The Tayside and Fife Regional Masters tournament – the first of the 2018/19 season was held at the Forthill Community Sports Club, Broughty Ferry, Dundee on 15/16 September 2018.

There was a healthy total of 74 competitors who took part in one Ladies’ event and eight Mens’ events.

Jennifer McArtney and Grant McGovern and the Tayside and Fife committee managed a very well organised tournament. They all worked hard to make all competitors welcome. At the prize giving all the competitors thanked Jennifer and Grant for all their hard work in the organisation and the draws. Mike Halpin supported the committee by providing refereeing services throughout the tournament.

Ladies O45

There were nine competitors including two who were completely new to Masters squash and the competition was played as a knock out.

In the only first round game newcomer Rachel Toth beat Norma Marshall in 3/0.

First and second seeds, Julia Horsburgh and Fiona Morrison won their first matches 3/0 against Alison MacGouldrick and Rachel respectively. The other two matches went against seeding with Jennifer McArtney edging out Jane Davey in a tough 5 setter and Bernie Beattie getting the upper hand by 3/1 against Helen Cordiner.

In the semi finals Julia beat Jennifer 3/1 (Jennifer will be more relaxed and fitter in Aberdeen) and Fiona beat Bernie 3/0.

The main event final saw Julia beat Fiona in a close fought match ending 3-1. Fiona’s drops were not quite on their usual formidable form and Julia played deep to the back of the court for many of her winners. Helen beat Alison and Jane beat Norma, both 3/0 in the plate with Helen’s hard-hitting being too much for Jane in the plate final 3/1.

MO35

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

First match up was the flair of Billy Scott against Jonathon Thompson who was making his first appearance at a Masters event. Jonathon started a bit nervously with Billy winning the first two sets. He came back into it in the third but the experience and wizard like racket skills of Billy ensured a straight sets victory.

Iain Young was next to face Billy Scott and this was a good contest with some tight squash being played. Ian was hitting a good length and dominated the tee area to close out a 3/0 victory.

Ian Adamson was the second opponent for Jonathon Thompson and by this time Jonathon was beginning to get a feel for the courts and play aggressive and exciting squash. Ian was up to this though and kept Jonathon moving around the court before winning the match 3/0.

Ian versus Iain was the next contest and this took place on Sunday morning. The match started off with some great rallies with both players trying to gain superiority on the tee. It was Iain Young who managed to do this best keeping Ian Adamson in the back corners and controlling the match to secure a 3/0 victory.

Ian Adamson and Billy Scott then met in a five game thriller which was a good one for the large crowd watching. Billy came out the traps firing winners from all over the court and took the first game. Ian then went in to win the next two by moving Billy around the court and finding a good length. Back came Billy to take the fourth game to ensure the match went to a decider. It looked like Billy was going to be the victor when he led 7/3 in the fifth, but Ian dug in to grind out the win 11/9 and take the match 3-2.

The final match saw Iain Young take on Jonathon Thompson knowing that a victory would ensure he won the tournament. Ian again played a controlled game keeping Jonathon deep in the back corners. He closed the match out 3/0 ensuring that he lifted the title for 2018.

It was a fantastically run tournament and was good to see such great squash played at all age groups across the weekend. A big thanks to all the organisers and referees across the weekend.

 MO40

There were four competitors and the competition was played as a round robin with four matches on Saturday and two matches scheduled on Sunday.

First thing on Saturday morning saw a battle of the Grants with Grant Gray coming through a convincing winner against Grant McGovern by 3/0. Grant McGovern was back on court at Saturday lunchtime and had a closely fought encounter with Scott Hay with the 3/0 scoreline not really reflecting how well matched the players were. Over on the show court Matthew Morton and Grant Gray locked horns with Grant again coming out the 3/0 victor. The tight first game was crucial, and if Grant hadn’t closed it out 11-9 then the result may have been very different.

Later on in the day Grant was back on court, this time against Scott Hay. Both players were clearly struggling physically as this was Grant’s third match of the day and equally Scott was beginning to regret entering both the O40 and O45 draws! Despite this, some great squash was on display and the spectators were treated to a 5 game thriller with Grant finally edging it 11-8 in the fifth. Unfortunately, this was the last we saw of Scott as he withdrew from the rest of the tournament with a back injury and could not return on the Sunday to play his tie against Matthew Morton.

In the only match to be held on Sunday Matthew Morton’s class told as he came out the convincing victor 3/0 against Grant McGovern.

The overall winner was Grant Gray, made all the more remarkable considering he played all his matches on a busy opening day with Matthew taking the runners up spot.

MO45

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

JENKO ROLLS BACK THE YEARS

Evergreen Paul Jenkins of Watsonians Squash Rackets Club made the trip to the 2018 Tayside & Fife Masters in Dundee in determined fashion and left with not one but two titles as he completed a clean sweep of the O45 and O50 events. Undertaking this herculean task was made more difficult by the younger category being played as a 5-man round robin but Jenkins made light of his workload thanks to a gruelling summer fitness programme combined with his usual abstentious nutritional regime.

2018 Home Internationals #1, Angus Woodward (Newlands) got the O45 competition off to an early start on Saturday against Scotland teammate, Chris Turlik (Dollar Squash Club). Woodward once again proved too strong for Turlik but some early-season rust allowed Turlik to snatch a game, which can often be crucial in the round robin format. Meanwhile, wily veteran, John Kynoch (Inverness Tennis & Squash Club) welcomed newcomer to the age group, Scott Hay (Whitecraigs Rugby Club) by handing him a 3-0 defeat. Despite his obvious strength and fitness, Hay was no match for Kynoch’s finesse and deft touch. Sadly, the challenge of playing two age groups took its toll and Hay took no further part in the weekend due to a back injury.

Saturday afternoon saw a clash of the titans as Jenkins took on Woodward. As usual there was no quarter given as Jenkins took a tight first game 11-8 and used that momentum to win the second game comfortably. When Woodward won the third game 11-4 however, a fifth seemed likely given his renowned fitness and ability to run any ball down. But Jenkins dug deep and with the fourth game poised at 8-all, was the grateful beneficiary of two unforced errors from the top seed as he sealed a 3-1 win. In the corresponding match, Turlik secured a comfortable win over Kynoch as the latter never really found his touch and provided too many chances for Turlik to play outright winners.

Kynoch played his third match of the day, this time against Woodward where the eventual scoreline was flattering after Kynoch competed well. Jenkins and Woodward had both finished day 1 with two victories but their own match was looking likely to be decisive.

With the withdrawal of Hay, there was only two matches to be played on Sunday – Jenkins v Kynoch and Jenkins v Turlik. Kynoch was unlucky not to steal a game or two as all three games went to the wire but Jenkins marched on with the finish line in sight. A 3-0 win for Turlik would have secured overall victory in the O45s and any win would have given him second place. Despite a valiant effort as he tried to take advantage of Jenkins’ overloaded schedule – this was his fifth match of the weekend – Turlik eventually went down 3-2 in an entertaining and attacking encounter. Jenkins’ experience and class were evident as he maintained his 100% record and was deservedly crowned 2018 Tayside & Fife Masters O45 champion. It is worth noting that Jenkins then went on to win the O50 title, beating the experienced Brian Robertson (SSRC) who dominated this category last season, in a well matched final.

There were notable O45 absentees in Dundee in the form of Peter Buchan (Aberdeen), Peter O’Hara (Newlands), 2018 National Champion Simon Boughton (Edinburgh Sports Club) and 2018 Scotland captain, Douglas Emery (Whitecraigs). If and when these heavyweights enter the fray, this already competitive section may prove to be the one to watch as players vie for coveted international qualification. Buchan has confirmed his participation in the Grampian Masters – his home event – in October and was in attendance in Dundee to size up the opposition. Paul Jenkins has left Buchan and everyone else in no doubt that he is the man to beat this season.

 MO50

For the opening O50s event of the new Masters season, an initial entry of 12 players was reduced to 10 before a ball was struck as Andy McCulley and Mark James withdrew.

Saturday Morning

Adam Hill benefited from Mark’s withdrawal by getting a bye to the quarter-finals to play top seed Brian Robertson, but three morning matches were played as originally scheduled.

After a flying start, winning the first game with the loss of only a few points, David Lindsay made smooth progress to the next round with a straight games win at the expense of Danny Russell, who put up a good fight in the second and third games.

The first two games of the encounter between Willie Irvine and Donald Durrand were very close with Donald taking first blood and Willie winning the second to level the match.  Thereafter, Willie began to assume control and won the next two games reasonably comfortably to make it through.

The closest of the first round matches was between Stuart Mitchell and Dave Sheard.  When Dave closed out the second game to go two up, he looked to be on course for a relatively straightforward win, but Stuart showed good fighting spirit in winning a close third game (11/9) and equally close fourth game (12/10).  Having come from behind, the momentum seemed to be with Stuart, but it was Dave who prevailed in the decider.

Saturday Afternoon

The seeded players entered the fray at the quarter final stage, with matches played out as follows:

Brian Robertson v Adam Hill – Brian didn’t let Adam settle into any sort of rhythm as he ran out a comfortable winner in straight games.

Dave Sheard v Colin McMullen – having already played a five-setter earlier in the day, it was probably little surprise that Colin took the opening game, but Dave wasn’t done yet – the next four games were all won 11/9, with Dave winning the games two and four and Colin game three and, significantly, game 5 to edge an intriguing match 3/2.

Having given himself a significant challenge by entering the O45 and O50 events, second seed Paul Jenkins was clearly keen to conserve energy as he eased past Willie Irvine in straight games.

David Lindsay had no match on Saturday afternoon due to Andy McCulley’s withdrawal, so he headed home to return on Sunday for the semi-finals.

Sunday Morning

Sunday’s semi-final line-up was Brian Robertson against Colin McMullen and David Lindsay against Paul Jenkins.

Colin started brightly and got a healthy lead in the first game before Brian clawed his way back to 9/10 before Colin got over the line to take a deserved lead.  Needing to bounce back immediately, Brian did just that, winning the second by a clear margin.  The games that followed were keenly contested, with Brian managing to maintain a lead of a few points in each, but that was enough to see him home 3/1.

In the other match, with Paul one game to the good and the second nicely poised, a lunge from David resulted in a strain that effectively ended his challenge.  As David limped out, Paul marched on to the final.

Sunday Afternoon

Having already come out on top in the O45 competition, Paul was going for the double and started very sharply in the final, his anticipation, reaction speed and deft touch leaving Brian struggling to find a way into the match.  Brian was more competitive in the second game, but Paul still seemed to be in command and heading for a two game lead until the latter stages, when Brian got a nice run of points to come from behind and sneak the game 11/9.  The third game saw Paul step it up again and resume control, putting and keeping pressure on his opponent at both the front and back of the court to forge into a 2/1 lead.  In the fourth, Brian was for once ahead in the latter stages, but Paul kept his form to turn the tables and close the game out 12/10 and seal a 3/1 win, a commendable effort given his schedule of matches over the course of the weekend.

In the plate final, Donald Durrand was the victor against Adam Hill.

Onwards to Aberdeen in October for the Grampian Masters.

 MO55

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

The draw was well balanced, the top four seeds (in brackets) as advised, with Alan Nicoll being a strong threat.  Clark Adam, Lance Marshall and Keith Gristwood had also entered the M60s so were either confident of their fitness or looking for a hard weekend.

There were four first round matches early Saturday morning, well before the match reporter had even left home.  Archie Magillivray beat Lance Marshall comfortably 3/0, and although the other three were also 3/0, the game scores were fairly close: Ricky Easton beat local Allan Currie, Clark Adam beat Eric Duguid, and Alan Nicoll beat Keith Gristwood who was maybe saving himself for the M60s (see that report).

The match of the quarters saw an epic between Alan and Ronnie Carter (2); Ronnie had had a relaxing summer (must have been the effects of a Mediterranean cruise) so it took a while for his boasts to find their mark.  Ronnie squeezed the first game 16-14, but Alan’s hard hitting left him chasing shadows to threaten an upset.  The fourth was close most of the way, Ronnie just surviving 15-13 to level it at two games all.  The fifth was not quite so close, Ronnie being relieved to come through 15-11, Alan possibly feeling the effects of his morning game.  Neil Rayner (4) and Clark were both braced, literally, for action, all silky shots and reliant on anticipation of moving the right way; this was another tight affair, Neil pinching the first two both 16-14 before having a slightly easier time in the third.  Chris Holt (1) saw off a spirited Archie 3-0 who was pleased to have come much closer than their last encounter.  Norman Paterson (3) had a similarly reasonably comfortable 3/0 win over Ricky.  So the four seeded players all advanced to the semis.

The plate had numerous walkovers such that there were only two matches.  Eric beat Lance 3/2, winning the odd numbered games, to earn the right to play Keith who had walked his way over to the final.  Keith won this 3/0, saving some energy for his M60s efforts.

Back to the semi-finals of the main event which were contested by Chris vs Norman, and Ronnie vs Neil.  The latter match was played on Saturday evening, a gamble by Ronnie after his tough first match or a journey saving decision by Neil?  The gamble paid off, Ronnie winning 3/1 after a wobble in the third.  The other semi, played on Sunday morning, saw Norman take an early lead in the first before Chris dragged himself back to level points before the drama of a let decision at 13-13 which Norman was convinced was a stroke to him (he had a point, but not quite); this unsettled Norman to allow Chris to pinch the game 15-13.  A change of marker did not soften Norman’s mood, which Chris took full advantage of to win the next two games for a 3/0.  Having come off court, Chris learned that Ronnie had been having a restful start to Sunday, if driving from Lockerbie counts as a rest.

Chris and Ronnie had had some close matches last season, so another was anticipated by both players and those watching.  Ronnie started more strongly, fresh from his restful morning, but the score soon became close, only a point or two difference most of the time.  Both played to their strengths, Ronnie’s punishing boasts and some tight drives from Chris, but some crucial mistakes as well – it is the start of the season.  Chris edged the first 16-14 and this set the pattern for the rest of the match, this score line being repeated in the next two games to leave Chris a 3/0 winner, but oh so close!

Looking at the age group overall, a third of the game scores in the main draw ended being two-pointers, demonstrating how keenly it was contested.

MO60

There were six competitors and the competition was played as two round robins with semi final cross ties.

Clark Adam won box 1 by beating Keith Gristwood and William Jappy 3/1 and 3/0 respectively. Keith beat William for second place.

In box 2 David McAleese had victories 3/1 and 3/0 over Lance Marshall and Duncan Selkirk. Lance beat Duncan 3/1 to earn second place.

The cross ties meant Clark playing Lance which he won 3/0 and Keith versus David which was another 3/0.

The score in the final does not reflect how close the match was with Clark winning the first 21-19 before Keith won the next three by 15-12, 17-15 and 15-10 for an excellent reversal of their round robin result, maybe caused by the number of games both competitors played over the weekend by entering the O55s as well!

MO65

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

No real surprises in the first round other than possibly Phil Leek losing to Brian Duffy after five sets and Walter McAllister coming through against Mike Mooney after Mike retired with a ham string injury.

In the Quarters again the top four seeds won comfortably with only Emilio Fazzi losing a set to Jim Webster. The Semis were very close and could have gone either way but Emilio Fazzi beat Jim Dougal in five games and Ernie Cowell beat Dave Sturman 16/14 in the fourth game to win 3/1.

The final was a bit one sided with Emilio Fazzi winning 3/0 – he played well but Ernie Cowell seemed to be playing below par and could not get into the game.

The plate was won by Colin Henderson who beat Matthew Crawford 3/0.

MO70

There was an entry of nine players, with only one match on the Saturday, in which Ian Nicholson beat John Mortimer 3-0, to go into the quarterfinals.

All the other matches were played on the Sunday, making it three matches in about a seven hours period, for the finalists of both the main event and the plate – thus fitness was to be an important factor.

On the Sunday the seeds duly won their quarterfinal matches, with the 1 and 2 seeds, George Stirrat and Tom Kane, both coming through with convincing 3/0 victories, over Dave Brown and Ian Nicholson respectively. The number 3 and 4 seeds had much harder matches with Ken Reid beating Andy Duff 3/1, in a long match which included an 18/20 third game, and Alfie Thomson eventually beating Robert Respringer 3/2, with Alfie wearing Robert down with very accurate serves and returns of serves, to get home 15/10 in the fifth.

In the semi finals, George had a comfortable 3/0 win over Ken, while Tom and Alfie had a much closer match even though it ended 3/0 to Tom, with both players playing excellent lobs and drops, but Tom having the edge, by two or three points, in each of the three games.

George’s consistency and fitness saw him through to a 3/0 win, over Tom, in the final, and thus win the Over 70s Tayside and Fife Masters, without losing a game.

In the Plate event Robert had a 3/1 win over Dave, while Andy had a 3/0 win over John. The final was won 3/2 by Andy, after he went 0/2 down to Robert, but he finished very strongly to bring it back to 2/2 and win the fifth 15/3.

It was encouraging to have had an entry of nine, since several players, such as Ian Ross, Bernard Starkey, Alastair McMeckan and Chris Jeffrey, could not make this weekend. They possibly may all be present at Aberdeen, on 20/21 October, thus indicating that the Over 70s age group is likely to be a very competitive one during   the 2018-19 season.

Thanks must go to all the tournament organisers, at the Forthill Community Sports Club, for an excellent weekend of squash.

Dates for your Diary

Grampian Regional Masters – Aberdeen Squash and Racketball Club – 20/21 October 2018

West of Scotland Regional Masters – Hamilton Squash Club – 24/25 November 2018

East of Scotland Regional Masters – Edinburgh Sports Club – 19/20 January 2019

Central Scotland Regional Masters – Bridge of Allan Sports Club – 9/10 February 2019

Scottish National Masters Championships – Inverness Tennis & Squash Club – 15-17 March 2019

For details of all 2018/19 Masters Tournaments see here