Men’s team squash – Season 15/16 Weeks 3, 4, 5

I realise that some of you may feel that the reports have been slow in coming, but don’t worry, the sporadic league schedule means you have missed less than you think. As before, the teams have made my job easier by providing their reports, but to whet your appetite – here are the headlines…
Victories over Farnham Common, Beaconsfield Bulls and Holmer Green 2s mean the Mavericks are living up to their high flying name. And in true Top Gun fashion, every match is coming down the wire, 3-2 each time. Definitely the team to follow for tension and excitement. The Seniors have had two outings in that time, suffering a narrow 2-3 loss to the Beaconsfield Bulls in a marathon match and recording a 4-1 victory over the RAF in a quickfire encounter. The moral of the story – old guys need their beauty sleep!
In Division 3 the Upstarts are still finding their feet to an extent suffering a close 2-3 reverse against Rivets but bouncing back in style to win 4-1 against Aylesbury.
And finally in Division 1, 1a finally got their campaign underway managing to defeat WSRC 4-1 despite being short one of their stalwarts. 1b also got some valuable points on the board, defeating a weakened Beaconsfield 3-2.
Over to your roving reporters with just one more note from me – could the Mavericks please decide who is their ‘Ice-Man’!
Mavericks v Farnham Common (home)
Week 3 kicked off with an absolute cracker as the M-A-V-E-R-I-C-K-S hosted Farnham Common. This was our first opportunity to compare our D2 sides as the Seniors had beaten Farnham the week before 4-1 and captain Chris Jordan had predicted that Farnham might struggle. Well, not on the evidence of their showing against the Mavericks. I don’t know if CJ’s words had found their way to the walls of Farnham Common squash club, but the visitors turned up with a slightly bolstered team determined to show that they were no pushovers. The match itself was in the balance right until the last few points of the final match, which was a proper tussle between the two number 1s. Tim Leslie-Smith can give us the full story…
Hi All
Another big night for the Mavericks against newly promoted Farnham Common. This was a slightly beefed up team from the one that was turned over by the Seniors a week ago and a potential banana skin for us.
First up was Will Piper against wily veteran Ian. It was the pairing I was most confident about and Will duly delivered, using his relaxed style to out-fox the old fox. Games 1 and 2 went to Will, but Ian had a battling resurgence to win the 3rd. Will stepped it up to take the 4th with some ease. Excellent start. So far, so good.
Second on court was Pete Stevenson, coming in for rested captain Ben Boulter, with his first team outing for over a year. Pete seemed unfazed by the occasion and returned to his usual style of hard graft squash without too much trouble. I didn’t see much of the match, but by all accounts this was a tougher game than the 3-0 win to Pete suggests. Well done to him – a great return to form. So far, so good.
I was next up against the bearded Ben, an occasional presence in the Farnham Common team and who had not played against the Seniors i.e. RINGER!! I was keen to keep up my recent run of form, but my very able opponent had other ideas. He was a stylish player and had far too much in the locker for me. I did have some glimmers of hope, but in the end I went down 3-0. Ho hum.
We knew that Tom Ormiston had his hands full with the young, fit and extremely talented Matt, who had picked Rob Ballingall apart last week. Tom really gave it a good go with his customary Maverick mix of ridiculous shots, crazy retrievals and ambitious volleying. Matt would not be denied though and stormed through to win 3-0. More ho and hum!
So it all came down to the final rubber, with the other matches becoming mere hors d’oeuvres to the lip-smacking main course of Andy Piper vs Staz / Saz / Stash (silly name whatever it was)[Ed – it’s Stas I believe]. The match did not start well. Staz’s movement and pick up was top notch and Andy found himself on the back foot too many times. There was also some conflict in positioning and some disputed calls which were handled expertly(ish) by the marker (me). Andy had gone 2 games down, but then began a remarkable comeback, with the temperature on the court reaching boiling point. Sensing that I wasn’t helping matters I handed the marking over to Pete, who restored good order as the Pipester comeback gathered steam [Ed – special mention to Pete for marking fairly and in a way that encouraged both players to make every attempt both to clear and to play the ball]. There was still plenty of needle from Stas and plenty of argy bargy, and at one point both players were on the ground virtually on top of each other (Twister anyone?). Andy levelled the games at 2-2 and both players kept working hard until we ended up at the inevitable 8-8 in the 5th. Even Mary was tense. Amazingly, after facing a match ball, Andy pulled off the win – a titanic victory that secured the match. Fantastic effort and the man of the match award is a shoe-in for Andy.
So final score was Mavericks 13, Farnham Common 9.
Terrific match, boys!

Seniors v Beaconsfield Bulls (away) – Chris Jordan
Hot on the heels of their season opening win over Farnham Common, the Seniors travelled to Beaconsfield to take on the Bulls.
Two 5 setters kicked off the evening and set the tone for the encounter. Rob Ballingall fought hard to overcome a 2 game deficit but succumbed to impressive play from Mearsey [Kevin Mears] in the 5th.
Meanwhile, Neil Hinds at #2 went to the wire with Heather, showing his experience and determination to come through in 5 after saving game balls.
Tim was up against Stef at #1 and having been unfortunate not to squeeze the first game, eventually ran out 1-3 to his much younger opponent.
Richard Eaton-Hart scrapped hard, managing to come back and take the first game before Olly pulled away looking pretty classy and effective: 1-3.
The tie lost, it was left to Simon Brown to add to our points tally at #5 against captain Joe. This he duly did in a long tough match, making full use of his great retrieving powers to come back from 1-2 to win in 5. Definitely above and beyond as by now the aroma of curry was wafting through temptingly from the bar.
So after over 2.5 hours, with three matches going to 5 and two going to 4, the Seniors finished 2-3, 10-17. Interestingly, the next night Stef was at #3 for the Lions in Div 1 while Kev was at 5. At least we softened them up for our 1b boys to clinch victory!

Upstarts v Rivets (away) – Richard Harvey
Another tight match last night vs Rivets. The Upstarts came out second best losing 2-3 , 7-16.
Unfortunately in a rubber where I knew I could have / should have done better, I took too long to get to grips with an unorthodox opponent, Paul, and lost 0-3 ( 9-10 in the 3rd ).
Andy Kay beat grumpy Philip in the next tie 3-1.Having lost a first close game, Andy sparked into life after a contretemps early in the second when Philip refused to apologise for nearly catching him when whacking a ball in disgust after losing a rally. Unwanted entertainment for the marker (me) but Andy never looked back winning the next 3 games fairly comfortable.
Kate Ballingall had another humdinger in a seesaw affair with Nick Clifford. Nick led out winning the first, Kate came back into it and at 2-1 looked comfortable, only for Nick to fight back to level at 2-2. Kate eventually toughing it out in a close 5th 9-6.
Wayne Scott as expected had a battle against a really tough opponent in Obe, winning the first 10-8, then losing the next 2, 3-9, 5-9. At 7-7 in the 4th an upset seemed possible but it wasn’t to happen. No disgrace losing 1-3 to a classy opponent.
Simon Ackers as the sacrificial lamb at 1 this time was sadly just that, losing out to a very quick and improved player in Tim Moran.

1b v Beaconsfield Lions (away) – myself
A valuable victory over the Lions for 1b, albeit they did it the hard way. Missing captain Rob Parry and regular Simon Ross we had Ben Boluter making his debut at 5 and recording an excellent and vital victory over the very accomplished Kevin Mears at 5. With Ben getting the job done I had every confidence that we would win at 1 and 2 but upset results in both meant that it was down to James Pearson and myself to close out the result. We duly obliged, James defeating Stef Lubek 3-2 in a tight one, whilst I managed a slightly more comfortable 3-1 over Nic Manley. Phew!

Mavericks v Bulls (home) – Ben Boulter
Another hard-fought win last night for the Mavericks, putting in a really strong team performance for tame the Bulls.
Up first was Ben Harrison – looking to emulate his previous 3-0 victory, he did not disappoint. Showing some real quality in the early games to win comfortably 9-1, 9-1. The final game tested Ben’s resolve, but he had far too much in the locker and once he had John in his sights, victory was never in doubt (9-7). Good win, fantastic start.
Pete Stevenson looked in for a tough game from the start. Dan Joy is no push-over and can play some fairly consistent squash. The first game was tough, Pete had to pull back from 6-1 down – surely this took its toll later on. He eventually lost the 1st 9-7. In typical Pete fashion, with his typical never-say-die, maverick attitude and playing style, he fought back and took the second 9-6. At this point Dan started to really work the court, and as Pete worked harder, the rallies became longer. Unfortunately Dan wore Pete down too much, to take the third and fourth 9-5, 9-4, respectively.
I was next on court, hoping to maintain my “Ice-man” status. Things were not looking good, first serve… out of court (FINE!), and I found myself 8-4 down in the first game in a tough first game. Joe proved difficult to play – a man mountain, with a low, hard forehand. After ‘digging’ in, I managed to take the first game 10-8. Having battled through, I finally took the second (9-6) and third (9-4). The game was by no means reflected by the score, however “Ice-Man” status remains @timlesliesmith
2-1… down to our top two seeds! Tom Ormiston cunningly kept the extractors on to reduce the court temperature, which in the first backfired – he started cold and Ollie, the Bulls’ rugged, hardened stalwart raced ahead to 8-2, and finally took the first 9-6. The second and third really were a masterclass in racket control from Maverick Tom O, which he took 9-0 and 9-4, respectively. He had Ollie in his back pocket in the fourth, 8-0 up (match point), but suddenly and unexpectedly a complete change in tactics from Ollie saw him wear Tom O down to take the fourth 10-8. Game on! The stalwart continued the same tactic in the fifth, by which point both players looked exhausted, and he beat Tom O 9-3.
All down to “Viper”, our very own calm and measured Andy Piper. This was a tougher match-up than we had expected… Heather’s feminine prowess, and technically gifted left-handedness had Andy P consistently at full stretch. There were some fantastic rallies and drop-play at the front to overcome Heather in the middle games. However, she did for the second week running drag Andy in to a 5-setter!! At this point, he had weighed and measured Heather’s game, found the chink in her armour and expertly saw her off 9-4 in the fifth.
Mavericks win 3-2 (16-8)!!! Flying high, “Any of you boys seen an aircraft-carrier around here” (TopGun, 1986).

Mavericks v Holmer Green (away) – Tim Leslie-Smith
Hi All
Another match, another win. Sounds easy, but it really wasn’t. Holmer Green have a good mix of youth and experience, and posed a significant challenge to the high flying Mavericks.
Ben Harrison was first on court against young pup Jasper, who started off strongly and took the first 2 games. However we all love a comeback and Ben tightened up, worked hard and took the next game 9-0. The 4th did not go according to plan with Jasper regrouping and reaching match point. But Ben pulled out all the stops and sneaked that game 10-8, and then followed it up by winning the 5th 9-2 to raucous applause from the balcony. A superb victory and (although we didn’t know it at the time) the pivotal moment of the whole night.
Captain Ben Boulter was next up against the second Holmer Green young pup, Bradley. It was a tight game with both players digging deep and hitting some great shots. There was a bit of a shock when Ben actually lost a game, but he still got himself into the match point position of 8-2 in the 4th. And then our captain reverted to the Ben of last year – smashing an easy winner into the tin and then followed it up by losing that game 10-8. The fine box was ringing as Ben let rip on court, but he got his “Iceman” head on for the fifth, winning it easily. Another crucial 3-2 win.
We thought it would be relatively straight forward for Will against crafty old timer Trevor Howes, but Trevor went for gung-ho squash and romped through the first 9-2. Then Will woke up, started to play his normal game and took the second 9-3, but fell asleep again to lose the 3rd. Game on. After a bit of advice from Captain Ben (who had stopped swearing by this point) Will narrowly took the 4th, and comfortably won the 5th for a 3-2 victory.
With the match in the bag could the last two rubbers put the icing on the cake? Sadly not…
Tom went on at 1 against the talented Ross, and gave him a very good run for the money. A close first game went to Ross, but then Tom turned up the Maverick heat to win the second. At one point Ross pulled up with a minor injury, caused by Tom wrong-footing him when he hit the ball straight (first time for everything). Unfortunately it was only a short term injury and Ross got right back into the match taking the next 2 games fairly comfortably, though a 3-1 loss to Ross felt like an honourable defeat.
I was last up and up against the absurdly fit and tricky Mark Mellett. Although I felt in the match I was constantly surprised by his pick up and ability to change the pace / direction of his shots. To be honest I was outclassed and Mark took all 3 games without much incident. I could argue that with the match already won I did the team a favour by losing 3-0 and allowing us to get in the bar earlier…!
So a good 3-2 win, but the points total (14-12) show how close it was and how important Ben H’s comeback was. Well played team!

1a v WSRC (home) – Dan Colquhoun
The 1a team finally got their season under way on Wednesday against Wycombe SRC. Excellent performances at 5 from Tim Paul and 4 from Chris Wildman, against the dangerous Chris Popham, set us up well. Will Gardner wasn’t feeling well, but still demonstrated some excellent touch in a 3-2 loss which meant it was down to Dan Colquhoun and Sam Pothecary. With both matches evenly balanced at 2-2 things could easily have slipped away, but battling performances ensured that both ended up as wins and an excellent haul of points from this first match. Sam in particular showed great skill and determination against Stuart Burnett to outlast him 11-9 in the fifth. Unfortunately there is now a 3 week gap until the next match when the team will be without both Sam and Dan for the trip to newcomers Uxbridge.

Seniors v RAF (home) – Chris Jordan
In contrast to the Bulls encounter 2 weeks earlier which practically went on until closing time, the Seniors’ match against the RAF was a notably brief affair, being all done and dusted by 8.45pm (much huffing from Mary who hadn’t been kept informed!).
Having said that, Rob Ballingall and Sam Mueller who started first were determined to get their money’s worth, managing somehow to extend a 3-1 win to Rob to over 45 minutes in a hard fought battle with two 10-8s. Two matches came and went in that time on the adjacent court, with Richard Eaton-Hart and Andy Mayhew (on debut) coming through impressively with 3-0 wins over Pete F and Mike B.
So with the match result already in the bag, Tim Paul graced the court against Iain Digby. Or perhaps I should say Iain graced the court against Tim. Arguably the best player in Div 2, Iain’s class showed through with clean accurate hitting and nice little delays of shot in front of court to keep Tim guessing. Despite a good early lead for Tim in the first game, Iain cruised through 3-0.
Simon Brown however kept his unbeaten run going by out-retrieving Nigel P in the first game and then breezing through for the loss of only 2 more points to win 3-0. So another pleasing 4-1, 16-4 win for the Oldies (well, some of us anyway).

Upstarts v Aylesbury 2 (away) – Richard Harvey
The Upstarts traveled to Aylesbury for our match on Thursday resplendent in our new team kit thanks to the generous sponsorship of Kate Ballingall’s employers Harwood Hutton Accountants . The new kit was clearly working for Kate who shot to a 2-0 and match points lead against her opponent Jon before a slight blip which resulted in the 3rd game slipping away. Once again Kate dug deep and took the 4th comfortably 9-2.
Andy Kay was also up first and despite losing the first looked like he was in control winning the 2nd and 3rd before his opponent Lewis put the match in the balance winning the 4th to level. Andy was dominant though in the 5th and came out a worthy winner 3-2.
Paul Bartington and I were next on , Paul took a game ( 1-9 ) to get his eye in and then dominated to come out a fairly comfortable 3-1 winner against Pete Neil. Unfortunately it took me a game to work out that my opponent Richard had taken a liking to my backhand and despite being 8-4 up in the 2nd I managed to lose that one as well 9-10 eventually conceding 0-3 🙁
With the match in the bag Wayne Scott faced a strong oppo in Alex Woodger but shot out of the blocks with some great squash to win first 2 9-4 9-0. However A combination of some errors creeping in and Alex getting his composure back allowed Alex to take the 3rd 9-6. Once again Wayne tougher it out though taking the 4th 9-7.
Well done guys. 16-8. A decent result.