Men’s team squash – Season Review

With the season finale now a few weeks behind us and the dust mostly
settled, we can reflect on a topsy turvy few months since champions from
last year 1a got us all underway against eventual champions from this year
AGS.

The team season finished in spectacular fashion with the Juniors producing a
magnificent performance and result against The Beaconsfield Bears to seal
their and the Upstarts’ places in Division 2 for next season. Ben Boulter’s
smooth movement and rally building at 5 paved the way for a controlled and
impressive 3-1 victory over Alex Speculand. Andy Piper, with pressure on him
to win the much needed points, struggled to come to terms with Gareth
Ashington’s classy forehands in the first game, but thereafter produced a
masterclass in maximising your strengths and your opponent’s weaknesses as
he dispatched an increasingly dispirited opponent with a series of backhand
winners. First up on court, and setting the tone for the Juniors was Tim
Leslie-Smith. By his own admission the amiable Juniors’ veteran (it’s all
relative!) has never been so fired up for a match, with the result that poor
Dave Fielding did not know what had hit him as Tim attacked with precision
and control point after point for the three games he needed. So match won,
safety secured and a favour done for the Upstarts in the bargain. As ever
with Bucks squash, the final promotion/relegation situation will not be
known until teams confirm whether they are capable of fulfilling their
commitments next season and until any appeals from this season are dealt
with. However, supposedly final tables can be found at
http://buckssquash.leaguerepublic.com/l/league/850183189.html.

Each of the men’s teams captains (including Tim Leslie-Smith for the Juniors
standing in for injury victims Simon Clark and Tom Ormiston) kindly agreed
to provide a brief review of the season, and these are reproduced below. For
my own part I would have to say that it has been a slightly disappointing
season from a CBLTSC point of view. We are used to having teams competing at
the top of both divisions but this season the interest has mainly come in
the struggle against relegation for 4 of the 5 sides. The entry of AGS into
the first division and a renewed Beaconsfield effort certainly seems to have
strengthened that division while in Div 2 many of the sides were incredibly
closely matched, making for many exciting matches and close results. For me
the highlight of the season narrowly goes to the 1as for their victory over
eventual champions AGS in the very first match of the season – a match that
could hardly have been more closely contested. Had they been able to field
anything like a full squad for the remainder of their fixtures there is no
doubt that they would have been in the mix for another title.

Despite the disappointments of the season, enormous credit should go to the
captains and stalwarts from all the squads, as well as to those who were
only able to make the odd appearance. Every team managed to pull out some
great results across the season despite the club suffering an injury crisis
the like of which none of us could have predicted. It seems unlikely that we
will see quite as many walking/limping/bed ridden wounded next season.
Coupled with the plethora of promising youngsters and not quite so
youngsters, there is much to be optimistic about as we look forward to
2015/16.

And so over to the captains….

1a – Dan Colquhoun
Having won the title for the previous two seasons, we knew that this season
was going to be tougher for two reasons: firstly a number of the other teams
had strengthened their sides and secondly Tim King had a baby!! With Tim
only managing 5 games this season it put pressure on us at both the top of
the order and lower down as we often needed to bring additional players in.

Sam Pothecary did a sterling job at number 1 picking up games from the top
players in Bucks and his epic victory over Alex Preston (11-9 in the 5th) to
win our opening fixture against AGS will live long in the memory.
I managed to win the majority of my matches with my only defeats coming
against the top 2 teams AGS and Lions.
Will Gardner had an up and down season with some great wins (especially over
Liam Radley) but also a number of close losses. His highlight was gaining
revenge over Mark Mellett for the much publicised defeat at the start of the
2013-14 season.
Paul Bolden started the season slowly with a painful defeat to Nic Manley,
but grew stronger as the season progressed and had some great victories –
none sweeter than the comeback victory over Stef Lubek having been match
ball down in the 3rd game.
Lack of availability meant that we often needed a number 5 to come in and
thanks to Huw Riddall, Andy Piper, Chris Wildman (awesome victory over Dan
Fernandez!), Ed Eaton-Hart and Amy Jones.

So overall 5th position was probably right for us and if we can improve
availability next year, we could be in a position to challenge for the title
again.

1b – Rob Parry
The target for 1b is always just to avoid relegation, so to achieve that
with two games to spare is a very satisfying. Special thanks should go to
Phil Taylor for driving out from London for all the games, and also for some
very valuable points and a few notable wins, particularly his win over
Jamie Matthews, and the close loss to Mike Mclaughlin. Thanks also to Steve
Sieff for taking over from Mike Thorpeas our sacrificial number 2, and also
to Neil ‘Value for money’ Hinds for making all his matches as long as
possible, and thus keeping the bar bill down (he did win nearly all of them
in the end!). Some good wins for James Pearson in his first season in Div 1.
Hopefully next season he can turn a few of those 3-2 losses round.
Final thanks to Simon Ross, Wayne Scott and Mike ‘one time’ Thorpe for
stepping in when we were short. Hopefully next year Dan Glenn might actually
be fit to play when needed 

Seniors – Chris Jordan
An excellent run of results through February and March lifted the Seniors
clear of the relegation zone to finish a very respectable 5th in a close
Division 2. Five good wins and two narrow 3-2 losses boosted the Seniors
tally by 103 points, more than any other team during this period except for
clear winners WSRC2. Matches going the distance seem to be a Seniors
speciality, with half the matches this year going to 3-2 (W2 L7) and 11 from
20 last year (W5 L6).

Known for our rugby team sized squads, a total of 13 players turned out for
the team though this often didn’t seem enough as we were down to no reserves
for several matches. We were helped towards the end by new recruits Ed Ivory
and Ben Harrison who between them managed to notch up an impressive 14
points out of a possible 15. A massive vote of thanks to Phil Cornhill for
playing in so many matches at #1, which helped out enormously especially
when Simon Brown showed he is human after all and picked up an injury.
Likewise, huge thanks to Tim Paul for turning out in all 18 matches and
notching up a massive 40 points. Aubrey Waddy and Peter Smith were very
consistent performers as always and Simon Brown did well at #1 or 2 before
his injury. Everyone played their part on and off court, with all the
matches being played in a good spirit and many of the opposition captains
thanking us for an enjoyable match and for our hospitality when we were
hosts (thanks also to Mary!).

Short summary of roughly the top 6 players’ achievements:

Most matches: Tim (18), Peter (15), Phil (12), Aubrey (11), Rob (8), Simon
B (7)
Most wins: Tim (11), Phil (9), Aubrey/Peter (7), Simon B/Ed (3)
Highest % wins: Ed Ivory/Neil (100), Phil (75), Aubrey (64), Tim (61), Simon
Ross/Ben (50), Peter (47), Simon B (43)
Most points: Tim (40), Phil (32), Peter (30), Aubrey (24), Simon B (15),
Rob (13)
Highest average points: Ed/Neil (3), Phil (2.7), Ben (2.5), Tim (2.22),
Aubrey (2.18), Simon B (2.1), Peter/Simon R (2.0)

Many thanks also to Rob and Mark for helping out when I wasn’t around and
also to everyone who came along to support. It really has been a great team
effort all round!

Juniors – Tim Leslie-Smith
A spate of knee injuries for the Juniors meant that the squad was reduced to
a handful of fit players, and a reasonable start started to turn into a
downward slide as the season progressed. There were notable successes
against Holmer Green and the RAF but by the last match against Beaconsfield
Bears the Juniors needed a win to avoid relegation. Fortunately the team
came through when it mattered and pulled off a thrilling 3-2 victory.
Andy Piper did a magnificent job at 1. He managed to shake off two unlucky
defeats from 8-8 in the fifth and got better and better as the season
progressed. He certainly deserved the loud applause for being the match
winner in the crucial outing against the Bears.
Tom Ormiston put in lots of effort in his matches, but sometimes didn’t get
the results he deserved. He started struggling with an injury and was forced
to pull out for a knee op. However really pleased to see Tom back in the
team for the last couple of games, and know he will be back to winning ways
next season.
Simon Clarke was playing the best squash of his life for much of the year.
He had some great victories, notably at 1 against Tristan, the Aylesbury
screamer, who tried to shout Simon off the court, all to no avail. A knee
injury on the ski slopes put paid to Simon’s season, but hopefully he will
be back, better than ever, in the Autumn.
Amy Jones started to play more regularly for the Juniors as the injury toll
rose. Playing at 2 she more than justified the high ranking with her stylish
shot making and quiet determination. Notable highlights were her decimation
of Joe at Beaconsfield, and a very close defeat to Petr at WRSC. Good luck
to her next year when she goes to “squash school” – I suspect she’ll be
beating us all after that!
I have had the usual TL-S sequence of winning or losing against the odds and
I do still love a 5 game thriller. My best moments were a ridiculous
comeback victory against Len at the RAF, and the win against Dave in the
final Bears match (officially classified as an “annihilation”).
Ben Boulter has really improved as the season progressed. He started off a
little hot headed and the legendary double bluff air shot disaster against
Aylesbury will long be remembered (and laughed about). However recent
matches have shown the improvement and the 2 fantastic wins in the last 2
matches have been crucial for the team.
Rishi Chandra played some fantastic squash and his involvement in the team
this year has been very welcome. Will Piper made his debut for the Juniors
this year, really helping us out for a few weeks and will surely make a big
impact in the future. The veteran master John Lingley reminded us all of his
simmering squash talent and parachuted in from Berlin for an invaluable
cameo in the last match. And thanks to Steve Hunt for a “one night only”
appearance – much appreciated.

Upstarts – Richard Harvey
Ed Eaton-Hart debut winning his first team match at Beaconsfield. He will be
a force to reckon with next year.
Andy Kay marathon vs Peter at Aylesbury, in fact that whole evening was a
cracker with tight 3-2 wins for Chris Wildman, Wayne Scott, Paul Bartington
and Andy Kay.
Player of the season … Chris Wildman who played in every single match we
played . Might be a record! We don’t have the stats but he must have been
close to or better than a 50% win rate, which is impressive at 1 in a strong
division.