Men’s team squash – Season 15/16 Weeks 1 and 2

I know you have barely digested the preview, but the season is two weeks old so if I don’t get out an update it will all become terribly old news. And in these days of instant media there is no worse crime than old news.

So far 1b have played one match, going down 4-1 to Gerrards Cross, the Seniors have also played one match, defeating Farnham Common 4-1 and the Mavericks — boom! (don’t worry it won’t last) have roared out to two victories from two defeating RAF 5-0 and Aylesbury 1s 4-1. Meanwhile the Upstarts suffered defeat to Holmer Green 3s 4-1 but bounced back to win the derby, beating 1879 in a 3-2 nailbiter.

Player of the season so far is Tom Walter, who has taken to team squash like the proverbial duck to water. Honourable mention also to Kate Ballingall for her win v 1879.

This year the teams are providing their own reports, so here goes:

1b v GX (home)
Captain’s performance from Rob Parry at 4 who bettered Mike Burnett 3-1 (11-8, 6-11, 11-9, 11-9). Some spirit shown by James Pearson at 2 in a 1-3 defeat to Andy Peers and Steve Sieff at 3 in a 2-3 defeat to Steve Wright, but ultimately GX were good value for their victory.

Mavericks v RAF (home). (The author is Tom Cruise aficionado -Tim Leslie-Smith.)
The new Mavericks got off to a flying (geddit) start against the potentially tricky RAF last night.

First up was Ben on his debut mission as Captain and all guns were blazing. The first game was over in minutes – 9-0. Then the second game was over in minutes – 9-0. This is usually the point where Ben starts going silly and I was waiting for a few tricks shots, a triple fake at the very least. But he stayed focussed and the third game was also over in minutes – 9-0. An astonishing 27-0 start – just call him The Iceman (Top Gun reference). Thank goodness he didn’t set the bar too high! I have to say his opponent handled it all in very good grace.

Next on court was Ben H, taking lots of inspiration from the first skirmish and starting at a fiery pace. Although not quite as clinical as Captain Ben this was a full-on assault leaving his opponent dazed and confused. We could see lots of potential in his game with a dogged determination, matched with a high level of fitness. An excellent start for Ben on his first outing for us, winning 3-0.

I went on court next and as I am a charitable sort thought it was a good idea to actually make it a bit of a competition. So having won the first game relatively easily I then drifted off for a bit and allowed Nigel to take the second. After a stiff talking-to from Tom I got my act together, realigned my sights and took the next 2 for a 3-1 win.

Interestingly hardly anyone watched my match as everyone was drawn to the unexpected matching at 1 of Andy Piper and Sam Mueller (the RAF’s latest recruit). It sounded like a good match with Sam drawing Andy into long rallies, and playing some nice drop shots to keep the Pipester on his toes. Eventually Andy resorted to his more Maverick style of play and won through 3-0.

Last on court was Tom, the most Maverick of us all. He was playing Pete, a virtual man mountain who was also a very decent squash player. Pete took the first 2 games with a bit of a struggle, and we started to fear a blot on our clean sheet. The 3rd game got to 6-6 and Tom was starting to fancy his chances of an epic comeback when Pete pulled up injured – very bad luck – and gifted Tom a 3-2 win.

Final score: Mavericks – 19 points, RAF – 3 points. Match card attached for full details.

All in all a great start from the Mavericks. But worth noting that this was an understrength RAF team and no doubt they will be better as the season progresses.

Upstarts v HG3 (no, not the train line – this is an apolitical report) (away). Captain Harvey doing the honours this time.
The Upstarts travlled to Holmer Green for their first match of the season vs HG3 .

HG3 came 3rd in the division last year and we were soon to find out why .

Captain Harvey came out second best to one of their juniors James 1-3 , doing well to scrap for the single point. Tom Walter, on debut, was the star performer winning 3-1 vs their captain Paul. But form there things went downhill as both Paul and Kate came up against strong opponents in Dean Herrity and another talented junior Jasper. Both losing 0-3. Andy Kay threatened at various points in his match vs their number 2 Steve but also succumbed 0-3.

Onwards and upwards … will be interesting to see how we fare against them in the 2nd half when their order will undoubtedly be somewhat different…

Mavericks v Aylesbury 1 (away) – TLS wordsmithing again.
Last night saw the Mavericks taking on Aylesbury 1, relegated from Division 1 last season and while missing a couple of star players they still constituted a fair challenge. Most of us were proudly sporting the new team t-shirt and feeling a little bit “Tom Cruise” as a result (but taller).

Andy was first on against Ian, who looked an awesome prospect in the warm up. However Piper Senior wasn’t having any of that and managed to take the first game. What ensued was a battle royale between two class acts, displaying the full range of shot making, determined retrieval and competitive spirit. In the end Ian won through 3-2, but a great match to start the evening.

On the other court Piper Junior was up against ex-1879 stalwart Steve French. Steve’s hair is much shorter these days and, rather like Samson, he seems to have had his squash powers diminished as a result. Will took the first game, but Steve came back to win the second and give us some glimmer of his former glory. However Will knuckled down to come back and take the match 3-1, a good result from the rapidly rising junior star.

I was on against ginger-topped, pocket rocket Dave. I didn’t really fancy my chances particularly when Dave took the first 9-1. However a word from Captain Ben got me slowing the ball down and I sneaked the next 2 games. At this point Dave started to reveal his extensive knowledge of Anglo Saxon swear words, particularly when I served a straight nick into the base of the door! And in true TL-S style I eventually won the match 3-2, with the last game going to 10-8.

Meanwhile Ben was building on his Iceman credentials, continuing where he left off left week. His opponent, Chris, is a good player, but Ben’s combination of quality shot making and high levels of fitness meant that he was able to pull away in all 3 games. Ben is definitely taking his Captaincy seriously, leading from the front and yet to drop a game. Another 3-0 win for him.

Last on was Tom against wily left hander Simon. When I reveal that the score was 3-0 to Tom it may be assumed that this was easy. It wasn’t. The first 2 games were really competitive with Tom working extemely hard to combat Simon’s tactical expertise and also playing some simply extraordinary shots of his own. One reverse forehand volley straight into the nick left the balcony slack jawed. By the 3rd game Simon had lost the will to live and Tom stormed through it to win 3-0.

The icing on the cake was the very tasty curry we were served up, rather than the turkey twizzlers that Aylesbury have occasionally delivered in the past.

Final score: Mavericks – 18 points, Aylesbury – 5 points. Another decent win for the Mavericks, who are looking to avoid the nerve-shredding finish of last season.

Seniors v Farnham Common (home) – from a slightly subdued Chris Jordan
Not too much to say except Rob was very unlucky to come up against full time coach Matt Davies at #2. Surely he is ranked out of order as Tim stuffed his oppo at #1, who incidentally Aubrey also beat 3-2 in a match 3 years ago. Promising performances from injury returnees Richard EH and Simon B, while Pete’s class showed at #5. My guess is FC will be struggling again up in Div 2.

It has to be said Tim played mostly sublime squash, showing how much pure talent he has. The balcony were to a man/woman thoroughly entertained and impressed.

Upstarts v 1879 (home) – El capitan once again.
Close match last night vs 1879 who were “optimising their resources ” with Dave and Roger both lining up for this div 3 encounter.

Rishi lost 0-3 to Roger who played a blinder, whilst Tom continued his fine form beating James Salter 3-0 ( as a result of nosebleed doing a fine impression of Michael Palin in a fish called Wanda, with tissues rather than chips ) .

Wayne came out on top 3-1 against a tough opponent in Dave W.

With Kate seemingly dead and buried at 0-2 and 6-8 vs Rambo, captain Harvey was quaking in his boots at the expectation of having to clinch the victory . As I subsequently came 3rd against Paul Griffiths it’s a bloody good job that man of the match Kate pulled her finger out and eventually ran out a clear winner against a shell shocked Rambo.

So a 3-2 , 13-9 victory against the auld enemy and on we go to meet Rivets next week .