The Tayside and Fife Regional Masters competition – the first of the 2019/20 season was held at the Forthill Squash Club, Broughty Ferry on 27/28/29 September 2019.

There were a healthy total of 78 competitors who took part in two Ladies’ competitions and nine Mens’ competitions.

Jennifer McArtney and Grant McGovern and the Tayside and Fife committee managed a very well organised competition. They all worked hard to make all competitors welcome. There were also coffees, teas, sandwiches, snacks and excellent home baked treats available in the rest area. 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 O35/O50

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

The competition started on the Friday evening with Sabine and Debbie playing the first match and although Sabine came out on top with a 3-1 win, throughout Debbie used her serve, lob and drop to good effect.

On Saturday there was some great matches and high quality of squash played. Sabine was on form beating Alison in straight sets but the match of the day was between Alison and Debbie; a close contest but in the end Alison, with her grit and determination came through in the fourth. Karen remained focused and played well throughout the competition winning both her games in straight sets.

The final game of the round robin was played between Sabine and Karen with Sabine emerging the stronger, winning 3/0 and also the age group winner with Karen as runner-up. Overall an excellent start to the 2019/20 Masters squash season.

Ladies O55/O60

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

First up were Fiona and Jennifer. Home court advantage and Jennifer started well while Fiona struggled. First game to Jennifer. Once Fiona settled and found the range and depth for her amazing lob serve, it led to Jennifer making lots of unforced errors. Fiona was in control. 3/1 to Fiona.

Club compatriots Bernie and Pauline know each other’s game well. Unfortunately, Bernie made more unforced errors compared to the winning shots she goes for. This made the win for Pauline easier than it should have been. 3/0 to Pauline.

Bernie then played Fiona – a first time meeting, I think. Both girls went for their winning shots but Fiona’s serve and return of serve was too much for Bernie in the first two games. Bernie eventually settled in to her game and was so close to pulling one back. These unforced errors looking for winning shots to take the game, came back to haunt her. Fiona won 3/0.

Pauline and Jennifer had some great rallies in the first two games. A few mistakes from Jennifer were costly. Pauline gained momentum as the game progressed and was too quick around the court for Jennifer. Match to Pauline 3/0.

Fiona and Pauline had never faced each other on court before. Fiona made a very shaky start. First game to Pauline. Different story in the second! Fiona had got her serve working, as well as her deadly return of serve on the backhand. Second game to Fiona. Pauline had to mix up the serves and use all corners of the court to get the winners to secure the win in four by 3/1.

The best was definitely saved for the last! Bernie v Jennifer – what a match! It could have gone either way. Every game had you guessing. Both played winners from just about every angle. Jennifer was almost there in the fourth but Bernie stayed calm and played some amazing shots to claim the game – 2/2 and all to play for. The final game was so exciting. Both players had match points but in the end it was Jennifer who won the last point. Great match …….and in the marker’s eyes, they were both winners.

Pauline won the title and Fiona was runner up.

‘Hats Off’ to Jennifer to be so involved in running and organising the competition and still played great squash.

MO35

There were eight competitors and the competition was played as a knock out. It was fantastic to see so many new faces in the O35s at this competition, a very welcome addition.

At the top of the draw, top seed Iain Young faced local player Robin Brainer and showed a great array of touch and tricky boasts to trouble Iain, but his experience proved enough to see him through. Billy Scott defied his years and entered the O35s and he played ex Aberdeen club mate and friend Stewart Morrison. This was a game for the purists with nicks galore and plenty shot making. Stewart proved too strong although Billy will be seeking revenge in the next competition in Aberdeen! Third Seed and another newcomer to the ‘Masters scene’ was Paul Cousins. Paul was playing another newbie in Andrew Laing who has recently moved to Glasgow from Aberdeen. Paul was simply too good and sailed through. Last to play in the draw was Kieran Pole, a clubmate of Paul Cousins from Western against Mike Martin. Paul was full of energy and vigour and pushed Mike all the way in a tight encounter. Mike possibly had a little more court craft and guile on key points.

Into the semis and Iain faced fellow Aberdonian Stewart who he knew and again Iain was simply too good with his trademark grip and low hard kills.

Mike faced Paul and at first they seemed fairly well matched but Paul was that bit fitter and sharper and as the match moved on he dominated the ‘T’ and Mike scurried and scrambled at the back of the court and ultimately was well beaten by a better player.

Onto the final which was Paul’s third new opponent and this was his hardest game so far. An incredibly tight first game where Iain was up all the way but saw Paul come through 14-12 and this took a lot of energy out of young Iain – an opportunity missed! The second game was tight as well but it was evident that Paul was razor sharp having trained with the Halliday brothers all summer and he used his superior physicality to come out on top 3-0. Iain said “To be fair I think he was far too solid all for me and didn’t give away any cheap points.” I think Iain will be back to the drawing board working on his fitness and Robyn will help tighten up his straight drives on Tuesday!

Congratulations to Paul on winning the opening competition and also to all the new competitors and returning old guard. Please try and encourage anyone who is eligible to enter the next one in Aberdeen on 19/20 October. The more entrants the better the matches and social as well.

MO40

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

The first round saw the top 3 seeds without dropping games, Barry Masson, Neil Steedman and Graham Lind going through. In the fourth match, # 4 seed David McCormick was taken to 4 games by Grant McGovern who took the first 11/6 but was unable to stay on top thereafter.

The first semi final between Neil and Graham was played on the Saturday afternoon, and it was Graham who got the better start, taking both of the first 2 games 11/8. Neil then took the third game but there was to be no comeback, with Graham closing out the match 11/6.

In the second semi final between Barry and David early on the Sunday morning, Barry got off to the better start, taking the first 11/5. David continued to work hard and got his rewards by taking a tight second. After an enforced change of racquets after 2 broken strings, Barry was able to regain the lead with the third game, but again David showed tenacity in coming back from 10/7 down to take the match to a decider, which eventually Barry won through 11/4.

The final was therefore between Edinburgh Sports Club team mates Barry and Graham. And it was Graham who benefited from a better start in each game to come through a tight 3/0, 11/7, 12/10, 12/10.

In the plate Grant McGovern overcame first Mark Sherrit and then David Simpson, in a very close final; David having got the better of Paul Wynne in his plate semi.

Huge thanks from all O40s competitors to Jennifer, Grant, Forthill Squash Club members, all markers and all others involved in the organising of the competition.

MO45

2019 Home Internationals O45 Captain, Angus Woodward (Newlands), got his season off to a perfect start with victory in the opening Masters event of the 2019/20 season. A year on from his last appearance at Forthill when he was beaten into second by a rampant Paul Jenkins (Watsonians Squash Rackets Club) Woodward looked in good shape as he put paid to any hopes that Jenkins might have harboured of a successful defence.

The action began on Saturday while Woodward was at home, enjoying the top seed’s privilege of a first round bye. John Kynoch of Inverness Tennis & Squash Club opened proceedings against Scotland teammate Chris Turlik (Dollar Squash Club) with the latter winning through in a match that was closer than the 3-0 scoreline suggested. Third seed, Dougie Emery (Whitecraigs Rugby Club), another member of the 2019 Scotland O45 team faced a potentially tricky tie against newcomer Ian Prott who made the journey with fellow Inverness member, Kynoch. The first two games were tight and well contested before Emery won 3/1. Pick of the first round ties saw defending champion, Jenkins taking on Roddy Campbell of Bridge of Allan Sports Club. An eagerly anticipated match between two experienced gladiators did not disappoint the spectators. Campbell raced to a 1/0 lead before Jenkins took control for 2/1 and the match looked over but Campbell dug deep to level up and set up a decider. There was little to choose between them thereafter but it was Jenkins who edged the fifth 11/7.

With such a high quality field, even the plate provided a tasty fixture as Kynoch took Campbell on. The former took the opening game but the experienced Campbell upped the tempo and moved into the final against Prott where once again, the Bridge of Allan man was too strong and eased to a comfortable win.

The main event semi-finals saw Woodward finally enter the fray in the shape of a match against Turlik who produced some good squash but despite some good exchanges and possibly a lapse in concentration by Woodward to allow him to win the third game, the top seed was far too strong. The second semi-final didn’t quite go to plan, handing Jenkins automatic passage to the final. As he continued his quest to defend both the O45 and the O50 titles he won here last year, Jenkins was probably glad to have one less match to play as well as the chance to watch Wales defeat Australia in the Rugby World Cup.

The O45 final was entertaining and both players produced an excellent standard of squash. Woodward and Jenkins went toe-to-toe as every rally was played at high intensity. Accuracy at the front was at a premium and although Jenkins controlled much of the play, Woodward displayed superb touch on the crucial points. Jenkins fought to the end and the 11/9, 10/12, 11/9, 11/9 scoreline demonstrated just how closely matched these two combatants were. Woodward was worthy of his victory but knows that if one or two tight rallies had gone the other way, the result might have been different! It is worth noting that Jenkins was back on court an hour later in the O50 Final and did successfully defend his title, coming back from 2-1 down to win the fifth 11/9 against an in-form and as always, resilient, Brian Robertson.

Emery was not the only notable absentee with Peter Buchan (Montrose) and 2019 National Champion Simon Boughton (Edinburgh Sports Club) also not featuring. Buchan will begin his 2019/20 campaign at the Grampian Masters next month where he will also make his debut in the O50 category while Boughton will probably wait until his home open in January. For now though, Woodward has set the pace in what might be the most difficult O45 team for which to qualify in several years!

MO50

Ten players made their way to the Forthill club for the opening Over 50s competition of the 2019-20 Masters season, including several who represented Scotland in last season’s Home Internationals.

There were two first round matches played on Saturday morning.  Allan Sinclair got the better of Adam Hill, winning in straight games, while Willie Irvine fought back from losing the first game to come out a 3/1 winner against Stuart Hunter.

Saturday Afternoon

Those fortunate enough to get byes in the first round entered the event on Saturday afternoon and all four matches went with seeding.

Top seed Paul Jenkins progressed efficiently to the next round with a 3/0 win against Allan Sinclair, helping to conserve some energy for the remainder of the two events in which he was participating.

Ronnie Carter struggled to get a good grip from his footwear and ultimately couldn’t get to grips with opponent and fourth seed Craig Mitchell.  Having won two very close games 13/11 and 15/13, Craig was able to exert greater control and close the match out, winning the third by a comfortable margin.

In arguably the most difficult match of the round to call, third seed Andy Meldrum drew first blood against Mark James, added to the pressure on Mark by winning the second game and maintained that form to close the match out in straight games.

In the last of the Saturday matches, between Willie Irvine and Brian Robertson, the longer the match went on the greater the control Brian was able to exert as the second seed ran out a 3/0 winner.

Sunday Morning

Sunday’s semi-final line-up saw Paul Jenkins play Craig Mitchell and Andy Meldrum play Brian Robertson.

Once again, the outcome of these matches followed the seeding.  Craig had the ideal start against Paul, taking the first game 11/9, but Paul responded immediately and, having secured the second game 11/4 pushed on to win in four games.

Having lost to Andy when they played against each other for the first time at the Central Masters last season, Brian made a fast start, securing the first game 11/2.  The second game was much closer, but Brian managed to gain sufficient control to go two games up and was able to maintain that form in the third to win 3/0.

Sunday Afternoon

The final between Paul and Brian was a repeat of last year’s MO50 final at Broughty Ferry.  Perhaps taking advantage of the fact that Paul had played extra matches in reaching the final of the MO45 event as well, Brian got his nose in front by winning the first game.  Showing his usual resilience and skill, Paul fought back to take the second game and level the match.  The ebb and flow of what was an entertaining match throughout continued when Brian took a 2/1 lead, only for Paul to again respond and level the match at 2/2.  The fifth and deciding game was keenly fought, reaching 9/9 before Paul finally won out 11/9.  Congratulations to Paul on his win.

MO55

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

With the late withdrawal of Eric Duguid it left only two players in Box 1, Ronnie Carter and Les Symmons. Les looking fit and quick caused an upset in his match with number one seed Ronnie Carter defeating him 3/1 but with only two in the group both players would progress to the semi final stage.

In the Box 2, number two seed David Goldring also lost his first match with Fraser Mulford 1/3. In the other matches Fraser made it two out of two with a 3/0 win over Allan Currie and with David emerging the 3/2 victor after an entertaining five game match with Allan and so the semi final line up was complete, Les v David and Ronnie v Fraser.

In the first semi Ronnie got the better of Fraser taking the match 3/1 in the other semi Les continued his run of good form defeating David 3/0.

In the final Ronnie had the chance to avenge his group stage defeat to Les, the first two games were shared before Ronnie starting to move better and making less mistakes, ran out the 3/1 winner.

MO60

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

On Saturday morning there were three first round matches and Ken MacMillan, Bryan Jackson and Jim Georgeson had comfortable straight games wins against Hugh Alexander, David Gillies and the sixth seed Clark Adam respectively.

In the afternoon the top five seeded players joined the quarter finals. Top seed Peter Shivas played Ken MacMillan from Oxford. Peter played well and won 3/0 but Ken displayed good all round skills and it was an entertaining match for the spectators. In the second quarter final fourth seed John Charles played fifth seed David McAleese. David started fast and played some excellent drives and drop shots and won the first game 15/11. John fought back and the second game was even at 13/13 before David won the last two points to take a 2/0 lead and he then won the third game to progress to the semi final.

In the remaining quarter finals, third seed Keith Gristwood beat a competitive Jim Georgeson 3/0 with Keith ‘nicking’ the crucial second game 17/15 and second seed Norman Paterson comfortably beat Bryan Jackson 3/0.

On Sunday morning the semi final line up was Peter Shivas v David McAleese and Keith Gristwood v Norman Paterson.

Peter and David both played well and entertained the gallery. David played some excellent squash – his drives were deep and accurate and his drops were tight. As usual Peter moved effortlessly round the court and made David play the extra shot. Peter eventually won 15/13, 18/16, 15/12 but as the score suggests this was a tremendous match and David was unlucky not to win at least one game.

The other semi final was also very competitive. Norman with his strong driving game comfortably won the first game 15/4 but Keith tenaciously fought back with his winning boasts and drops to win the second 16/14 and to level the match at 1/1. Norman then took control and won the third game 15/7 and closed the match out by winning the closely contested fourth game 16/14.

In the final Peter started very fast and won the first game 15/5. However Norman fought back strongly and the second game could have been won by either player but Peter won 15/12 to take a 2/0 lead. The third game was even more competitive and it was ‘nip and tuck’ all the way before Peter eventually won the game 18/16 and won the O60 title.

In the Plate there were four competitors and the semi final line up was John Charles v David Gillies and Clark Adam v Hugh Alexander. John beat David in a competitive five game match and Clark had a comfortable 3/0 win against David.

In a very competitive and entertaining five game match with both playing well John beat Clark 3/2 to win the Plate title.

MO65

There were a health 12 competitors for the first event of the season and the competition was played as a knock out. Jim Dougal, John Howie and Dave Sturman from the O65 Home International team were missing and hopefully they and others will be available for Aberdeen. This provided an early opportunity for all players to record early ranking points for the 2019/20 season.

On Saturday morning there were four first round matches and Phil Leek, Eric Donohoe and William Jappy had comfortable 3/0 wins against Brian Duffy, Jim Webster and Robert Thompson respectively. The other match was a very close contest between fifth seed Walter McAllister and Keith Hobson. Keith won the first two games but Walter won a crucial third game 15/12 and thereafter he won the next two games and the match 3/2.

In the afternoon the top four seeds joined the quarter finals. Phil Leak played a good first game against top seed Ian Ross but Ian held on to win the game 16/14 and then easily won the next two games. Walter played fourth seed Emilio Fazzi – Walter won the first game but Emilio tightened up his game and won the next three and moved into the semi final.

Third seed Mike Mooney played Eric who only played one Masters’ event last year. Mike started very strongly and convincingly won the first game 15/10. Eric tenaciously fought back in the second game and won the game 15/13 to level the match. Unfortunately Mike had pulled a muscle and had to retire and Eric moved into the semi final. In the last quarter final William Jappy played second seed Ernie Cowell. Ernie won the first game with his strong all round play but William fought back strongly with his deft lob and drop game to level the match 1/1. The next two games were shared before Ernie took control and won the fifth game 15/9 and was relieved to progress to the semi final.

In the Plate event Robert Thomson received a bye straight through to the final and Brian Duffy had a comfortable 3/0 win over Jim Webster. In the final Robert played well and won 3/0 to win the Plate.

In the main draw the semi finals were played on Sunday morning. Ian Ross played Emilio – in the first game Ian took an early lead but Emilo fought back and took the game 16/14. At 6/6 in the second game Emilio had to retire with a pulled muscle and Ian progressed to the final.

In the other semi final Ernie took control from the start and with good serving and strong driving he won the first two games 15/8, 15/13. Eric typically showed his fighting spirit and won the third game 15/13 but Ernie again took control and won the fourth and match to reach the final.

In the final Ernie and again started strongly and won the first game 15/9. Ian fought back and ‘nicked’ the second game 17/15 and levelled the match at 1/1. The next two games were closely contested but Ernie won 15/12,15/12 and deservedly won the O65 title.

MO7O

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

On the Saturday, the two top seeds, Alex Sinclair and Bernard Starkey, each won their respective Boxes, Alex having comfortable 3/0 wins over Ken Reid and Andy Duff, and Bernard also recording two 3/0 wins, over Tom Kane and Robert Respringer, but his match with Tom was exceptionally close, having just a two point winning margin in each game.

The second place spots in each Box were established on the Sunday morning with Ken eventually winning 3/1 against Andy, after Andy had won a marathon 20/18 first game, and Tom comfortably beating Robert 3/0.

In the first semi final, Alex, initially had a hard battle with Tom, until, with the score being one game all, and quite even in the third game, Tom had a tumble at the back of the court, injuring his leg and requiring a bit of attention. Tom then found it hard to get back into the match and so Alex efficiently recorded a 3/1 victory. In the second semi-final, Ken quickly won the first game against Bernard, was pulled back to one game all, then, largely as a result of quite a few unforced errors from Bernard, on the very hot court, came through with a 3/1 victory.

In the final, Ken made a good start, taking the first game 16/14, and the match stayed quite even up to around 10/10 in the second game, but from that point onwards a fairly routine 3/1 win was recorded by Alex, to win the MO70 Tayside & Fife Masters title, as a result of his excellent consistency, and accuracy, with shots to the back of the court, rapidly wearing Ken down.

MO75

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

On the Saturday Tom Kane recorded a 3/0 win over Alfie Thomson, the final game being very close, at 17/15 to Tom.

Ken Reid played both Tom and Alfie on the Sunday, and first won 3/0 against Tom, who made, unusually for him, a large number of unforced errors. Ken then played Alfie, and took the first game 15/10, but Alfie produced some excellent high lob serves and also deadly outright winners on return of serve, over the next three games, to score a deserved 3-1 victory. However, the one game that Ken won against Alfie was all that he required, to win the round robin, so Ken Reid took the MO75 Tayside & Fife title.

2019/20 Scottish Masters Circuit Sanctioned Competitions

Grampian Regional Masters – Aberdeen Squash and Racketball Club – 19th – 20th October 2019

West of Scotland Regional Masters – Newlands Lawn Tennis Club, Glasgow – 23rd –  24th November 2019

East of Scotland Regional Masters – Edinburgh Sports Club – 18th – 19th January 2020

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

Scottish Masters National Championships – Inverness Tennis & Squash Club – 20th – 22nd March 2020

For details of all 2019/20 Masters competitions please check the Scottish Squash website.