Scotland travelled to Wales for the recent Men’s over 45 Home Internationals event which took place in Cardiff on 20th and 21st April. We all knew this would be a tough weekend of squash however our moral was high and we were all geared up for the task ahead.
On Friday night Scotland kicked off their first match against hosts Wales. Team captain David Lindsay was first on. David controlled the first game winning 11/7 however lost the next three 11/8 11/7 11/8. Next on court was Douglas Emery who was making his Scottish debut on this occasion. Not only did he put in a man of the match performance but he also came away with a 3/0 win.
Next on court, also making his first appearance for Scotland was Paul Jenkins. Paul’s performance was really something to be proud of. He showed great determination and skill however lost a very tight match 3/1.
John Kynoch was on fine form and you could argue that he also deserved the man of the match title! Despite a fine performance John came back from 2 – 0 down to lose a thrilling five setter match.
Last up for the Scots was Stonehaven’s Peter Buchan who was up against Welsh number one Nick Dyer. Peter took the first game 11/6 but lost 11/8 11/7 11/6 in a gruelling four game battle with some outstanding rallies.
After a quiet Friday night, Scotland had the formidable task on Saturday morning of taking on the all mighty England. This proved to be a step too far on the day however the highlights of this match were to include another debut for James Stewart who played extremely well on his first outing. Despite going down 3/0 James produced some pin point drop shots and controlled squash that he s should be proud of. Paul Jenkins and John Kynoch both went down fighting in 3/0 losses. Douglas Emery displayed some great squash once again and managed to take a game from his English opponent before finally losing 3-1. Man of the match performance on this occasion had to be awarded to Peter Buchan who was up against former professional Lee Scott. Peter pushed him all the way but lost a tight first game 12/10. Despite this Peter continued to fight but lost the next two 11/6 11/5.
The final game of the day against Ireland was the battle of the wooden spoon, this was the time to stand up and be counted and that as a team Scotland did.
James Stuart was first on and after four great games of squash the match was even at two games all and James was locked battle with Irelands Geoff Wales. After a gruelling fifth game James lost 12/10. On another day decisions might have been kinder and the match could have gone either way, never the less he should be proud of his performance.
John Kynoch played Steve Mooney in a game to land a comprehensive 3/1 win to square the match. Paul Jenkins was next on for the Scots and played some amazing drops and lobs to win out a comfortable 11/4 11/3 11/3. This fine result put Scotland 2/1 ahead in matches, no pressure then! One more win would secure the tie for Scotland.
Fitting or not it was Captain David Lindsay who had the task of trying to seal the much needed final win. It did not start well as Irelands Dave Fassinfield won the first 2 games 11/8 11/7 but David rose to the challenge and fought back to take the third game 11/8. It was all to play for in the fourth. David saved three match balls before taking it 16/14. We were going to a fifth game! By this time there was a lot of noise from the viewing gallery with every shot being cheered on by both teams but to the relief of the Scotland team when David pulled out a match winning performance to win 11/8 in the fifth and secured the match to Scotland much to the delight of the team (most of all David)! Peter Buchan finished off the tie with a 3/1 win giving Scotland a 15/6 win and third place.
A huge thank you from David Lindsay to his team members this year for all their effort and commitment. Everybody performed well for their country. Lastly, congratulations to Jim Dougal and his team on winning their over 60 age group.
WO45 report to follow
The Scottish O65 Team was selected on 13 March 2016 during the Scottish Masters Finals at SSRC. The following team was selected based on the points accumulated by players for the tournaments in the 2015/16 season – Jim Dougal (Captain), John Rae, Ian Ross, Alex Sinclair, Dave Sturman, Emilio Fazzi and Alex Everingham. Unfortunately due to injury Alex Sinclair had to withdraw from the team.
Given that the O65 Home Internationals were five weeks after the last Masters tournament, the team arranged a number of training and team building sessions at Myreside, Bridge of Allan and Newlands – this worked well.
The Home Internationals for Ladies O45, Men O45 and Men O65 were held in Cardiff on 22/23 April in Cardiff. The event was held at two venues the Wales National Squash Centre and the Cardiff Squash Club. The venues were within 5 minutes walking distance and three courts were used at each venue. The three Welsh Teams played all their matches at the National Squash Centre and the matches involving teams from the other countries were played at the Cardiff Squash Club.
The three Scottish Teams all met at the Copthorne Hotel outside Cardiff and travelled to the National Squash Centre for practice and photographs before the first matches against Wales started at 5pm.
The Scottish Team for the first match in team order was Jim Dougal, John Rae, Ian Ross, Dave Sturman and Alex Everingham. The order of play for the Home Internationals is 5, 3, 1, 4, and 2.
Alex Everingham played the first match against Lol (Leighton) Jenkins. It was an interesting contest as Alex hits the ball hard and takes the ball early, whilst Lol wants to play a slow lob/drop game. Alex played very well and did not allow Lol into the match and won convincingly by 3/0.
In the second match Ian Ross played Geoff Perrett. This was well contested but Ian controlled the match and ran out a 3/0 winner. Things were going well and we were leading 2/0.
In the third match, captain Jim Dougal played Richard Packman. Jim is renowned for his touch but in the first game he met his match and Richard played some beautiful touch shots and won the first game 9/4. The second game was more keenly contested however with the score at 5/6 there was a collision between Jim and Richard. Richard came off worse with a recurring back injury – after taking an injury time out he returned to court. Jim closed the game out 9/6 and unfortunately Richard retired and Jim won 3/1.
The fourth match was between Dave Sturman and Mike Mooney. Mike is well known to the Scottish team as he lives in Scotland and regularly plays on the Scottish Masters circuit. Dave started well, hitting the ball hard around the court and forced uncharacteristic errors from Mike. Dave comfortably won the first game and continued his good form ran out a 3/0 winner.
The final match was between John Rae and Richard Ford. John played very well and did not allow Richard to get into the match – he won the first game 9/4 and ran out a comfortable winner by 3/0.
Clearly a fantastic result for Scotland by 20/1 – all games count plus 5 points for a win.
In the other O65 match at the Cardiff Squash Club England beat Ireland by 4 matches to 1 with an overall score of 17/4. For the record Peter Smith beat Robert Peel 3/0, Ian Graham beat Alan Donovan 3/0, John Hithersay beat John Keilty 3/0, Alan Hendry beat Barry Cullinane 3/0 and Terry Norman lost to Sheamus Daly 3/0.
Neither side could field their strongest team as Ireland were missing their strongest player David Gotto and England had injuries including Derek Collins and Barry Featherstone, and Larry Glover was fogbound in Channel Islands.
Saturday morning was the huge match against the ‘Auld Enemy’ – the winner of this match would be in a strong position to win the tournament. The Scottish team was Jim Dougal, John Rae, Ian Ross, Emilio Fazzi and Dave Sturman.
Dave Sturman played the first match against seasoned campaigner Terry Norman. In a tightly contested first game Dave led 8/5, however Terry fought back to level the score at 8/8 before he closed out the first game 10/8. Terry kept up his good form to win the second and third games to win the match 3/0.
In the second match Ian Ross played John Hithersay. John started very well, hitting the ball cleanly and played a number of forehand winners and won the first game 9/3. John continued to play well and was leading in the second game but Ian started moving John around the court and lengthened the rallies. John was tiring and Ian won the second game 9/6. Ian continued to move the tiring John around the court and closed the match out by winning the third and fourth games and the match by 3/1.
In the third match Jim Dougal played Peter Smith. Peter had recently beaten Jim by 3/0 in February in the final of the O65 British Closed. Both players were nervous in the first game and this resulted in a number of uncharacteristic errors. However from 6/6 Jim took control and with good shots won the first game 9/6. Jim continued to play his shots and move his opponent round the court and comfortably won the second and third games and the match 3/0. The Scotland team were in a good position and leading by 2/1.
The fourth match was between Emilio Fazzi and Alan Hendry. This was Emilio’s first match and he started slowly and lost the first game 9/4. Alan led at the started of the second game but Emilio found his form and led 7/3. However Alan fought back and won the second game 9/7 and continued his good form to win the third game and the match 3/0.
The result of the match was going down to the wire and the deciding match between John Rae and the England captain, Ian Graham. With the O45 Ladies and Men matches complete the glass back gallery was full with noisy supporters. John started well, hitting the ball hard and putting away and lose shots from Ian. John led 8/2 but Ian clawed his way back to level at 8/8 and then closed the game out 10/8. John fought back strongly and won the second game 9/1. This was a match of very high quality with both players playing well. The supporters from both sides were nervous and noisy but respectful of both players when they played good shots. The third game was closely contested but Ian showed his mettle and won the game 9/6. The drama continued with John taking command of the fourth game which he won 9/5. The final game was again fiercely contested by both players – John led 6/5 but at this stage it was impossible chose a winner. Again Ian played some excellent squash at the end of the game and despite John’s heroic efforts Ian won the game 9/6 and match 3/2.
The gallery loudly and sportingly applauded both players for an excellent match. The overall match result was 15/8 – the Scotland team was devastated.
In the other match Wales beat Ireland 5/0 with an overall score of 20/7. The match was closer than the 5/0 result with two matches going to five games and the other three matches going to four games.
In the match on Saturday afternoon Scotland played Ireland at the Cardiff Squash Club. The Scotland team was devastated after losing in the morning to England and it was important for them to keep focussed for the match against Ireland.
The Scotland team to play Ireland was Jim Dougal, John Rae, Ian Ross, Emilio Fazzi and Alex Everingham. All the players played well with Ian, Emilio and John recording 3/0 wins and Alex recording a 3/1 win. In the other match Jim Dougal had a very hard match against Robert Peel. Robert won the first game 9/4, but Jim fought back to win the second 9/3. Robert then took control of the match and won the third game and was leading 8/3 and match ball in the fourth game. Captain Jim, showing his fighting spirit fought back and saved a number of match balls before levelling at 8/8 and then winning 10/8. Jim showed his class by winning the final game 9/3 and the match by 3/2. Scotland won 5/0 and an overall score of 20/2.
In the other match Wales played England at the Wales National Squash Centre. In order to win the O65 England had to beat Wales. Towards the end of the Scotland v Ireland match there were some rumours filtering back to the Cardiff Squash Club that Wales were beating England! The Welsh team showed all their fighting spirit. In the first match Steve Evans lost the first two games to Terry Norman but then fought back superbly to win the next three games and the match 3/2. In the second game Mike Mooney lost the first game but then played well against a tiring John Hithersay and won the next three games and the match 3/1. In the third match Richard Ford won the first two games and had four match balls in the third game. However Peter Smith showed his fighting spirit to win the third game and the next two games and the match 3/2. England 1 Wales 2 but Wales had never beaten England in the O65 Home Internationals.
In the fourth match Lol Jenkins played Alan Hendry. Lol won the first game with his lob/drop strategy and but Alan fought back to win the second and third games. In front of a huge patriotic gallery Lol won the fourth game 9/7 and then won an exciting fifth game 9/6 and the match 3/2. Wales had beaten England for the first time in the O65 Home Internationals! In the final match Ian Graham comfortably beat Geoff Perrett by 3/0. Wales won the match 3/2 and the overall result was Wales 15 England 11.
At the end of the tournament England, Scotland and Wales had each won two matches and therefore the winner of the tournament would be the country that won the most games! In the count-back England had 43 points, Scotland had 48 points and Wales had 36 points and Ireland had 14 points. Therefore Scotland had won the Men O65 tournament for the first time.
One of the Scotland team members learned that England had lost to Wales and texted the other team members who were returning to the hotel. On seeing the result, Captain Jim Dougal was so excited he got lost on the way back to the team hotel!
The Wales Home International Masters tournament was very well run under the leadership of Lynne Davies and the Welsh Masters committee. The venues were good and the catering at the Cardiff Squash Club for players and guests was excellent. High quality referees were provided for all 18 matches and this was appreciated by all the players.
The dinner and prize giving was a fitting event to an excellent weekend. The food was excellent and the compere (a former Welsh Masters player) for the prize giving was very witty and entertaining. The disco played appropriate National songs when the winners and runners-up received their medals. The three winning team captains gave short but entertaining thanks on behalf of their players.
The Scottish O65 team were delighted to win the tournament but were indebted to the support of their WAGS and the O45 Ladies and Men teams who provided advice and strong support throughout the tournament.