11:28 am
19 Jul 2024

Surrey Health & Chichester Celebrate First Time In PSL Final

10 Apr 2008

PCL Whitehall Security Surrey Health & Racquets Club and PNH Properties Chichester consolidated their successes in Tuesday's first semi-final legs by easing to home victories in tonight's second leg ties in the Premier League (PSL) to earn their first appearances in the national final of the established England Squash league sponsored by Towergate tlc.

It was a case of 'eighth time lucky' for Chichester, who had failed to progress beyond the semi-finals seven times since 1996. After crushing Derbyshire's Benz-Bavarian Duffield 5/0 in the first semi, the Sussex club beat the defending champions 4/1 in the reverse fixture to record a 9/1 aggregate win.

Just 48 hours after holding a slender 3/2 lead over University Sport Birmingham, Croydon-based Surrey H&RC romped home 4/1 to secure a 7/3 aggregate win - and extend their unbeaten run this season to 12 ties.

The final, on Tuesday 13 May, will be the first between two southern clubs for six years.

On the south coast, Dominique Lloyd-Walter and Chichester stalwart Peter Genever put the home side into the lead with repeat wins over Duffield's 15-year-old Millie Tomlinson and Peter Billson, respectively - Genever again needing five games to get the better of his Manchester-based opponent.

But Duffield claimed a revenge win when Nick Taylor beat Chichester's Tim Vail 9-4, 9-6, 12-10. It was a rare loss for team captain Vail - who made his debut for Chichester in 1996 and has not missed a PSL appearance for his team in at least the last six seasons!

It was Chichester team veteran Alex Gough that clinched victory over his former club by beating Alex Stait 9-4, 9-7, 4-9, 9-1 - a win that was later repeated by top string Mohd Azlan Iskandar when the Malaysian beat Duffield number one Andrew Whipp 10-8, 10-8, 9-7 to ensure the home side's 4/1 success.

"At last we've done it," said a jubilant Chichester captain Tim Vail. "We had a sell-out crowd here tonight - willing us on to get to our first final - and I'm sure they'll all be with us for the final too.

"We've had a consistent policy ever since we joined the league - to always have strength in depth, and to use the league to help bring on Sussex juniors," explained Vail. "And tonight's triumph shows that the plan is paying off - and juniors like Olly Pett and Tom Pashley have worked hard to get this far."

There was also a full house in Croydon - where the opening clash saw England's world No8 Vicky Botwright avenge her first leg loss to Lancashire and England team-mate Laura Lengthorn-Massaro by fighting back from two games down to beat her lower-ranked Birmingham opponent 9-11, 6-9, 10-8, 9-1, 9-7.

But straight games wins by Ben Ford, Peter Barker and Egyptian star Wael El Hindi put smiles on the home crowd as the Surrey club made up for the disappointment of losing out at the same stage last year by winning 4/1.

The student team gained a consolation point when up-and-coming 20-year-old Joel Hinds (ranked 256 in the world) showed that Tuesday's giant-killing win over experienced Italian Davide Bianchetti was no fluke - by again beating the world No31 9-7, 9-2, 6-9, 9-6!

"It's been a fantastic night, but also a huge relief after last year," admitted Surrey team manager Pete Smith. "There's been a great atmosphere here - and we're now really looking forward to the final."

RESULTS: Semi-finals, 2nd leg:

PNH Properties Chichester 4 Benz-Bavarian Duffield 1
Mohd Azlan Iskandar bt Andrew Whipp 10-8, 10-8, 9-7
Alex Gough bt Alex Stait 9-4, 9-7, 4-9, 9-1
Tim Vail lost to Nick Taylor 4-9, 6-9, 10-12
Peter Genever bt Peter Billson 3-9, 9-4, 5-9, 9-5, 9-7
Dominique Lloyd-Walter bt Millie Tomlinson 9-3, 9-3, 9-1

Chichester win 9/1 on aggregate

PCL Whitehall Security Surrey H&RC 4 University Sport Birmingham 1
Wael El Hindi bt Joey Barrington 9-2, 11-9, 9-7
Peter Barker bt Jonathan Harford 9-5, 9-5, 9-7
Davide Bianchetti lost to Joel Hinds 7-9, 2-9, 9-6, 6-9
Ben Ford bt Alistair Mutch 9-2, 9-1, 9-4
Vicky Botwright bt Laura Lengthorn-Massaro 9-11, 6-9, 10-8, 9-1, 9-7

Surrey H&RC win 7/3 on aggregate