Premier Squash League Final 2006/07
Tuesday 15th May,  Nottingham Squash Club
Benz Bavarian Duffield 3-2 Redwood Probuild Bristol

Benz-Bavarian Duffield 3-2 Redwood Probuild Bristol
  
  
Nick Matthew  0-2  Adrian Grant       6/9, 5/9 (17m)
   Jonathan Kemp  3-1 Joe Kneipp       9/6, 9/4, 7/9, 10/8 (32m)
   Lee Drew 0-3  David Evans              4/9, 2/9, 5/9 (24m)
   Andy Whipp 3-1 Hadrian Stiff           10/12, 9/6, 9/5, 9/6 (44m)
   Tania Bailey 3-0  Kasey Brown         9/6, 9/6, 10/8 (43m)

Final Roundup from Howard Harding

Duffield retain PSL title

Benz-Bavarian Duffield retained their PSL tonight at Nottingham as wins from Tania Bailey, Andy Whipp and Jonathan Kemp left challengers Bristol trailing 3/1 with the number ones still to play.

England number one Bailey was first on court for Duffield, coming through a tough three-game battle with Kasey Brown, the Australian as tenacious as ever. Tania took 7/3 and 6/2 leads in the first two games, and although Kasey battled back as the rallies became fiercer, she just fell short in both. The third was point for point, but Tania kept her nerve in a tense finish to take the match on the second opportunity.

Just one minute later Andy Whipp doubled Duffield's lead, recovering from losing a tight first game to come home in four against Bristol skipper Hadrian Stiff.

Welsh wizard David Evans was always in control against newly-married Lee Drew - playing his last match as a professional player - as Bristol pulled one back, but with Jonathan Kemp leading 2-0 against Joe Kneipp on the showcourt, the title looked to be heading Duffield's way once more.

The Aussie staged a fightback though, racing to a 5/1 lead in the third and hanging on as the pair traded winners - no long up and down the wall rallies here, but plenty of fast, action-packed exchanges as they went for winners and, of course, made some and missed some.

Kemp started the fourth better, with both still playing their shots and showing the packed crowd some great skills, and the Duffield man just managed to stay ahead, spurning two championship balls at 8/6 but bringing the title back home to Derbyshire on the third attempt, much to the relief a manager Brian Hargrave who was, by now, dreading another deciding tie.

Adrian Grant won the best of three 'dead rubber' against Nick Matthew, and the Duffield celebrations began again ...
 


Finals GALLERY
and SLIDESHOW

"Delighted to win again, it's a tremendous achievement, especially as that extends our unbeaten run to 15 matches. Even though we won all our matches this season, we won six of the ten league matches 3/2, and the playoff matches were all close.

"I thought we were in for a decider here tonight, but just as we have all season we dug in when we needed to.

"I'm delighted for the players, but particularly for Jonathan - he had match balls to win it for us last year but didn't take them, so it was great for him to do it this time and take the pressure off Nick, and all of us."

Tania Bailey 3-0  Kasey Brown        9/6, 9/6, 10/8 (43m)

"It was a struggle motivating myself to train last week, getting home after such a long trip, but I knew we had this coming and that Kasey would be tough to beat.

"I was lacking a bit of confidence in my short game so we ended up whacking it up and down the wall a bit, but it's good to get away with a three-nil, even though it was a bit edgy towards the end.

"It was important to get off to a good start to take some pressure off the lads, we knew the next matches were going to be hard."



"I thought I played well, just fell a couple of points behind in the first two and the third was close all the way.

"It was pretty tight all the way through, I felt a bit unlucky not to at least get a game or two."

Andy Whipp 3-1 Hadrian Stiff 
     10/12, 9/6, 9/5, 9/6 (44m)

"Very happy to be champions again, it's been a great team effort to go unbeaten for the whole season. Winning is brilliant, I love winning!"





"I enjoyed my game, I felt I played quite well even though I lost.

"Getting to the final in our first season is definitely a combination of a big effort from all the team - having a steady squad of seven for the whole season has really helped our team spirit - and great backing from our sponsors and the supporters in Bristol for whom this is something new."

Jonathan Kemp  3-1 Joe Kneipp
       9/6, 9/4, 7/9, 10/8 (32m)

"It was a bit up and down, there was some good squash and some terrible squash. It was getting tight at the end, but I knew that Joe isn't as fit as he was so if I stayed patient and just played my game I was confident I would be ok.

"Sometimes when it's like that you start taking it in too soon and attacking at the wrong times, which I was doing, but he's still a great shotmaker and you can't getaway with doping that against him."

Duffield Retain PSL Title In Nottingham
Final roundup from Howard Harding

 

Derbyshire club Benz Bavarian Duffield beat event newcomers Redwood Probuild Bristol 3/2 in tonight's Premier Squash League (PSL) final at Nottingham Squash Club to not only extend their unbeaten run to 15 ties, but also became the first club for ten years to successfully defend the title.

 

Both teams were at full strength for the climax of the England Squash league sponsored by Clowes Insurance:  Duffield fielded three players who clinched the 2006 title in Manchester - England number ones Nick Matthew and Tania Bailey, and Jonathan Kemp - while the Bristol squad featured two players making their fourth appearances in PSL finals, Adrian Grant, a former Edgbaston Priory player, and David Evans who appeared in the 1999 final for 2007 final hosts Nottingham!

 

Lincolnshire's Tania Bailey put the champions ahead with a 9-6, 9-6, 10-8 defeat of rising Australian star Kasey Brown.  "She's a really good player, so I knew I'd have to play well to beat her," said the world No4 of her opponent, ranked 12 places lower.

 

On an adjacent court, Duffield stalwart Andrew Whipp beat Bristol captain Hadrian Stiff 10-12, 9-6, 9-5, 9-6 to give the title-holders a 2/0 lead.

 

But PSL veteran David Evans, the former British Open champion from Wales who has represented the mid-order strength of league debutants Bristol, pulled back the deficit when he despatched Duffield's newly-married Lee Drew 9-4, 9-2, 9-5.

 

However, squad No2 Jonathan Kemp - in his 10th appearance for Duffield this season - clinched the title for his club when he edged out Australian Joseph Kneipp 9-6, 9-4, 7-9, 10-8.

 

England team-mates Nick Matthew and Adrian Grant faced each other in the best-of-three 'dead rubber' which completed the evening - Grant securing a further consolation point for the west country side by dismissing his higher-ranked national team-mate Matthew 9-6, 9-5 in just 17 minutes.

 

"I'm glad my team did the important work before I got on court, as Adrian was on fire tonight," said Matthew later.

 

The Yorkshireman went on to pay tribute to Duffield team manager Brian Hargrave, who was celebrating his third Premier League title for the club since 1998.  "Brian does an amazing job - he seems not only to run our club, but the league and the rest of the clubs too - it's a fantastic effort."

 

Hargrave put his team's success down "a real squad effort."

 

"Throughout the season, if one player didn't quite perform, others would excel and lead the team to overall success.  It is a team in every sense of the word.

 

"And the supporters have been outstanding too.  They have been with us throughout the season, home and away, and this encourages the players - and is probably worth a couple of extra points for each match," Hargrave explained.

 

The manager also paid tribute to long-time sponsors Benz-Bavarian:  "Company owner Felix Frixou has been with us for ten years now - he is very generous.  We couldn't have done it without him," added Hargrave.

 

Despite narrowly losing out, Bristol driving force Hadrian Stiff also had much to be proud of - helping his club become the first ever to reach the final in its debut season:  "Our secret was having a squad of players mainly based in the UK - and comprising a nucleus of players who are not playing on the international tour and can therefore focus on our league commitment," said the Devonian who recently set up his base at Redwood Lodge in Bristol.

 

"But, despite having eight courts at Redwood, we desperately need a glass-back court at the club if we are going to capitalise on this fantastic first season in the PSL," explained the England No19.

 

"For some time, my aim has been to build a strong squad of elite players here in Bristol - and it would be good to think that this success will help us achieve this soon and attract more top-level squash to the south west," added Stiff.
   


Brian brings the trophy back ...

 ... for a quick polish before the match

Finals GALLERY     and SLIDESHOW