ESSEX 035’s October 15th Stage 1 Match Report

Essex played hosts to Middlesex and Kent at Bishops Stortford for the over 35’s Regional group stage.
On paper it certainly looked like we had been handed a tough draw and after watching the first match it was clear anything could happen on the day.
First up was Middlesex v Kent which was a nail biting affair and could have gone either way but luckily Middlesex prevailed 3-2 winners.

Now it was our turn to take on Middlesex with not much rest for them to be fair. However they did bring in two new players.
First on court was Dave Smith at 3 against the Middlesex Substitute Alex Cough. This was a superb game of squash from both players. Dave found himself heavily down at the start of the games to his older opponent, who was very fast around the court but maybe just tired towards the end of game 2/4 as Dave clinched them both in tie breaks with some of the best shots he has ever played!
On the next Court Cliff was taking on another spare player for Middlesex Tim King. Both players were putting in mammoth efforts and there were some great long rallies. Cliff came through a really tight 4th game 18-16 to give Essex a 2-0 lead.
Now it was up to Savage or me to close out the win. Savage was taking on a giant who would look more at home on a Basketball court but this guy could really play some crafty squash if you let him. Fortunately for Essex Savage was on top form and never let Guy settle and closed out a 3-0 win.
I on the other hand was getting a bit of a hiding to a leftie! I was not at my best on the day and my opponent was very sharp and took a 3-1 win.
Last on court was Malcolm against Middlesex’s Captain Charlie who won an amazing the tie for them against Kent being 0-2 down and claiming the fifth 14-12. Still Charlie was able to put up a good fight and it took a lot of effort from Malcolm to close the match in a tightly fought out fifth set.

So a great start for us and we now needed to see off Kent who had a good rest in-between fixtures.
Maybe we were a bit over confident as we happily went straight back on court with Kent. First up were Dave and Malcolm.
Dave was playing a classy individual Jolyon Head but yet again Smithy was in top gear and raced away to a 2-0 lead.
On the other court Malcolm was playing someone who we have seen in Essex league, Antonio. On paper this looked like a straight forward win for Essex. As I looked at the score card I thought I was seeing double as Malcolm was 2-0 down within 5 minutes. Malcolm was last to finish against Middlesex and first to start against Kent and as he put it, he was “seeing Stars”. So after his 4th Mars bar finally the sugar kicked in and at 9-2 down Malcolm managed to bring the game back to 10 all but it was just that little bit too far and Antonio hit some clean winners to take a 3-0 victory.
On the other court Dave was also running out of energy and the 2-0 lead evaporated to give Jolyon a fifth set. Jolyon’s fresher legs gave him the push he needed to take the fifth set and gave Kent a 2-0 lead.
Now it was my turn to pull things around. I started off ok but then also got tired and couldn’t close out the first game even though I had chances. After the first my game disappeared and Lewis closed out a 3-0 victory to give Kent the win.
Whilst yet again Antony was showing his class by controlling last year’s 035’s England player Tom May. Apart from the 2nd game that went to Kent in a tie break. Savage was in command and hitting great length and winners to take the match 3-1.
Last on court was Cliff against Matt Horder a replacement for Kent’s injured no 4 against Middlesex. Bearing in mind Cliff had only half an hour earlier won 18/16 in 4th he was now scrapping it out in similar style with Matt. Cliff was brilliant and somehow managed to find the strength to take the tie to 5 after some excellent long rallies. The fifth game was close and Cliff managed to push Matt as far as his legs could take him but went down 3-2.Kent win 4-1.
Kent being fairly experienced with Inter Counties had already done their calculations to work out they had topped the group on games won. So my initial instinct was right, it was going to be close on the day just a shame we didn’t nick the win! (I blame me)
I must say a special thanks to Andrew Mulvey for letting us Host at his club, what an excellent venue Bishop’s is even if it’s officially classed as Hertfordshire!

Thanks again to all the players who performed outstanding on the day.

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1 Kent 28
2 Essex 25
3 Middlesex 23