The First Team at Home to Datchet:
1) Chris Locks v Andy
2) Gareth Sutton vs Brett
3) Paul Barker v Alex
4) Elliott Stanton vs Mark
5) Phil Rea v Matt
First on was Gareth, playing eldest son of squash legend Ross Norman, the man who ended Jahangir Khan’s 5 year unbeaten run with the World Open win in 1986. Any comparisons to his dad stopped with the surname. After taking the first 2 games with ease for the loss of 3 points, Gareth thought the job was done and didn’t come out of the starting blocks in the 3rd, giving the intermittent watchers on the balcony the impression that he was being severely punished. Back on course in the 4th with a doughnut to wrap up an uneventful match, win 3-1.
Paul meanwhile was on the other court playing the younger son of Norman. Alex was a stretched version of his brother and liked to run. Paul started off trying to play his normal game of volleying and pushing Alex around. The volleys and boasts weren’t quite as tight as they needed to be and Paul lost the first. Paul then decided to change his game plan and try to outrally Alex up and down the walls. This played into the hands of Alex who happily ran and rallied. Both players got further back from the T all volleying pretty much stopped and who ever hit the best length won the point, which were won in 2 ways, either an un-returnable length, or a weak boast from a tight length that was then put away. Paul hit more weak boasts and less good lengths over the course of the next 3 long games, loss 3-1.
Elliott took to court after Gareth against a veteran with very short shorts. With the established game plan of spanking the ball to within an inch of its life, the pace was a little too much for the veteran and the first 2 games went quickly to Elliott. The veteran was now warmed up after bending over to fetch the ball 18 times and showing some good court coverage and annoyingly soft hitting to the back of the court, forced Elliott into a hatful of errors to extend the match into a 4th game. Brain was partially engaged for the 4th, and Elliott powered his way over the line, win 3-1.
Phil, back from the desert and resplendent in all the hi-vis kit that he’d been unable to wear whilst on duty, was playing a sunburnt looking youth in equally dazzling shoes. The lack of court time and practice showed as Phil forgot everything he’d been coached and just concentrated on hitting the ball where Matt wasn’t. This worked very nicely and Phil was showing some nice touch up at the front and soon had the first 2 games in the bag. The legs were looking a bit tired as Phil got rallied out of the 3rd, by which stage the intermittent switching off of the lights was starting to annoy Matt. Phil just about held it together to take the fourth 10-8. Win 3-1, to the man in the hi-vis orange kit.
Chris went on last at 9.40pm, with the match still in the balance as Phil was still playing. Chris was not full of confidence having been soundly beaten by Andy last time they’d played. Andy had some nice dazzling shoes and likes to hit nice looking shots, but he doesn’t like to run too much. Chris had been instructed to run like Forrest, and after the initial period of awe when he stood rooted to the spot and watched himself be wrong footed for a one sided first 5 points he started to run. Chris ran, Andy tried more stupendous shots, the errors crept in and Chris took the 1st 10-8, the thumbs up from the balcony confirmed that the match was won. The second followed a similar pattern and Chris took the 2nd by a similarly tight scoreline to the 1st. Andy found a rich vein of reverse angles in the third that left Chris rooted to the spot. So into the 4th, and pretty even at 5-5, time now 10.14, and the duty manager came onto court and told us all to leave. Nobody was impressed, Andy said nothing, and then proceeded to hit 4 service returns in a row into the ceiling, Win 3-1.
So to open the winter campaign with Stefan and Damon missing, a good solid win 18-7. MOTM – close between Phil and Chris, but goes to Phil who carried the team over the finishing line, taking the pressure off Chris.