Over 60 Men Match Report. Edinburgh 2024. - Squash Wales

Tickets for the 2024 Presentation Evening Now Available

Over 60 Men Match Report. Edinburgh 2024.

WALES MEN’S OVER 60’S SQUASH TEAM

HOME INTERNATIONALS 19 & 20 APRIL 2024

EDINBURGH

Final Position – 3rd PLACE

The Wales Men’s Over 60’s squad (from left to right): Simon Bourge (reserve), Mike Logan (2), Kingsley Rees (5), Gary Hales captain (1), Alan Coppack (4), Ian Howarth (3).

Pre-Tournament

A squad of 6 players was initially selected for the tournament. All was fine until a couple of weeks before the event (!)………….firstly Simon Bourge reported his knee problems had resurfaced. After receiving the call-up and being given plenty of notice he had foolishly (!) started some serious training and playing. Generally, this pre-tournament preparation would be a good thing for most players but Simon’s knee was not keen and at the start of one practice match the fluid at the front of one knee decided it wanted to move round to the back of the knee – that cannot be right! A trip to a specialist and the “use of a syringe” seemed to resolve the problem somewhat but the knee was not good and Simon was struggling to walk on it. The only thing to do was to completely rest the knee. Simon still committed himself to travelling to Edinburgh and to act as reserve and play only if needed to! Still, we had 5 players (+Simon) but not for long……four days before the tournament Jon Evans withdrew from the squad. A shoulder injury sustained at an ice-rink!!! Whilst attending a birthday treat for his daughter he fell on the ice and so the squad was down to 4 players (+ Simon). Another player was therefore needed. Heroically, Alan Coppack answered the late call and at such short notice he changed his weekend arrangements such that he could travel up on the Friday lunchtime in order to get to Edinburgh for all the matches. Well done Alan!

Wales v Scotland (5pm Friday)

Wales opened the Home Internationals weekend against Scotland. 

String No.5: Kingsley “Kings” Rees v Les Symmons. This was Kings 3rd Masters Home Internationals in as many years and it was Kings’ BIRTHDAY today!!! He made a very positive start, keeping up a good pace to the game, getting good depth and choosing the right moments to drop or trickle boast which proved effective. He also “held” some straight shots which wrong footed his opponent and the game was won 11/7. The 2nd game was very tight all the way up to 10-all. Kings seemed in control of most of the rallies but Les just kept “digging-in” and somehow getting the ball back. The turning point was at 11-all and Kings had Les moving all over the court and he had virtually won the rally as the ball appeared to be going beyond his opponent but Les swung a racket, caught it on the volley and the ball “fluked” off the frame and spun slowly upwards, just reaching the front wall and bouncing twice before Kings could reach it. Kings lost the next point and so the game 11/13. In the next two games Kings lost his depth and control of the rallies and so was chasing the games and unfortunately lost them both 5/11 5/11 and so the match 1-3.

String No.3: Ian Howarth v Ronnie Carter. Ian was making his Masters Home Internationals debut! Since getting the call-up Ian had been training hard and improving his fitness and this would be clear to see as he put in three great performances over the weekend. This first match against Ronnie, an experienced Scotland Masters player, was a tough opener. Ian made a very positive start and when he had the openings he went for the “winners” e.g. volley kills, which were generally the right options but they did not come off every time and the 1st game was lost 7/11. Ian kept the same positive attitude and tactics in the 2nd game and was rewarded winning it 12/10. The next two games were shared, Ronnie winning the 3rd and Ian winning the 4th both scores 11/6. In the 5th Ronnie made the better start and Ian was always trying to catch up and eventually Ian lost the game 6/11 and so lost the match 2-3. 

String No.1: Gary Hales v Colin Grant. Gary had faced this same opponent in the Over 55’s MHI last year at the same venue (at number 3 string)! On that occasion Gary was playing down an age-group and comprehensibly lost 0-3. This year Colin has moved up an age-group and so they meet again! The opening game was very close and at 9-all Gary had a chance but a couple of cross-court volley drops into the tin caused the game to be lost 9/11. Gary made a terrible start to the 2nd game going 0/7 down. Gary fought back well but the deficit was too great and the game was lost 7/11. The third game was even up until 5-all but then the result of some long rallies took its toll on Gary and the game was lost 5/11. Gary lost 0-3.

String No.4: Alan Coppack v Neil Stone-Wigg. Alan made a great effort in order to get to Edinburgh in time for this match. He left an important engagement earlier in the day to get the first available train from Chester and arrived at the Club just after the first matches had started. It was not surprising that Alan made a slow start in the opening game and he was continually being caught out by his opponents boasts from the back of the court. However, Alan started using the same tactic to equally good effect and it was Alan who reached 10/9 game ball. Unfortunately, he could not convert the chance and lost the game 10/12. In the 2nd game Alan struggled to find “his rhythm” as the court ceilings were very low (the lowest that I have ever played on!) and his opponent was about 6ft tall and so his lobs were not working. The 2nd game was lost 2/11. In the 3rd game it was tight until 5-all but then Neil pulled ahead and won the game 11/7. Alan lost 0-3.

String No.2: Mike Logan v Chris Holt. In this first game Mike was hitting the ball harder than I had every seen him hit the ball before! With this power and Mike’s great athleticism around the court he was dominating the rallies and Chris was just “scrambling” around the court trying to get the ball back. The 1st game was commandingly won 11/8. If Mike could maintain this form he would “wipe Chris off the court.” However, in the 2nd game the powerful hard hitting from Mike continued but the accuracy and depth of the 1st game was not there and Chris punished him, whenever he strayed, with a winning straight drop or straight drive. The 2nd game was lost 8/11. Mike continued with the same tactics and the result was some incredibly long and brutal rallies. The pressure that Mike was putting on Chris was immense but Chris just soaked it up and as both players put every ounce of effort into the rallies it was Chris who managed to find the winning shots which took the games away from Mike. Chris won the 3rd and 4th games 11/4 11/8. Mike lost 1-3. 

Result: Wales lost to Scotland 0-5 (4/20)

Wales v England (11am Saturday)

String No.5: Kings Rees v Nigel Bacon. Today we were on court 6, which has a higher ceiling than the court used yesterday. This gave Kings more chance to use the lobs that he likes but Nigel is a “big” guy and Kings found it hard to get the ball past his opponent either with good height or good width. Anything loose by Kings was punished by Nigel. Kings relaxed more as the match progressed but it was very difficult to get into the match and it was lost 5/11 7/11 1/11. Kings lost 0-3.

String No.3: Ian Howarth v Alex Betts. Ian made a great start to this match against a very experienced England player who has won many England Regional Masters Squash Titles. Ian went into a 5/3 lead playing good length and when the opportunities came to him, finishing off the rallies with aplomb! However, Alex remained calm and focused and so precise in his technique and accuracy particularly when playing the straight drops and straight drives. Every time the ball just stayed “hugging” the side walls. Ian lost the 1st game 7/11 and he played equally as well in the next two games but Alex’s precision was just too good. Alex won the next two games 11/3 11.2. Ian lost 0-3. 

String No.1: Gary Hales v Bryan Beeson. This was a repeat of last year’s MHI match in Nottingham. Unfortunately, the scoreline was to prove to be the same! With the higher ceiling, Gary tried to use the extra height to put his opponent under pressure. This usually tests his opponent’s volleying ability. However, Bryan is a former professional player and National Champion and he simply dispatched the ball emphatically into a front court nick or powerfully volleyed the ball deep into the back corners. Gary eventually changed tactics and started to play the ball over to his left-handed opponent’s back-hand side and this extended the rallies somewhat. However, though Gary chased every shot down as best he could, the accuracy and power of his opponent’s shots were just too much and he succumbed 5/11 6/11 4/11. Gary lost 0-3.

String No.4: Alan Coppack v Darren Withey. Alan had to focus intently during this match as Darren was “holding” and “flicking” the ball from all parts of the court. Even when Alan had hit a reasonable shot deep to the back Darren would delay and change his intention at the last minute. Anything loose, by Alan, at the front of the court would put him in trouble and then find himself wrong-footed by Darren’s next shot. However, it was not all one-sided as Alan consistently hit some particularly good length drives deep into the forehand back corner (both straight and cross-court) of his opponent which often “died” at the back to give Alan several points. Darren won each of the games 11/6 11/6 11/3. Alan lost 0-3.

String No.2: Mike Logan v Eamon Price. Mike made a bad start in the 1st game, losing the opening 7 points – not the best thing to do when playing against a multiple Masters National Champion! However, Mike never gave up and fought his way back into the game only to lose it 8/11. Mike made a better start in the 2nd game and was hitting the ball hard, which was making Eamon move quickly and to all four corners of the court. Eamon was looking uncomfortable at the end of every rally as he was having to work harder than he possibly would have liked! Mike maintained this intensity but Eamon just managed to find that extra lunge and play that extra shot, such as a soft drop shot or volley, which clung to the side wall and was just out of Mike’s reach. That was the pattern for the 2nd and 3rd games which Eamon won 11/5 11/7. If Mike could have won one of those games it could have been interesting! Mike lost 0-3. 

Result: Wales lost to England 0-5 (0/20)

Wales v Ireland (2pm Saturday)

The last match was against Ireland. We were back on the courts with the low ceilings.

Both ourselves and Ireland had lost our matches to both England and Scotland and so this was to decide 3rd and 4th places.

All players were fit to play and so Simon Bourge, who had supported/coached the players during all the previous matches and was on “standby” to play if absolutely necessary, was not required! He was very relieved!

String No.5: Kingsley Rees v James Lawler. Ironically, these two players had met last year in Nottingham! That time Kings won 3-2 after trailing 1-2. This time Kings made the better start taking the opening game 11/6. The 2nd game was very “scrappy” with neither player playing particularly good squash and rallies being won by more unforced errors than anything else. Kings lost this game 6/11. However, Kings was the one who managed to get more control in the 3rd game and despite the low ceilings was able to lob the ball deep putting his opponent under more pressure. Kings took that game 11/9. Kings again made the better start in the 4th game and was generally controlling the rallies. The occasional unforced error kept letting James back into the game and back to 10-all but Kings held his nerve and took the game 12/10. Kings won 3-1. Wales take a 1-0 lead against Ireland!

String No.3: Ian Howarth v Donal Kelly. Ian played exactly the same in this match as he had in his two previous matches. His positive approach was this time rewarded with a 3-0 victory, which he thoroughly deserved. Ian got the ball deep and when the opportunity came he punished his opponent at the front of the court. The sustained pressure was too much for his opponent and Ian won the games 11/3 11/3 11/7. Ian won 3-0. Wales go 2-0 up in matches! 

String No.1: Gary Hales v John Dineen. The first game was very close all the way but Gary was always one or two points behind. Gary manged to get to game-ball but lost the opening game 11/13. Gary’s tactic had been to try to lift the ball deep from both the front and the back of the court, to put his opponent into the back corners throughout that 1st game but in the 2nd game Gary started to add drop shots when in front and these made the difference. Gary took the 2nd game 11/7 and with increased confidence to take the ball short when in front Gary ran through the next two games 11/3 11/2. Gary won 3-1. Wales had a 3-0 unassailable lead! 

String No.4: Alan Coppack v Jimmy McCarthy. Alan looked more relaxed than in his previous two matches, even though he was back on a court with a low ceiling. Alan was able to find his range and height with the lobs, which he used to good effect to both get out of trouble and also as a pressure shot, getting the ball deep into the back corners. With this greater control Alan had more confidence and he was able to use his volleys effectively for the first time hitting volley winners from his opponents loose shots. Alan won 11/8 11/9 11/7. Alan won 3-0. Wales 4-0 up!

String No.2: Mike Logan v Karam Singh. This was an incredible match and an incredible 1st game. Both players were hitting the ball hard and showing incredible athleticism around the court. The rallies just went on and on….Karam led 10/7 and had 7 game balls but each time Mike fought back and Mike also held several game balls, which Karem saved, before  Mike finally won the game 20/18! You would have thought that the momentum was now with Mike but the 2nd game was as close as the 1st game and Karem was the one adding a little more variation by playing some lovely straight volley drops and straight drop shots, whilst Mike was going for all out power and depth. Karem’s dropshot winners proved the difference and he took the 2nd game 11/9. In the 3rd and 4th games the power hitting and long rallies continued but this time Mike occasionally put in the straight drops when in front of his opponent and they proved effective as his opponent was just too far back to pick many of them up. This proved the difference as Mike took both those games 11/8 11/9. Mike won 3-1.

Result: Wales beat Ireland 5-0 (20/3).

Final positions: England (59 points: 1st), Scotland (40 points: 2nd), Wales (24 points: 3rd), Ireland (10 points: 4th).

Gary Hales

Wales Over 60’s Men’s Team Captain 2024

Stay up to date

Sign up to the Squash Wales newsletter to receive regular updates on events, member benefits and good news from the community.