First the headlines. The newly named CBLTSC Fairies defeated the famous Oxford University 10-5 in the now annual friendly between the sides. Pizza was consumed afterwards and homemade sponge cake produced by the fairy captain sustained the players over the marathon match.
Back in the days when I was a student we used to sing about Oxford University’s unsuccessful visit to Rome to see the Pope. Unlike the rather rude reception they are said to have received on that occasion the 15 CBLTSC fairies were glad to welcome the students who made the trip across from Oxford in rather unappealing driving conditions. In classic student fashion they managed to miscalculate/forget how many cars they would need and so rocked up somewhat late leaving Ben Lloyd as their only representative for the first 45 minutes. So we let the poor chap wear himself down warming up for about 30 minutes then stuck him on with Dave Jordan. Nice!
For those not familiar with the specific conditions of this fixture, the teams are a 15 strong mixture of men and ladies, with the overall result determined by matches won, games won and points won. The full scorecard is below but the overall result was CBLTSC 10 matches, 31 games, 498 points, Oxford Uni 5 matches, 21 games, 439 points. So not as close as last year’s nail biter, but still an excellent set of contests.
It is not possible to follow every match in an event like this so apologies in advance if some people get more of a mention than others. It just means I happened to be there at the right time!
Let’s start with match of the night. Will Piper kicked things off against Jimmy Cetkovski and the two players put on a tremendous exhibition for the large gallery. The match had some brutal rallies, some wonderful combinations of feather light touch with crushing power and even the odd trick shot. Will started off the more composed but full credit to Jimmy for gradually imposing his game and managing to hold off Will, who has become known for his comebacks this season. 3-1 to the Uni student over the schoolboy.
Performance of the night goes to Will’s sister Isobel, who dominated her match against Sarah Williams. The 3-0 score doesn’t give Sarah enough credit for her efforts but ultimately Izzie is showing that she is one to watch for the future, and that the future is coming fast!
Another who has taken great strides over recent months is Kate Ballingall. Playing above her father Rob for the first time, she was disappointed with her 0-3 to Russell Cook. I would expect no less of Kate because she is a great competitor but hopefully she can take something from two close games which genuinely could have gone her way. I didn’t see much of her father’s 3-1 victory over Samantha Phey, which is a shame because I was looking forward to seeing how the leftie with the fairly orthodox style matched up with the massively unorthodox spins and angles that Rob produces.
The last of the family connections is Andy Piper, whose recent form has been impressive and who continued to show what a dangerous volleyer he can be in his 3-1 victory over Jon Carter. CBLTSC also emerged with wins from the fourth and fifth strings as Paul Bolden (comfortably) and Steve Sieff (narrowly) defeated Adam Bainbridge and Joe Bolt. Paul has also been in top form recently and his pacy low hitting just proved too attacking for Adam. Steve on the other hand seemed determined to play most of the match as slowly as possible but fortunately managed to pick up his tempo when he needed it to win the only 3-2 of the night.
Phil Taylor and Dan Colquhoun both faced tough tasks against the Oxford 1 and 2, Alex Roberts and our very own Tom Paine. Phil played some tight squash and attacked beautifully but his face as Alex seemed to just appear in the right place over and over again with plenty of time to retrieve the seemingly unretrievable was worth the price of admission alone. Alright – it was free to get in, but Phil’s face was priceless. Tom’s powers of retrieval are pretty similar, so Dan did well to put as much pressure on as he did, but the CBLTSC bred youngster continues to impress with his languid style and precise movement and shot making. A joy to behold and we look forward to him having a good run in the county closed (well – actually the plate as he’s drawn me in the first round).
I’m afraid I saw none of Ann Witter’s 3-0 victory over Katie Abell or of Simon Ross’ 3-0 defeat to Jon Andvig. I’m going to guess that Ann looked composed throughout and that Simon encountered a fit youngster whose superior workrate made the difference. True?
I also only caught snatches of Dave Jordan’s 3-1 over Benjamin Lloyd, Simon Ackers’ 3-0 over John Townhill, Simon Krystman’s 3-0 over Eleanor Law and Chris Sear’s 3-1 over Susanna Hawkens. From what I saw, Dave continues to go from strength to strength since his return from the Southern Hemisphere and at times looks the complete squash player, able to stay in rallies when he needs to but also produce killer angles and attacks when the opportunity arises. Ackers’ match featured the power hitting we have come to know and love but it would be a discredit to Si to say that that is all he does and although the match was extremely close throughout, he deserved the victory, albeit 3-0 is a bit cruel on John. Simon K’s switch to left handed squash continues to amaze, although perhaps we should be less surprised given the class he was able to produce with his right hand (before he inevitably got injured of course). His extra speed and reading of the game made life hard for Eleanor but she was a whisker away from winning one of the first two games and aggravated an existing injury during the match so we wish her well. Saving the best for last, Chris Sear deserves the player of the day award for today, having already represented Bucks in the inter-county matches but still finding the energy and mental strength to edge out Susanna in a tight contest.
Many thanks to all who took part and also those who supported. It is great to have a buzz about the place while the squash is going on. It would be tremendous if we could get bigger crowds out for our league team matches. Well done to everyone on the sportsmanship shown as well. No toys were thrown out of prams and despite some intense competition and will to win, I think all 15 matches were played in exactly the spirit we like to see.
Thanks also to Sam Mueller for managing to shuffle the inter-counties timings in the face of a storm of disapproval from the other counties in order to allow us to get underway in time to get the whole thing completed.
Finally all that remains is to wish Oxford well in their upcoming varsity match. Without wishing to reveal my own university allegiances, I hope they only lose narrowly…
1. Phil Taylor 0 v 3 Alex Roberts 6-11, 6-11, 6-11
2. Dan Colquhoun 0 v 3 Thomas Paine 9-11, 6-11, 9-11
3. Will Piper 1 v 3 Jimmy Cetkovski 11-8, 5-11, 9-11, 8-11
4. Paul Bolden 3 v 1 Adam Bainbridge 11-9, 11-3, 9-11, 11-3
5. Steve Sieff 3 v 2 Joe Bolt 9-11, 12-10, 3-11, 11-3, 11-7
6. Andy Piper 3 v 1 Jon Carter 11-5, 11-4, 8-11, 11-8
7. Simon Ross 0 v 3 Jon Andvig 3-11, 9-11, 7-11
8. David Jordan 3 v 1 Benjamin Lloyd 5-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-6
9. Simon Ackers 3 v 0 John Townhill 12-10, 11-8, 12-10
10. Kate Ballingall 0 v 3 Russell Cook 8-11, 5-11, 8-11
11. Rob Ballingall 3 v 1 Samantha Phey 6-11, 11-5, 11-3, 11-4
12. Simon Krystman 3 v 0 Eleanor Law 11-9, 11-9, 11-2
13. Chris Sear 3 v 1 Susanna Hawkens 11-8, 11-8, 10-12, 11-6
14. Ann Witter 3 v 0 Katie Abell 11-9, 11-7, 11-6
15. Isobel Piper 3 v 0 Sarah Williams 11-5, 11-2, 11-6