The East Masters tournament was held at the Grange Sports Club on 21/22 January 2017.
There were a healthy total of 83 competitors who took part in two Ladies’ events and eight Mens’ events.
Eric Donohoe, Christy Looby and the Grange Squash members managed a very well organised tournament. They all worked hard to make all competitors welcome and provided a good catering service thoughout the tournament. At the prize giving Sue Strachan, on behalf of the competitors thanked Eric and Christy and the Grange members for all their hard work in the organisation and the draws.
Thanks are also due to SSRL (Allan McKay and Lisa McKenna) and Sportyhq for managing the entry and supporting the Grange members in running the tournament. Mike Halpin, Shaun Robinson, Yvonne and Dave Ferguson supported the committee by providing refereeing services throughout the tournament.
There were six competitors and the competition was played as two round robins, followed by the final between the two group winners.
The Group 1 players were Senga Macfie, Ailsa Polworth and Julia Horsburgh. The Group 2 players were Sabine MacKenzie, Juliet Shaw and Mandy Craig Gould.
In Group 1 Senga had comfortable 3/0 wins against Ailsa and Julia and in the other match Ailsa beat Julia 3/2 in a closely contested match. Senga was the winner of Group1.
In Group 2 Sabine had comfortable 3/0 wins against Juliet and Mandy and in the other match Juliet beat Mandy. Sabine was the winner of Group 2.
On Sunday afternoon Senga played Sabine in the final. Senga started very well and moved Sabine around the court with her clever lobs and drops and won the first and second games 9/5, 9/1. Sabine fought back strongly and won the third game 9/7. She also controlled the fourth game which she won 9/2. Unfortunately Senga lost her temper during the third, fourth and fifth games and her behaviour was very disappointing and embarrassing for a senior player of Senga’s quality and stature. In the fifth game Sabine led 7/1 before Senga regained her composure and fought back to win the game 10/8 and win the Ladies O35 title.
It was a small but high quality field in the women’s over 50’s with 5 of the 7 entrants Scottish Team regulars. The draw was split into 2 groups;1 of 3 and 1 of 4 ,both of mixed ages.
By a strange quirk of tournament scheduling which made little sense with many of the entrants, the group of 3 had 1 match on Saturday when Ashley Mears beat Christina Graham 3-0.
Sunday was set to be a busy day of womens’ squash. Beginning at 10am the group matches continued with Ashley beating Heather Spens 3-1. Heather applied her usual smart approach to the match but despite winning the 2nd game, she was unable to impose herself on Ashley whose game proved too strong.
In the “group of 4” Sue Strachan beat Bernie Beattie 3-0 and Eunice Bond won 3-0 against Norma Marshall. The “group of 4” had a swift turnaround to go back on court within 2 hours. Eunice this time, proved too strong and skilled for Bernie and Sue comfortably beat Norma. Next up, was the last group matches with Sue taking on Eunice. This was to be a hard fought competition which belied the 3-0 score line but Sue managed to impose her power game on the older player and was particularly glad to progress to the final and to do so without having any 5 setters! The final match in the other group saw Heather beating Christina 3-0.
The final at 4pm was Sue’s 4th match of the day. With little time to rest, recover and prepare or even eat, she approached the final feeling she had nothing to lose. Ashley went 1-0 up quite smoothly but Sue adapted well and took the second. The 3rd couldn’t have been closer, but Ashley pipped it 10-9. Sue again fought back to win the 4th and set up a final ‘winner takes all’ game. This went back and forward but when up 5-3, Sue’s energy levels dipped and Ashley sensed the victory taking the match 9-7 with some clever play in the latter part of the game. It was a good competition and we hoped that the final was as entertaining to watch as it was hard to play!
The East Masters saw the biggest entry yet for the O35s, which was an encouraging start to the year, and perhaps a sign that some holiday weight had to be shifted! Peter O’Hara retained his 1st seed with Chris Gray, Peter Buchan, Richard MacBride, Dave Morrison and Graham Lind (among others) hoping there was a chink in his armour!
Round 1 saw some good encounters but ultimately went the way of the seeding, setting up some tasty round 2 fixtures. Most of the action in round 2 was seen in the top half of the draw with Jonathan MacBride pushing O’Hara close in the third but succumbing in 3. Lind got the better of Buchan in 3 very hard fought games and Gray and Richard MacBride came through relatively easily in the bottom half.
The semi finals did not quite live up to the early tournament form shown by the underdogs with both Lind and MacBride losing in 3, setting up an enticing encounter between O’Hara and Gray.
Whilst all of this was developing, Buchan was steadily waltzing through the Plate draw, eventually winning the secondary competition quite easily.
Gray and O’Hara competed soundly for the East Masters title but as has been the way this O35s season so far, O’Hara proved too strong for Gray and came through in 3 very tight games. Bravo Peter and hard luck Chris.
A big thank you to the organising committee, for managing a seamlessly run tournament.
There were three competitors and the competition was played as a round robin on Sunday.
Peter O’Hara and Scott Hay played first. Scott played well and there were a number of long rallies but Peter’s hard hitting and accuracy allowed him to control the match and win 3/0.
Scott then played Barry Masson in a very competitive match. Barry started strongly and won the first game 9/2. Scott fought back in the second game and won 9/2 to level the match. Scott attacked the ball whereas in contrast Barry’s excellent court coverage and fitness ensured some very good rallies. Barry won a competitive third game 9/5. Both players had opportunities to win the fourth game before Barry closed the game out 10/8 and won the match.
In the final match Peter played Barry. Again Peter showed his strengths and took command of the match. The spectators enjoyed an entertaining match which Peter won 3/0.
Peter won the O40 title and Barry was runner up.
There were four late call offs for the O45s event and this reduced the number of competitors to five. Unfortunately there was no time to reschedule the event as a round robin and the event progressed as a straight knockout.
The only match on Saturday was the first round tie between David Lindsay and Adrian Richmond. Adrian is a bit of a dark horse in the age group as family commitments mean his tournament appearances are rare. Adrian started strongly and won the first game 9/1. David fought hard and the next two games were very competitive but Adrian won both games and progressed to the semi final.
Sunday’s first match of the day was the semi final between Angus Woodward and Adrian Richmond – this had the potential to be an interesting one and so it turned out to be. Angus took the first two games and looked set for a comfortable win, but Adrian must have been gradually easing himself into the match as he took the next two games to force a decider. By this point, there was nothing in it and all to play for – it was nip and tuck for the first half of the game but as both players started to show signs of fatigue in a match that had been going for over an hour, a few late errors from Adrian meant Angus was able to close out the match 3-2 and progress to the final. A great match that could have gone either way.
The second semi final was a match between Paul Jenkins and Mark James. The first game was close before Paul pulled ahead to win the game 9/5. Paul was taking the ball early and was winning many points with his touch at the front of the court. Mark was unable to get into the game. Paul controlled the next two games which he won 9/0 and 9/3 and progressed to the final.
The final was between Angus and Paul – a re-run of the South of Scotland Masters where Angus came out on top, so Paul was out for revenge in a tournament which has become his own – winning the O45s title for the past 3 years. Both players came out strongly with some attacking squash and Angus drew first blood, just edging the first. Back came Paul to take the 2nd with some incredibly tight, attacking drops from all over the court. As Angus started to show signs of fatigue from his tougher semi-final Paul maintained his pace and accuracy, dictating the flow of play to move into a 2-1 lead. Angus found a second wind from somewhere and took an early lead in the 4th, before Paul gradually started to claw it back. There were several change of hands mid game before Angus managed to edge ahead with some deft touches and force a decider. Both players came out fighting in the fifth and there were several fierce rallies as the early points were exchanged. As the match neared the hour mark, both players were tiring, but Angus looked dead on his feet as Paul gradually edged into an 8-4 lead and within touching distance of the title. It was not over yet though as there was more excitement to come for the appreciative gallery as Angus somehow found the strength to fight back to 8-8 with a fierce determination and string of volley nicks . . . but the dream comeback was not to be. Angus burst a string, Paul steadied his nerves, put away two wonderful volley kills in quick succession and took the title for the 4th year in succession – he really likes the trophy! This was another great match played in the best of spirits which both players should be proud of.
There were only six entrants in the Men’s Over 50 competition, resulting in five matches over the weekend, made up of a two group round-robin event with the winner from each group playing in the final.
Saturday matches got under way with Brian Robertson meeting Ronnie Carter and it was Ronnie who was faster out the blocks and who maintained control throughout for a 3-0 win.
The first match in the second group saw Mike Robinson open his challenge with a convincing 3-0 win against Mark Adderley.
Afternoon matches began with Danny Russell up against Brian and Christy Looby playing Mike. Danny and Christy got little reward for their efforts, with Brian and Mike continuing the trend of clear-cut 3-0 wins, Mike’s win sealing his place in Sunday’s final.
In the final round of group matches, Ronnie confirmed his place in the final with another 3-0 win, this time against Danny. Meanwhile, Christy Looby won the first game against Mark Adderley only for Mark to respond by winning the second and ultimately take control for a 3-1 win.
Mike got his nose in front in the final, taking a close first game 9-7, but Ronnie bounced back to level at 1-1. The momentum had shifted and Ronnie, who had shown fine form over the two days, was able to keep the scoreboard ticking over for the tournament win by 3 games to 1.
There were 13 competitors and the competition was played as a knock out.
On Saturday morning there were five first round ties. Ron Hounsell played very well and beat Allan Law 3/0. John Rae won the first game before David McAleese, feeling unwell retired during the second game. Ken Maxwell comfortably beat Lance Marshall 3/0. The tie of the round was between Ricky Easton and Rolf Hanson. Ricky won the first two games before a very fit Rolf turned the match round by convincingly winning the next three games. The final tie was a keenly contested tie between Norman Paterson and Keith Gristwood. Norman won the match 3/1.
The quarter finals were played on Saturday afternoon and the top four seeded players progressed comfortably to the semi finals. Chris Holt beat Ron Hounsell, Keith Murray beat John Rae, Ken Maxwell beat Rolf Hansen and Graham McAinsh beat Norman Paterson.
In the first semi final Chris Holt played Keith Murray. Chris won the first very competitive game 10/8. Both players were playing well and entertaining the spectators. Keith started to take control of the match and won the second and third games 9/1, 9/3. Keith also lead 6/3 in the fourth game before Chris demonstrated all his fighting qualities to win the fourth game 9/7. Both players had opportunities to win the fifth game before Chris closed out the match 9/6 and progressed to the final.
In the second semi final Ken Maxwell played Graham McAinsh. In the first game Ken led 8/5 before Graham fought back to nick the game 10/8. Graham then took control and won the second and third games 9/4, 9/5 and progress to the final.
In the final Graham McAinsh played some excellent drop shots and won the first game 9/6. Chris fought back and raised the pace and forced long rallies. This proved successful and Chris won the next three games and the title 3/1.
There were 11 competitors and the competition was played as a knock out.
11 entries so a knock out format with 3 last 16 ties
Last 16 – the notable tie was a 3-2 win for debutant and Grange member Mike Hall over John Black
Last 8 – Relatively easy wins for seeds Robin Ridley, John Rae, and Paul Harris. The other tie saw John Charles win the first before pulling a muscle during the second and retiring leaving Mike Hall in the semis
Ridley v Rae – John’s decision to compete in the Over-55s and Over-60s gave him a little too much squash to play and Robin won a hard fought 3-0 match.
Hall v Harris – Paul looked to be cruising at 2-0 and 8-0 but (as he later admitted) he eased off at match ball and the dogged Mike Hall made him work very hard before Paul won the 3rd 9-7.
Final – Ridley v Harris. Robin won the first 2 with his speed being the telling factor. The 3rd was very close with moving into a 7-3 lead. However despite his best efforts he could clinch the game and Robin won the 3rd 10-8 to win his 7th East Masters title and first in the Over-60 age group.
There were 8 competitors and the competition was played as a knock out.
In the first round ties on Saturday, all four seeded players progressed to the semi finals. Jim Dougal beat Phil Leek 3/0, Emilio Fazzi beat Warren Cameron 3/0, Dave Sturman beat Walter McAllister 3/1 and Ian Ross beat Alex Sinclair 3/0.
All the competitors were delighted to see Alex Sinclair looking fit and well and back playing on the Masters circuit after his health problems over the last 12 months.
In the first semi final Emilio won the first game 9/5 against Jim Dougal. Jim fought back to win the second game 9/4. Jim continued to play well and won the next two closely contested games 9/7, 9/6 to win the match and reach the final.
In the second semi final Dave Sturman started strongly against Ian Ross and won the first game 9/5. He continued his good form to lead 5/2 in the second game before Ian fought back strongly and won the second game 9/6. The third game was very close before Ian opened up an 8/5 lead – however Dave recovered and both players had game balls before Ian won the game 10/9. In the fourth game Ian served well and took a commanding lead at 6/0 and closed the game and match out 9/4.
In the final on Sunday Jim Dougal controlled the match against Ian Ross. He served and returned well and Ian was always playing catch up. Jim’s touch was excellent and he comfortably won the match 3/0 to win the O65 title.
In the Plate Walter McAllister beat Phil Leek 3/1 and Alex Sinclair beat Warren Cameron 3/0 to reach the final. In the final Walter played very well and beat Alex 3/0 to win the O65 Plate competition.
There were six entries to the Over 70s and the group was run, on Saturday, in the form of two Boxes, with the winner of each moving into Sunday’s final.
Ken Reid, Tom Kane and Alfie Thomson
Bernard Starkey, Ian Nicholson and Andy Duff
Andy was making his first appearance in the Over 70s age group.
The first match featured Ken v Tom.
Ken, aided by a slow start and quite a few uncharacteristic unforced errors from Tom, took a 2-0 lead.
Tom changed his game plan and slowed the match right down to pull it back to 2-2.
However, Ken upped the pace again in the fifth to record a 3-2 win.
The second match should have featured Tom v Alfie, but unfortunately Tom withdrew due to an injury. Alfie got a walkover, 3-0 recorded.
The third match, involved Ken and Alfie.
Ken squandered game point, in the first game, and then quickly found himself 0-2 down. As Alfie made excellent use of his drop/lob game confounding Ken.
Ken recovered to take the third game, but he tired in the fourth, and Alfie won 3-1 to top Box 1 and earn a place in the final.
The efforts of his long five set win against Tom found Ken wanting and he succumbed to a fresh, in-form Alfie.
First match up, Ian v Bernard saw some varied play from both players, with Bernard taking a 2-0 lead with some tight forceful and good movement. Ian recovered in the third but Bernard took back control in the fourth running out to win 3-1.
Second match Bernard v Andy this saw a return after some years for these two players….Bernard continued were he left off from his earlier match with Ian, using his authority and court movement to take this match in three games, and a place in the final.
The final match was Ian against Andy Duff.
Ian comfortably won the first two games with his control and varied play – but was physically sick just after losing the third game, which took its toll, and he only got the odd point in the last two games. Andy won the match 3-2.
It is likely that the earlier tough match with Bernard took its toll.
Box 1 winner Alfie v Box 2 winner Bernard
Alfie continued his drop/lob game, however Bernard using his control and court movement to counter took control and won the first two games. Alfie took the third before Bernard with his energetic play took the match in the fourth, winning 3-1.
Dates for your Diary
Central Masters at Bridge of Allan Squash Club – 4/5 February 2017
Grampian Masters – Aberdeen Squash and Racketball Club – 25/26 February 2017
Masters Nationals – Scottish Squash Rackets Club – 11/12 March 2017
For details of 2017 Masters Tournaments see SRRL website