SEMI-FINALS

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SEMI-FINALS:

Tue
31st Mar

Latest Updates ON THE BLOG                            Final: Tue 5th May, Nottingham

Chapel Allerton 3/2 Probuild Bristol


   Thierry Lincou lost to Adrian Grant                 11-7, 10-12, 9-11, 11-5, 12-14
   Alister Walker bt David Evans                                   9-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-6
   Aaron Frankcomb bt Hadrian Stiff                   11-8, 7-11, 11-6, 12-14, 11-8
   Chris Simpson bt Lewys Hurst                                             11-2, 11-3, 11-6
   Jenna Gates lost to Sarah-Jane Perry                                 6-11, 6-11, 5-11


PCL Whitehall Security Surrey H&RC 2/3 Benz-Bavarian Duffield

   Wael El Hindi lost to Nick Matthew                              11-4, 6-11, 6-11, 6-11
   Peter Barker bt Joey Barrington                                         11-7, 11-6, 11-4
   Davide Bianchetti lost to Andrew Whipp                  8-11, 11-9, 15-17, 10-12
   Tim Garner bt Joel Hinds                                 6-11, 8-11, 13-11, 11-9, 11-9
   Vicky Botwright lost to Tania Bailey                                    7-11, 7-11, 9-11
   
  
 

Chapel Allerton & Duffield
To Meet In PSL Final
Roundup from Howard Harding

After surviving dramatic ties in the semi-finals in the Premier Squash League former champions Benz-Bavarian Duffield and league newcomers Chapel Allerton will meet in the final of the 26th season of the world's most prestigious squash league.

Long-established Yorkshire club Chapel Allerton - who last played in the then National League more than 20 years ago - recovered from losing the first match on their home courts in Leeds to beat 2007 runners-up Probuild Bristol 3/2.  Simultaneously, 200 miles south, defending champions PCL Whitehall Security Surrey H&RC hosted three-time champions Duffield - and saw their chance of a return to the final slip away when their Derbyshire visitors snatched a 3/2 win as long-time squad number one Nick Matthew beat the Croydon club's Egyptian star Wael El Hindi in four games.

England junior international Sarah-Jane Perry put Bristol ahead in Leeds with a straight games win over Chapel Allerton's Jenna Gates.  But the home side's hopes were boosted when squad No4 Chris Simpson beat the visitors' Lewys Hurst 11-2, 11-3, 11-6 and local star Alister Walker, ranked 16 in the world, defeated Bristol's former world No3 David Evans - winner of nine out of his ten appearances hitherto for the west country club - 9-11,11-8, 11-6, 11-6.

All eyes were then on the third string clash in which the home team's Aaron Frankcomb, a 23-year-old touring pro from Australia ranked 44 in the world, was battling with Bristol captain Hadrian Stiff, a 36-year-old who retired from the Tour more than six years ago.  Stiff forced the match into a fifth game decider after saving numerous match-balls in the fourth to win it 14-12. 

But the packed local crowd 'raised the roof' when Frankcomb finally clinched the match 11-8, 7-11, 11-6, 12-14, 11-8 to ensure Chapel Allerton's place in the final.

But the Bristol number one Adrian Grant was not prepared to lie down in the final game.  Proud to be the team's only full-time player, the world No11 from London played one of the games of his life to beat Frenchman Thierry Lincou, currently ranked seven in the world, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9, 5-11, 14-12.  The victory marked Grant's first ever win over the former world number one and world champion in nine meetings since September 2002.

"To get to the final after a 24-year absence from the league is absolutely amazing," said Chapel Allerton team manager Mike Dickens.  "It's been great to see so many kids watching the action tonight.  They've been just in awe of the spectacular action on the courts.  Everybody in the club is buzzing.  I've already been inundated by demands for tickets for the final."

There were similar scenes of delight from the Duffield fans who had travelled from the depths of Derbyshire to the south side of London to see their team take on last year's winners - in a repeat of the semi-final two years ago which Duffield won en-route to winning the PSL title for second year in a row.

And it was club stalwart Tania Bailey who put the visitors in the driving seat with a majestic 11-7, 11-7, 11-9 win over England team-mate Vicky Botwright.  It rounded off a fantastic month for Bailey, the 29-year-old from Lincolnshire who, after being out of action for most of last year following knee surgery, won the biggest tour title of her life last week in Kuala Lumpur - and has now extended her unbeaten PSL run to 22 matches since March 2005.

Surrey Health & Racquet Club came back into contention following a spirited performance from team co-manager Tim Garner, the 38-year-old former world No26 who stared defeat in the face at two games and match-ball down in the third - but sensationally battled back to beat 21-year-old full-time player Joel Hinds 6-11, 8-11, 13-11, 11-9, 11-9 to celebrate his first PSL victory of the season.

The Croydon club moved into the lead when Londoner Peter Barker, now ranked nine in the world, extended his season's record to nine wins from nine matches by beating Duffield's Joey Barrington 11-7, 11-6, 11-4.

Home fans were now looking to world No30 Davide Bianchetti to take them into the final - but unranked opponent Andrew Whipp had other ideas and scored a notable victory over the Italian star by winning 11-8, 9-11, 17-15, 12-10 (saving game balls in the third and fourth) to level the tie.

A place in the final would now be decided by the top strings.  It was Wael El Hindi, the world No10 from Egypt, that led Surrey H&RC to title success almost 12 months ago - but the 28-year-old from Cairo was unable to repeat his magic again as world No6 Nick Matthew recovered from a game down to win 4-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-6 to take Duffield into their third final in four years.

Remarkably, it was the third time that the 28-year-old from Sheffield had been forced to win a semi-final decider to clinch a place in the final for the Derbyshire club - and in 2007 it had also been against Croydon club Surrey Health.

"My nerves are still jumping up and down," admitted Benz-Bavarian Duffield team manager Felix Frixou later.  "But when you've got people like Nick Matthew and Tania Bailey playing for you, you're half way there!  They, and the rest of the squad, are true professionals.

"Our host Pete Smith, of the Surrey club, has been absolutely fantastic tonight - and has made us and our fans really welcome.  And especially touching was the call we've just had from the team's long-time manager Brian Hargrave.  He is the team's founder and father figure and we were delighted to receive his congratulations."
 

Photos from Arthur Curran at Surrey

Duffield & Bristol Bank On Britons
For PSL Success
Preview ...

While defending champions PCL Whitehall Security Surrey H&RC and league newcomers Chapel Allerton will be led by top overseas players in Tuesday's semi-finals of the Premier Squash League, opponents Benz-Bavarian Duffield and Probuild Bristol, respectively, will be relying on 100% British squads as they bid for places in the final of the 26th season of the world's most prestigious squash league.

Derbyshire club Duffield, three times PSL champions (in 1998, 2006 and 2007), are celebrating their fourth successive season in the semi-finals, while Croydon-based opponents Surrey Health & Racquets Club are hoping for a second successive year in the final after winning the title for the first time last year. 

After an absence of more than a decade, well-established Leeds club Chapel Allerton are marking their first appearance in the semi-finals – while Bristol will be hoping to repeat the success they achieved in the maiden season in the league two years ago when they finished as runners-up.

Duffield will be fielding an entirely English squad, led by club stalwart Nick Matthew, the world No5 from Sheffield who is the reigning British National champion.  Matthew, in his sixth season for Duffield, will line up against the Surrey H&RC number one Wael El Hindi, the world No9 from Egypt who made his PSL debut for the Croydon club last season.

The opening match of the tie in Croydon will feature England team-mates Vicky Botwright and Tania Bailey – with both players currently in top form.  Botwright rounded off her illustrious career by reaching the World Open final in her home town Manchester last October – while Duffield star Bailey has just returned from Malaysia where she won the biggest Tour title of her career in Kuala Lumpur.

In addition to El Hindi, the home side will hope for Italian success in the third string clash where Davide Bianchetti takes on Duffield's Peter Billson - before England international Peter Barker, the world No10 from London, faces the visitors' Andrew Whipp in the battle between the second strings.

In the other tie, home side Chapel Allerton will be relying on the French influence of their number one Thierry Lincou and the Australian contribution of third string Aaron Frankcomb.  Lincou, an 11-time winner of the French national title and a former world champion and world number one, takes on Bristol's top string Adrian Grant.  Earlier this month, the world No13 from London won a PSA event in India to become the current Englishman with the most Tour titles.

Frankcomb faces Bristol captain Hadrian Stiff, a former world No54, while the visitors' David Evans - the now-retired Welshman who won the British Open crown in 2000 - will do battle with the Yorkshire hosts' rising star Alister Walker, England's Leeds-based world No16.

National and club pride is on the line in these crucial semi-final clashes:  Said Duffield team manager Felix Frixou:  "I am extremely proud of both Duffield Squash Club and all the squad members of Benz Bavarian Duffield for reaching this stage of what is without doubt the finest Squash League in the World.  The standard of play by all teams so far has been magnificent, and I would like to thank all my team members for some enthralling matches.

"It would obviously be very disappointing to lose at this stage, but I appreciate it will be a very tough match against an in-form Surrey side.  If this be the case, I honestly could not have asked or been given any more from my team.  This said, I do believe we are in with an excellent chance of progressing to the Final and am sure it will be a wonderful if hard fought spectacle against Surrey.

"This season has been a sharp learning curve for myself, it being my first season as Team Manager.  I would like to take this opportunity of thanking all members of the various clubs we have visited for extending a very warm welcome, and very much look forward to continued success in the 2009 /2010 season."

Surrey Health & Racquets Club team manager Pete Smith responded:  "After our success last year in winning the title, it was always going to be tough to defend it this year.  The squad have been excellent and managing to finish top of the south league after 10 competitive matches and claiming a home draw in the Semi-Final was great news. 

"Tuesday's match against Duffield is going to be a fantastic night of squash with both teams at full strength, a packed crowd and the prize a place in the final.  We have utmost respect for the Duffield team, having won the title so many times before, so I am sure they will come at us with all guns blazing.  We are looking forward to Tuesday very much and we hope we can play well and move through to the Final."


Mike Dickens
, manager of the Chapel Allerton squad, added:  "Chapel Allerton Tennis and Squash Club have made wonderful progression in their first season of PSL.  We lost our first match to Nottingham, but have marched on since then to reach the semi-finals.  The atmosphere at Chapel A has been superb all season, with sell out crowds every time. The home crowd are looking forward to the semi final, especially with Bristol having some absolute legends of squash in the line-up.  It has been a fantastic season and long may it continue to the final (fingers crossed)."

Bristol team captain Hadrian Stiff concluded:  "Although we are missing Peter Marshall, Lewys Hurst is playing well and is a good replacement.  I feel we do have a chance of winning and, as usual, it's down to how we all perform on the night!"
 



Masters at Work

Adrian Grant looks at Bristol's rise and rise ...

With the semi-finals of the PSL play-offs quickly approaching, Bristol Pro-build has gone far and beyond all expectation.

With only days to go till the team registration deadline, the team was none existent due to the poor economy and withdrawing sponsors, but in stepped manager Gary O’Keefe of Pro-build who pulled out all the stops to keep the team going, and aren’t we glad he did……….

He put his faith in the team who statistically had all the odds stacked against them;
  • Only one professional player (Myself),
  • No foreign help,
  • Our lady Sarah Jane Perry, who is just 18 yrs old,
  • And the 3 musketeers – Peter Marshall aka (The Marsh), David Evans (Emu) and Hadrian Stiff (Pip) (Who have a combined age of ???! (-; )

With self belief, passion and a lot of team spirit, team Pro-Build have consistently pulled out impressive wins against some England’s and Europe’s professional and up and coming stars!

This feat should be inspiring to all as it has showed desire to win and love for the game is equally as important as a professionals strict training regime.

So there you have it, so far team pro build have defied all logic (and the crystal ball) to show that squash is decided on court and not on paper……With all this in mind it’s sure to be an entertaining and unmissable evening!!.......Bring on the semis 31st March

And I heard a rumour that a trip to Antigua is on the cards courtesy of Mr O’Keefe Pro-build Developments!! wink wink



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Tables after Round TEN 
      Ties       Matches        Games    Pts

                         P   W   L    W    L     W     L

       

   Group A:

Chapel Allerton                8   5   3   27   13    89    59   114

Benz-Bavarian Duffield         8   5   3   24   16    85    61   110

MB Nottingham                  8   4   4   18   22    73    73    93

Esporta Oxford                 8   3   5   17   23    66    87    81

Pontefract                     8   3   5   14   26    56    89    71

  

   Group B:

Surrey H&RC                   10   7   3   29   21   111    82   146

Probuild Bristol              10   7   3   31   19   110    81   145

Exeter Diamonds               10   6   4   26   24    95    93   125

UniSport Guildford            10   3   7   22   28    92   101   107

TWP St George's Hill          10   4   6   21   29    85   111   105

PNH Properties Chichester     10   3   7   21   29    84   109    99

 

   

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