Venue: Edinburgh Sports Centre
An experienced 4 man team was picked to represent Wales in the Masters Home International in the O75 age category, comprising:- Steve Evans, Duncan Jones, Leighton Jenkins and David Grant. Any three players would play in each tie in the ranking order of Nos.3, 1 and 2.
Friday evening’s opening tie was against the hosts, Scotland. Wales made a strong start with Leighton Jenkins controlling the game and taking a 3-0 victory. Ian Ross the Scotland and British No. 1 then pulled the tie back to level, beating Steve Evans 0-3 leaving the crunch match between Duncan Jones of Wales and his opponent Ken Reid. After two competitive games and the match poised at 1-1 Duncan used his reach and precision to take the next two games, winning 3-1. This was a crucial win and ensured Wales won the tie 2-1. With the winning team awarded 5 bonus points added to the games won, Wales finished the tie with 11 points to Scotland’s 4.
The following morning at 9.30 the Welsh team were greeted by the news that, England had decided to put out their strongest team possible, because of Wales’s success the previous night. So in spite of gallant efforts from Duncan and David Grant, who was making his Wales international debut, Aubrey Waddy and Martin Day, both highly ranked British players, were too strong resulting in 3-0 victories for England. Steve Evans, although also losing 0-3, made Barry Featherstone fight for every point in a very competitive and close match with the second and third games going 9-11 and 10-12 to the England No.1
By the afternoon, over a light lunch, after much discussion and number crunching of all results and bonus points to date, the Welsh team concluded that a victory over Ireland by winning at least two of the three matches could put Wales in the prestigious position of second place in the tournament, if the final tie resulted in the usual England victory against Scotland. So with support from the Welsh Ladies team who were also competing at the venue and in front of the Welsh Flags, quiet expectation and excitement was building as Leighton Jenkins took to the court and with his methodical high lob serving and precise shot placement, Leighton completely dominated his opponent, to win 3-0. So with one win required from the two matches remaining, it looked as if it was done and dusted as Steve Evans went into a comfortable 2-0 lead, only to find his opponent Frank Fahey, fight back to take the third game and cause a few concerns until Steve regained control and took the match 3-1. Duncan Jones concluded the tie with a competitive rematch with his last years very experienced opponent, Ciaran Roche, who was having a very successful tournament. All three games were very competitive and the scores were close, but the Irishman just managed to edge the critical points to win 0-3. However having won the tie 2-1 and with the bonus 5 points added to the games won, Wales again finished with 11 points to Irelands 4 and meant Wales 075 had achieved the Runners Up position.
It was with pride and satisfaction therefore that Wales O75 Masters team were presented with their Runners-Up Medals for the second year in succession, at the evening’s presentation dinner. I should add our congratulations to the very strong England team who only dropped one game throughout, to win the Home International O75 Tournament. My thanks to the team for their effort, commitment and camaraderie during the event and to Duncan for the additional support he has given as co-captain in administration and preparation for the tournament. My thanks to Scottish Squash, the Edinburgh Sports Club and referees for running the tournament and providing a vibrant venue and opportunity to watch and participate in quality squash among old and new friends on the Masters circuit. My thanks also to Wales Squash and Russell in particular for the pre-tournament communications. Finally, my thanks to the three other Wales Masters teams, who were competing in Edinburgh for taking an interest and encouraging us, even giving us coaching advice on occasions. Representing Wales is an honour and privilege and I am grateful to have had the opportunity again to do so, at the grand age of 75.