Vail’s valiant effort in vain - but Chichester take Premier League honours

Chichester and Bristol line up before their PSL encounter

Chichester and Bristol line up before their PSL encounter

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Chichester recorded a narrow 3-2 win against UWE Bristol in the Premier Squash League.

Both sides were missing key players through international tournaments and Chichester regular Tim Vail played at first string.

It was a clash of two sides struggling in the PSL, with Bristol yet to record a victory this season.

England No7 Lauren Briggs claimed a dominant win for Chichester over 18-year-old Rebecca Quinney, winning 11-3, 11-0, 11-3.

Brandon Hanley extended the home side’s lead, dispatching Polish teenager Konrad Tyma 11-3, 11-6, 13-11.

Former world 23 Peter Genever took a comfortable early lead, but unforced errors let opponent Daniel West back into the game, a scrappy 13-11 to Genever the outcome.

West seemed more optimistic and with persistent retrieval and more shoddy drops from Genever, he grabbed a 12-10 tie-break win.

Genever then found his groove and set about wearing down his opponent. The score was 13-11, 10-12, 11-8, 11-8.

The second-string match featured Welsh No5 Nic Birt and Irish No16 Theo Anderson. Birt started well and, using his power to capitalise on his opponent’s sluggish start, took the first game 11-7. A more tactical display from Anderson proved troublesome for Birt, who never really recovered from losing his position on the tee and lost 11-7, 5-11, 4-11 9-11.

First strings Vail and French teenager Lucas Serme, a former French Under-19 Open winner, had an entertaining contest.

Vail pulled ahead to an early lead in the first before Serme closed the gap and took it 11-8.

Momentum was with the Frenchman, who won the next 11-3 after successive errors by Vail.

Vail fought back in the third, matching Serme in pace and retrieval. The teenager may feel aggrieved by the referee’s decision to award two strokes in a row against him at match-ball, instead gifting Vail a 12-11 lead. The Frenchman’s frustration showed as he powered his return of serve into the tin at game-ball for a 13-11 loss.

Further controversial refereeing decisions followed, after Vail fought back from 9-5 down to force a tie-break at 10-10. Serme was denied two let-balls in a row to give Vail the game. But Vail tired and Serme claimed the last game 11-3.

Vail said: “I was feeling a bit old and slow tonight. He kept turning me and my back wasn’t really in it. I started well and at 7-3 up in the first, I maybe lost concentration a bit.

“A 3-2 win means we’re fifth but 5-0 may have meant pushing for fourth.”

Chichester host Surrey Health & Rackets on February 15.

MATT WAGG