An evening filled with high drama, top quality squash and plenty of vocal support saw MB Nottingham finally claim victory after almost 4 hours of play. The away team arrived in good spirits following a 100% start to the season in all competitions (many of our PSL squad players play in both Notts and Midlands Leagues).
The intros were conducted by legend, former Nottingham, and current Chapel A player Simon Parke, suitable dressed in a sharp black suit with matching tie. Shortly after, we were underway…
MB Nottingham debutant Lisa Aitken took to the court against current World no.3 Jenny Duncalf, whilst MB youngster Ollie started on the adjacent court against junior counterpart Matt Sidaway. Lisa and Jen played an intriguing first game. Never much in it, both feeling each other out, both a little cagey going short. The 22 year old Scot impressed throughout the first but her elder opponent played the couple of big points at the end of the game better, and thus took it 9/11. Meanwhile on the court beside Ollie was having a tough time of it as he struggled to settle into any sort of game plan. Sidaway played some clever squash and took the first comfortably 7/11.
Before this match had reached any sort of significant point in the second, Lisa had levelled up the match with an impressive change of tactic, attacking at will and taking the game 11/4 with relative ease. She continued this tactic and form through the third game too, right up until 9/5. The two were beginning to engage in a little small talk between points, the ref was coming into things a lot more now, and all this worked in favour of the more experienced Jen. She played two great points, Lisa played two bad ones, and two strokes for the Chapel player saw her go straight through to a 9/11 score. A real tough break for the Scot.
Perhaps excitement kicked in too early? Ollie in the mean time had turned things around and was now working through his opponent. He established big leads early on in games two, three and four, and despite some resistance from his opponent (particularly in games two and four) the young MB man romped to victory after just under an hour of play, taking his games to 8, 4 and 8.
Back to the female encounter and after breaking her opponent at the end of the third many thought it would be a formality for Jen. She did take an early lead, but it was minor. Lisa was fighting with all she had. It however just wasn’t quite enough though and after 62 minutes of play Chapel A had levelled up the match. Impressive form nonetheless from our debutant. Bodes well for future matches.
The evening moved on with Lewis taking to court against younger opponent James Earles. Lew quite simply dominated this match. Right from the off he found a perfect balance of length and short hitting. The attacks were measured and calm, yet lethal on so many occasions. Earles didn’t play bad (he may disagree), it’s just that he was up against a player hungry to make his mark on the 2012/13 PSL following defeat in Round 1 and an imminent departure to Australia and the States.
Three games all 11/6 to the MB man in 34 minutes.
The match on the adjacent court was drawing huge amounts of vocal support from a passionate crowd. They were witnessing their new coach Simon Parke in a Chapel A shirt for the first time. They were pushing him on, aware that only victory would keep the overall match live. Our Fuller though was pretty pumped up himself, as he always is. He has been training hard in recent times and perhaps with more focus and direction, vision I guess you might call it. He brought all of this to the court anyway, and resulted in him outplaying Parkey for large parts of the first. He almost through away with game from 10/7 up, but two positive tie break points saw Fuller eventually close it out 12/10. Parkey came out fast in the second to take a 0/6 lead. Fuller fought back a little but it was never going to amount to much and before long we had been pegged back 6/11. The ship steadied in the third. Both players got back to working the rallies without taking any silly chances.
The rallies were long, compelling, and ultimately brutal. We reached 5/5. Almost in the blink of an eye, Parkey found some winners from nowhere, Fuller made an error and the game was over 5/11. The home crowd were now making an impact on the match. Their support of Parkey was immense and it had undoubtedly lifted their player. Fuller was facing a tall order but………… We all know he never shies. He played the fourth similar to the first, controlling much of it. His opponent looked like he might be resting and saving himself for the fifth but…………. We all know Parkey and this is not something he does. Fuller reached two game balls, but Parkey levelled following a couple of MASSIVE rallies.
Fuller went on the attack, reached another game ball with a beautiful forehand volley drop winner, and then closed out the game and levelled up the match with a low cross-court kill having worked his opponent out of position. 12/10, crowd silenced. Before the start of the fifth, bets were being taking along the front row of the court as to who would emerge victor. It was 50/50. The squash that followed sadly, was not so even. Fuller tried like a bear but Parkey came out with a short game as impeccable as I’ve seen from him. After 76 minutes of play the crowd were on their feet and Chapel A had a new hero. 11/4 to Parkeman.
So, a decider. Exactly what the evening, the home support, and the small number of away support deserved. Our man Ed against talented Dutchman Dylan Bennett. The two have played twice before, both on the PSA tour, and with one win each. Ed keen to make up for having to withdraw injured in his last match in front of a home crowd, and Dylan eager to impress his new team and loyal supporters.
Ding ding… First game was a funny one. Never before have I seen two players being wrong-footed so many times. Ed was trying to find some rhythm while Dylan was looking to break up the match with shorter, attacking rallies. I counted four ‘mizukis’ in the first, three of which came from Dylan’s racket. They were just show though and Ed managed to weather the storms to take the first 11/8. The second saw Dylan find slightly better balance to his game and the attacks became more effective. The nick was frequented and the match levelled with a 7/11.
The third was a dramatic game. Both players slipped to the floor a couple of times (on one occasion both during the same shot although the rally did still carry on), the winners became a little more outlandish, and the crowd were giving one last push despite the clock suggesting they shouldn’t be able too. Ed played the steadier of the two, made an error or two less, and he took the game 11/7 to put MB Nottingham within reach of a fine away win.
Not many would bet on Dylan coming back to win this one, especially given his new training regime, but nonetheless he cracked on in the fifth giving very little away. He made Ed work, asked questions of our man, but our man was up to the task. From 6/6 Ed pushed on to earn four match balls. One was saved with a crunching cross-court volley nick, another with a disguised straight drop, but Ed was not to be denied as he constructed a beautiful rally and ended it with a cross-court dying length to the back left corner. Four quality games in 58 minutes. Importantly for us, three of them to us.
So two wins from two to give MB Nottingham the dream start. Points have been dropped but only to quality opposition and with us without or number 1 male and female players.
We’re back on the road in two weeks time to arch rivals Duffield. Should be another cracker!