Squash: Kemp keeps cool to inflict world star’s first loss in five years

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Chichester’s Premier Squash League squad travelled to play Bristol in a match they needed to win in order to stay in contention for the play-offs.

Bristol fielded the world-ranked No6 Mohammed El Shorbagy, who has been unbeaten in five years, but Chichester’s Jonathan Kemp, the semi-retired former world No20, overcame a two-game deficit to bring El Shorbagy’s run to an end, with an outstanding 12-10, 11-9, 8-11, 8-11, 8-11 victory.

Lauren Briggs and Robbie Temple started proceedings for Chichester and played Emma Chorley and David Haley respectively.

Temple put behind him a struggle to beat Haley in the first half of the season and continued where he left off in great form against Surrey. He wrapped up a 3-0 victory over Haley, dominating the match and playing stronger squash as it progressed.

Briggs also started strongly and dominated the first two games. Chorley, however, made a spirite fight back in the third which she snatched on a tie-break. Briggs quickly regrouped and comfortably wrapped up the fourth game and match.

Nafiizwan Adnan, making a return to the Chichester squad this half of the season, took on Bristol’s Lucas Serme.

Adnan edged out a 2-0 lead, slowly getting into his rhythm, but in the third, Serme battled well to force a tie-break. Adnan eventually won this 16-14 to give Chichester an unassailable 3-0 lead.

Fourth string Anthony Graham played Tom Ford. This pair have played each other many times and usually Graham wins 3-1. This match was no exception and, after a temporary lapse in concentration in the third, Graham’s line and length returned to craft out a 3-1 victory.

The final match proved to be a battle royale as Kemp battled for supremacy against the formidable El Shorbagy.

The Bristol number 1 narrowly took the first two games with some abrasive squash. Kemp, however, replied in the third by tempting El Shorbagy into exhibition type squash and eventually won through 11-8.

There was more of the same in the fourth, with plenty of nicks and superb entertaining squash from both players. Kemp maintained his focus and determination to win the fourth, draw the match and force a decider.

Kemp was always in the lead and remained resolute to complete the best win of his career, 11-8 the score in the fifth.

Exeter, following a 5-0 demise against Surrey, now drop to third place in the table – making way for Chichester to move up to second place.

All is still to play for and now Chichester visit St. George’s Hill, Weybridge. A place in the play-offs could be at stake in the final match of the season on Tuesday, March 26, at home to Exeter.

MIKE PHILLIPS