After the Christmas and New Year break, Chantry were back in action at Haileybury in a re-arranged fixture – how would the team fare after the excesses of Christmas and New Year?
For unclear reasons, only court two was available at 7:30, so James, still suffering the after-effects of a Christmas cold, was first on against Rob. Unfortunately it was quickly pretty clear that James had had a good helping of brussel sprouts with his Turkey and lost the first game 15-9. In the break James complained it was pretty cold on the court and he couldn’t get warm. We all stated the bleedin’ obvious – run around more! Clearly that was pretty poor advice as James barely troubled the scorers from that point, losing the next games 15-2, 15-7.
Not a great start, could John do any better against Julian. John certainly started brightly, building up a decent lead in the first game but then Julian, who has been playing team squash for aeons, started to bring his experience and court nous to bear, fighting back to take the first game 15-12. John wasn’t going to quit quite as easily as James and came out fighting again in the 2nd. This time he didn’t let Julian get back at him and took the game 15-10. Chantry on the scoreboard at last! Unfortunately, whoever ‘coached’ John at the end of that game didn’t do a very good job as Julian rattled off the 3rd game convincingly 15-4. The 4th game was better but Julian never let John get in control and took it 15-11 for a 3-1 win and put Haileybury in a strong position.
Meanwhile Paul has got changed and put on his trusty old Chantry Squash Club sweat-top because it’s so cold on court. But now court one is available for his match – and it’s roasting on there! No problem with keeping warm on this court and the sweat-top comes off pretty quickly. Paul is up against Ashley, who has been around for quite a while but haven’t played each other before. Both players are not quite as svelte as they were before Christmas but both do a half-decent impression of a left-handed squash player. The first game is tight all the way through to 10-10 and then Paul pulls away with a few good serves and closes it out 15-11. In the second, Ashley realises that Paul is also left-handed and adapts his game and is in control of the game – although it ends up quite tight as Paul comes back but Ashley takes it 15-11. The third also finishes 15-11, with Paul winning his second game as he starts to catch Ashley with sharp cross-courts to the backhand corner. In the fourth both players start to make mistakes and Paul starts to tire and tries too many dropshots – in that heat anything but a perfect drop is easily retrieved. Realising his mistake, Paul reverts to drives to the back (and sometimes the corner too) and pulls it back to 11-11, before Ashley gets a couple of nice nicks to help him take the game 15-12. So into the decider and now it’s Ashley getting tired and Paul remembers to avoid drops as much as possible. Cross-court drives are increasingly escaping Ashley’s reach and Paul takes the match with a 15-10 win in the final game.
Over on the artic court 2, Vinnie is playing Adam. VInnie has been promoted to string 2 now that his arm is better and he’s got his form back. But it’s looking like a promotion too far in the first game as he loses 15-12 but Vinnie starts to find his rhythm and takes the 2nd game 15-8. But then Adam starts to play the conditions. VInnie is playing his usual classic squash game of straight drives – but it’s so cold it’s nearly impossible to hit the ball to the back of the court so Adam is intercepting nearly every drive and dropping the ball at the front where it dies long before Vinnie can get off his heels. In the whole game the ball only hits the back wall 5 times and Vinnie can’t wait to get off court after being embarressed 15-3. In the break, Vinnie is told in no uncertain terms to stop trying to play drives and start playing dropshots. Immediately the match swings with Vinnie back in the game and he takes the fourth 15-10 to even things up. He also starts well in the fifth, building up a solid lead but then, inexplicably, stupidly, crazily, starts to revert to type and is driving the ball again. Adam takes advantage and starts to pull it back but at the last Vinh puts in a few killer drops and takes the game 15-13 and with it the match.
So the evening is level at 2-2 as Carl takes on Graham on mediterranean court 1. Both players start off running around a lot and trying to playing good squash with mixed success. It certainly looks like a post-Christmas game! Graham shows a bit more application than Carl and wins the first two games 15-10, 15-12 so it’s not looking good for Chantry. In contrast to the advice to Vinnie on the other court, Carl is encouraged to stop playing dropshots and focus on keeping the ball tight in the back corners. Sure enough a change in tactics here helps too – Carl takes the third game 15-10, being in control the whole way. Into the fourth and it looks like the pendulum has swung completely to Chantry as Graham clearly gives up and hands Carl an easy 15-3. But it’s soon clear that Graham was giving himself a rest in that game and comes back fighting in the fifth. It’s nip and tuck all the way – and the squash has improved too. Carl is ahead but then Graham gets a couple of nice nicks to take a 14-11 lead. Carl saves all 3 match points to level things up at 14-14 and it’s a tie-break to decide the last game of the last match. A fitting finale to a good series of matches. Unfortunately Carl’s efforts in saving those match points takes it out of him and he can’t save the next one and loses 16-14 – but a brave effort.
So Chantry start 2017 with a loss and are now firmly mid-table. But next week we’re at Radlett who we beat in the first half so perhaps we can break this run of 4 losses on the trot!