Wales 065s matches were held at the Fitzwilliam tennis club Dublin. An impressive venue with 6 squash courts, tennis and padel tennis. The PSA Irish open was also reaching its climax giving us the opportunity to see how the youngsters play the game, very fast.
Wales’s first match was against favourites England. Despite losing a couple of regulars they could still field a strong team. Mike Clifton-Thompson (no.5) pushed England newcomer Mike Quarterly to the limit taking the forth game comfortably to level the match 2-2. In an epic final game the England man just got over the line 13-11. Phil Monaghan (no.3) made his usual slow start against experienced left-hander Stuart Hardy. Phil’s game picked up as he took the second 11-9 to draw level. A close encounter continued however Stuart just edged home 14-12 in the forth for a 3-1 win.
Adrian Alderton(no.1) took on British Champion Allen Barwise and put up a good game in the first just losing 11-9. The pace and accuracy of Allen proved too much taking a 3-0 victory. Graham Bastian (no.4) was up against experienced regular England man Ripley Oyler. Graham struggled to get the ball past the big man who was playing accurately to the front taking a 2-0 lead. The third was a close affair however Ripley just edged it 12-10. Finally Paul Hounsell (no.2) took on hard-hitting Ian Bradburn. Although there were many exciting rallies Paul was always chasing the games and lost 3-0.
Next up was Scotland who in recent years have been close runners-up to England. Richard Manners took on David Gillies and was fast out the blocks taking the first game. David got his short game working and took the second. The third game was neck and neck all the way which Richard pinched with an unexpected reverse angle. Again David battled back and just took the forth 11-9. With all to play for Richard kept his nerve and was delighted to take his first match victory for Wales 3-2. Phil Monaghan made a stronger start against Rob Thomson pressuring with length shots taking the first 11-8. Phil continued to dominate and took a comfortable 3-0 win for Wales.
Adrian was up against formidable opponent Robin Ridley with his fast paced volleying style. There were some excellent rallies early on however Robin always stayed a couple of points ahead taking the first 11-8. The same format continued as Adrian was unable to tame Robin’s pace as the Scotsman went on to win 3-0. Mike Clifton-Thompson (no.4) had two highly competitive games against Bryan Jackson only to find himself 2-0 down. Undeterred Mike fought back with good short play to take the third 13-11. Bryan changed tack with very accurate length and lobs to secure a 3-1 win for Scotland.
With the match at 2-2 Paul Hounsell had the unenviable position of playing experienced shot player Peter Shivas. Peter looked imperious in the first with accurate drives and drops. Paul’s hard charging driving game however began to unsettle Peter taking the second 12-10. Peter took charge again in the third but Paul persevered with his fast pace and the odd reverse angle levelling 12-10. The match was on the fifth where Peter’s experience and touch shots took the day from Scotland winning the overall match 3-2 for Scotland.
Next up Ireland were the dark horses with a larger pool of players at home so were able to rest players. That said it seemed a match too far for Wales who struggled from the off. Still on a high after his victory Richard Manners put up a good fight against the fresh legs of Patrick Hanley. Richard was unable however to repeat his earlier performance going down 3-1. Phil Mongahan and Adrian Alderton at 3 and 1 respectively, just couldn’t find their flow against unorthodox opponents both losing 3-0. Graham Bastian put up his best performance despite a dodgy knee and gave the tall experienced Martin McDonnell a good battle. Martins driving game took the first then Graham countered with accurate drops to level. With different styles this one could go either way. The next two games were both very close but went the way of the Irishman. Paul Housell finished with a highly entertaining game with ever youthful Herb Cotter, however, was unable to maintain his early dominance losing 3-1.
The event was won as usual by England with the home side Ireland runners-up. Wales may have won the wooden spoon but it was a great experience which everyone enjoyed. There were some close games all played in a good spirit, a great venue and most enjoyable company.
We were disappointed not to beat Scotland from a 2-1 lead. The highlights of this match being Richard Manners taking his first victory for Wales and Paul Hounsell great performance against a very accomplished player in Peter Shivas.