JOHN RAE MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT

The West of Scotland Masters tournament was held at the Newlands Lawn Tennis and Squash and Club on 23/24 November 2019.

There was an initial entry of 91 competitors however there were a number of late withdrawals and this reduced the number of entries to 79 who took part in one Ladies’ event and eight Mens’ events.

Sophia Grant and the West of Scotland committee managed a very well organised tournament. They all worked hard to make all competitors welcome and the bar and catering facilities were excellent.

Sophia and Emilio presented the prizes.

Emilio gave a short tribute to John Rae and reminded colleagues of John’s successes in Masters’ tournaments in Scotland, England and Europe. He was also a great team player, always coaching and offering advice and encouragement on how to play better and he made many friends wherever he went. John was also a very successful businessman.

Jim Dougal on behalf of the competitors thanked the Newlands Club for hosting the event and thanked the West of Scotland committee for all their hard work in the organisation and managing the weekend competition.

Jim also advised Masters’ players that as a tribute to John Rae and with the support of Scottish Squash it was hoped that a match between Scottish Masters players (perhaps West v East) could be arranged each season in memory of John. This proposal received a very positive response from those attending the prize giving.

Thanks are also due to SSRA (Allan McKay and Ross Cairns) and Sportyhq for managing the entry and supporting the West of Scotland committee in running the tournament. John Crawford, Mike Halpin, Peter O’Hara, Neil Beveridge and Peter Shivas supported all the players by providing refereeing services throughout the tournament.

Ladies O35

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

The three players were Jen Saldanha, Whitecraigs Tennis and Squash Club, Fenella Pole, Western Squash Club and Jane Kelly, Livingston Squash Club.

The winner was Jen Saldanha who had comfortable 3/0 wins against Fenella and Jane and the runner up was Fenella who also beat Jane.

Ladies O50

There were only three competitors however on Saturday morning Ashley Mearns withdrew and that left the two remaining players, Pauline Douglas and Sabine MacKenzie in the event. As Pauline and Sabine are both members at Bridge of Allan squash club they decided that it was not worth travelling to Glasgow for the one match against each other and O50 Ladies event did not take place.

MO35

There were eight entries, with seven players from clubs in the West and one from Aberdeen, and the competition was played as a knock out. 

In the first round/quarter finals the top four seeded players, Paul Cousins (1), Andrew Laing (4), Kieran Pole (3) and Stewart Morrison (2), all had comfortable 3/0 wins against Paul Wynn, David Morrison, Eric Van Der Marel and Mark Sherrit respectively.

The semi final line up was Paul v Andrew and Kieran v Stewart. The match between Paul and Andrew, both members of Western Club was very competitive. The first two games were shared before Andrew won the third game to take a 2/1 lead. However Paul fought back strongly and won the last two games 11/4, 11/4 and the match 3/2 and proceeded to the final.

In the other semi final Stewart Morrison from Aberdeen Squash and Racketball Club played very well and beat Kieran Pole 3/0 to reach the final.

In the final to seed Paul played very good all round squash and beat Stewart 3/0 and won the West O35 title.

In the Plate event Eric Van Der Marel beat Paul Wynne 3/0 and David Morrison beat Mark Sherrit 3/0 to reach the final. David beat Erik 3/1 to win the O35 Plate final.

MO40

There were 13 competitors and the competition was played as a knock out.  It was great to see such a full draw.

The top 3 seeds had a bye to the quarter finals, and Saturday morning’s first round of matches saw most of the seeds 4 to 8 safely through to quarter finals; all aside from 8th seed Malcolm Cameron, beaten by David Simpson.

Saturday afternoon’s QFs threw up a few tight matches. Number 1 seed Matthew Morton beat David Simpson with a convincing 3/0, meaning he would stay relatively fresh for Sunday. At the same time number 3 seed Barry Masson found himself in trouble at 2/0 down to David McCormick. He was then able to take the next 2 and seemed to have got into his stride, but the fifth game became a tight affair. David had a match point at 10/9 only for Barry to find a fortunate shot off the frame to save that and go on to win the decider 12/10.

Number 2 seed Neil Steedman was up against Euan Allison, and Euan found a few drops from deep to be effective as he pushed Neil hard. This one also went down to a decisive fifth game, and while Euan got a good start, he made a few crucial errors and Neil was able to dig deep and get through.

The final QF saw Graham Lind up against Scott Hay. Scott was worked hard and Graham seemed determined to get through in 3, but games were tight and it came down to who had the quality to win the crucial points in the end – Graham taking it in a tight 3/0.

In the first semi on Sunday, Barry managed to get the better start against Matthew to go 1/0 up. Matthew then seemed to get stronger as Barry was made to work hard, with the effects of a tough QF perhaps taking effect. From a tight score midway through the second game, Matthew was the better player, going 2/1 up, and then leading 10/2 in the fourth game. Barry fought back to get to 10/7, but then a tight drop proved too good and Matthew went through 3/1.

The second semi saw old foes Neil and Graham go head to head. While each game was tight, again Graham had the determination to get through in 3 games, and in the end managed to do so in 3 tight games.

In the final, each game was very tight. Matthew took the first 12/10, then the second 11/8, and then Graham managed to tin with the whole court to aim at with game ball in the third game, but Matthew wouldn’t give him another chance – Matthew a deserved winner 3/0.

In the plate John-Paul Dinnin played Malcolm Cameron in a close fraught final, taking it 3/1.

Well done to Matthew, and thanks to all at Newlands and everyone who played and marked and was involved in the organisation over the weekend.

MO45

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

At the top of the draw, number 1 seed and local boy, Angus Woodward had a bye in the first round. He then had a comfortable 3/0 victory over John Kynoch who had similarly dispatched Malcolm Cameron in the QF.

Adrian Richmond and Dougie Emery both had byes in the first round but the fifth and fourth seeds had a ding dong battle in the QF before Dougie ‘The machine’ Emery as he is known at Whitecraigs RFC, edged it 11/9 in the fifth game.

Angus and Dougie had a good tussle in the semi final before Angus came out on top 3/1.

In the bottom half of the draw, no.2 seed Peter Buchan had a bye in the first round and then met the aristocratic styled Nairn McMaster. Nairn had won through against a determined Ian Prott in round 1 in 3 close games. Nairn battled hard but it was ultimately Peter’s pace of game that took its toll on McMaster and Peter won 3/1.

Chris Turlik, buoyed by being freed of his match reporting duties, beat Adam Clayton 3/1 in round 1 before losing in the QF to a powerful performance from 3 seed Roddy Campbell.

Roddy and Peter met in the semi-final. Once again, Peter proved too strong and booked his place in the final with a 3/1 win.

After a slow start in the final where Peter won the first game, Angus upped the anti against a tiring Peter, who had already played in the O50s final, and won an entertaining final 3/1 on his home courts.

In the plate, Malcolm Cameron had great success making the final, thanks to walkovers in all the rounds. Unfortunately when he met Adrian Richmond, who had beaten Ian Prott in 3 close games, his luck changed but he kept up his 100% losing streak, albeit losing the first game 15/13.

Congratulations to all who took part in a well organised and enjoyable tournament.

MO50 

An initial entry of eight competitors was reduced to six before a ball was struck as Mark James and Colin McMullan didn’t make the start line at the Newlands club, but the competition remained a straight knock-out.

Day 1

There were contrasting wins for Peter Buchan and Andy Meldrum in the first round of matches.  While Peter eased past Andy McCulley in straight games, helping to conserve energy for matches spanning two age groups, Andy Meldrum’s path to the next round was a little less straightforward against Craig Mitchell.  Craig won the first game only for Andy to battle back and forge ahead into a 2-1 lead, but Craig wasn’t done yet and levelled the match before Andy sealed the win in the decider.

Semi-finals were played later on Saturday afternoon.  Top seed Mike Ramsay, playing his first Scottish Masters event of the season, successfully overcame Andy Meldrum’s challenge with a straight games victory, although Andy got close to winning the second (11-13).

In the other SF, Peter Buchan (2) ensured that the seeding was accurate with a 3-0 win in a competitive match against Brian Robertson (3), with the second game the closest Brian got to winning a game (10/12).

Day 2

The only Over 50s match on Sunday was the final to be contested between Mike and Peter and it promised to be a good one.

Peter made the perfect start, winning the first game, but it was the second that was pivotal in determining the outcome of the match – a very tight game was won 15-13 by Mike and he was able to push ahead to take the third game and finish the job in the fourth.  So Mike continued his excellent record of winning each Scottish Masters event entered, while Peter’s was a commendable effort in reaching (and being competitive in) the final of both the O45s and O50s age groups.

MO55 

There were originally 13 competitors (top 8 seed numbers in brackets) but Colin McMullan (4) was a late withdrawal so the draw was not revised. The competition was played as a knock out and Colin’s withdrawal benefitted Allan Currie who proceeded to the second round due to a walkover. Paul Harris dropped down from his O60 age group, keen for a sterner challenge.

There were four first round matches: Fraser Mark Mulford beat David Goldring (8), who had been relatively successful last year, 3/0. Paul Harris (5) beat Stuart Mitchell 3/1; Les Symmons (6) beat Dave Sheard 3/0.  The closest match was between Rolf Hansen and Danny Russell (7), Danny being well ahead in the first two games before Rolf had a run of points to win the first two and he managed to hang on for a 3/0 win

despite a calf strain sustained in the third.

The pick of the second round was Ronnie Carter (3) vs Les: the first two were both tight, each winning a game before Les took the third easily; the fourth was also tight with Les prevailing 12/10 to win the match due to persistent retrieving and Ronnie missing a few crucial opportunities. The remaining matches were relatively comfortable 3/0 wins for the other top 4 seeds: Jimmy Wells (1) over Fraser Mark, Paul over Allan, and Chris Holt (2) over Rolf who was suffering from his calf strain.

The plate involved four players on Sunday.  Stuart Mitchell overcame club mate Danny 3/1, all the games being two pointers.  Dave Sheard had a slightly easier match against David Goldring, winning 3/0 although the second went to the wire. The final between Stuart and Dave was a see-saw match, the first four games being shared with somewhat one-sided scores, before Dave edged the fifth 11/8 to win the plate, maybe as a result of a less arduous semi.

The semis of the main event started early Sunday morning. Jimmy controlled the first against Paul before the latter started playing more tightly to make it one all. Jimmy was again in more control in the third and edged out a very close fourth, Paul eschewing a game ball, to win 3/1. The other semi saw Chris take the first two games quickly against Les. The next two were much tighter, Les’ retrieving forcing a few mistakes to reach 1/2, before a few low cross-court drives helped Chris to win 3/1, relieved that it had not gone to a fifth.

The final between Jimmy and Chris was a repeat of that in Aberdeen, almost in all respects, with an added motivation that a win for Jimmy would count as a birthday present for Audrey! Just like a month ago, Chris attacked from the start with a high tempo to take a quick 2/0 lead. Back came Jimmy managing to slow the pace with effective lobs to take the third. He maintained the edge for the early part of the fourth before Chris managed to reach match ball at 10/8. A backhand volley drop into the tin by Chris and winners from Jimmy saw this advantage lost. Jimmy kept control to win the fifth to clinch another close match, much to his delight and also of Audrey.

MO60

There were eight competitors, but Jim Georgeson was a late withdrawal to reduce the competitors to seven, and the competition was played as a knock out.

First Round

Peter Shivas (1) v David Naylor. This was a routine 3/0 victory for Peter against

Masters’ newcomer David.

Keith Gristwood (5) v Richard Easton (4).  Richard played particularly well to win in 3 games.

David McAleese (3) v Bryan Jackson (6). David was always in control to win this in 3 games. Unfortunately for Bryan, his Bridge of Allan groupies who had supported him so well in Aberdeen were not in attendance and he needed their help!

Norman Paterson (2) had a walkover in the first round.

Semi finals.

Peter v Richard.  Richard played exceptionally well to win the first game and, although he competed well thereafter, Peter gradually came into the game to win 3/1.

David v Norman. This was the clash of the Hamiltons! It was similar to the other semi-final.  David started very well and won a close first game but Norman gradually got the upper hand and won the match 3/1. This game was a reminder that there are no friends when you’re on the squash court!

Final.

Peter v Norman. This match was very competitive between two players who know each others game well. The first two games were ‘nip and tuck’ and Peter won the first and Norman the second. Norman was taking the ball early and hitting hard drives to the back of the court whereas Peter was more measured and hitting good wide lengths and then dropping and boasting whenever he got a loose ball. The third and fourth games were more of the same but Peter was sharper and won both games 15/13 to win the match and the O60s title.

The Plate.

David Naylor v Bryan Jackson.  Bryan had a fairly comfortable 3/0 win and had a walkover in the final.

MO65

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

The four first round ties were played on Saturday morning. There were comfortable 3/0 wins for Phil Leek against David Naylor from Scotstoun Squash Club, who was playing his first Masters event and for Charlie Patrick against Alastair McMeckan who is recovering from a hip operation. In the other matches Robert Thompson led by 2/1 against John Pinkerton when John pulled a muscle and had to retire and Walter McAllister won a closely contested match 3/1 against Brian Duffy.

The top four seeds joined the competition on Saturday afternoon at the quarter final stage. Jim Dougal (1) and Ian Ross (3) had 3/0 wins against Phil Leek and Walter McAllister – Jim’s win was comfortable whereas Ian only won the third game 24/22 after both players had several game balls! In the other matches Emilio Fazzi (4) beat Robert Thompson 3/1 in a closely tested tie and Ernie Cowell (2) beat Charlie Patrick in a five game thriller. Ernie won the first game 15/8 but Charlie fought back strongly with some deceptive drops and lobs to win the next two games 18/16, 16/14 and lead 2/1. However Ernie went back to basics and drove the ball to the back corners against a tiring Charlie and comfortably won the last two games and the match 3/2.

The line up for semi finals early on Sunday morning was Jim v Emilio and Ernie v Ian. Jim started strongly and used his boasts and drops to good effect and won the first game 15/6. Emilio fought back well with strong drives and the next three games were ‘all nip and tuck’ – Emilio won the second 15/13, then Jim won the third 16/14 to lead 2/1 and in the fourth game both players had opportunities but Jim was the sharper and won the game 15/13 and the match 3/1.

Ernie had beaten Ian twice in the Masters events this season. Ian got off to a good start with Ernie making some uncharacteristic errors on his favourite backhand drives and Ian hitting a good length and playing good drop shots won the first two games 15/10 and 15/8. Ernie fought back and with good drives and won the next two games 15/11 and 15/11 to level the match at 2/2. Ernie led in the final game by a couple of points but Ian caught him at 9/9 and he then played good tight squash to lead 14/9. However at match balls Ernie then played some good winning shots to claw back to 14/13 before Ian forced Ernie into a backhand error and won the game 15/13 and the match 3/2.

It was fitting that the John Rae Memorial Tournament O65s final was contested between Jim Dougal and Ian Ross. John, Jim and Ian practiced together at Watsonians Squash Club on Thursday mornings for a number of years before John became very seriously ill in the Spring of 2018. With John a member of four squash clubs namely Newlands, Bridge of Allan, Mariner Centre (Falkirk) and Watsonians/Mammas his training/practice routines will be well known to many of the players on the Scottish Masters circuit. His approach to fitness training and racket skills underpinned his success and his teammates’ success in club, home international and European and World Masters championships over the last 10 years or so. He will be sadly missed.

And so to the final – the first game was closely contested and both players had chances to win it. However Jim, with his excellent service returns and winning boasts won 15/13. Ian fought back strongly and with some good deep drives and tidy drop shots won the second game 15/5 and levelled the match at 1/1. Both players continued to play well in the third and fourth games but Jim proved to be the sharper and won both games 15/12 and 17/15 and deservedly won the West O65s John Rae Memorial Tournament title.

MO70

There were 10 competitors, but this reduced to nine when Alex Everingham withdrew on Saturday morning, and the competition was played as a knock out.

Saturday

In the two first round matches there were wins for Alastair McMeckan over Alfie Thomson (3/0, but with a very closely fought 19/17 second game) and Andy Duff over Dave Brown (3/1, with Andy’s quicker movement around the court being an important factor).

Quarter finals

In the quarter finals, the top seed, Alex Sinclair, had a good win (3/0) over Alastair McMeckan (playing his third match of the day), while the second seed, Warren Cameron, was beaten by Andy Duff, in a match that see-sawed and eventually went to 16/14 in the fifth, with Andy’s willingness to keep running, and retrieving all Warren’s drop shots being rewarded.

There was also a long match between Tom Kane and Ken Reid. Ken played strongly initially, to take a 2/0 lead, but gradually tired and was brought back to 2/2. In the fifth Ken took an early lead, but again was pulled back losing 9/15 in the fifth. In the fourth quarter final Bernard Starkey had a walkover against Alex Everingham, who unfortunately had to withdraw on the day.

Sunday

Semi-finals

In the first semi-final, Alex Sinclair had a great battle with Tom Kane coming back from 0/1 down to play some clever, containing, full court length squash, at the end of both the third and fourth (both 15-13 to Alex) to win 3/1 when it really looked like Tom might take these games.

In the second semi-final, Bernard Starkey never let Andy Duff settle into the match and thus, making good use of reverse angle boasts, which Andy always had difficulty in spotting, Bernard had a quick 3/0 victory to reach the final.

Final

In the final Bernard made a good start by narrowly winning the first game 16/14, but Alex’s squash improved as the match progressed and in the end his consistency of length and slow deep pace produced a 3/1 win, with an impressive 15/5 fourth game.

Thus, congratulations to Alex for winning yet another regional Over 70s title, in 2019 – and with only three events left in the 2019-20 season, it looks like there will be strong competition for the top five spots in the points rankings.

Plate

In the Plate final, Ken Reid had a 3/0 win over Alfie Thomson, who, although hitting some very telling drops and lobs, was not moving well to the front of the court. 

Dates for your Diary

Scottish Masters Events

East Masters – Edinburgh Sports Club – 18/19 January 2020

Central Regional Masters – Bridge of Allan Sports Club – 7/8 February 2020

Scottish National Masters – Inverness Squash Club – 20/21/22 March 2020

For details of all 2019/20 Masters Tournaments see SRRA website

Home Internationals

GALWAY             MO40, MO60, WO35/40                    17/18 April 2020

CARDIFF              MO45, MO65, WO45                         24/25 April 2020                    

EDINBURGH        MO50, MO70, WO50                        1/2 May 2020      

NOTTINGHAM     MO35, MO55, MO75, WO50          15/16 May 2020