The fifth round of the season saw Chantry hosting Nuffield Health 5, who were just above us in the table. After last week’s first loss of the season we were all keen to keep our 100% home record intact.
We’re joined tonight by a certain Mr Dave Baldwin, late of this parish, who many readers may remember – he hasn’t changed much – but it’s good to have some support!
First up Will is playing Keith Ragg. Will steams into a 2-0 lead (15-9, 15-11) but starts to run out of steam and is staring down the barrel at 13-4 down but then Keith makes the mistake of shoulder-barging Will “the Wall” Kirkham in an attempt to win a let and in the process damages his shoulder. After an injury break Keith comes back is barely able to hit the ball and Will rapidly reels Keith back in and takes the final game 17-15.
(The next day Keith goees for an X-Ray and discovers he’s torm ligaments in his shoulder and is out for several weeks; anyone playing Will should consider that a warning!)
As our opponents are being a bit slow turning up (and Mark has, once more, conveniently scheduled a call so that he’s late and can avoid marking – the big wuss), Paul is next on against another Keith (Winfield).
The first game is nip and tuck until the last few points which Keith grabs to take the game 15-11. The second game starts in similar tight fashion until at 3-3, Keith pulls up and has hurt his hamstring – Paul was nowhere near him (honest!). The rest of the game is procession and Paul takes it 15-6. Keith then runs off his injury and fights back to take the third 15-12. The fourth is yet another tight battle; Paul is starting to find some chinks in Keith’s armour and is catching him out with sharp cross courts when Keith is off balance. But Keith fighting back with excellent straight drives when retrieving drop shots on both forehand and backhand sides. Eventually Paul takes the game 18-16.
Into a decider – every game Paul has played this season has gone to the 5th set and, so far, he’s lost them all. Both players start to tire in the fifth game and being to make as many mistakes as each other – who makes the least will win! Finally Paul has a match point at 14-13 but plays a poor shot right onto Keith’s backhand on the tee – easy drop shot to take it to a tie-break – but Keith puts it into the tin and Paul’s finally won a match!
On the other court, Vinh is taking on Ian Taylor. Ian is long and gangly and seems to get everything back and get in the way of everything too – which leads to a somewhat bad-tempered match. The game starts off pretty evenly, long rallies peppered with lose shots give Ian the opportunity to keep up . 10-10 and Ian sneaks into the lead and closes out the first 15-11. Vinh digs in and carries on with his ‘must rally’ game, disregarding most of the opportunities for drops and pushes Ian to 14-14 where he cracks and gives away a stroke on game point. Game Vinh 17-15!
Both players starting to tire, the calls are coming in frequently, Ian slow to get out of the way, and Vinh playing some loose shots. The marker calls what he sees, and grumpiness ensues but he’s having none of it and at the end Ian puts together a good string of shots to go from 9-10 to win 15-11. But then Ian announces he’s injured his arm – no idea how or when that happened but he has a big lump on his arm. Another injury break but eventually the game restarts -time is dragging on, what with the late start and the injuries, the chef needs to sort things out and get in the kitchen! He starts off the fourth game with a new lease of life, running Ian all around the court and tiring him even more… 8-4 to Vinh. Ian fights hard to catch up but Vinny maintains his lead and takes the 4th 15-12.
Its all to play for in the 5th … Vinh takes a strong lead 8-2 up, but then falters and lets Ian work his way back into the game, despite Ian throwing the ball at Vinny after losing a close call. Its 11-8 to Vinh and with one last push, he makes it to the finishing line, winning 15-10. Well played Vinh. Eventually 🙂
So 3 wins out of 3. How can Mark get on against Andrew, who’s wearing the oldest, tattiest kit we’ve seen in a while – in contrast to Mark’s colour and brand coordinated orange fashionista get-up. Not sure which was worse actually.
Andrew doesn’t look like he’s interested in running around much, but he has got a pretty good boast. Mark doesn’t look like he’s interested in winning much, and he’s got an aversion to playing drop shots. So they cancel each other out and Andrew takes a close game 18-16.The second continues in similar poor fashion and Andrew takes it 15-13.
But now Andrew starts to get even slower around the court. Even Mark can’t fail to win some raillies now and wins the next two games 15-9, 15-10 to take it to yet another deciding set.
After a couple of games rest, Andrew starts to move around the court a bit again and puts Mark under a bit of pressure. Mark crumbles, can’t serve for toffee and is 14-8 down. Andrew thinks he’s got it won and relaxes, Mark starts to make inroads and it’s back to 14-10, now 14-11, now an easy drop shot to make it 14-12. Oh No! Mark’s gone and put it down to hand the match to Andrew! That’s not going to do his stats any good is it?
String 1 is the last match on with Carl taking on Rob Clark who recently dumped Carl out of the Herts Closed 3-0. The match starts with Carl trying (and failing) to play a winner with every shot and is soon several points down. But he engages his brain (apparently there’s one in there) and decides to start playing some rallies and fights back to take the first 15-13. The second game is equally tight but goes 15-13 to Rob. In the third Carl makes far too many mistakes and it’s looking like youth is going to win the day as Rob takes the third in a, more comfortable than it looks, 15-12.
After a good pep talk, Carl plays some good squash in the 4th and goes 13-8 up but then relaxes and then panics and Rob is back to 13-12 but Carl nicks a point after Rob makes a mistake to get two game points. Rob saves the first game point but can’t do anything about the second as Carl’s mishit turns into a nifty front-of-court boast landing just above the tin. Sweet!
Yet another 5-setter. Carl is wheezing between points and although he looks much fresher Rob is also tiring. Carl is now playing the better squash, keeping it tight and down the line and builds up a 13-8 lead again. As before Rob starts to make a comeback but this time Carl doesn’t panic and closes the match out with a 15-11 win.
So that’s a good 4-1 win for Chantry which should take us back up to 2nd in the table, at least.
For support, Vinh has produced Ginger Chicken Special which is up to his usual high standards. Dave digs in as there’s plenty to go round. James Argent also turns up to see the last few rallies and despite @RachelDay having served him up a scrumtious toad-in-the-hole, grabs a plate and helps himself too. Even then there’s plenty for Carl to fill his doggy-bag – we know what’s being dished up in the Noffki household for the rest of the week!
Despite having got a free dinner, James and Dave stubbornly refuse to take any notice of the not-at-all-subtle hints that they should pitch in and help with the washing up. Last time either of them get free grub.
Next week it’s Luton & Dunstable (away) who are near the bottom of the table, so Chantry can’t afford to slip up if they’re going to keep up the pressure on league leaders Haileybury.