The Scottish National Masters returned with aplomb this weekend, with some top class matches across 12 age categories from O35 up to O75. Over 80 players from across Scotland descended on the Grange Sports Club in Edinburgh between 11th -14th March, treating spectators to a festival of masters squash.

In the Women’s O35, Susie Lind from Edinburgh came out on top, winning all three of her games in three. Her first match with Elaine Inglis was the highlight, especially a hard fought third game which ended 13-11. Susie got stronger through the tournament, with an emphatic 11-5, 11-1, 11-3 against Jane Kelly and a solid 11-6, 11-4, 11-6 victory against Rebecca Christopher. The highlight of the draw was Elaine Inglis’s great match against Jane Kelly which finished 7-11, 11-4, 11-1, 11-3.

Susie said: “It felt fantastic to be back playing competitive squash and I could feel the energy and excitement in all that were involved. 

I felt I was proving to my three boys who were watching that girls dig deep too and I felt really focused to play the best squash I could muster. 

I really enjoyed all my matches and was delighted to take the trophy for the over 35s – alongside 3 other winners from Edinburgh Sports Club (Blair, Simon and Adie) the club had a fantastic day. 

We’ve all been patient in honouring the restrictions on squash through covid and I think it’s made us more eager than ever to keep playing squash through the masters age groups. I’m looking forward to many more great competitions and more women getting involved for the squash and the great fun that comes with it!”

Women’s 035 standings. Full results see here

  1. Susie Lind
  2. Elaine Inglis
  3. Rebecca Christopher
  4. Jane Kelly

The women’s O40 featured four competitors, with Senga Macfie from Edinburgh winning the draw. She won her opening game 11-4, 11-3, 11-5 against Jenn Saldanha, and followed it up with another powerful performance against Mairi Vines which she won 11-2,11-5,11-3. Her third march against Julia Horsburgh was a ‘walkover’ due to injury.

Senga said: “I’m over the moon with winning the title and really happy to get back to master’s squash after so long.”

Women’s 040 standings. Full results see here

  1. Senga Macfie
  2. Jenn Saldanha
  3. Mairi Vines
  4. Julia Horsburgh (retired injured)

The final Women’s category was the O60’s won by Pauline Douglas, who also won the Regional Masters O55 title at the Aberdeen Squash and Racketball Club in February. Pauline won all her games in three but didn’t have it all her own way. She had a bruising second round match with Christina Graham which finished 6-11, 9-11, 11-13 and tough encounter with Eunice Bond who she overcame 5-11, 8-11, 5-11.

Across the draw there were some notable highlights, including Bernie Beattie’s inspiring four game thriller against Christina Graham which finished 4-11, 11-5, 11-13, 11-13. The final two games were nail biters. Christina was also in the thick of the action in her first round match up against Eunice, finishing 11-5, 11-8, 9-11, 11-2.

Pauline said: The Grampian Masters was my first match/tournament since Covid and an ongoing calf injury since September. Having won a title at the Regional Master, I felt confident but the Scottish Nationals was definitely more of a challenge. My opponents had been playing regular league matches and major tournaments. I had a shaky start but with each match I played better. I was pleased with my fitness levels but when the scoring was only to 11, it was easier. Next for me is the British Open in Hull, followed by the Home Internationals.”

Women’s O60 standings: Full results see here

  1. Pauline Douglas
  2. Eunice Bond
  3. Bernie Beattie
  4. Christina Graham

There were nine age categories in the men’s draw starting with the O35s which was won by the number  seed Calum Reid. After receiving a BYE in the first round, Calum won all of his matches in three, including beating the number one seed Ross Mchoul in the final 7-11, 9-11, 3-11. Calum was pushed all the way in a bruising semi-final clash with Paul Cousins, with the first two games finishing 12-10 in Calum’s favour, before he raced away in the third and final game 11-1.

Elsewhere, number 2 seed Iain Young lost out in his quarterfinal battle with Paul Cousins which finished 11-13, 14-12, 11-7, 11-4. Andrew Laing beat Stewart Morrison in the only five game match of the draw. Having gone two ahead, Stewart came back in the third and fourth winning 11-6, 12-10 before Andrew clinched the win 7-11 in the fifth.

Calum said: “I’m very happy to win the tournament. It has been a goal since I turned 35 a few years ago, so I’ve been waiting for Covid to take a back seat and let the tournament go ahead.

Absolutely lovely venue and everything ran perfectly to time, so congrats to the organisers.

The overall score lines were a little flattering for me (3-0) in each match, as I certainly had a close semi and had to save multiple game points in the first game versus Paul at 6-10 down. We are both attritional players, but I think I just had the edge when I had opportunities and managed to scrape enough balls back the rest of the match to make him go for more each time, which created the errors. Perhaps he was a little disheartened in the 3rd after 2 x 12-10 scores in the 1st and 2nd. 

The final was totally different in terms of styles against Ross who is clearly a very talented, attacking, powerful hitter. The pace of the game was the most challenging element in the final. Fortunately I have experience playing against some aggressive players at Bexley and London/Kent leagues so I tried to take the pace out of the ball and frustrate by retrieving a lot of Ross’s attack, until perhaps his energy dipped a little and I was able to actually play a few more shots. My game is based on court coverage and consistency.

But overall I thought I moved well, felt physically strong and gave away very few cheap points and I think ultimately this is what made the difference.

Very much looking forward to the home internationals in May along with the team and hope to finish club finals championships at Bexley and Hurlingham strongly this season.”

Men’s 035 standings: Full results see here

Winner: Calum Reid

Runner-up: Ross Mchoul

Plater winner: Jacques Laas

Plate runner-up: Iain Young

There were four competitors in the men’s O40 draw which was won by Blair Mckenzie from Midlothian. Blair’s opening game with Euan Allison was the pick of the draw with Blair having to dig deep to win in five 8-11, 11-7, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6. Kieran Pole had a great game with Simon Peachey on court five, with an epic 10-12 starter to set the tone before Kieran was able to pull away 9-11, 6-11 in the second and third.

Blair said: “I’ve been playing Masters Squash tournaments for over 10 years now so am delighted to win my first National Title. It was nice to see that the hard work and training in the lead up to the event paid off and I managed to secure the results required to win the title. I feel as if I am playing well just now and the goal is to stay injury free and now look forward to the Home Internationals against England, Wales and Ireland which are in a few months’ time.”

Men’s O40 standings. Full results see here

  1. Blair Mckenzie
  2. Euan Allison
  3. Kieran Pole
  4. Simon Peachey

The men’s O50 was another hotly contested draw where number 6 seed Adrian Richmond overcame the odds to beat his rivals and win the title. Adrian’s semi-final contest with number 2 seed Douglas Emery was one to savour, with Adrian winning the game in four 11-3, 11-4, 6-11, 11-4 before a superb final against the number 1 seed and favourite Angus Woodward which Adrian won in emphatic fashion 8-11, 5-11, 6-11.

The number 5 seed Chris Turlik had one of the games of the draw against number 4 seed and rival John Kynoch in the quarters. It finished 11-4, 8-11, 11-7, 7-11, 11-4 with both players giving it everything as the match swung either way. Chris just had a little more focus and fitness in the end to close out a great game.

Adrian said: It was a fun tournament with lots of familiar faces dating back to junior days. We all seemed to enjoy being back on court after such a disjointed 2 years. Peter Halton at The Grange deserves great credit for running the tournament so smoothly. It was also fantastic to have all the referees there too, plus Kev Moran and Maggie Still presenting the awards.

There were a lot of players at a similar standard in the Over 50’s so I made sure I played a lot in the two weeks running up to the tournament. I am lucky enough to have good hitting partners in two of my sons who play a lot – Murray who is in the Scotland Junior Talent Squad and Rory who is ranked number 2 in the Scottish Under 19s. We even managed to play quite a bit during Lockdown when only play within households was allowed, so I was lucky to be playing OK coming into this year.

I had a couple of tough matches coming into the final against Malcolm Kerr then Douglas Emery. I played the final against Angus Woodward who I first played around 35 years ago in the junior events. He is extremely lean, fit and fast in great contrast to myself, so I knew I needed to try and keep the rallies short so I went for my shots, using a lot of holds and was lucky enough that they came off on the day. He is a fair and honest player, so the match was enjoyable throughout.”

Men’s O50 standings. Full results see here

Winner: Adrian Richmond

Runner-up: Angus Woodward

Six players entered the O55 men’s category, won by the favourite and number 1 seed Paul Jenkins also from Edinburgh. Paul won all his matches in the box 1 group before his 1/2 playoff victories against 3rd seed David Legge 11-2, 11-7, 11-4 and the number 2 seed Ian Green 11-3, 11-7, 11-5 saw him clinch the title.

Despite all games finishing in 3, the draw was littered with great performances, including thrilling opening games between Daniel Russell and David Legge and between David Legge and Ian Green, which both finished 12-10.

 

Men’s O55 Standings. Full results see here

Winner: Paul Jenkins

Runner up: Ian Green

The number 1 seed Chris Holt won the men’s O60 title beating Keith Murray 11-3, 11-8, 11-9 and Keith Gristwood 11-4, 11-1, 11-9 on his way to victory. Semi-finalist Keith Murray had a tough encounter in round 1 against the number four seed David McAleese, a great game that finished 11-9, 11-6, 9-11, 11-5, but it was the number 3 seed Norman Paterson’s epic five game match against Keith Gristwood that stole the show, with Keith eventually winning the encounter 9-11, 8-11, 11-2, 12-10, 7-11.

Chris said: “It was refreshing to catch up with many familiar faces at the Grange and watch some great squash. 

For me, I was prepared for two tough matches on Sunday; I was relieved to squeeze past Keith Murray in the semi, 2 of the 3 games being very close.  This left me fresher for the final when I used the width of the court to limit Keith’s ability to put away his trademark volleys. 

Looking ahead, I still have a handful of league matches in the West and the need for hard games in preparation for the HI in Galway and maybe the Europeans in Edinburgh.”

Men’s O60 standings. Full results see here

Winner: Chris Holt

Runner-up: Keith Gristwood

The O65 draw went to form with the number 1 seed Robin Ridley winning the title, with victories against Edinburgh squash coach Mike Hall 11-6, 11-4, 13-11 and the number 2 seed Bryan Jackson 11-4, 11-2, 11-1 along the way.

The number 3 seed George Stewart and number 2 seed Bryan Jackson competed in the game of the draw, a five-game epic that showed off the best of masters squash. After going two games ahead, Bryan lost his way in the third and fourth, before coming back strong in the fifth 8-11 to nudge past his rival. The match ended 6-11, 3-11, 11-7, 12-10, 8-11.

Robin said: “The Grange was a well-run tournament. I’m looking forward to playing in the British open at the end of this month where I am seeded 1. Also looking forward to our home nations match down in Wales if I can get a team together.”

Men’s O65 standings. Full results see here

Winner: Robin Ridley

Runner up: Bryan Jackson

Ian Ross was not quite able to repeat his O70’s title win in the Regionals Masters in February, losing out in a truly great final against the number 2 seed Emilio Fazzi. It was undoubtably the final of the championships, with both players putting everything on the line to win.  The first game set the tone, with Emilio just squeezing Ian out 10-12, but Ian came back strong in the second and third winning 11-8 and 11-1. In the fourth Emilio was fighting to stay in it, with Ian looking more likely to finish as the victor. But Emilio dug deep and managed to win the fourth 10-12 before Ian faded a little in the fifth to hand Emilio the title. It finished 10-12, 11-8, 11-1, 10-12, 5-11.

Other stand out games included Phil Leek’s great first round tussle with Walter McAllister, a, exhausting five game battle which finished 11-9, 5-11, 3-11, 12-10, 10-12. Alex Sinclair’s game against Alastair McMeckan was also a joy to watch finishing 8-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-6.

Men’s O70 standings. Full results see here

Winner: Emilio Fazzi

Runner-up: Ian Ross

The Men’s O75 draw was settled between Andy Duff and David Brown in a great see-saw battle. Andy started the stronger winning 11-9 before David got into his stride and took the second. Andy struck back in the third to make it 2-1 but couldn’t maintain his form in the last two which David won 6-11, 9-11. It was a fitting end to a superb masters tournament.

Men’s O75 standings. Full results see here

Winner: David Brown

Runner up: Andy Duff

 

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