Over 70 Men Match Report. Dublin 2024. - Squash Wales

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Over 70 Men Match Report. Dublin 2024.

The O70s squad chances weren’t helped by a  late change to the court schedules, where the  match start time was brought forward to 3.30pm. Coupled with delayed flights, this meant that only 1 player was present to begin our campaign. It also hampered the pre-match preparations of the other squad members, but you just have to get on with it.

Wales v England

Our first match was against the always-strong England team. Martin Vicary went on at No. 4 (without any supporting colleagues) against Robert Holdsworth and, by all account, put up a good fight. He might have won games 1 and 3, but Robert held firm and came out a 3-0 winner, with Martin starting to suffer from a recurrence of a recent achilles injury. 

Next on was Derek Wright at 5th string versus Andrew Edmondson. Derek competed strongly and could have won games 1 and 2, but was edged out 9-11, 11-13. However, he fought back to take the next but unfortunately lost his way a little in the 4th, going down 1-3 with regrets about shot selection at key points. 

Kwesi Hazel at No.3 next against Geoff Redfern. This was a closely fought match throughout with Kwesi disrupting Geoff’s orthodox game with his precise touch to the front of the court. Coming from 1-2 down, Kwesi managed to win both games 4 and 5 12-10 for a truly fantastic victory against the British National runner-up. Well done, Kwesi!

On an adjacent court at the same time, 2nd string Clive Morgan was playing against John Goodrich. John’s tight all-court game proved too much for an out-of-sorts Clive who miss-timed too many shots to enable him to compete effectively. Comprehensive 3-0 win for John.

Last on were the number 1s, Tony Bevan and British National Champion, Terry Belshaw. This was a cracker. Terry started strongly, winning the first 2 games, utilising many of his trademark winning drops and boasts. Then Tony clicked into top gear and demonstrated what a high class player he is. He controlled the next 3 games, eventually forcing errors from Terry and hitting some beautiful winners. He ran out a 3-2 winner for a brilliant victory. Top performance, Tony!

So, final result a highly creditable 2-3 loss to the tournament favourites and some feelings of what might have been.

Wales v Scotland

Saturday morning didn’t start well. Martin’s achilles injury meant the end of his playing weekend. Bad luck, Martin. So, Derek came into the team at the last moment. He was first on at 9.30, so not the cooked breakfast he had planned! Perhaps his hunger was taken out on his opponent, Fred Laing, as he ran out a good 3-1 winner in a close match. Good start for the team.

Next on at No. 3 was one of last night’s heroes, Kwesi, against Robert Thompson. They shared the first two tight games, but then the quick-moving Robert seemed to start anticipating Kwesi’s touch shots and got the better of the next two games to clinch a 1-3 victory. One-all in matches now.

Tony took to the court against Emilio Fazzi, looking to follow up his impressive performance against England. He started well, taking the first 11-4. Near the end of a closely contested second game,  a ‘no let’ call which upset Emilio seemed to spur him to greater things. From that point he played faultless squash, with Tony unable to get back in control despite continuing to play well. Emilio ran out a deserved 3-1 winner.

At 4th string, it was Alan James versus Dave Sturman. Alan knew he needed to win to keep the team afloat, and he did just that. In a very tight, close-scoring match, Alan pulled out one of his typical never-say-die efforts to edge Dave out 11-9 in the 4th for a 3-1 win. 2 games all now.

Last up was Clive, knowing the match result depended on him. He was up against a terrier in Ian Ross, but the sort of challenge he usually relishes. Unfortunately, Clive’s squash mojo had not returned overnight and he put in a performance strewn with errors. Ian was a comfortable 0-3 winner meaning that Scotland took the tie 2-3. Clive was left feeling that he had let himself and the team down, but that’s life sometimes.

Wales v Ireland

So, on to our hosts, Ireland, for the last match of the weekend.

Derek first on against Seamus Daly. Derek lost the first 2 games narrowly but came back to take the third. However, his previous match efforts seemed to have slowed down his game and Seamus took a tight 4th 10-12 for a 1-3 victory. First blood to Ireland.

Kwesi was up against the very agile Pat Hanley, probably not the style of opponent best suited to the Welshman. And so it proved. Despite getting close to winning a couple of the games, Kwesi finally succumbed 0-3 to Pat as the Irishman’s retrieval skills proved the decisive factor.

Tony was playing the top-ranked player in the age group, Kiran Hurley. This was a high-quality match throughout, but Kiran’s excellent movement and shot quality saw him through to a 0-3 win despite another good showing from Tony.

With the tie now lost, Alan was next on against Robert Garvin. This was quite a battle. Robert took the first 2 games, then Alan won the third and looked like levelling things in the 4th before Robert won a couple of key points at the very end to take the game 10-12 and the match 1-3.

Clive went on last against Robert Peel, looking to restore some pride for the team and himself. After two underwhelming showings, Clive just relaxed and reverted to playing his normal, more expansive game. This made for a good battle against his hard-hitting opponent. However, somewhat unluckily (and not helped by serving out on one of the game balls he had), Clive lost the initial games 11-13, 9-11, both of which he might easily have won. Robert looked very tired now and Clive ran out a comfortable 11-3 winner of the 4th. The match looked there for the taking, but, to his credit, Rob decided his fatigue meant no more long rallies for him. so he attacked everything from the start of the next game. It worked for him as he won the 4th and the match 1-3. 

In the end, a 5-0 tie win for Ireland which did not do justice to Wales as a number of the matches were extremely close.

A weekend that had started so well sadly tailed off on Saturday, meaning we finished in 4th position. However, there were some great performances and wins to savour. It was also a really good social occasion, with everyone having an enjoyable time. Our thanks to Ireland Squash and all involved in managing the weekend. Both the Fitzwilliam club and the Mespil hotel were excellent venues. Here’s to Nottingham next year!

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