The Bridge of Allan Masters tournament was held at the picturesque former Spa Town at the Bridge of Allan Sports Club on 17/18 February.
There were a total of 77 competitors prior to one or two late call offs who took part in two ladies’ and seven mens’ events – this included a combined O35/O40 event due to the low numbers of over 35 players. Unfortunately this tournament clashed with the British National Closed Championships in Manchester and there were a number of Scottish Masters players playing at Manchester.
The main sponsor for the tournament was SKN Electrical Services.
Walter McAllister and Steve Ingram and the Bridge of Allan Sports Club committee managed a very well organised tournament. The catering was excellent and the committee and supporters all worked hard to make all competitors welcome. At the prize giving, Peter O’Hara, on behalf of the competitors thanked Walter and Steve and the sponsors, SKN, for a great tournament.
Thanks are also due to Scottish Squash, in particular Allan McKay for his support with the draws through Sportyhq.
At the presentations Walter praised the hard work and dedication of the tournament referees, namely John Crawford, Mike Halpin and Alan Law.
Bridge of Allan Sports Club was extremely grateful to Pauline Douglas who presented the prizes. Walter concluded the tournament by presenting Pauline with a bouquet of flowers.
John Kynoch quickly assessed the Bridge of Allan Masters results and updated the Masters Ranking Points and these are on the Scottish Squash website.
Four players made up the O35 Ladies Central Masters competition and this included Sheena Logan, new comer to the Ladies Masters’ competition scene and Pauline Douglas choosing to play in both the O35 and O50 which was greatly appreciated. The competition was played as a round robin and some excellent squash was enjoyed by all.
It was great to welcome Carrie Gray to Bridge of Allan Sports Club for the first time. On Saturday she played two matches against Sheena and Sabine and despite serving and volleying particular well in both games and running for everything it was not quite enough to win the match this time. But there is always a next time!
Later on in the day, Sheena and Pauline had a great game with some brilliant squash played but eventually Sheena came out on top to win the match 3-2. Sheena commented that it was so close and that Pauline is just such a skilled squash player who no one can underestimate.
On the Sunday all that was left was for Sabine and Sheena, both from Bridge of Allan to play each other in an enthralling encounter that had a packed gallery on the edge of their seats for almost an hour. This was clearly the ladies match of the tournament with a close 4 setter and after many long and hard fought rallies Sabine’s had the edge winning 8-11, 11-8, 11-9, and 11-9 to take the title. This match was very competitive and played in excellent sportsmanship from both players including support from the spectators.
All the O35 ladies entries, Sabine, Sheena, Pauline and Carrie left the tournament happy with their performance and the team spirit over the weekend.
There were seven competitors and the competition was played as a simple knock out.
First round kicked off with Bernie Beattie and Jane Davey and what a tussle! Jane saved game point in the first and took it 16-14. Second game could have gone either way but Bernie evened the scores and went on to win 3-1 with some lovely reverse angles and volley drops. Jenny McArtney and Christina Graham were next – accurate hitting kept Christina under pressure and at the back of the court and although Christina retrieved well Jenny won 3-0 with the second game crucial and going to Jenny 15-13. Last up was Sue Strachan and Norma Marshall. Sue proved too strong against a spirited defence from Norma. Pauline Douglas received a bye.
In the first semi-final Pauline got off to a cracking start against Bernie displaying great accuracy with her shots but Bernie came back with some lovely squash and took the third game before Pauline tightened up and closed out a 3-1 win. Second semi-final between Sue and Jenny was a keenly contested clean hard-hitting game. Both girls were giving no free points but Sue proved to be the stronger with the second game being pivotal where Jenny missed her chance to even the score and eventually lose the game 18-16.
The final between Pauline and Sue was a very entertaining game with beautiful contrasting styles. Wonderful court coverage and shot variety was on display by both, but Sue had the edge and kept the pressure on Pauline with her strong hitting and ran out the winner 3-0. A great match for the gallery to watch!
Jane beat Norma 3-0 in the plate after some lovely rallies and then played Christina in the plate final. It was a close affair with both making each other cover every inch of the court but Christina managed to come out on top 3-1.
There were seven competitors and it was played as a straight knockout.
The first round included narrow defeats of Barry Masson and Scott Hay to Mike Martin and Peter Buchan respectively.
The first semi final between Mike Martin and Peter O’Hara was a bit closer than expected. Mike won the first game and led 5-1 in the second before Peter took control to win 3-1. In the other semi final Peter Buchan beat Grant Gray 3-1 – a closely fought match and the fourth was 12-10 to Peter! Was Grant suffering from a heavy night before?
In the final Peter O’Hara won 3-0 although Peter B pushed him hard in the second and third games. The highlight of the match was Peter B’s cross court rolling nick return.
Congratulations to Peter O’Hara for winning the O35/O40 and O45 finals and playing the finals back-to-back!
The plate final was won by Scott Hay who beat a much improved Malcolm Cameron.
An eight player entry allowed a straight knockout draw with all of the first round matches being played on Saturday.
First up was Peter O’Hara, the youngster of this age group, having just turned 45 a few weeks ago, against Adam Clayton. Peter was too strong for Adam and ran out a comfortable 3-0 winner. Next up in the top half of the draw was local lad Roddy Campbell against Masters stalwart, John Kynoch. On paper, this promised to be a tight match but Roddy was just too sharp on the day and eased to a comfortable 3-0 win. First match in the bottom half of the draw saw Paul Jenkins take on Chris Turlik. Despite a spirited fight from Chris, Paul’s aggressive, attacking play gave him the edge and he came through 3-0. The last match on Saturday saw the number 2 seed, Angus Woodward play Andy Meldrum. Andy was maybe feeling the effects of a 4am start to open up the Glencoe ski resort and Angus raced into a 2-0 lead. The third game was a much closer affair as Andy started to find his shots and Angus was thankful to scrape it 13-11 for a 3-0 win and progression to the semi-finals.
On to Sunday and the first semi-final – Peter v Roddy. Roddy was moving well round the court but seemed to be doing all the chasing as Peter dominated the first two games with his pace of play and deft touches. Roddy made Peter work a bit more in the third game and pushed him all the way, but it was Peter who took it in the end, 12-10 for a 3-0 win.
Angus v Paul in the second semi-final was a much tighter match – both players came out attacking and it was nip and tuck all the way. Angus sneaked the first couple of games 11-9, 11-9 but they could have gone either way. The third was even closer with Paul saving a match ball to go on and take the game 13-11. A few late tins from Paul were all that separated them in the fourth as Angus went on to win the match 3-1.
And so to the Peter v Angus final – Peter’s pace and accuracy had Angus on the back foot and he ran away with the first game 11-4. The second game was a closer affair as Angus adjusted to the pace of play and pushed Peter all the way before succumbing 11-9, 2-0 to Peter. The third followed a similar pattern to the second with Angus getting the first chance to take the game at 10-9 but Peter responded with a rolling nick off the service – 10-10. Second chance at game ball, 11-10 to Angus, Peter responded with another straight nick off the service – 11-11. Third game ball for Angus at 12-11, Peter made it three in nicks in a row off the service – 12-12. Could it be fourth time lucky for Angus with game ball at 13-12 . . . . no, Peter hit his fourth straight nick off the service and went on to take the game 15-13 and the Mens O45 title 3-0.
In the plate event, Chris Turlik came through a tight first round match against Adam Clayton, 13-11 in the fourth to move into the final v. Andy Meldrum. This was another close match which Chris came through 3-1 to take the plate title.
There was initially another very healthy entry for a MO50 Masters event, this time 13 players, and even though there were a couple of withdrawals there remained a good number of players in contention as play got underway on Saturday morning at the Bridge of Allan club…
Those on the early shift on Saturday morning included David Massey and Alan Nicoll, whose match went the distance, Alan twice coming from behind to level at 1-1 and 2-2. David would later get compensation of sorts by winning the plate competition, the final of which also went to a fifth game decider.
Meanwhile, Martin Sanchez made smooth progress with a 3-0 win over Danny Russell, who subsequently made it to the plate final, while Jimmy Wells also progressed to the quarter finals with a 3-1 victory over Andy McCulley. While Jimmy’s game management was good, Andy was left frustrated by the number of points gifted to his opponent with unforced errors…
Saturday afternoon brought quarter-final matches as follows:
Brian Robertson v Alan Nicoll
Not for the first time this season, Alan had to try to get past Brian, the top seed for this event following the withdrawal of Les Harkness. Once more, and despite glimpses of how dangerous an opponent Alan can be, Brian succeeded in getting ahead and staying ahead in each game to win 3-0, his speed about court being a key factor.
Martin Sanchez v Russell Hunter
Russell made the early breakthrough by winning a close first game 11-8, but Martin responded by winning a closer second game 12-10. Given what had gone before, it looked like the third game would be pivotal in determining the outcome of this match and so it proved. With Russell winning it (11-8), Martin was unable to again respond, Russell pushing on to win the fourth game comfortably (11-4) for a 3-1 match win.
David Lindsay v Mark James
David and Mark had met at the same stage in the previous Masters tournament in Edinburgh and David had come from behind to win that one 3-2, so that added extra spice to this encounter. Davy carried on where he left off in Edinburgh by winning the first game, but this time Mark was able to come from behind, winning the second game comfortably (11-2) and, despite increasing resistance from Davy, maintaining his form to make it to the semi-finals 3-1.
Jim Wells v Colin McMullan
Having had a number of battles in the past, there was considerable interest in how this match was going to play out. Colin started much the sharper, with Jimmy quite passive, and deservedly moved into a two game lead. Jimmy had to change something to avoid defeat in straight games and succeeded in doing so, winning the third game by a comfortable margin. Both players realised the importance of the fourth game and put a lot of effort into it. It went to the wire, Jimmy winning it 14-12. There was another tense and close finish in the deciding game, with Jimmy completing a fine comeback to progress to the semi-finals.
Sunday morning brought a semi-final line-up of Brian Robertson against Russell Hunter and Mark James against Jim Wells.
Aware that Russell liked to get out of the blocks quickly, Brian was focussed in the first game and was pleased to win it, but Russell fought back immediately, winning the first 6 points of the next game and, despite being pegged back late in the game, he held on to level the match at one game all. Brian responded by taking the ball earlier and putting Russell under greater pressure, winning the next game comfortably. The fourth game returned to the pattern of the first two games, with the score much closer, but Brian kept his nose in front and got over the line for a 3-1 win.
Two competitive games to open the other semi-final were won by Mark (11-9, 13-11), putting him in the driving seat and meaning that if Jimmy was going to progress to the final he was going to have to repeat what he had done in his quarter-final match and overturn a 2-0 deficit. He started well in his quest to do so, winning the third game 11-3, but Mark was able to recover sufficiently in the fourth to reach the final with a 3-1 win.
Brian and Mark had last played several years earlier in the Over 45s age group, adding an extra bit of interest to an already intriguing final. In the early exchanges, Brian played his percentage game to good effect while Mark went for higher-risk shots to keep rallies short, but which didn’t quite come off – first game to Brian. Later explaining that he had been ill in the lead up to the competition and his energy level was low by the final, Mark battled hard in the next two games, which contained some excellent rallies, but all to no avail. Brian’s speed and fitness gave him an advantage that allowed him to maintain control and win both those games for a 3-0 match win.
After what was a challenging and sporting MO50 competition within a very well run tournament at Bridge of Allan, we can hopefully look forward to more of the same at the Masters Nationals in Inverness in early March…
There were 11 entries and the competition was played as a simple knock out.
The draw was well balanced, the only uncertainty being the form of Dave Hickman who had not played in the Masters for about 10 years and who won the BoA 45s back in 2006.
There were three first round matches: Ricky Easton beat Lance Marshall 3-0 comfortably, as was Eric Duguid by Dave McAleese. The third match was much more competitive, Norman Paterson beating Rolf Hansen 3-1, the second game going to Rolf 24-22 and Norman taking the fourth 15-13.
The quarters were all 3-0, some slightly easier than others: Chris Holt (1) and Ronnie Carter (2) both had relatively comfortable wins against Ricky and Dave McAleese respectively; Dave has suffered from injuries this season and his resistance lessened with each game. Keith Murray (3) overcame Norman, being glad to squeeze the third 15-13 before Norman could threaten a come-back. The tie of the round drew Roddy Robinson (4) against Dave Hickman: could Dave replicate his former glories? Dave was slightly rusty in the first two games and was caught out by Roddy’s reverse boast serve returns. The third was much tighter, Dave finding a better length and touch but it was not quite enough allowing Roddy to take it 15-13, but it would have become interesting if Dave had nicked that game. So the four seeded players all advanced to the semis.
The plate had numerous walkovers such that there was only a final in which Eric despatched Lance 3-0, the second game being the closest at 15-11.
Back to the semi-finals of the main event which were contested by Chris v Roddy, and Ronnie v Keith. Chris started quickly winning the first to 3, Roddy struggling with a sore back and the remnants of a chest infection. Roddy became more competitive in the next two games, but Chris still won 3-0 fairly comfortably. Meanwhile, Ronnie was having a slightly closer match, winning 15-9, 15-13, 15-11, Keith being undone by boast boast boast.
The record this season between Chris and Ronnie was one each, both going to five, so another close match was anticipated by players and spectators alike. The first lived up to this, Chris having an early lead but it soon became a point or two apart, Ronnie pinching it 17-15 after both players had had game balls. Chris tightened up in the second and anticipated Ronnie’s boasts better to win the second 15-8, aided slightly by Ronnie being foot faulted twice (the marker was being assessed). Chris was looking secure in the third at 13-6 before Ronnie had his own run of points to reach 13-13; Chris recovered just in time to win it 16-14 to take the lead. Relieved at this, he did not allow Ronnie another come-back and won the fourth to win 15-17, 15-8, 16-14, 15-7 and the title.
NB Jimmy moves up to the 55s for the Nationals in March.
There were 11 entries and the competition was played as a simple knock out.
First round: 3 relatively easy 3-0 wins for Charlie Patrick over Lance Marshall, Dick Bird over Duncan Selkirk, and David Gillies beat Ian Hogg.
Quarter finals: Charlie Patrick put up some stiff resistance in the 1st and 3rd games before losing 3-0 to Keith Gristwood. In the next quarter Bryan Jackson beat Eric Donohoe 3-0 with Eric never managing to get beyond second gear. Dick Bird lost in 3 very close games to John Charles. The last quarter should have been David Gillies v Boyd Kydd but Boyd’s rare Masters’ appearances became even rarer after his late withdrawal.
Semi finals: The first match was Keith Gristwood v Bryan Jackson. Keith looked to be justifying his seeding by winning the first 2 games but Bryan showed really dogged determination in the next 2 games before losing a close 4th allowing Keith to progress to the final. The second match was John Charles v David Gillies – at 2 games all, David looked to be in with a real chance of his first Masters final. However John’s stamina proved decisive in the fifth which he won 15-5.
Final: Keith Gristwood v John Charles. With no strong favourite, this match looked like it might be very close, and it very nearly was. The first game was 15-12 to Keith and the second 16-14 to John. However from there Keith was the more consistent and John’s error count was a bit too high allowing Keith to win the 3rd and 4th games with a little to spare and win the O60 title.
There were nine entries and the competition was played as a simple knock out and plate event for first round losers.
There were some interesting and competitive first round ties before the four seeded players won through to the semi finals which were played on Sunday morning.
First up was Jim Dougal v Alex Sinclair – Alex suffering from an early morning start and carrying an injury from the day before allowed Jim to sail through 3-0 to the final.
Next up was Dave Sturman v Emilio Fazzi – Dave took the first two games very comfortably but the third game was a very tight affair with Dave winning the tie break 20-18 and proceeding to the final.
A great final was expected between Jim and Dave. Dave played well and strolled through to take the first game. Jim raise has game and fought back to win the second game. Jim then worked his magic and won the third and fourth games and the O65 title.
The Plate final was contested by local player Walter McAllister and Fort William’s Warren Cameron. In a very tight match Walter recorded a 3-1 victory.
There were nine entries and the competition was played as a simple knock out.
Ken Reid pulled out due to illness which left eight players drawn into a knock-out.
With most matches going to the in-form players George Stirrat, Alistair McMeckan and Tom Kane beat Andy Duff, Alfie Thomson and David Brown 3-0.
Match of the Day
The most competitive quarter final was the match between Bernard Starkey and Chris Jeffrey.
This was the sixth time they have clashed since joining the age group in 2015.
Bernard has been Chris’s nemesis, so would today’s game be any different?
Having established a 2-1 lead Chris, after a couple of very competitive games, must have thought so, however Bernard cut down his mistakes, started to take the ball earlier and with some indifferent shot selection from Chris allowed him to get his game together. Taking the fourth game 15-8…
Final game continued on the improved play by Bernard who took an early lead which he developed with confidence taking the game and match. This ensured that he went through to another semi-final.
For Chris it was back to the drawing board!
Result Bernard won 3-2
George Stirrat v Alistair McMeckan
George the number one seed, controlled this match with his power and economical use of play with Alistair unable to answer the consistency and accuracy of his opponent.
Result George won 3-0
Tom Kane v Bernard Starkey
Earlier in the season, Tom had a 3-0 win against Bernard in Aberdeen, Bernard reversed this in Edinburgh, winning 3-0 with some good strong play and hard hitting shots.
This match at Bridge of Allan saw a return to winning ways for Tom.
A more lively court with a high ceiling very much suited to Tom’s style of play, where an array of cut shots and high lobs in particular did not allow Bernard to play his usual dominant and powerful game.
Result Tom won 3-1
George Stirrat v Tom Kane
A clash between 1st and 2nd seed. The only meeting had ended in a win for George.
Though hotly contested with scores of 15-12 and 15-10 etc, George again produced his very powerful serve which Tom could not master, giving away a series of weak returns in each match to allow him to steal a march.
Although George struggled at times with Tom’s accurate stroke play and high lobs, he proved his number one seeding by taking the match 3-0
Result George Stirrat Central Masters Champion 2018
There were only three players with Andy Duff and Chris Jeffrey to play-off, with Alfie Thomson waiting to play the winner.
Chris disposed of Andy 3-0 in the game that never developed into the five game thriller that might have been predicted from their earlier games this season.
Match of the Day
Alfie came into this match having being beaten 3-0 and then not having to play David Brown who pulled out of plate.
Chris on the other hand had been through a five game match and then defeated Andy Duff 3-0 to take his place in the plate final.
How much energy did he have left?
Alfie’s accurate lobs and tight drops were put to good use and Chris lost the first. He came back twice to take it into the final game. This proved to be too much for Chris and his energy was sapped over the five games. Alfie prevailed after a competitive five setter of nip and tuck – with Chris playing catch up in the fifth, all to no avail.
A closely contested match
15-13; 7-15; 15-12; 12-15; 15-12
Alfie won 3-2
Dates for your Diary
Scottish National Masters 9/10/11 March 2018 at Inverness Tennis and Squash Club – entries close Wednesday 28 February 2018
The Masters Ranking Points to the end of February 2018 are on the Scottish Squash website