Croydon & Birmingham Extend PSL Leads
25 Oct 2006
University of Birmingham and Surrey Health & Racquets Croydon, both of which clubs made their debuts in the league last season, extended their group leads in the new season of the Premier League (PSL) after contrasting results in Tuesday's second round of the England Squash event sponsored by Clowes Insurance.
In a dramatic conclusion to their home tie against Tinos Homes Chichester in Group B, the Croydon club twice saw their top string Anthony Ricketts, the world No4 from Australia, fight back from behind before finally clinching an 8-10, 9-2, 8-10, 10-8, 9-2 victory over Welsh 'veteran' Alex Gough, the British O35 Open champion, to win the tie 3/2.
Earlier, the Surrey club seemed to be coasting to a comfortable win over their south coast visitors when Lauren Briggs and former European Junior champion Chris Simpson secured four-game wins. But Chichester drew level when club stalwarts Peter Genever and Tim Vail secured notable victories - Genever beating Italy's world No29 Davide Bianchetti 9-4, 12-10, 6-9 9-4 in 56 minutes and Vail defeating former Sussex champion Tim Garner 4-9 9-5 9-4 9-1 in a 70-minute marathon.
The Birmingham University squad also competed in a tie which went to the wire - but, despite going down 3/2 to Derbyshire's defending champions Benz-Bavarian Duffield, still accrued enough points to extend their lead at the top of the Group A points table!
Duffield fire-fighter Laura Hill put up a brave fight against the visitors' Laura-Jane Lengthorn, extending the world No11 for 55 minutes before going down 2-9, 7-9, 9-1, 8-10. And the University team took a second match when South African Stephen Coppinger stemmed a fight back from Duffield's Lee Drew to beat the player ranked more than 240 places higher in the world 9-5 9-3 2-9 7-9 9-5!
However, Yorkshire's British National champion Nick Matthew ultimately came to the rescue of his Derbyshire club with a focused 9-6 9-7 9-7 win over the Birmingham University No1 Joey Barrington to give title-holders Duffield a win in their first outing of the season.
The other tie in Group A saw PSL newcomers Esporta Oxford achieve a confidence-boosting 5/0 win in their first home game of the season, against league veterans Pontefract. Irish champion Madeline Perry, hot off the plane from a creditable quarter-final finish in the Hong Kong Open, delighted the capacity Oxford crowd with a 10-8, 9-1, 9-4 win over the Yorkshire club's Kirsty McPhee.
Three Oxford regulars Scott Handley, Mark Cairns and Kristen Johnson added to the Esporta points tally with impressive wins - none more notable than that of former British champion Mark Cairns, playing in his first PSL match since becoming a father for the first time earlier in the month!
"It was not only a great result - but a great final match which couldn't have pleased the crowd more," said a very happy Oxford team manager Jason Martin after squad No1 Cameron Pilley fought back from 1/2 down to beat Pontefract's Indian champion Saurav Ghosal 9-6, 7-9, 5-9, 9-2, 9-7 in 52 minutes.
There was a similar tale for PSL first-timers in Group B, where Redwood Probuild Bristol enjoyed success in their first home tie in the league, beating fellow newcomers Luxfords St George's Hill 3/2. Fresh from her triumph in the women's Over-35 event in the World Masters Championships in South Africa, Australia's Sarah Fitz-Gerald crushed the Wales No1 Tegwen Malik 9-2 9-2 9-0 in 20 minutes to put the Surrey visitors into the lead.
When Bristol's David Evans got the 32nd birthday present he did not want - a four-game defeat by St George's Hill's Daryl Selby - it was left to top string Adrian Grant to seal victory for the home club. It took the left-hander from London five games to secure the vital result, which he did after 67 minutes in a 7-9, 9-6, 7-9, 9-7, 9-6 win over Frenchman Renan Lavigne.
2nd round, Tuesday 24 October 2006
Esporta Oxford 5 Pontefract 0
Cameron Pilley bt Saurav Ghosal 9-6, 7-9, 5-9, 9-2, 9-7 (52m)
Scott Handley bt Ryan Thompson 9-2, 9-3, 11-9
Mark Cairns bt Neil Cordell 9-2, 3-9, 9-2, 9-4
Kristen Johnson bt Adam Taylor 9-5, 6-9, 9-6, 9-1
Madeline Perry bt Kirsty McPhee 10-8, 9-1, 9-4
Benz-Bavarian Duffield 3 University of Birmingham 2
Nick Matthew bt Joey Barrington 9-6, 9-7, 9-7
Jonathan Kemp bt Joel Hinds 9-3, 9-7, 9-6
Lee Drew lost to Stephen Coppinger 5-9, 3-9, 9-2, 9-7, 5-9
Andrew Whipp bt Jaymie Haycocks 7-9, 9-6, 9-3, 9-5 (35m)
Laura Hill lost to Laura-Jane Lengthorn 2-9, 7-9, 9-1, 8-10 (55m)
Surrey Health & Racquets Croydon 3 Tinos Homes Chichester 2
Anthony Ricketts bt Alex Gough 8-10, 9-2, 8-10, 10-8, 9-2
Davide Bianchetti lost to Peter Genever 4-9, 10-12, 9-6, 4-9 (56m)
Tim Garner lost to Tim Vail 9-4, 5-9, 4-9, 1-9 (70m)
Chris Simpson bt Tom Pashley 9-7, 9-6, 6-9, 9-3 (45m)
Lauren Briggs bt Line Hansen 9-1, 6-9, 9-0, 9-2
Redwood Probuild Bristol 3 Luxfords St George's Hill 2
Adrian Grant bt Renan Lavigne 7-9, 9-6, 7-9, 9-7, 9-6 (67m)
David Evans lost to Daryl Selby 7-9, 7-9, 9-7, 1-9 (38m)
Hadrian Stiff bt Tom Richards 9-6, 9-7, 7-9, 11-9 (36m)
Chris Clare bt Joe Lee 9-5, 9-3, 9-1 (22m)
Tegwen Malik lost to Sarah Fitz-Gerald 2-9, 2-9, 0-9 (20m)