Home Hero Masters Makes Mote Final
18 Jun 2017
A boisterous, partisan crowd at The Mote Squash Club in Maidstone, the county town of Kent, roared their encouragement as Kent-born Masters fought back against his higher-ranked opponent to put himself in touching distance of becoming the county's first winner of the title in the PSA World Tour event's eighth year.
Harrity, the world No.49, is seven places above Masters in the PSA world rankings. The two train together in Bristol and, despite being good friends, there was certainly no lack of competitiveness.
Harrity settled quickly and from 5-1 up he picked off the first game 11-4. Masters responded solidly in the second and from 7-7 he finished strongly to make it one game all.
After an even start to the third game, Harrity powered through to win it 11-6. The physical investment on a hot court began to take its toll as Harrity's control faded in the fourth. Masters dominated to win it 11-4 and set up an intriguing battle in the fifth.
From 2-1 down, Masters constructed his best spell of the match to win seven points in a row. He hit some devastating nicks, tight drops and forced a tiring opponent into errors.
At 9-3 up, Masters tinned a volley that was too high even for his 6ft 3in tall frame, and then mis-timed a drop shot. His fans began to chew their nails as they feared a Harrity comeback, but Masters clinched victory with two outstanding winners as the crowd roared with a mixture of joy and relief.
"I was a bit slow to start," he admitted. "I knew the match was going to be hard and I was relieved that Todd started to get a bit tired. I have been happy to hit a good patch of form when I needed it most in the fifth game twice this week."
No.4 seed Harrity admitted: "I felt that although I was 2/1 up that Josh was controlling most of the match and I was certainly tired in the fourth and fifth games. I had put in a lot of work and he wasn't making many mistakes. He played exceptionally well."
It was not the way he would have wanted to celebrate his 22nd birthday, and even though the Mote members sang "Happy Birthday" to him at the tournament party he knew he should have done better.
Welshman Makin was solid, positive and playing controlled, error-free squash. He said: "I was happy with the way I played but Richie always seems to engineer breaks in the play, whether it's a shoelace or wanting the court cleaned. It gets very irritating.
"This is a physical game based on continuous play and you don't want these hold-ups.
"I am looking forward to the final very much. Josh is a talented player. He likes to go for winners and we have very contrasting styles, which should make it a great match."