TWP St George’s Hill and Integrity Surrey Health & Racquets, who contested last season’s all-Surrey Premier Squash League (PSL) final, got their new campaigns off to a great start with decisive home victories in the first round of the 28th season of the world’s most prestigious squash league.
Defending champions Surrey Health & Racquets, the Croydon club bidding to become the first ever to win the title three times in a row, defeated UWE Bristol 4/1 in Group B. Impressive straight games wins by Victoria Lust, Ben Ford and Adrian Waller quickly gave the hosts an unassailable lead – which England Commonwealth Games gold medallist Adrian Grant then extended after beating Bristol-based Frenchman Lucas Serme 10-12, 11-3, 11-4, 14-12.
But Londoner Peter Barker was unable to make it a maximum points win for Surrey Health when the world No7 went down in four games to Bristol’s rising Egyptian star Mohamed El Shorbagy, the 20-year-old now ranked just a single place lower.
And St George’s Hill also recorded a 4/1 home win, over regional rivals Team Chichester, to begin the season at the top of the Group B tables. The hosts’ only hiccup came when 19-year-old team debutant Charles Sharpes, a former British Junior champion, lost out to higher-ranked Chichester stalwart Olivier Pett in five games.
“Loved my #pslsquash debut tonight for the club I’ve been playing at since I was 7,” said Sharpes later on Twitter. “Gutted to lose 3-2 against Olly Pett but happy with the way I played, the main thing is the team picked up a 4-1 win.”
Joe Lee provided a popular home win when he beat higher-ranked namesake Max Lee, the Hong Kong champion, 11-8, 11-6, 8-11, 9-11, 11-8 – before squad number one Tom Richards finished the night in style by beating Chichester’s new top string Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan, the Malaysian No3, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6, 12-10.
In the third Group B tie of the night, Exeter Diamonds squeezed out a 3/2 home win over IGT Winchester. After dropping the first two matches, the visitors battled back to draw level – Dutchman Dylan Bennett first overcoming Exeter newcomer Tim Vail, the former Chichester stalwart, in five games, and 18-year-old Marwan El Shorbagy celebrating the family’s second PSL success of the night by defeating higher-ranked New Zealander Campbell Grayson 3/0.
But a commanding performance by top string Stewart Boswell saw the Australian veteran in his fourth season for Exeter despatch Joey Barrington 11-6, 11-0, 11-7 to give the home club the success the packed crowd wanted.
Former champions MB Nottingham gained a 4/1 first round home win at the expense of PSL newcomers University of Birmingham to begin the season at the top of the Group A tables. Gloucestershire teenager Nathan Lake was the visitors’ sole winner – gaining valuable points for the University side after his Nottingham opponent Oliver Holland retired injured at the start of their fifth game.
But stirring victories by Nottingham regulars Emma Beddoes, Mark Fuller and Eddie Charlton – rounded off by a four-game win by team newcomer Chris Simpson – gave the 1999 champions the ideal start to the new season.
And England’s world number one Nick Matthew also led three-time former champions Benz-Bavarian Duffield to a 4/1 home win over Oxford Health & Racquets. But the Derbyshire club started off on the wrong foot when team newcomer Jenny Duncalf, the world No2 from Harrogate, suffered a four-game defeat by Oxford’s Irish international Madeline Perry.
Her team-mates Laurence Delasaux, Andy Whipp and Stephen Coppinger, came to the rescue with decisive victories over Oxfordshire opponents before Matthew wore down his Australian opponent Cameron Pilley, beating the tall world No16 12-10, 16-14, 11-4.
RESULTS: Premier Squash League, 1st round
Benz-Bavarian Duffield 4 Oxford Health & Racquets 1
Nick Matthew bt Cameron Pilley 12-10, 16-14, 11-4
Stephen Coppinger bt Scott Handley 11-4, 11-6, 11-3
Andy Whipp bt Ben Coleman 11-7, 11-5, 11-5
Laurence Delasaux bt Andrew Birks 11-3, 11-6, 13-15, 14-12
Jenny Duncalf lost to Madeline Perry 11-6, 5-11, 6-11, 12-14
MB Nottingham 4 University of Birmingham 1
Chris Simpson bt Chris Ryder 6-11, 15-13, 11-2, 11-6
Eddie Charlton bt Jaymie Haycocks 12-10, 11-8, 11-9
Mark Fuller bt Christopher Thomas Hall 13-11, 12-14, 11-3, 11-7
Oliver Holland lost to Nathan Lake 13-11, 11-5, 12-14, 8-11, 0-2 ret.
Emma Beddoes bt Jessica Mudge 11-1, 11-2, 11-1
Exeter Diamonds 3 IGT Winchester 2
Stewart Boswell bt Joey Barrington 11-6, 11-0, 11-7
Campbell Grayson lost to Marwan El Shorbagy 6-11, 6-11, 3-11
Tim Vail lost to Dylan Bennett 11-13, 11-9, 4-11, 11-5, 5-11
James Snell bt Jethro Binns 11-9, 11-8, 10-12, 8-11, 11-8 (69m)
Victoria Temple-Murray bt Catherine Finlayson 12-10, 11-4, 5-11, 11-7 (30m)
TWP St George’s Hill 4 Team Chichester 1
Tom Richards bt Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan 11-7, 8-11, 11-6, 12-10
Nicolas Mueller bt Robbie Temple 6-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-9
Joe Lee bt Max Lee 11-8, 11-6, 8-11, 9-11, 11-8
Charles Sharpes lost to Olivier Pett 11-9, 3-11, 11-7, 6-11, 5-11
Dominique Lloyd-Walter bt Annabelle Collins-Ballands 11-5, 11-3, 11-5
Integrity Surrey Health & Racquets 4 UWE Bristol 1
Peter Barker lost to Mohamed El Shorbagy 8-11, 8-11, 11-9, 6-11
Adrian Grant bt Lucas Serme 10-12, 11-3, 11-4, 14-12
Adrian Waller bt Arthur Gaskin 11-8, 11-7, 11-6
Ben Ford bt Chris Clare 11-9, 11-7, 11-5
Victoria Lust bt Anna Kimberley 11-4, 11-3, 11-4