the match went on. Fair play to the Spencer Club team members, who helped Dan to find a winning strategy which completely transformed the match and resulted in a fairly comfortable 15/10 third set to Dan. Dan then went 8/2 up in the fourth set, before his opponent Charlie lunged one time too many and incurred an unfortunately back injury. Poor Charlie tried to continue but he sensibly conceded the rest of the match to avoid longer-term injury and Dan walked up with a 3-2 victory to start off the evening for the travelling Spencer army.
Mike P took to the other brand new court at third string, against Neil (nicknamed “wings”) who seemed to move very well but didn’t quite possess the killer instinct that Mike is slowly becoming famous for. Mike went 2-0 up (15/7 and 15/10), despite the fact that wings seemed to be able to get most shots back. However, it soon became clear to all that wings was running out of breathe and hence as the match went on his wings started to flap more slowly… This also proved to be the case during a very long third set which Neil won 15/12 with some good squash but at the cost of a fair percentage of his aerodynamics…! A bit more coaching and a strong comeback for Mike, who volleyed better with improved racket preparation, and moved his opponent forwards and backwards, including a number of very effective lobs from the front of the court. 15/11 to Mike in the final set for another great 3-1 victory (his normal scoreline these days…!)
Over to Charlie at fourth string… The crowd waited nervously; expectations were managed carefully (in fact they were almost zero!); but never write off a man (young child) who is determined to prove a point to everybody…! Despite “forgetting” to bring along his match fees (not for the first time), Charlie lined up against “Mr Grumpy” (per his team shirt). Charlie stormed ahead 15/12, realising that his best chance of victory was during the early less-tired stages of the match, however he overdid it in a very long rally early in the second set and Mr Grumpy levelled with a convincing 15/8, including a serve-out by Charlie. Another serve-out in the third and the crowd were not amused! But neither was Mr Grumpy who disagreed with a fairly obvious correct refereeing decision midway through the third which resulted in three consecutive angry tins during a 60-second spell of rage which can only really be recreated by Spencer’s very own Alex (typically two or three times per week) [simply count the weekly number of broken rackets in the Spencer Squash Club non-recycling bin…!] It was no surprise that Charlie took the third set 15/8, but it was a huge surprise when he also wrapped up a fine 15/12 victory in the fourth to complete a 3-1 win on the night and put Spencer 3-0 up and therefore guaranteed winners on the night! Well played young man and please don’t forget to pay me your £10 match fees at some point…!
Finally, up stepped Leon at second string against a strong Kristian. We all know from recent experience that Leon never plays a quick match when he is the only thing separating both team squads from a few beers in the bar; for example, the recent England Euro 2016 football match in the bar when Leon was playing last against Grafton…!) He managed to lose a very close first set 15/13, but then pulled back strongly 15/12 with some mightily fine squash combinations. And then another set victory for 15/13, putting him 2-1 up and in control. Most people who have not previously seen Leon play would have increased their bets for a quick 3-1 victory, but alas! Leon somehow manages to lose the fourth set 15/3 and the clocked ticks on (plus the Spencer players and our team WAGs fear for the worst). But Leon was determined; so determined. And a hero he proved to be, taking the first 15/10 and just about getting us into the bar prior to last orders.
So overall a 4-0 victory and the scorecard proudly reads 15-6, meaning that we have picked up 28 out of 30 points during the past week against two very strong sides! One would assume that this would place us nicely up the table and we are indeed in fourth place, although there really isn’t much of a gap below us as everybody seems to consistently pick up lots of points in most matches. At least we are definitely in the right league and are enjoying a good battle. Several more powerful victories required but lots of hope for the final five matches. Well played all…!