Scotland finish eighth with narrow defeat in final match of World Team Championship

Scotland played Germany in their final match at the WSF World Team Championship in New Zealand.

With 7th place up for grabs, the Scots were looking to equal their finishing position from when the event was last held.

The games were tough, and the squash was excellent – but Scotland were narrowly beaten by their European opponents.

Rory Stewart v Simon Rösner

Having won every game played at the tournament so far, Rory faced a formidable challenge against the legendary Simon Rösner, Matching Alan Clyne’s longevity, playing in his eighth version of the event.

As has been typical with Rory’s matches, there were long, consistent rallies and audacious drop shots played to great effect.

He moved his opponent round the court, with boasts followed by drops followed by lobs, making it hard for an opponent 9 years his senior.

In a very close opening game, Rösner pulled ahead with two match balls and would win 11-9.

Reset with a new purpose, Rory stormed ahead to 7-0, with the moment of the game an unbelievable flick behind his back when the ball looked dead, on his way to winning it.

The third game followed a similar pattern in reverse, as Rösner raced clear to win 11-0.

The fourth game was much more competitive, with neither player able to pull ahead by any significant margin.

Unfortunately for Scotland, when the breakaway did happen, it went Germany’s way, as the veteran German secured the match.

Greg Lobban v Raphael Kandra

Greg took on world number 33 Raphael Kandra in a match which would pit the two countries best players against each other.

The German won the first game 11-4 in just six minutes, with Greg struggling to get momentum going and the German closing off points as the opportunity arose.

The second game felt crucial – with Germany either pulling just one game short of victory, or Scotland pulling themselves back into the game.

Greg showed his quality early in this one, and as he has throughout the tournament, drew on every shot in his arsenal to make life difficult for his opponent.

Kandra had to acknowledge the quality as the game was level at 9-9, and Greg earned a well-deserved thumbs up for a perfect shot.

10-10 followed, and the Scot pulled clear to 13-11 – match level again.

The third game started at lightning pace, with Greg deftly returning a ball – which had been fired directly at him from a matter of feet – through his legs. Top skill.

Kandra found himself with three game balls, reduced to two before a mishit allowed his opponent to close it out and take the lead once more.

Remarkably, Scotland’s highest ranked player fought back once more and found himself 9-3 clear in the fourth match, before securing the winning point with an outrageous smash.

Having fallen behind twice, the world number 23 put in an incredible shift to win the fifth and final game – and the adulation from those watching said everything about the quality of the match.

Alasdair Prott v Yannik Omlor

Greg’s stunning win meant that fellow Highlander Alasdair Prott would play Scotland’s final match in New Zealand.

Facing the world number 86, he was the underdog for this match – but what an experience it promised to be for the young squash star.

Omlor won an extremely tight first game with a match that belied the respective rankings of the players.

The pair could not be separated, going point for point to 8-8 before the German pulled clear with two game balls – and the second securing the first game.

The second game followed a similar pattern, with Alasdair clearly giving his all in the blue of Scotland.

Omlor’s quality did shine through in the end, with seldom a shot not played exactly where he wanted it to go, with a more comfortable 11-4 the outcome.

Alasdair gave it his all in the third game – with squash played at double speed by both players – and at no point did he look fazed by his opponents quality, pulling ahead multiple times only to be pegged back.

The German took the game, and the match, meaning that Scotland finished 8th.

This match will go down as a great learning opportunity for the youngest member of the Scotland camp, who will undoubtedly have learned a lot from his time in Tauranga.

What they said

Scottish Squash Elite Performance Coach Paul Bell said: “That was a tough one tonight – our games against Germany always are.

“It was a real close match between Simon and Rory – I thought Rory played well and it could have gone either way.

“Greg did really well – he had a brutal match – so he did really well to battle from behind to win.

“I was really pleased for Alasdair to have the chance to play the deciding match – I’m sure he’ll have to do that many times in the future – so getting a crack at it in this match was good.

“There’s a lot for him to learn from this one and I’m sure he’ll use that experience in future team events.

“Overall it’s nice to say that we’re top 8 in the world – and I don’t think there’s much between the teams from fifth to eighth.

“It’s really tough to play against Egypt and bounce back from that – so I’m really proud of the guys for another great performance at the world level.”