The East of Scotland Regional Masters competition was held at the Edinburgh Sports Club (ESC) on 18/19 January 2020.

There was a total of 90 competitors who took part in three Ladies’ ategories and eight Mens’ categories.

Mark Adderley and the East Regional Committee managed a very well organised competition. They all worked hard to make all competitors welcome and ESC provided a very good catering service throughout the competition. At the prize giving the competitors thanked the organisers for all their hard work in managing the competition.

Over the last year Scottish Squash have been working closely with Edinburgh College Sports and Fitness Department – as part of their practical training students have provided sports massage at tournaments. This was the first time the Edinburgh College students had provided sports massage at a Regional Masters event. The feedback from the players was excellent – ‘Again some fantastic feedback from people who saw you two today.  A great way to help you guys and us ‘oldies’’

Mike Halpin and Eric Donohoe and fellow referees supported the committee and the players by providing refereeing services throughout the competition.

Ladies O35

There were four competitors – Emma Robinson (1), Elaine Inglis (2), Finella Pole (3) and Jane Kelly (4) – the competition was played as a round robin.

There has not been a Ladies O35 event at East Masters for a couple of years so it was encouraging that four ladies entered the event this year.

In the matches on Saturday, top seeds Emma and Elaine played well and both had comfortable 3/0 wins against Finella and Jane.

This set up a title decider on Sunday between Emma and Elaine. It was an excellent match between the Edinburgh based players. Elaine started strongly and won the first game 15/7. Emma fought back and the second game was ‘nip and tuck’ but Elaine won the last two points to win 16/14 and take a 2/0 lead. Emma controlled the third game with good all round play and won it 15/7. The fourth game was closely contested all the way, but again it was Elaine who held her nerve and won the game 17/15, the match 3/1 and the East Masters Ladies O35 title.

In the other match on Sunday, Finella played Jane in the 3/4 playoff. This was an entertaining match and both players played some good match. Finella won a closely contested match 3/1.

Thanks to Mark Adderley and committee for a well organised tournament and to ESC for hospitality.

Ladies O45

There were four entries for this section – Sabine Mackenzie, Ashley Mears, Julia Horsburgh and Allison Penman – so a round robin was played.

Saturday morning kicked off with some excellent quality ladies squash and it was especially good to welcome some new faces to the circuit with Allison Penman entering the 045 competition.

Allison, once she had settled her nerves, was able to focus on her game keeping the ball to the back and retrieving well.

As always Julia displayed a solid performance using her serve, lob and drop to good effect. In her games against Ashley and Sabine in particular she kept the pressure on taking the chances to win rallies when they arose.

Ashley was confident against all her opponents. She was especially focused in her match against Julia, hitting a solid length and finding the corners every time. And despite Julia reading the game well, Ashley’s performance ensured a 3/0 victory.

Sabine played well throughout the weekend and although in the final match, Ashley put the pressure on, Sabine came out on top to be competition winner

To end, as always, a good squash weekend was had by all and a thank you must go to Mark Adderley for an excellent, well run tournament including Edinburgh Sports club for being so welcoming and accommodating.

Ladies O55

There were four entries for this section – Sue Strachan, Pauline Douglas, Joyce Leach and Bernie Beattie – so a Round Robin was played.

Sue was strong, powerful and precise throughout all her matches. Not dropping a game, nor coming close to any tiebreak, she was a deserving winner, beating everyone 3/0.

Joyce and Bernie had the most competitive match of the weekend which went the distance. After Joyce went up 2/0, Bernie took the third game with her shots being more precise. The fourth game could have gone either way but it was Bernie who managed to keep her head, 2/2, and it was down to the fifth and deciding game. Joyce had given her all and didn’t have much left for the fifth whereas Bernie was still strong. Joyce tried really hard but it was Bernie who was the victor. A well fought battle.

Pauline had good games against Joyce and Bernie winning both 3/0. It was a completely different style of game against Sue. The faster pace was too much for her and Sue was always in control, winning 3/0.

It was a great weekend of squash and camaraderie. One of the highlights of the weekend was the Physiotherapy students. Everyone who signed up for a treatment was raving about how good they were. 

MO35

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

Round Robin Group 1 consisted of Kenny Boyle, Billy Scott and Kieran Pole. First up was Kenny v Billy with Kenny proving to be too strong, beating Billy 3/0. Next was Billy v Kieran, Kieran was ahead in all 3 games but Billy’s range of shots brought him back into the games, with Billy winning 3/0. The last match in group 1 on Saturday evening was Kieran v Kenny, with Kenny winning 3/0.

Round Robin Group 2 consisted of Paul Cousins, Stewart Morrison and Andrew Laing. First match on Saturday morning was Paul v Stewart. Paul went 2/0 up and Stewart had 2 game balls in the 3rd but Paul came back to take it winning 3/0. Next up was Stewart v Andrew. The first was a very tight game all the way through, going to a tie break and both players having game balls but Andrew took it 13/11. Andrew appeared to have put everything into the first, seeing Stewart take the next 3 games to win 3/1. The last match on Saturday evening for Group 2 was Andrew v Paul. First 2 games were quite close but even when Andrew was ahead Paul looked confident to win them. The 3rd game was a close exchange with Andrew edging it 11-9. Paul found an extra gear in the 4th game and won the match 3/1.

Semis on Sunday morning were Kenny v Stewart followed by Paul v Billy. Kenny’s movement proved to be too much for Stewart winning 3/0. Billy was ahead in both the 1st and 3rd games but couldn’t convert either which saw Paul win 3/0. This saw Kenny v Paul in the final, Stewart v Billy for 3/4 place and Kieran v Andrew for 5/6 place.

Clubmates at Western Squash Club, Kieran and Andrew played each other with Andrew taking the first game but then Kieran took the next 3 to see him win 3/1 and with that, Kieran secured the 5th place and Andrew 6th.

Previous matches were showing their toll in the match between Stewart and Billy with movements not as sharp or fluid as in previous matches. The first game was really close with Billy leading most of the way, but Stewart came through in the end to take it 11/9. Billy struggled in the second losing 11/6 but came back in the third to sneak it 15/13. Both players bodies were struggling going into the fourth, but Stewart held it together to take it 11/8 securing 3rd place for himself and 4th for Billy.

The final was a battle of attrition from the start with both players exhibiting tremendous agility and strength. Kenny had the upper hand in technique and shot selection which saw him take the first 11/8. Paul had worked Kenny hard in the first and this proved to be an investment for the second as Paul took it comfortably 11/5 with Kenny wanting to get off court and regroup. Kenny did regroup and comfortably won the third game 11/5. Paul was not done yet though, and appeared to be the fresher of the two at the start of the fourth. The battle of attrition continued with both players ‘burying’ themselves to get every ball back with Paul edging it 11/8. The relentlessness continued into the fifth with neither player giving an inch, matching each other point-to-point up to 9/9, where the referee made the decision to award a stroke to Paul, which rattled Kenny’s composure. Paul saw out the match with a boast from the half-court winning the match 3/2 and with it the Men’s O35 East of Scotland Masters tournament.

MO40

There were 10 competitors and the competition was played as a straight knockout.

While 6 players received first round byes, the first round saw Scott Hay win a very close 3/2 battle against David McCormick; and Blair McKenzie beat Mark Sherritt 3/0.

The quarter finals saw top 2 seeds, Alan Tasker and Chris Gray get through unscathed, both winning 3/0 against Scott Hay and Blair McKenzie respectively in competitive matches.

Number 3 seed, Matthew Morton took on Jonathan McBride, and after exchanging the first 2 games, Matthew was able to take control of the next 2 to come through 3/1 winner.

The final QF saw 4 and 5 seeds Barry Masson and Neil Steedman take each other on.  Neil won a tight first game, and then more convincingly took the second. The 3rd was tough on both players, but Barry nicked it 11/9 to find a foothold in the match. He then took the 4th to force a decider in which Neil got ahead 8/4, only for Barry to come back again and find a way to win through 11/8 and take the match.

In Sunday’s semi finals, Barry and Matthew put up a fight against Alan and Chris, but in the end both top seeds won through 3/0 again to the final.

Alan took the first game of the final 11/3. In the second, Chris worked hard and with some great shot making, took a tight game 11/9. That effort seemed to take a lot out of Chris though, and Alan’s accuracy and speed proved too much, Alan taking both of the next 2 games 11/3 to take the title.

In the plate, Neil beat David in the final 3/0.

Overall lots of good matches over an enjoyable weekend at ESC – well done to Alan on taking the title, and thanks to Mark and everyone else involved in organising, and the Edinburgh College students who provided some much appreciated massages!

MO45                WOODWARD WINS, GRINDLEY IMPRESSES

The withdrawal due to injury of Scotland’s pre-eminent Over-45 player and hometown favourite, Simon Boughton, on the eve of the East of Scotland Masters threw the draw wide open and several players arrived at Edinburgh Sports Club with renewed hope. Ultimately, Angus Woodward of Newlands claimed his third tournament win of the 2019-20 campaign to secure his place in the 2020 Home Internationals team.

The O45 section has seen several evenly matched contests this season but none more so than this weekend. The first round did not see any upsets as John Kynoch (Inverness), Chris Turlik (Dollar) and Niall Morris (Giffnock) all progressed comfortably against Robert Brown (Kirkcaldy), David Myers (Edinburgh Sports Club) and Jonathan Tait (Edinburgh Sports Club) respectively.

The first seeding upset occurred in the quarter-final as Roddy Campbell (Bridge of Allan) dominated the sole remaining home player, Adrian Richmond. Campbell has been on good form all season so while this was an upset on paper, Richmond always knew he would have to be at his best to win. No. 2 seed, Peter Buchan (Montrose) came perilously close to defeat against the little-known Morris who was very impressive as he pushed the experienced Buchan all the way, eventually losing the fifth game 9/11. Kynoch pushed Woodward hard in the middle stages of their match but the latter’s overall strength and fitness put paid to Kynoch, who will become eligible for the Over-50s next month. In the last quarter-final, debutant and third seed John Grindley of Watsonians Squash Club produced a clinical performance to come from 1/0 down to beat Turlik, thanks in part to some expert coaching from his mentor and fellow Watsonians member, Paul Jenkins.

Grindley is fit, fast and patient and these valuable assets came to the fore in the semi-final as he came out on top against Buchan. As well as his tough encounter with Morris on Saturday, Buchan came out on the wrong end of an intense battle with Andy Meldrum (Bridge of Allan) in the Over-50s. This might have affected Buchan but credit should be given to Grindley who kept his mistakes to a minimum and won 3/1. Top seed Woodward beat Campbell 3/0 although Campbell definitely pushed him more than the scoreline suggests.

In the Plate, Myers took the honours, beating Tait 3/0 in a hard fought match.

So Woodward continued his dominance by winning the Final against Grindley but his 14/12, 11/4, 11/7 victory was hard fought and he had to produce his best squash to prevail. A fourth or even fifth game would have brought Grindley’s renowned fitness into play and the Newlands man was acutely aware of this. Ultimately, Woodward played the crucial points better and will be pleased with his resilience.

Grindley should be equally pleased with his maiden Masters experience and, if he plays the last two events, will be pushing for a place at the 2020 Home Internationals. Woodward and Buchan have guaranteed their places in the team and competition is tight for the remaining places as Douglas Emery (Whitecraigs), Campbell, Turlik, Kynoch and now Grindley, will look to bring their best form to Bridge of Allan in February and Inverness in March. If Boughton recovers and is available for the remaining events, he will certainly come into the reckoning.

MO50

There were 12 competitors and the competition was played as a straight knockout.

Saturday started with Iain Clark playing Craig Mitchell in a preliminary round – experience of these competitions worked in Craig’s favour and he went through 3/0. In Craig’s next match, against last year’s National Champion Mike Ramsay, we counted 6 errors that would have brought Craig to 1/1 in games but it wasn’t to be and Mike moved into the semi-finals.

Paul Macari had the quickest route into the semi-finals with Colin Grant (a previous winner) having to pull out due to injury. The best match of this round came with Andy Meldrum (unseeded) making a mockery of the rankings. Andy’s deceptive play and speed to the front of the court being too much for the highly experienced legend that is Peter Buchan. Andy continued in this vein against Paul Macari and won 3/0, although Paul did give him a scare in a close third game.

Unfortunately in the second semi-final our National Champion Mike Ramsey, who had already gone 2/0 up by blasting the ball past Paul Jenkins on a regular basis, showed that our bodies are always at the mercy of a higher force and his injury ruined the end of his tournament. We hope he recovers in time for the National Championships.

In the final Andy again proved that you cannot let him near the front as you will not know where the ball is going to go next. He was too consistent for Paul Jenkins and his plant-based diet is clearly doing him the world of good. A worthy East of Scotland Over 50s Champion and is now everyones’ target in the forthcoming Central/Bridge of Allan event.

MO55

An original entry of 12 became 10 after two withdrawals, requiring a rejig of the draw. Brian Robertson (1) had entered the age group for the first time having played down in the 50s in the first half.

The two first round matches resulted in wins for Dave Sheard over Mark Adderley 3/0 (maybe concentrating more on running the tournament), and Fraser Mulford over Trevor Mitchell in a tight 3/2, the last game score 11/9. The quarters gave easy 3/0 wins for Brian over Dave, and Chris Holt (2) over Fraser who was still feeling the effects of his earlier exertions. The other two matches were much closer.  Keith Murray (4) was making a first appearance this season against Les Symmons (5); after the first two games had been shared, Keith managed to squeeze out the next two with the last game being 17-15, a practice next season when Keith will need to become used to playing to 15. The last quarter drew Colin McMullan (3) against David Legge (6); Colin started somewhat nonchalantly to be 1-2 down before winning the last two games, both quite close.

The plate comprised four of the first and second round losers. David Legge beat Trevor 3/0 and Les beat Mark 3/1 to reach the final. This was a very close match, David starting strongly before Les recovered to be 2/1 up.  The next two games could have gone either way with David squeezing them both out 11/9 to win the plate final.

Back to the main event where the top four seeds all made the semis. Brian was in full control against Keith only conceding 10 points over the three games. Colin started against Chris with a very focussed attitude which he maintained throughout to also win 3/0, Chris being on the back foot and struggling to achieve a good length. So the final saw Brian against Colin, possibly the first of many in this age group, they both being in their first year of the 55s. Colin maintained the form he had shown against Chris taking a 2/0 lead, Brian also struggling to find a good length. Brian is adept at adjusting his game and kept the match alive by winning the third relatively comfortably. Surprisingly to all, Colin retired at this stage as a result of a calf injury, enabling Brian to win the match and the East Masters O55 title, albeit not in the manner he would have liked.

MO60

Due to a late call off there were six competitors and the competition was played as 2 round robins, followed by semi final cross ties and final.

Group 1 consisted of Robin Ridley, Richard Easton and John Charles.

Group 2 consisted of Norman Paterson, David McAleese and Bryan Jackson.

Group 1 games.

 Robin (1) v Richard (3). Robin won fairly comfortably in 3 games.

Richard v John. John performed really well to win in 3 games although against a possibly not fully fit Richard who withdrew from the playoffs.

It was still a very good victory for John.

Robin v John. Robin as usual started at a great pace and expectedly had a comfortable win in 3 games.

Group 2 games

Norman(2) v David (4). This was a good battle between the 2 club mates and, with Norman carrying a slight knee injury, after a close first game 15-17, David went on to a very good victory in 3 games.

Norman v Bryan. Of course, Bryan sportingly took advantage of Norman’s injury and, with the help of the Bridge of Allan groupies, won 3/2 with all games being close.

David v Bryan. In a good battle with most games being close, David won 3/2. No wonder he lost it, Bryan’s groupies were nowhere to be seen. Just because the game wasn’t played until 6pm, no commitment!

Sunday’s semi-final games

Robin v Bryan. Robin started at his usual pace and had a routine 3/0 victory with

Bryan struggling to get into the game.

David v John. At 2/1, David raised his game to win a hard 4th game 3/1.

Final

Robin v David. Robin proved to be too strong for David and won 3/0 to ensure he didn’t drop any games in the tournament.

3/4 Playoff.

Bryan v John. Both players were tired at the end of a hard weekend and Bryan managed to be last man standing to win 3/1.

MO65

There were 14 competitors and the competition was played as a knock out.

There were two newcomers to the O65 Masters namely George Stewart of Aberdeen Squash and Racketball Club and Mike Hall of Grange Squash Club. Both players have recently joined the age group – George has previously represented Scotland at number 1 in Home Internationals at a younger age group but is now only an occasional player –  Mike was a regular team player and currently coaches at Grange. George was seeded 6 and Mike seeded 7.

There were six first round ties on Saturday morning with the top seeds Dave Taylor and Jim Dougal getting a bye into the quarter finals.

The six seeded players (3 to 8) all safely negotiated their way to the quarter finals. Charle Patrick (8), Ian Ross (3), George Stewart (6) and Mike Hall (7) had comfortable 3/0 wins over Alistair McMeckan, Walter McAllister, John Ritchie and Mike Duffy respectively. The other ties were more competitive with Emilio Fazzi (5) and Ernie Cowell (4) beating Robert Thompson and Phil Leek 3/1.

The quarter finals were played on Saturday afternoon and the order of play was Dave Taylor v Charlie Patrick, Emilio Fazzi v Ernie Cowell, Ian Ross v George Stewart and Mike Hall v Jim Dougal.

Charlie Patrick using his good lobs and drops to good effect won the first game 16/14 against Dave Taylor. However Dave upped his game and took control of the match with strong drives and good drop shots and won the match 3/0.

Ernie Cowell won a closely contested first game against Emilio Fazzi 16/14. The next three games were equally competitive but Emilio with some good clean winners won all three games and the match 3/1.

George Stewart started well with good serves and hitting good lengths – he won the first game 15/12. Ian Ross raised his game and fought back strongly – he led 14/9 in the second game but George held his nerve and saved six games balls to win the game 17/15. In the third game George continued his good form and comfortably won the third game and match 3/0.

The final match between Jim Dougal and Mike Hall was very competitive. Jim started well with his excellent good serving, and deceptive drops and boasts but the left handed Mike kept in touch by taking the ball early and playing reverse boasts. Jim won the first game 15/12 but Mike fought back to win the second game and level the match. Jim held his nerve and won the third and fourth games 15/11 and 15/10 and the match 3/1.

The semi finals were scheduled for Sunday morning. However after his win against Ian Ross, George Stewart withdrew with a calf strain and Jim Dougal was given a walkover into the final. Dave Taylor started strongly against Emilio and won the first game 15/11. Disappointingly Emilio could not raise his game and Dave won the second game 15/7 – Dave was leading 11/9 in the third game when Emilio tweaked his hamstring and had to retire – Dave won the match 3/0 and proceeded to the final.

Jim started very strongly in the final – he served very well and played some excellent winning service returns and drops and boasts – he won the first two games 15/9, 15/11 and led 2/0. Dave raised his game and fought back strongly with some good aggressive drives and boasts and won the third game 15/8. The fourth game was crucial – Dave throughout the games and led 14/11 before clawed back to 14/14, but it was Dave who held his nerve and won the game 16/14 and levelled the match. Dave proved too strong in the fifth game and won the game 15/7 and won his second Masters title of the 2019/20 season.

MO70

Saturday

Andy Duff called off prior to start of tournament – this reduced the entries to eight and the competition was played as a straight knockout. The first round and semi finals matches were played on Saturday

Top half of draw

Alex Sinclair (1) cruised through to the semis with Robert Respringer having no answer to Alex’s controlled play. 15/11, 15/7, 15/6

Result 3/0 Alex

Alistair McMeckan came up against Bernard Starkey(4)

Bernard started well, taking the first game 15/8 only to lose his focus in the second, Alistair with strong play overpowering Bernard 15/4. Onto the third game which looked to be Alistair’s for the taking, however Bernard pulled it back with his improved shot selection to get back to 14/14 and then game 16/14. Both players then produced the best squash of the match that saw a right battle, with Bernard edging it in the fourth game 15/13.

Result 3/1 Bernard

Bottom half of draw

Tom Kane (3) and Ken Reid renewed their tussle. Both players knew each other’s game and Tom took an early lead 15/12. Ken replied in the second with Tom not quite in the groove and losing the points mainly due to loose play, Ken taking second game 15/7.

Ken seemed to lose energy over the next two games and Tom took control with his improved play and wonderful touch coming into use, taking the games 15/10 and 15/8.

Result 3/1 Tom

Warren Cameron took on Alex Everingham (2).

Alex cruised through to the semis 15/1, 15/11, 15-7

Warren having no answers to the mobility, power and touch play coming from Alex

Result 3/0 Alex

Semi finals

Alex Sinclair (1) v Bernard Starkey(4)

This was a one sided match which Alex controlled with his movement and control. Bernard was matching Alex at the start but lost his focus and made too many errors which Alex seized on and took the first 15/11 and followed his dominance in the following games 15/7 and 15/6

Result 3/0 Alex into final

Tom Kane (3) v Alex Everingham (2)

Alex cruised through to the final 15/7, 15/7, 15/6 overpowering Tom with his control and shot selection, not to mention his speed around the court.

Result 3/0 Alex will his namesake in the final.

Plate final

Only two players entered.

Robert Respringer v Ken Reid

Ken’s consistent play was the key to this match taking it 15/9, 15/7, 15/10

Result 3/0 Ken Reid O70s plate winner.

Sunday

Final

Alex Sinclair (1) v Alex Everingham (2)

The top rankings meet…Alex S v Alex E, an expectant crowd eagerly awaited this match, as both players had not dropped a game.

Alex S, hard working and controlled, played against Alex E, a player who came with power and energised movement.

Alex E started well taking an early lead only for Alex S to respond as his game improved. However Alex E was in no mood to give way and took the first 15/13. However much Alex S tried he was nevertheless overcome by a dynamic Alex E, who kept to his A game and overcame Alex S in the second and third 15/11 and 15/13 despite some good rallies keeping the game alive.

Result 3/0 – winner of O70s East Masters title Alex Everingham

MO75

There were 5 entrants and the competition was played as a Round Robin over 2 days.

Tom Kane was seeded 1and Dave Brown seeded 2.

Saturday

Tom Kane v Andrew Rugg-Gunn (score 3/0)

Andrews fitness round court was evident but was playing catch-up throughout, with Tom comfortably winning 3/0

Vinnie Taylor v Alfie Thomson (score 1/3)

A hard fought contest with Alfie taking the first 2 (15/10 and 15/11), but Vinnie finding form to take the 3rd (15/11). In the 4th, Alfie turned the screw and some accurate serving saw him take the game 15/6 and the match 3/1 overall.

David Brown v Alfie Thomson (score 3/1)

Alfie bothered Dave in the first game with some great lob serving and return drops, and took the 1st game 18/16. However Dave got to grips after that, and with Alfie struggling with a knee problem, Dave ran out to win 3/1

Vinnie v Andrew (score 1/3)

Vinnie, still recovering from a wrist operation, struggled with his racquet control, and although winning the second game, Andrew won 3/1 comfortably

Dave v Vince (score 3/0) and Alfie v Andrew (score 3/0)

Comfortable wins for Dave and Alfie

Sunday

The last day saw Tom overcome Vince, with Vince retiring after the third game with wrist problems. Tom also defeated Alfie 3/1 in a dour struggle with Alfie playing well.

Best match of the competition was probably Dave v Andrew, with Dave winning 16/14 in the 5th game.

The last game of the competition was perfectly set, with both Tom and Dave unbeaten at that point, the 1 and 2 seeds in the final match.

The first game went 15/6 to Tom, but Dave dug in before losing 15/12

Score 2/0 to Tom

Last game, Dave raced ahead, with great determination and some gritty play, and had game ball at 14/11. However Tom upped the pace and levelled at 14 all, and pressed the advantage to run out a 3/0 win and take the O75 East Masters title.

Dates for your Diary

Central Scotland Regional Masters – Bridge of Allan Sports Club – 8-9 February 2020

British Nationals – Nottingham Squash Club – 11-16 February 2020

Scottish Masters National Championships – Inverness Tennis and Squash Club – 20-22 March 2020

British Open – Hull University – 26 – 31 May 2020

WSF World Masters Championships – Hasta La Vista, Wroclaw, Poland – 23-29 August 2020