For the trip to Camberley Arena on 19th Sept:
1) Ashley Smith
2) Craig Walton
3) Phil (Silver Fox)
4) Jonny Lowe
5) Adrian P
So the thirds began their second season in division 2 knowing that it was likely to be even tougher than the first, and they started against old rivals Bracknell with whom we have had some mega battles in the past, and more often than not been on the losing side!
However, the early news was encouraging as a number of their first and second team players were absent so just maybe, there was a chance……….
Adrian went on first against Mo – no not that Mo – this guy carried a bit more weight! The warm-up was fairly even but once the first serve had been hammered down and the first point won, Adrian was away – no hanging about and a 3~0 win followed with the loss of 2 points. Just what the doctor ordered, given it was his second match in 2 days! Not bad for the old man of the team.
Jonny had been promoted to 4 and took on “Mr Bracknell” who has been running their teams for many years and has taken many Hart scalps in that time. Jonny’s first match for Hart, and it did not quite go according to plan…. There were some good rallies and the games were quite tight but the difference was that Jonny did not manage to kill the ball often enough, and needs to work on his drop-shot! A 3~0 defeat and the match in the balance.
Silver Fox was back! MY, did he look well! – though he still worried about his swollen ankle. The first game was scrappy, but SF came out on top and the confidence flowed – the second was taken with ease (back in the old rhythm). But then the legs buckled, and a combination of steady play from his opponent & dire shots from SF saw the next 2 games go Bracknell’s way. Could SF up his game? Yes he could! – brain engaged, shot making restored and a 3~2 win for Hart.
Craig had a slow start coming to terms with the pace his opponent was playing at – and lost the first but thereafter it was Craig who applied the pressure and played good quality squash that his opponent was not able to match. And when the pressure became too much with a number of unforced errors, Craig knew he had his man and ran out a comfortable 3~1 winner
Ash was also making his comeback after an enforced Summer lay-off and he was gnashing at the bit to get going. So when he finally got on all the anticipation was translated into some great squash with some sublime rallies. His opponent played his part in an extremely entertaining and high tempo match but after Ash had taken the first 2, it looked a good bet that the outcome was one-sided in Harts favour. Ash lost the third! Apparently down to feeling sick. However only a temporary blip he recovered to take the fourth 9~1.
A fantastic start to the Winter for the third team – 17 points on the board. MoTM Only one candidate – Ash, very impressive – those above him in the order need to watch out!! Ash is back!
The third team for the visit to Windsor on Nov 29th was:
1) Mac (first match for the 3rds this season)
2) Ashley (primed, but not enough sleep)
3) Rick (playing lots of squash)
4) Phil (Ready and full of energy. Rick didn’t believe me…)
5) Cate (The knee attacker)
I arrived a bit late, took a while to get the car defrosted, but found I was the first and they had 4 of their team and yes, a perfect mis-match, their number 4 was on the way. Next to arrive was Cate, and soon the rest arrive. Cate had to borrow a spare racket from Ashley as she had broken her racket on Rob’s knee (Dod V1), he didn’t notice, a hard man!!!!
First up Cate and Ashley:
Cate went on court and started intimidating her opponent with the warning she breaks rackets on her opponents knees. This didn’t seem to work as Cate’s opponent made a good start and looked comfortable, but then Cate got her range, length and drops, and started to pull the game back and finished it off; one up. We then had a tight tussle getting to 2-2, with all to play for in the 5th. This was a tight game, with the opponent get a strong start again, but Cate reeled him in, but then a couple of winning shots by the opponent and he had clinched the match. Good game.
Meanwhile Ashley was on and stormed through the first game; great start and looking good. But then the opponents drops and tricky shots started to bite; some were just ridiculous, even when Ashley had done a great shot, there was another winning drop!! Next 2 games went the wrong way. Ashley fought back and upped his game, getting the 4th so 2-2 again & all on the 5th. Ashley’s late nights, early morning and thought of getting up next day at 5 to go to Ireland looked to be on his mind, and the 5th went the wrong way – so another close match, but the wrong outcome.
Rick and I followed on from Cate and Ashley.
Me first. From the knock up I wondered what sort of match we were to have, as he seemed determined to hit the ball to me as hard and low as possible, and wearing long shorts, so assumed an eccentric. More worryingly, I could get no power; was it just my “power” racquet being re-strung, or me hitting the rim to save the worn strings in the middle! We started, he got off to a good start and went in front but I realised in the first game, (must have been awake for a change), this was going to be a battle of who can drop first. Thankfully my drops were working, so most rallies were 2 or 3 shots long, and I went 2 up and match point in the 3rd. Tried a few tricky shots, lost the game, then lost the next. 2-2, ummm …. thought I had grown out of getting in the commanding position and losing 3-2. Luckily the last game went all my way and easy 5th to win.
Meanwhile Rick had been giving excuses about DIY and playing squash every night; also Rick was one up on Movember, – he going for the Full Beardember (or is that “cant be bothered to Shavember”). Well, when I came off court, Rick was still “cooling” down and having a chat with his opponent, not looking so good having gone down valiantly 3-1. From reports, from Rick, his opponent liked running around the court even more than Rick. I wish I had seen it !!
Finally Mac, first game for 7wks, so not saying what we were thinking, but looking forward to some strong hitting from Mac… and he did not disappoint. Mac was still hitting the ball as sweetly as ever, one micron above the tin, no matter how many walls it hit before. Next, question from the balcony “Has he lost weight??” Anyway, back to the squash; Mac stormed into the lead in the first game, but his opponent was moving and started getting his shots back and Mac had to move, so a loss in the first game and not looking good. In the second game, Mac came back strong, making it harder to read his shots; (I can’t even read his reverse boast from the balcony); the drops were spot on as well, & he won the second 1-1, but Mac was starting to breath. Time to go for a quick shower (that’s me not Mac). Came back to find its 2-2 AGAIN, and the 5th just started. Questions for the balcony, can Mac make it? Well yes. He can still read the game well and moved forward with grace, luckily was not asked to move sideways too often, so a great win for Mac.
MOTM: My vote: Mac for pulling it out of the bag again
Food feast for Rick after as 3 spare plate of food to eat. He did have to fight as Cate’s opponent was eating anything in reach, determined not going to leave anything for the bin.
The journey to Wycombe Air Park where Wycombe Temple play will be the longest journey for any of the teams this Summer and was compounded by a nasty accident on the M4 and consequent delay for some as the fire engines, ambulances and police sped up the hard shoulder.
The team:1.Ashley, 2.Phil, 3.Adrian, 4.Dave Wroe, 5.Stephen
First on was Adrian against an opponent who mixed it up and was always looking to take the ball early. Adrian (according to spectators on the balcony) ran well but the truth was that he was in duvet mode. Not at his sharpest and a disappointing 3~0 defeat ensued.
Dave on the other hand was playing really well and took the first two before he gave his opponent a look in. Unfortunately once in, he stayed in and Dave could not resume his domination. A 2~0 lead ended in 3~2 defeat.
After a late call-up, Stephen went on after Dave and played well but frustratingly just lost the first 10~9. The second slipped away, but Stephen never gives up and began his comeback in the third, which he took 9~7. Unfortunately the comeback came to a grinding halt and the match was lost 3~1
The Professor followed Adrian and played some super trademark shots but was up against an experienced young opponent who had a bit too much consistency. A 3~0 loss.
And finally Ashley was on to try and double the points tally for Hart. He was playing the regular TW No 1, a young lad who beat Rob during the Winter but Ash pushed him all the way in the first, eventually losing the breaker. The youngster had then got the measure of Ash and took the next 2 relatively comfortably.
A poor start – but probably playing one of the stronger teams in the division.
MotM – Either Dave or Stephen for providing Hart with some points and Dave gets the nod for his 2 games.
In contrast to the last match where there wasn’t much to report, this one has too much to report. But it could degenerate very quickly so I will tread carefully…..VERY carefully. The team for the trip to Caversham 3:
1) Paul Barker
2) Mac The Knife
3) Tom May
4) Ashley Smith
5) Rick Creber
Keen to add to the pressure on Marlow at the top of the division, we were ‘fully loaded’ in the thirds putting out a strong side. With all the pre-match hype relating to Caversham barmaids it was a shocker when we received the late call to confirm that actually we were playing down the road at an ‘all girls school’ and also that the barmaid was long gone – Last seen hanging around the back of Mac’s white van.
On first look the courts were a little ropey and cold so the prospects of a decent runaround were not high. After getting changed in the toilets, old-school style, Ashley went on first against an opponent who visibly suggested during the warm-up, that it could be a close one……*pause
During the warm-up, Rick Creber entered the gym and proceeded to head straight for the toilets/temporary changing room (with just one cubicle and no john – as it is a girls school) and either curl up and die in there or leave a dead body in there that he had eaten a week ago and left festering in his gut. Unsurprisingly for a not very modern facility, there was no air con or equipment to move air and the whole block/courts had been consumed in a kind of yellow fog which threatened the health of anyone in the vicinity. No lie, it forced a complaint from the opposition.
*restart……After a relatively easy first game, Ashley and opponent stepped off court to get a lungful of fresh air only to be left doubled up after their fill of ‘the fog’. The second and third were a formality and it was a swift crushing of an opponent who promised much but didn’t quite deliver on the night. 3-0 Hart.
Rick was now on the other court (2st lighter) and it looked like it could be a decent match up against a younger opponent (aren’t they always for Rick?). It was a great first game, but was just nicked by his opponent. Standard fare by now but Rick dragged it back to a 2-1 lead and obviously the prospect of a five setter was considered. Not so. Rick was able to push on and take the match, which on any night could go either way so well done to Rick. 3-1 Hart.
Paul was on the other court offering another ice cool display of nick, after pickup, after ridiculous return, after ‘how did you get that??’, after reverse boast corkscrew double douche dropshots. The result was never in doubt really. Nothing to report other than a complete chop up. 3-0 Hart.
Tom went on looking for a comprehensive victory to bolster the scoreline but it was not quite per the script. The courts were clearly familiar ground to his opponent who’s lob serve with snow on it, service returns into the nick (every time) and ‘extreme’ drops were proving hard work for Tom. It was frustrating enough from the balcony, let alone playing. It was a tight first game but the opponent edged it and suggest an upset could be on the cards. With Tom doing all the running and opponent doing all the T hogging, dropping, chopping, annoying, it was testament to Tom that he managed to scrape his way through the match without breaking a racket…but he did…and secured the eventual win. 3-1 Tom.
Finally, Mac went on and with cold courts, he and his opponent did well to generate a red ball. I have only seen Stuart Purdy play once before, up at Fleet, and until last night I had not seen a ball hit that hard before or since. Minus the stomp, Mac smashed his way to a first game win and it was looking promising. In a tight battle, the second did not go Mac’s way and the third was going to be critical. It was looking like one of those, ‘if you win this game, you win the match’ scenarios, and it proved to be just that. Mac was just edged out in the third and the fourth became a formality with both players battered and bruised. 1-3 Caversham.
Having secured promotion, and with the 1st/3rd place teams playing each other next match, there is a chance to win the league…..
MoTM goes to Tom for begin able to grind his way to victory.
Note: If you EVER have to play at Queen Anne’s school. Take your own shower/plastic back with holes in it. It’s no wonder that school kids don’t bother with showers when they have to contend with that kind of thing.