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Semi-Finals:

Tue
6th Apr

 

Esporta Oxford & Surrey Health To Contest PSL Final



Esporta Oxford pulled off a stunning 4/1 home win over TWP St George's Hill in tonight's semi-final play-offs to earn their maiden appearance in the final of the world's most prestigious squash league – where they will face 2008 champions and fellow Esporta club Surrey Health & Racquets.

It was a night of high drama in which Croydon club Surrey Health had to wait until the final match of their home clash against 1999 champions MB Nottingham before top string Peter Barker, the world No8 from London, finally clinched his 11-4, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9 victory in 73 minutes over Dutch star Laurens Jan Anjema, the world No11, to secure the club's place in next month's final.

The hosts romped into the lead when French number one Camille Serme beat her English rival Sarah Kippax 2-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-7 – then top-ranked Scot Alan Clyne despatched Nottingham late-comer Mark Fuller 11-9, 11-7, 11-8.

However, Nottingham mounted a mighty recovery when club stalwart Simon Parke, the former world No3 who led Nottingham to title success 11 years ago, beat fellow 37-year-old and former great Peter Nicol 8-11, 11-8, 11-7 14-12 after 72 minutes – left-hander Nicol, the former world number one and world champion, failing to convert four game-balls in the fourth game.

Then Nottingham pulled level when their Malaysian star Ong Beng Hee extended his unbeaten record over Davide Bianchetti by beating the top Italian 8-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-8.

"Peter Barker was awesome in the decider," said a jubilant Surrey Health team manager Pete Smith after their 3/2 win. "It was always going to be a close call, and I knew it could go down to the last match.

"We knew it would need someone like Pete to pull it off for us – and he did us proud. It was always going to be a very special night."

The Esporta Oxford squad was clearly inspired by home advantage – but after Irish number one Madeline Perry gave the hosts a solid lead following her 11-1, 11-2, 11-3 win over the Weybridge club's Julie Peachey, St George's top-rated Hungarian Mark Krajcsak levelled the tie with a four-game win over Oxford stalwart Scott Handley.

The Oxford number three Chris Ryder, aged 29, then faced the night's youngest player Nicolas Mueller, one of the Tour's fastest-rising players from Switzerland. Undeterred by dropping the first game – and losing to the youngster in the their previous encounter – Ryder played the game of his life to beat Mueller 7-11, 9-11, 11-9, 6-11.

Inspired by his team-mate's extraordinary performance, Oxford's top-ranked German Simon Rosner continued the rout by beating the visitors' top England prospect Tom Richards 11-6, 14-12, 13-11 in 50 minutes to take his club into their first final.

By now the 'dead' top-string clash was certain to be an anticlimax – and the home club's Australian international Cameron Pilley earned his first career win over Daryl Selby, the Essex 27-year-old boasting a best-ever world No9 ranking, 11-6, 11-5, 11-9 in 34 minutes.

"There's something about wanting to win in front of a home crowd," said Oxford team manager Jason Martin later. "Chris Ryder was just awesome – he came off after losing the first game, and you could see that he knew he needed to get back and get in front, for the sake of the crowd.

"And once he got the bit between his teeth, he was unbeatable - and Simon Rosner was the same. They were two incredible performances," added Martin.

Esporta Oxford, in only their fourth season in the PSL, were celebrating their first appearance in the semi-final play-offs after coming top – by a single point – of Group A.

"When we first came into the competition, we always wanted to win – and knew we could," Martin continued.

"And the fact that it will be an all-Esporta final is incredible. Of the 55 Esporta clubs around the country, only 11 have squash facilities.

"Let's hope our success in the PSL will now help lift the profile of the sport within the group!"
   
Esporta Oxford 4-1
TWP St George's Hill


   Cameron Pilley 3-0 Daryl Selby
          11-6, 11-5, 11-9 (34m)
   Simon Rφsner 3-0 Tom Richards
         11-6, 14-12, 13-11 (50m)
   Chris Ryder 3-1 Nicolas Mueller
        10-12, 11-5, 11-7, 11-6
   Scott Handley 1-3 Mark Krajcsak
    
    7-11, 9-11, 11-9, 6-11
   Madeline Perry 3-0 Julie Peachey
        11-1, 11-2, 11-3
 
Surrey Health & Racquets 3-2
MB Nottingham

   Peter Barker
3-1 Laurens Jan Anjema
            11-4, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9 (73m
   Davide Bianchetti 1-3 Ong Beng Hee
           11-8, 8-11, 4-11, 8-11
   Peter Nicol 1-3 Simon Parke
           11-8, 8-11, 7-11, 12-14 (72m)
   Alan Clyne 3-0 Mark Fuller
           11-9, 11-7, 11-8
   Camille Serme 3-1 Sarah Kippax
            2-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-7

Final Group Tables

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