Last weekend saw the much anticipated return of the Essex County Squash Championship after an enforced 2-year break due to Covid.
The event saw the best of Essex born or resident players descend on Lexden Rackets & Fitness Club in Colchester for a fun but tough weekend filled with over 100 matches over 9 playing categories.
Millane Contract Services Ltd donated the prize fund which was to be split equally across the Open and Ladies A events, reflecting the event and sport’s values of equality and inclusivity for all.
The Ladies event was won by the talented Egyptian Fareda Elrakaybi. Originally from Cairo, Fareda is now resident in Colchester and is studying Law at the University of Essex. The final was a fierce battle which went the full distance: Fareda recovered from 0-2 in games to beat Essex Ladies Captain Sarah Neller 3-2.
The Open Event was won by South African born and Essex resident squash professional Gareth Naidoo, who only dropped a single game en route to the final. Gareth won his final 3-0 vs Rory Pennell, ending Rory’s bid to become the first player in Essex history to win both the Over 35 and Open Championships at the same time. Rory won the Over 35 category just a few hours earlier. The final was hotly contested between the two, however Gareth’s speed and endurance proved the deciding factor in a fitting end to a fantastic tournament.
Dave Neller, Essex Squash Chairman, said
“The past 2 years have been very difficult for squash, especially as it is played in such an enclosed space. As we have emerged from the confines of the Covid pandemic, players have eagerly anticipated getting back on court to have healthy competition and renew acquaintances. The Essex Closed has been running since 1968 and is an event all county and league squash player aspire towards, hence being able to hold it again in 2022 after the past couple of years, was met with great enthusiasm.
From the County Association point of view Inter-County Teams and the County Championship are the pinnacle of our endeavours, both go hand in hand, and effectively those playing in the closed are aspiring to represent the county. When a club hosts the event it brings together all ages, genders, ethnicities and abilities, to have a great time, and the competition held at Lexden in 2022 ticked all those boxes. The County Association (ESRA) say a big Thankyou to the team at Lexden together with the Sponsors, Millane Contract Services Ltd and Karakal, who helped make this such a prestigious event, and of course the players and referees – Thank You.”
Open A – 1: Gareth Naidoo. 2: Rory Pennell. 3: Jon Matthews. 4: Ross Brown
Open A Plate – 1: Antony Savage. 2: Clayton Hunt
Ladies A – 1: Fareda Elrakaybi. 2: Sarah Neller. 3: Piper Tatum. 4: Lara Newton
Ladies A Plate – 1: Nikki Taylor. 2: Susan Vine
Open B – 1: Clayton Hunt. 2: Tom Newman
Open B Plate – 1: George Goodhew. 2: Seb Birch
Open C – 1: Nick Pollard. 2: Simon Bourne
Open C Plate – 1: John Goodfellow. 2: Max Newton
Mens Over 35 – 1: Rory Pennell. 2: Paul Wallace
Mens Over 35 Plate – 1: Dave Smith. 2: Simon Bourne
Mens Over 50 – 1: Nigel Bacon. 2: Marc Thornley
Mens Over 50 Plate – 1: Mark Rendall. 2: Dave Harris
Ladies Over 50 – 1: Nikki Taylor. 2: Dawn Robinson
Ladies Over 50 Plate – 1: Susan Vine. 2: Victoria Ashworth te Velde
Mens Over 65 – 1: John Goodfellow. 2: Ian Lennox
Mens Over 70 – 1: Matthew Rayner. 2: Geoff Went