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,
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
"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.