Round One

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Round One: The 2008/09 season gets under way ...

7th Oct


MB Nottingham 3-2 Chapel Allerton

    Ong Beng Hee 3-0 Jonathan Harford                          11/8, 11/7, 11/3
    Julian Illingworth 3-1 Scott Arnold                           11/9, 11/1, 5/11, 11/6
    John Rooney 3-1 Chris Simpson                                11/6, 10/12, 11/5, 11/7
    Arthur Gaskin 1-3 Steve Coppinger                           10/12, 0/11, 11/4, 7/11
    Sarah Kippax 0-3 Jenny Duncalf                                5/11, 5/11, 5/11

Pontefract 3-2 Esporta Oxford

    James Willstrop 3-1 Cameron Pilley                         2/9, 9/6, 10/8, 11/9
    Saurav Ghosal 3-2 Chris Ryder                                9/5, 5/9, 9/7, 8/10, 9/7
    Neil Cordell 3-0 Scott Handley                                  9/5, 9/7, 11/9
    Harinder Pal Sandhu 0-3 Jaymie Haycocks               3/9, 7/9, 6/9
    Vanessa Atkinson 2-3 Madeline Perry                       2/9, 9/3, 5/9, 9/7, 6/9

Probuild Bristol 4-1 UniSport Guildford
    Adrian Grant 3-0 Jesse Engelbrecht                           11/9, 11/4, 11/7
    David Evans 3-2 Stacey Ross                                    11/7, 7/11, 11/8, 9/11, 11/7
    Hadrian Stiff 3-0 Phil Rushworth                                11/8, 11/8, 11/8
    Peter Marshall 3-0 Mick Biggs                                   11/5, 11/6, 11/5
    Sarah-Jane Perry 0-3 Alison Waters                          4/11, 2/11, 8/11

Pnh Properties Chichester 2-3 Exeter Diamonds
   Alex Gough 1-3 Stewart Boswell                                2/11, 13/11, 5/11, 2/11
    Tim Vail 0-3 Jon Kemp                                               6/11, 8/11, 11/13
    Robbie Temple 1-3 Rob Sutherland                             4/11, 8/11, 11/6, 10/12
    Peter Genever 3-1 James Snell                                   8/11, 11/3, 11/7, 13/11
    Dominique Lloyd-Walter 3-0 Emma Chorley              11/8, 11/4, 11/6

PCL Whitehall Security Surrey H&RC 3-2 TWP St George's Hill
    Peter Barker 3-2 Daryl Selby                                   11/13, 9/11, 11/6, 11/8, 11/5
    Davide Bianchetti 3-0 Mark Krajcsak                       11/4, 11/5, 11/6
    Tim Garner 1-3 Tom Richards                                  4/11, 6/11, 11/8, 8/11
    Ben Ford 1-3 Joe Lee                                               4/11, 8/11, 11/7, 10/12
    Vicky Botwright 3-0 Rachel Willmott                         11/7, 11/0, 11/7

Mixed Fortunes For PSL Newcomers
In League Season Openers
Roundup from Howard Harding

While Pontefract and Probuild Bristol top the two group tables after tonight's (Tuesday) first round action in the new season of the Premier Squash League, there were mixed fortunes for PSL newcomers Chapel Allerton and Exeter Diamonds on the opening night of the 26th season of the world's most prestigious squash league.

Yorkshire club Pontefract, led by England number one James Willstrop, secured their best ever start in the PSL, beating Esporta Oxford 3/2 - while the other tie in Group A saw 
MB Nottingham also overcome Leeds-based Chapel Allerton 3/2.  2007 runners-up Probuild Bristol scored the most decisive victory in Group B, with a 4/1 home win against UniSport Guildford - and title-holders PCL Whitehall Security Surrey H&RC recovered from 1/2 down to beat Surrey county rivals TWP St George's Hill 3/2.

Devon & Exeter
 faced a tough induction away from home against PNH Properties Chichester, last season's beaten finalists weakened on the eve of the tie by the withdrawal of their injured squad No1 Mohd Azlan Iskandar, the world No12 from Malaysia.  And the PSL debutants were 2/0 down after the first two matches at the West Sussex club.

But in a clash described as 'the standout match of the night' by the Exeter club's manager Tony Snell, Welshman
Rob Sutherland reduced the deficit by beating the home side's Robbie Temple 11-4, 11-8, 6-11, 12-10.  "I always knew that match between the two Robs would be key - and our Rob played extremely well, he looked strong throughout and thoroughly deserved his win," said Snell.

England number six Jonathan Kemp levelled the tie with an 11-6, 11-8, 13-11 win over Chichester captain Tim Vail, before Australian star Stewart Boswell clinched victory for the visitors by overcoming league veteran Alex Gough, the now retired former world No5, 11-2, 11-13, 11-5, 11-2.

"The absence of their expected number one Azlan certainly gave us more of a chance," conceded Snell.  "But it's been a fantastic start to our PSL campaign - and not really what we expected.  In fact, I had to ring our sponsor Keith White - who is on holiday in Marbella - and he was taken aback too!"

The emphatic home victory by Group B rivals Probuild Bristol over UniSport Guildford was 'what we needed', said team captain Hadrian Stiff.  But the visitors' world No6 Alison Waters was too strong for 18-year-old Sarah-Jane Perry, winning in straight games to give the Guildford club the early lead.  Bristol's cream rose to the top, however, as its manpower took the remaining four matches - squad number two David Evans, recently returned to Wales after two years as the Jersey national coach, taken the full distance by the UniSport second string Stacey Ross before winning 11-7, 7-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-7.

TWP St George's Hill looked on course to avenge their two defeats by champions PCL Whitehall Security Surrey H&RC last season - firstly when club stalwarts Joe Lee and Tom Richards put the visitors 2/1 ahead, and secondly when squad number one Daryl Selby took a two game lead over the Croydon club's world No11 Peter Barker in the decider.

Lee celebrated his 19th birthday in fine style, beating fellow Englishman Ben Ford - ranked some 50 places higher in the world - 11-4, 11-8, 7-11, 12-10 to level the tie after England international Vicky Botwright put the hosts ahead with a comprehensive 11-7, 11-0, 11-7 defeat of former British Junior champion Rachel Willmott.

But, in the decider at the end of the night, England international Peter Barker showed the talent that has won him twoPSA Tour titles in the past month when he came back from two games down to beat St George's Hill's Daryl Selby 11-13, 9-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-5 to clinch victory for the champions.

Pontefract team manager Malcolm Willstrop proclaimed it a "good night of squash" after his home-grown squad clinched a popular home victory over Esporta Oxford in Group A.  And the Yorkshire club had to come from two matches down after Vanessa Atkinson slid to a 2-9, 9-3, 5-9, 9-7, 6-9 defeat to Irish comeback queen Madeline Perry and newly-recruited 19-year-old Indian Harinder Pal Sandhu lost to the visitors' Jaymie Haycocks.

But promising York teenager Neil Cordell produced one of the best wins of his career when he beat experienced Oxford opponent Scott Handley - ranked more than 150 places higher in the world - 9-5, 9-7, 11-9.  The win spurred the squad's better known Indian Saurav Ghosal, his country's reigning national champion, to beat last weekend'sLeinster Open champion Chris Ryder 9-5, 5-9, 9-7, 8-10, 9-7.

And in the decider, Pontefract number one James Willstrop recovered from a game down to beat Cameron Pilley 2-9, 9-6, 10-8, 11-9 in his third successive PSL victory over the rising Australian star over the past two seasons. 

"It was a cracking game which will do both of them good in the lead-up to next week's World Open," said Willstrop senior. 

Like Devon & Exeter, former champions 
MB Nottingham may also have benefited from the last-minute reduction in the fire-power of newcomers Chapel Allerton, whose top string Alister Walker was forced to pull out with injury.  The Leeds newcomers romped to a 2/0 lead after wins by England number one Jenny Duncalf and squad latecomerStephen Coppinger.

But Nottingham regular John Rooney restored order for the hosts, beating Chris Simpson in four games beforeJulian Illingworth - the US champion making his PSL debut - despatched the visitors' Scott Arnold 11-9, 11-1, 5-11, 11-6.

Malaysian star Ong Beng Hee made the best possible start to his third season for Nottingham by clinching victory for the club with an 11-8, 11-7, 11-3 win over Jonathan Harford.


                             Ties       Matches     Games     Pts

                           P   W   L    W    L     W     L

   Group A:                                                            

Pontefract                 1   1   0    3    2    11     9    16

Nottingham                 1   1   0    3    2    10     8    15

Esporta Oxford             1   0   1    2    3     9    11     9

Chapel Allerton            1   0   1    2    3     8    10     8

Benz-Bavarian Duffield     0   0   0    0    0     0     0     0


   Group B:                                                            

Probuild Bristol           1   1   0    4    1    12     5    17

Surrey H&RC                1   1   0    3    2    11     8    16

Exeter Diamonds            1   1   0    3    2    10     8    15

PNH Properties Chichester  1   0   1    2    3     8    10     8

TWP St George's Hill       1   0   1    2    3     8    11     8

UniSport Guildford         1   0   1    1    4     5    12     5

7th Oct

Pontefract 3-2 Esporta Oxford

The Pontefract  v Esporta Oxford match promised much and happily delivered.

First on were Vanessa Atkinson and Madeline Perry and Neil Cordell and Scott Handley. Handley was not moving with his usual fluency and the improving Cordell, beginning to make some impression on the world tour, saw him off 3-0. Meanwhile the girls reached two all in a very watchable match and it was the Irish no1 who took the fifth.  

Pontefract's Indian connection were put to the test as Saurav Ghosal played in form Chris Ryder and newcomer Harinder Pal Singh took on Jamie Haycocks, having just arrived at Leeds University. Singh was to lose 3-0 to the competent Haycocks, but he looks very promising and will do well once acclimatised.  At the same time Ghosal and Ryder were locked in battle in a quality match and it was the Indian champion who prevailed narrowly. 

Everything then hinged on the top string match between James Willstrop and Cameron Pilley. The last time they met was in the final of the Canary Wharf Classic earlier this year  when Willstrop won in the fifth. Gathering confidence after a troublesome ankle injury he won 3-1 this time, although it was always tight. There was plenty of class, too, and Pilley's ability suggests that his world ranking doesn't do him justice. The pair have mutual respect, there was scarcely a decision, so the match was a pleasure to watch.

Pontefract, then, just 3-2, off to a PSL start at last, but squash was the winner.   



Chichester 2-3 Exeter Diamonds
Mike Phillips reports
pnh Properties Team Chichester has started their Premier Squash League campaign. Chichester Racquets & Fitness Club hosted their first match against league newcomers, Exeter Diamonds. Team Chichester, last seasonís National runners-up, was without their number one string Mo Azlan Iskandar who, unfortunately, suffered an injury whilst playing in Europe this week.

First on court was Chichesterís Dominique Lloyd-Walter (world No.4) playing Emma Chorley (World No. 69). After a tentative start form Lloyd-Walter she finally took the first game 11/8. She then got into her stride to comfortably take the next two games to put Chichester one tie up.

On the adjacent court the number three strings Robbie Temple (World No. 75) battled hard against Exeterís, Rob Sutherland (World No. 95). Sutherland played a solid, no frills match with Temple out of sorts one minute and more assured the next. Consistency, however, won through in the end and, although the fourth game went to a tie break, Sutherland eventually won the match 1/3.

One all.

Next on court Peter Genever, Chichesterís seasoned campaigner, faced James Snell (World No.120). It was a case of experience versus youth in a very competitive match. Despite a very vocal West Country crowd disputing some refereeing decisions against their man, Genever won through 3/1, winning the 4th game on a tie-break.

On the adjoining court Team Chichesterís Manager, Tim Vail, was up against World No. 29, Jonathan Kemp. It was an uphill task for Vail, with Kemp superbly controlling the match. A valiant fight back in the 3rd gave Vail a 10/8 game ball but Kemp stayed solid to win 0/3.

With the match poised at 2 all it was left to the number one strings to play out the deciding tie. Exeterís Stewart Boswell, World No 17, played Chichesterís Alex Gough who has recently retired from the tour. In the main, Boswell held control of the whole match and secured a comfortable 2/11 win in the first game. Gough boldly fought back in the second; he rallied extremely well to win it on a tie break 13/11. Thereafter, Gough visibly tired and eventually lost the next two games 5/11, 2/11.

A 2-3 defeat for Team Chichester was undoubtedly a disappointing start for the squad but they remain positive as Iskandar returns for the away fixture against local rivals, Guildford, in two weeks time.


6th Oct


Surrey 3-2 St George's

The SOBO report ...  David Sobo on the blog

  Champions pip
St George's in
season's opener

Danny Lee reports

TWP St George's Hill narrowly lost their first Premier Squash League fixture against last year's champions Surrey Health and Rackets. The match went to the deciding game of the final match when TWP's Daryl Selby (World ranked 35) relinquished a two game lead against World number 11 Peter Barker. Barker's comeback was aided by some harsh refereeing decisions which left the normally placid Selby remonstrating fruitlessly with the referee.

Earlier in the evening 20 year old Rachel Willmott performed admirably against the might of former World no 5 Vicky Botwright. Willmott rallied steadily but succumbed 3-0 to the experienced Lancashire player.

Birthday boy Joe Lee with dad Danny ...Walton's Joe Lee, the British Junior Champion, celebrated his 19th birthday with a fine win over World no 89 Ben Ford. Lee cruised to a 2-0 lead playing some fast paced attacking squash. Ford dug deep and although tiring rapidly played constructively to force the match to four games. Lee clung on to clinch the match despite a nail biting finish when Ford saved several match points.

TWP's Hungarian import Mark Krajscak looked a little off the pace against Italian number one Davide Bianchetti who deserved his 3-0 victory.

22 year old Tom Richards played with aggressive panache against Surrey Health and Rackets captain Tim Garner. Richards took the first two games but Garner slowed the pace and sneaked a game before Richards regained his supremacy to win 3-1.

An unfortunate narrow defeat for the young TWP St George's side who look certain to be challenging for a semi final place by the end of the season.

The next match is on Tuesday 21st October against ProBuild Bristol at St George's Hill starting at 7.00pm. Tickets can be purchased from 07905 102094 and cost £10 for adults and £5 for children under 16.


We're looking for bloggers to keep us up to date with the goings-on in this season's PSL. The chosen ones from each club will receive tickets for the National Championships in February.

Full competition details

Surrey squeeze home
Pete Smith reports

First game of the season and now having to defend our 2007/08 title the pressure was on. First up was a very young and competitive St George's Hill team and a very close match was anticipated.

First on was Vicky Botwright who played really well against a much improved Rachel Willmott and looked strong all the way through taking the match 3-0 and getting Surrey H&RC off to a good start. On the other court there was a battle going on between Ben Ford and Joe Lee with Joe taking an early 2-0 advantage playing at high pace with excellent control. Ben then started to find his way back into the match taking the third game and saving two match balls to reach 10 all in the fourth. Joe then dug deep with a final push to take the 4th game 12/10 and the match 3-1.

Next up Davide Bianchetti v Mark Krajscek which Davide controlled from the first point with excellent length and control to take the match comfortably 3-0 and Surrey H&RC to a 2-1 lead.

Whilst this was going on we had the experienced Tim Garner against the young Tom Richards. Tom played at a very high pace and raced into a 2-0 lead. Tim then fought his way back into the match taking the 3rd game and kept the pressure on in the 4th as well but Tom managed to hold him off to take the 4th and the match 3-1. Surrey H&RC 2 - St Georges Hill 2.

Well it was all down to the decider, Peter Barker v Daryl Selby, and it started like a sparring match with incredibly long rallies and very cagey squash. Daryl was playing exceptionally well and moved into a 2-0 lead. The third game was crucial and Peter started it well but Daryl kept going and wanted the win but Pete took it 11/9 and then the 4th 11/8. Two all, and with both players tired and the referee coming into play, Pete moved ahead in the fifth and managed to stay ahead taking the game 11/5 and the match 3-2. Their match started at 8.54pm and finished at 10.40pm and I make that an incredible 106 minutes. Surrey H&RC 3 St Georges 2.

A very close match, well contested and a good start for us. I wish Danny and his team all the best for the rest of the season and I am sure they will challenge for a semi-final position.

  Probuild Bristol 4 beat UniSport Guildford 1
Ian Robinson reports

UniSport Guildford made the long trek to Probuild Bristol searching for a solid start to the season only to be unseated at the first hurdle. Bristol have recently switched homes to the Welch Back Club in the heart of downtown Bristol and seem to have an upstairs/downstairs kind of facility. Playing with great amibition in front of a home crowd Bristol were always too strong for UniSport who were deprived of the services of Steve Meads who is on duty in Hong Kong. So there was a recall to UniSport ranks for Mick Biggs, one time under graduate of the University of Surrey and now working part time to allow more time for his squash.

First on the downstairs court was Alison Waters and it was helpful for the home player, Sarah Jane Perry, that this was unseen for the most part as World Number 6 Alison Waters in the form of her life was not a player to hang around and the job was done in a brief but effective 18 minutes. Giving away 124 places on the senior world ranking list, the home player is still a junior and to her credit managed to accumlate 8 points in the last game but by then the contest was as good as over Waters put the one and only point of the night on the board for UniSport 1 - 0.

Home captain, Hadrian Stiff, has always been a thorn in the UniSport side and tonight was no different on the upstairs court. Stiff played with skill and experience to build leads in all 3 games against the improving Phil Rushworth, always having a cushion of several points. This required Rushworth to play catch up and against a player of Stiff's class was playing against insurmountable odds. It was not that Rushworth played badly, he did not. He asked some very testing questions of the Bristol player at times but never consistently enough or at the right time to ensure that this would give him the opportunity to nick a game. Consistently he scored 8 points in each game and left Stiff smiling ruefully at some outstanding and surprising shot making, but ultimately it was not enough. Probuild Bristol now levelled the match at 1 - 1.

Mick Biggs found himself up against the odds in his struggle with former World Number 2, Peter Marshall, but fortunately hidden away downstairs. Marshall has always been a formidable opponent and is quietly but very effectively plying his trade in the twilight of his career in the Premier Squash League. Biggs was given a big lesson in the ways of world class squash although not at the pace it once was. Marshall was solid, gritty and played with the kind of experience that Biggs would love to acquire and may still do yet. However Marshall built clear leads, making Biggs play catch up - a recurring theme of the night for UniSport players - and it was beyond Biggs at this stage in his career. Nonetheless there was some impresssive skilful moments in Biggs' game and there was plenty in his performance about which he should be encouraged after his pre-season hard work. However the reality is that the graduate of the University of Surrey found the going too tough and conceded 3 - 0 in the end. The Bristol player had provided the points for Probuild Bristol to take a 2 - 1 lead.

Stacey Ross was confronted by David Evans, once the British Open Champion, at his new position as number 2 string in the team. Ross is not having a smooth start to this season and this was clear from tonight's match. There was never much between the two players but Ross was probably the more wasteful of the two players and not helped by having a poor run in with Lady Luck. Evans is a towering presence on the squash court and this helps him take an early advantage while the opposition work out what to do about it. Once Ross had gained some semblance of control in the second game, he started to control the play with skilful use of the space, making the Bristol player do plenty of work. Perhaps crucially the match turned on a particularly wasteful phase of the match where Ross had built a 6 - 2 lead and proceeded to hand it back to Evans without having to work too hard. Evans is too experienced a player not to take advantage and taking the third game gave him every incentive he needed. Although Ross evened it up in the fourth to take it into a fifth set, it always seemed that Evans might just get home aided and abetted by two cruel backwall nicks. The match was a feast of winners and controlled accuracy from both players, perhaps out of necessity as neither looked as though pre-season training had been that physical. Winning this match gave Probuild Bristol the match winning points with the number 1 strings still to play. 3 - 1 to Bristol.

Jesse Engelbrecht has stepped up to make the running at the top of the team order now for UniSport Guildford, as his game is maturing nicely. He was faced with UniSport old boy Adrian Grant who came to PSL off the back of an impressive title win in the recent Wolverhampton Open a club based tournament on the PSA circuit in the build up to the forthcoming World Open in Manchester. There is 40 places difference between the two players on the world ranking list, although on the face of it not that distance between the two players on the night. Grant was slow to start and Engelbrecht will regret not fully capitalising on the chance to take the first game. He played well and controlled the rallies, but made bad decisions and hit loose at the end of the game allowing Grant to work his way back in. In the second game Grant showed why he won Wolverhampton, he played with such confidence dominating the mid court area and using clever disguise and change of pace. He forced Engelbrecht into loose play and then converted that into winning points with considered accuracy or mistakes from the sheer weight of pressure on Engelbrecht's defence. It was not that Engelbrecht played that badly but Grant was at the top of his game and made it count. After a tough second game where Grant was in control, a determined effort by the UniSport player saw him once again gain a foothold in the third game, but it was not enough to give him the chance to steal it.

So a strong 4 - 1 to Bristol sees UniSport make a rough start to the season.

The next match is at home to PNH Properties Chichester on Tuesday 21st October when UniSport will welcome Steve Meads back to the team and a chance to renew annual rivalries with the south coast visitors. Look forward to seeing you all there for the start of the 2008/9 PSL campaign on home courts.

Round One

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