The East Masters tournament was held at the Edinburgh Sports Club (ESC) on 20/21 January 2018.

There were a healthy total of 96 competitors who took part in three Ladies’ events and eight Mens’ events.

Mark Adderley and David Coutts of ESC, supported by Garry McKay and Kevin Moran from Scottish Squash, managed a very well organised tournament. They all worked hard to make all competitors welcome and ESC provided a very good catering service throughout the tournament. At the prize giving Graham Lind, on behalf of the competitors thanked the organisers for all their hard work in the organisation and the draws.

Thanks are also due to Scottish Squash (Ross Cairns) and Sportyhq for managing the entry and supporting the organisers in running the tournament. Mike Halpin, Dave Ferguson and David Mathie supported the committee by providing refereeing services throughout the tournament.

Ladies O35

There were four competitors and the competition was played as a round robin.

The entry was strong with Masters debutant Susie Lind joining Carrie Gray, Ailsa Polworth and Mandy Craig Gould. Susie and Carrie were up first with Susie pulling through in 3. Susie followed up that victory with a victory over Mandy later in the day. Meanwhile Ailsa was on form and accumulated wins with excellent victories over Mandy and Carrie. Saturday’s results set up clear 3/4 play off between Carrie and Mandy and 1/2 play off between Ailsa and Susie on Sunday.

Carrie and Mandy were up first and Carrie pulled out an excellent performance to take 3rd place with a 3-0 victory. Susie and Ailsa battled hard in the final match of the tournament but Ailsa was just too strong pulling through 3-0. It was an excellent tournament with Ailsa taking first spot, Susie second, Carrie third and Mandy fourth.

Ladies O50

There were six competitors and the competition was played as 2 round robins, followed by semi final cross ties and final.

Unfortunately Jane Davy withdrew late on Friday and this reduced Pool 1 to two players, namely Ashley Mears and Fiona Morrison. On Saturday Ashley won a closely contested match 3-0 with Fiona competing tenaciously for every point. Both players progressed to the cross tie semi finals.

Pool 2 had three players namely Sue Strachan, Julia Horsburgh and Jennifer McArtney. Sue won both games 3-0, against Julia and Jennifer and Julia beat Jennifer 3-0 in tight match to clinch the other semi final position.

The semi final cross ties were played on Sunday morning – first seed Ashley played Julia and second seed Sue played Fiona. The seeded players both had comfortable 3-0 wins and progressed to the final.

Before the final Julia played Fiona in the 3/4 play off. This was an evenly contested match but Julia proved too strong at the end of each game to win 3-0.

The final between the two top seeds Ashley and Sue attracted a large crowd. Ashley started strongly and closed the first game out 15-11, but Sue fought back tenaciously and won the second game 15-13 and levelled the match. The third game was ‘nip and tuck’ and either player could have won it – but Ashley kept her nerve and won 15-13 to take a 2-1 lead. The crowd were being entertained to a high quality match. Ashley was the stronger player in the fourth game and won 15-7 to win the match and the Ladies O50 title.

Ladies O55

First up was Bernie versus Norma. The first game was close with Bernie just holding The ladies were down to three competitors due to a late injury call off.

her position over strong starter Norma 15-9. The second game saw Bernie more in control with a 15-3. Third game Norma got a few winners but Bernie finished the game 15-6 to win the match.

Next game was Claire versus Norma.  Claire played a strong game just putting the ball out of Norma’s reach to win 15-2. The second game Claire continued her strong play and won 15-1. The third game continued as before. Norma hit a great cross court nick winner but the game ended 15-3 for Claire to win the match.

Final match was Bernie versus Claire. It was a great game with both players showing the skills from the first point. Nip and tuck all the way, then Bernie edged in front looking like she was going to take the first game. Claire held her nerve and levelled it off and eventually took the game 17-15.  The second game was contested equally. Claire edged in front and then some great nicks from Bernie pulled it back. Great play from both players to level at 14. The crowd was gathering. Mistake from Bernie -another serve and Claire took the game 16-14.

In the third game Claire took more control and Bernie made a few mistakes. Then, at match point against, Bernie pulled a few points back. Bernie served well, Claire drove the shot tight down the backhand, too strong for Bernie to get her return back. Game over 15-8 – match to Claire, a tremendous match for the players and spectators.

MO35

A slightly diminished field of 4 was further hit with a late withdrawal, meaning the O35 competition was a 3 way round robin battle. Graham Lind, Stevie Howie and Ross Allan made up the field with Graham and Stevie up first. Graham seized the home court advantage to take the first and with Stevie tiring the second and third went the same way. First blood to Graham.

A difficult draw for Stevie meant he was back on court within a couple of hours against Ross. There followed an epic battle. The match ebbed and flowed with Stevie nicking the 5th for a 3-2 victory.

The balcony were working out all the permutations before the final match between Graham and Ross with a Lind victory confirming a maiden Masters win but an Allan victory meaning the calculators would be required. Lind got off to a strong start and looked to have the first wrapped before a late charge saw the game tied at 10 all. Both players had game balls before Lind edged ahead and took the first 15-13. The second and third games then went the same way meaning Lind ran out a 3-0 winner, taking the O35’s title with Stevie in second and Ross in third. Three excellent games and all done on the Saturday. Perfect.

MO40

It was great to see a comparatively decent turnout with some new faces for the O40s at the East, with a draw of nine meaning the first event not to be a round robin format this season.

In the only first round match, unseeded Matthew Morton was playing Grant McGovern. Matthew had been away from the Scottish Squash scene since his junior days, having not played for some 20 years or so until the last couple of years! He proved too strong for Grant coming through 3-0.

The quarter finals saw seeds Grant Gray, Barry Masson and Blair McKenzie come through unscathed, all winning 3-0 against David Simpson, Malcolm Cameron and Scott Hay respectively. The remaining quarter final pitted 3rd seed Peter Buchan against Matthew Morton, which proved to be an unfortunate draw for Peter – a tough 4 setter saw Peter beaten 3-1 and Matthew showing that he was going to be a strong contender.

On to Sunday, and the first semi final was Barry against Matthew. Both players threw big leads away in the first 2, but it was one game each, after which 2 more tight games followed, both players working very hard and rarely much in either of them, but Matthew managed to edge them both by narrow margins, eventually coming through 12-10 in the 4th and into the final.

In the second semi final, number 1 seed Grant had too much for Blair in the first 2 games, taking them quite easily. In the third Blair earned a look at a game ball, however Grant was able to save it and take the game and match.

The final between Grant and Matthew involved some great squash from both and a tight first game was clearly going to be crucial. It was eventually Grant that took it 12-10 and perhaps the harder games in previous rounds were starting to take their toll on Matthew as the second also went to Grant 11-6. However Matthew showed great fight and dominated the 3rd game taking it 11-4, only for the match to swing back in Grant’s favour as he proved too strong in the 4th to come through 3-1 and take the O40 title.

In the plate Scott Hay won a well contested 3-0 over Grant, and the faced Peter Buchan who beat him 3-0 in the final match.

MO45

The over 45’s had a good, strong entry, allowing a straight, eight player draw.

First up on Saturday morning was new versus old – Simon Boughton, recently turned 45 and the number one seed against the elder statesman of the group, Andy McCulley, who was also in the over 50’s event. This time, youth prevailed as Simon ran out a comfortable 3-0 win. Second match of the day was local dark horse, Adrian Richmond v regular Masters competitor, Dougie Emery, the number 4 seed – as the bookies thought, this turned out to be a great match which swung one way then the other before going to a 5th game – Adrian was quicker out of the blocks in the decider and it was too much for Dougie to claw back – a 3-2 win for Adrian. Third match of the first round saw Paul Jenkins, the number 3 seed, take on John Kynoch –  Paul was like a preying mantis, attacking everything and taking the first two games. Leading 10-8 in the 3rd, it looked like Paul was heading for a 3-0 win, but it was not to be as a couple of tins let John back in to take the game 12-10. Paul steadied the ship though and took the 4th 11-7 for a 3-1 win. Final match of the first round had Chris Turlik up against Angus Woodward, the number 2 seed. Chris was quick out of the blocks and jumped into an early, first game lead with a flurry of reverse boasts. Angus clawed the score back as he started to read Chris’s game and got his nose in front to take the game 11-8. Chris battled hard for the next couple of games but Angus held the upper hand and closed out the match 3-0.

On to Saturday afternoon and the semi-finals. First on court was the all Edinburgh clash of Simon v Adrian – despite Adrian putting up a spirited fight to the end, Simon always had the edge and secured another 3-0 win to move through to the final. The other semi-final between Paul and Angus was a much tighter affair. Attacking squash from both players saw the first two games shared. Paul took the 3rd and seemed to have the upper hand, but Angus came back to take the 4th and push the match to a deciding game. The attacking squash continued and the final game was nip and tuck to 9-9 until two late errors from Paul allowed Angus to breath a sigh of relief as he took the match 3-2 to move into the final alongside Simon.

Simon continued his dominance of the event in the final. Angus put up a spirited fight, but Simon is currently a class apart in this age group. Controlled squash with some sublime shot-making and a common theme for this weekend saw Simon crowned as the O45’s champion with another comfortable, 3-0 win.

There were a couple of good matches in the plate competition in this very competitive age group. Dougie Emery had a tough battle against Chris Turlik, eventually gaining the upper hand to win 3-1 to move through to the final. The other finalist was John Kynoch, courtesy of a bye after the withdrawal of Andy McCulley. John seemed to have the fresher legs and although Dougie put up a great fight on tired legs, John just edged each of three tight games to win 3-0 and take the plate title.

MO50

Fanfare please!  For the first time in a long time, the MO50 draw was full, in fact initially over-subscribed.  By the time competition started, there had been small changes to the line-up, but there remained 16 players in contention.

Day 1

Some unexpected seedings made for an intriguing set of matches to kick off the tournament…

Only two of the eight first round matches played had a clear-cut 3-0 outcome, with Colin Grant the victor against David Fernie and Craig Doel getting the better of David Massey.

By contrast, three matches went the full distance.  Brian Robertson edged out Martin Sanchez and Russell Hunter came from behind to beat Jimmy Wells.  Andy McCulley won two close games to gain the upper hand against Colin McMullan and had a match point in the next, but Colin kept his nerve to open his account.  The next game was another very close one, with Andy again reaching match point before Colin won it 16-14.  With the match finely balanced, it was Andy who maintained his form for a hard-fought victory, but not ideal preparation for his next match, an over 45 match against Simon Boughton!

In the remaining matches, tournament organiser Mark Adderly won the first game before succumbing 3-1 to Alan Nicol, Mark James had to be on guard against Mark Hallam, but progressed 3-1 and David Lindsay and Danny Russell were evenly matched in the early stages before David pulled away to also win 3-1.

Saturday afternoon brought quarter-final matches as follows:

Brian v Alan – Brian took control early and successfully suppressed Alan’s big-hitting game.  A win for Brian in straight games.

Colin v Russell – Keenly fought games, but each went the way of Colin to continue his smooth progress in the tournament – no games against so far.

Mark v David – This match seemed to be going the way of Mark when he won the third game to go into a 2-1 lead, but David showed great resilience in fighting back for a 3-2 win.

Craig v Andy – Andy worked hard to win the first game, but Craig’s short game was working well and after levelling at 1-1, he kept the momentum going to eventually win 3-1.

Day 2

The semi-finals were played on Sunday morning, with Brian playing Colin and David up against Craig.

Brian and Colin play a similar sort of game and there was little between them throughout this match.  Brian took the first and third games but Colin bounced back each time to level things up.  In the decider, it was again even until the latter stages, when Colin played the more assertive shots to progress to the final.

In the other match, David made an impressive start to take the first game and back it up to take a 2-0 lead.  However, Craig fought back to take the third convincingly.  The fourth game was critical in determining the overall outcome – Craig won in 12-10 and pushed on in the fifth for the win.

In Sunday afternoon’s final, Craig made an immediate impact winning the first game, but Colin is fit, fast and consistent and these attributes helped him to draw level and ultimately push on to win 3-1.  A great effort by Craig over the whole weekend, while Colin is a worthy champion.

In an entertaining final Martin Sanchez beat Colin McMullan 3-1 to win the O50 Plate final.

Overall, this was a well-supported, enjoyable and challenging MO50 event.  Here’s hoping for more of the same in future events.

MO55

There were 11 competitors following one late withdrawal and the competition was played as a knock out.  There had been two revisions to the draw, with Keith Murray, a previous finalist playing his first event, not being seeded and representing a danger in the quarter finals.  All were Scotland based except for Keith who travelled up from Preston.

There were three first round matches: Trevor Mitchell beat Eric Duguid 3-0 comfortably, as was Lance Marshall by Dave McAleese.  The other first round match was more competitive, Les Symmons beating Ricky Easton 3-1.

Two of the quarters gave 3-0 wins for Chris Holt over Trevor, and for Keith over Neil Rayner, but with most of the games being competitive.  Neil was the unlucky seed to draw Keith.  The other quarters were much closer affairs.  Les squeezed past Norman Patterson 3-0 but by a two point margin in all the games, Norman having had game balls in each of the first two but struggling slightly with the after effects of a cold.  Roddy Robinson had an even tougher match against Dave, winning 3-2, the greatest game margin being 11-15, the closest 16-18.

The plate had numerous walkovers such that there were was only a final in which Norman despatched Lance 3-0, although Lance was never too far away in points each game.

Back to the semi-finals of the main event which were contested by Chris v Keith, and Les v Roddy.  The last time Chris and Keith met was at Bridge of Allan when Chris had to retire following a shoulder contact injury.  Keith started the more strongly, winning the first 15-11, but thereafter Chris tightened up and worked Keith harder.  A little nudge in the back of Keith might also have helped Chris win the next three games 15-7, 15-12, 15-9.  Meanwhile, Les was making short work of Roddy, who was also suffering the after effects of a cold, to win in three: 15-7, 15-11, 15-9.

The final was played on court 6, so opportunities to put in some high lobs.  Chris started confidently and was quickly up two games.  Les fought back in the third, keeping slightly ahead until the game reached 13-13 when Chris tinned a trickle boast which would otherwise have given him match ball and Les converted his game ball.  Chris reasserted himself sufficiently in the fourth to win the match 15-5, 15-8, 13-15, 15-10 and to retain the trophy.

MO60

There were 12 competitors and the competition was played as a knock out.

First round: David Gillies beat Lance Marshall 3-0 and Charlie Patrick beat Duncan Selkirk 3-1.

Quarter finals: John Rae had a routine 3-0 over Charlie Patrick. In the next quarter Bryan Jackson beat Eric Donohoe 3-0 with Eric never getting beyond second gear. Ernie Cowell had a tough, albeit 3-0, win over David Gillies. The last quarter was the closest with Keith Gristwood getting the better of Dick Bird after 4 hard games.

Semi finals: The first match John Rae v Bryan Jackson. John won the first 2 games by narrow margins but the third was more comfortable. The second match was Keith Gristwood v Ernie Cowell. Ernie won the first 15-8 with typical display of good length mixed up with telling drops and boasts. However from there the match completely turned and Keith won the next 3 with a fine display of shot making at the front of the court that Ernie could do little about.

Final: John Rae v Keith Gristwood. There was no clear favourite but John’s vast experience in finals gave him a slight edge. The first was tough on both players and Keith won 15-10. John recovered his poise in the second to take it 15-6. Perhaps Keith was having a rest? The last 2 games both went to John 15-11 despite Keith’s best efforts, but he was always a point or 2 behind in both these game. John won 3-1 to claim his third East Masters Over-60 title. One more and he will match the 4 of Jim Dougal and the legendary John Done.

In an entertaining final Dick Bird beat Eric Donohoe 3-2 to win the O60 Plate.

MO65

There were 11 competitors and the competition was played as a knock out.

It was interesting to welcome Aubrey Waddy, an English Masters International and well known on the Home International and European Masters circuit to the O65 East Masters tournament. Unfortunately Aubrey was not recognised by East Masters committee and was not seeded. In addition Joe Richardson entered under ESC (Edinburgh Sports Club?) – Joe was not recognised by O65 Masters players or East Masters committee and was also not seeded. Joe is a well known England Masters player and is ranked 7 in the England O65.

It was very unfortunate that Aubrey and Joe, (who are good friends) were drawn to play each other in the first round! In fact Aubrey did not know he was playing Joe until they met on the balcony at 10.30am on Sunday morning! Joe knew who he was playing as there is only one Aubrey Waddy!

It was an excellent contest. Aubrey started well and playing very good drops and lobs quickly won the first two games 15-9, 15-5. Joe was struggling to get a length and could not compete against Aubrey’s winning shots. However Joe fought back in the third game – he took the ball early and moved Aubrey around the court. It was ‘nip and tuck’ all the way and Aubrey had a match ball at 14-13 which Joe saved with a winning backhand drop. Joe held his nerve and won the third game 16-14. He continued his good form and won the fourth game 15-8 and was leading 11-7 in the final game. However Aubrey was not finished and played some good shots to level the score at 12-12 before Joe won the last three points and closed out the match 3-2. It was an excellent match played in good spirit and entertained a large crowd for a first round tie.

In the other two first round ties Colin Cruikshanks from the home club comfortably beat Jim Webster from Aberdeen 3-0 and Phil Leek from Hamilton beat Warren Cameron 3-1 in a closely contested match.

The quarter finals were played (or not) and the seeds progressed or not on Saturday afternoon! First seed Jim Dougal played well and comfortably beat Colin Cruikshanks 3-0.

Third seed Emilio Fazzi, winner of last O65 event at Dumfries withdrew late on Friday night. His opponent in the quarter final Walter McAllister travelled from Bridge of Allan in wintry conditions and only found out that Emilio had withdrawn when he a arrived at ESC!

Fourth seed Alex Sinclair played Joe Richardson. In a very closely contested first game Alex played very well and fought for every point, however Joe snatched the game 18-16. Joe then took control of the match and won the second and third games 15-7, 15-11 and progressed to the semi final.

Ian Ross, the second seed played Phil Leek in the last quarter final. Ian started well and won the first game. Phil played well and fought back to win a closely contested second game 16-14. Ian recovered and took control and won the third and fourth games 15-9, 15-8 to win the match.

The semi finals were played at lunch time on Sunday. Jim Dougal demonstrated his good all round touch and beat a plucky Walter McAllister 3-0.

In the other semi final Ian Ross played Joe Richardson. Ian started well and moved Joe around the court with some good drives and drop shots and won the first game 15-11. Joe fought back and took control of the match with some great backhand drives and drop shots and won the second and third games 15- 4, 15-4. The fourth game was more closely contested but Joe deservedly won the game 15-10 and progressed to the final.

In the final Jim played well – his mixture of drop shots and boasts which Joe did not read gave Jim the early lead – at 14-10 Jim was in a good position but Joe tenaciously fought back to win the game 16-14. Jim determinedly ‘flew out the blocks’ in the second game and took a big lead and closed the game out 15-10. The third game was close before Joe won 5 points in a row to win the game 15-11. In the fourth game Joe continued his good form and with Jim tiring Joe closed out the game 15-10 and deservedly won the O65 title.

There were only two matches in the O65 plate. Aubrey Waddy played Jim Webster – in an entertaining match Aubrey won by 3-2. Having received a bye and then a walkover before losing to Jim Dougal in the semi final Walter McAllister played Aubrey in the final of the plate. In closely contested match which both players clearly enjoyed Aubrey beat Walter to win the O65 Plate final.

Joe and Aubrey enjoyed their visit to Edinburgh and hopefully will return to play in other Scottish Masters events. It was also a win/win for the Scottish players who benefitted from the quality of the opposition and hopefully this will encourage other Home International players to venture north of the border.

MO70

There were nine competitors and the competition was played as a knock out.

Round 1

Top half of draw

George Stirrat, Alf Thomson, Alistair McMeckan, Ken Reid were given a bye.

Bottom half of draw

Bernard Starkey, Andy Duff and Tom Kane were given a bye.

David Brown v Chris Jeffrey

This was a very closely fought match. Both players have been away from the Masters this season and David started well and took the first helped by Chris giving away easy points. Chris took second with both players not fully into their games with a lot of loose play. In the third David came out on top, but quickly lost his advantage losing the fourth. David recovered and went onto win the last game, 15-7.

Result David won 3-2 and moves into quarters and plays Tom Kane.

Quarter Finals

George Stirrat v Alfie Thomson

George was too strong for Alfie, against an in form player who was never troubled and took an easy win.

Result George won 3-0.

Alistair McMeckan v Ken Reid

(Match of the day)

Alistair was in form, a close match which was well contested. It looked as though Ken was to make a quick exit losing the first two games, only to turn the game on its head by winning the next two games with his dogged play to frustrate Alistair. This continued into the final game with Ken moving taking a 11-5 lead then he ran out of steam to a relieved Alistair who took the game 15-11.

Result Alistair won 3-2.

Bernard Starkey v Andy Duff

Bernard had control of this match from the first game and Andy had no answers to Bernard’s play.

Result Bernard won 3-0.

David Brown v Tom Kane

A return match between these two, when in 2017 David was just coming back from a shoulder injury and succumbed to a quick defeat.

This match took place on a very cold ‘outside’ court 6. Players of contrasting styles, David’s aggressive play to Tom’s soft touch and good movement.

This time, David fully recovered, and boosted by a very good 5 set win over Chris Jeffrey.

Court 6 was cold and playing slow, but both players got off to a quick start, nip and tuck until the later stages of the first game where Tom forged ahead with a series of lobs and drops to take the game 15-10.

The next game followed a similar vein with David not getting to grips with the play of the court, and not being able to deal with the high lobs and accurate drops of Tom. However at two down, David stormed back to take the third 15-13.

In the fourth game, Tom went ahead early on, and maintained the lead to win the game comfortably 15-5.

Result Tom won 3-1.

Sunday

Plate Final

Chris Jeffreys v Andy Duff

A match of nick and tuck, in a closely fought, lively match. Andy and Chris shared the first two games, Andy then led 2-1 before Chris won the fourth to level the match 2-2. The final game saw Chris coming through to win 15-8.

Result Chris won 3-2 and won the Plate final.

Semi finals

George Stirrat v Alistair McMeckan

This was a very close, hard fought match. George simply wore Alastair down with some very tight shots. The outcome did not reflect how Alistair pressed and took the game to his opponent, but could not answer the power and control imposed by George who won. Alastair is clearly making his mark.

Result George won 3-0.

Tom Kane v Bernard Starkey

The match in court 3 again proved a cold venue with the ball slow and hanging in the air. The match was fairly competitive with Bernard adapting better to the conditions than Tom, who had problems with the low roof and cold air which nullified his high service and lobs. Bernard was in fine form, and with aggressive play and some hard hitting won the match. This reversed the previous 3-0 loss to Tom in the last Masters event.

Result Bernard won 3-0.

Final

George Stirrat v Bernard Starkey

Bernard, (2017 winner) made a good start having an early lead, only to lose the advantage at the later part of the game. George then dominated with his strong controlled play in the second, this continued in third going into an early lead. Bernard then found his game to close the gap but this was never enough.

George was clearly in form, not losing a game during this tournament.

Result George 3-0 and winner of the 2018 East of Scotland Masters O70 title

 

Dates for your Diary

Central Masters at Bridge of Allan Squash Club – 17/18 February 2018

Masters Nationals – Inverness Tennis and Squash Club – 10/11 March 2018

For details of 2018 Masters Tournaments and Masters Rankings, see Scottish Squash website