The county rivals faced each other
twice earlier in the season, with Weybridge-based St George's
Hill claiming victory on both occasions before going on to top
the Group B table by a significant margin after winning all but
one of their ten ties.
ample support for both teams, the Croydon club's French star Camille
Serme took on St
George's England international Dominique
the beginning of the evening - while in the adjacent court
England legend Peter Nicol, the now-retired 38-year-old
former world number one and world champion, faced top-ranked
Hungarian Mark Krajcsak.
Serme, the world No9 from Paris,
took only 38 minutes to overcome her Weybridge-based opponent –
ranked 35 places lower - 11-3, 9-11, 11-6, 11-5 to put Surrey
Health into the lead
all eyes were on the titanic battle raging on the next door
court, where – in their first ever meeting – Krajcsak was
desperately trying to even the score against Surrey Health
After dropping the first game, the
27-year-old Tour regular from Budapest moved to 10-7 and
game-ball in the second. But Nicol would not cave in – and
saved four game-balls before finally clinching his own at his
fourth attempt to win 16-14.
Nicol led 6-1 in the third, and the
end looked in sight. But Krajcsak kept up the pressure to
reclaim the advantage before a full length dive into the front
backhand corner caused a minor cut to the Hungarian's elbow
which required the game to be halted while he received
The break seemed to be just what
Nicol needed, as the left-hander saved Krajcsak's matchball at
11-10. But the St George's fourth string secured his next to
win the games and reduce the match deficit.
was nip and tuck in the fourth game, but Nicol was able to pull
off master strokes at exactly the right time before clinching
the popular 11-7, 16-14, 11-13, 11-7 victory after 75 minutes
which extended Surrey Health's lead to 2/0.
"He's very experienced – he can
come back from situations which most other players wouldn't be
able to," said the perplexed Hungarian afterwards of Nicol.
"He's a great fighter – he never gives up."
It was Krajcsak's first ever
meeting with one the game's biggest names. Was he overawed by
"I may have been a bit affected by
his reputation early in the match – I made five or six unforced
errors – but from then on it was just like playing any other
opponent," said the world No54.
admitted that his form was good: "I'm in better shape now than
I have been for the last three years or so – I probably only
play about once a week, but I do a lot of other things to keep
fit, including a lot of walking.
"It's hard for these guys who play
day in day out – then I come along having not played for a
week. I'm their worst nightmare
"But I love playing team squash –
whether it's for your country or your club. And Surrey Health is
particularly special for me – I do camps there and am quite
involved with the club," explained the four-time Commonwealth
Games gold medallist.
"Mark is a tough opponent and
played a good game. But maybe he could have been more attacking
– he was towards the end, but that was probably too late."
was a battle between two England internationals which sealed
victory for the defending champions when Londoner Adrian
Grant, who made his England debut in 2004, beat this year's
England debutant Tom
Grant is making a comeback after a
long layoff following a hip injury.
"It's my first season for Surrey
Health, and I was struggling with my injury in my games early in
the season, so it's really a good feeling to win for the club
tonight – particularly as it was the match which clinched the
title," said the 30-year-old former world No9.
Mueller gave the
St George's fans some consolation by beating Surrey Health's
Scottish number one Alan
Clyne in straight
games – but in the best-of-three top string clash between
England internationals and close Essex friends Peter
Barker and Daryl
Selby, left-hander Barker beat reigning British National
champion Selby in two games to cement Surrey Health's
"I'm really chuffed – and I'm very
proud of the team," said the Croydon club's team manager Pete
Smith. "To defend the title is very special.
"We struggled a bit in the season –
and they beat us twice, so it's good to get them back. But the
turning point for us was beating Exeter 4/1 at home at the
beginning of March.
"Our man of the match was probably
Peter Nicol," Smith continued. "For him to play the way he did
was magnificent. We really needed that win – it gave us a
"But our team overall was fantastic
tonight – to win the title three times in four years is
incredible. It's been a real squad effort."
George's Hill team manager Danny
Lee was full of
praise for the new PSL champions. "Congratulations to Surrey
Health – they thoroughly deserved their win. I thought Peter
Nicol was amazing. His shot selection tonight was superb.
"But overall I am delighted with
what we achieved this season – even though it' a bit of an
anticlimax to finish like this tonight.
"But we'll definitely be back next
year," added the former junior England international.
Surrey Health & Racquets now become
one of four clubs which have won the PSL title three times –
including Duffield, from Derbyshire; Leekes
Welsh Wizards from
Cardiff; and Cannons of
But the Croydon club will now sets
their sights on next year when they could make history by
becoming the first to four.