CHICHESTER were pipped at the death by visitors Surrey as the latest Premier Squash League match proved a thriller.
The third round of PSL matches began with Chichester top of the table, but they were without injured No1 string Adrian Waller.
First on the championship court was 16-year-old Kyle Finch, the world number 234, playing Surrey’s Lyell Fuller (world 136).
Finch recently retained his British junior under-17 national title and is in top form. Finch was fast out of the blocks and established an early lead in the first game, which he took 11-4.
Fuller fought back to take the second 11-6. Both players played a fast all-court game with tremendous coverage and retrievals.
The third was nip and tuck and Fuller went 9-7 up. Finch, however, rallied well and reduced the number of errors to turn it around to win 11-9 and establish a 2-1 lead.
In the fourth, Fuller took control to win 11-3 and force a decider. Once again Fuller created a commanding lead before Finch began to claw his way back into the game. It was, however, too late as Fuller was resolved to win the match and eventually won it 11-6 to put Surrey 1-0 up on the night.
Matt Hopkin (world 114) taking on Charles Sharpes (world 53). Australian Hopkin was making his home debut for Chichester.
Despite a slow start, Hopkin rallied well towards the end of the first game and snatched it 11-8. The next two games were extremely close with Sharpes’ outstanding retrieving and Hopkin’s exceptional boasts and reverse-angle shots. It was Hopkin who took the spoils 13-11, 12-10 to win the match.
Robbie Temple followed on with a tough encounter against world 36 Greg Marche. An entertaining match ensued with both players playing a fast game and covering all the court.
Marche proved too strong and had the edge on the night to win in three straight games, 11-7, 11-8, 11-5.
Chichester’s Lauren Briggs was facing Nada Elkalaawy (world 139). Elkalaawy’s powerful game caught Briggs off-guard in the first and she won it 11-6.
But Briggs was never going to give up as she started to find her range and mix up the pace.
Elkalaawy made a couple of errors which enabled Briggs to take control and she won the next two games 11/4, 11/8. From then Briggs did not look back and she wrapped up a 3-1 victory.
The final match on the championship court was between the number-one strings. Chichester’s Paul Coll, world No39 and current Australian Open champion, was making his debut up against was world No10 Karim Abdel Gawad of Egypt.
Gawad’s shots were winning the points but Coll kept the first two games alive with some unbelievable retrieving. Coll narrowly lost the first 16-14 and the second 11-7.
Coll’s persistence started to pay dividends in the third. He continued the incredible retrieving and the points started to mount up and he took the third 11-4. He single-mindedly pushed through the fourth with another win of 11/7.
Incredibly there was an upset on the cards and it was nip and tuck up to 6-6 but Gawad grasped the next few points to forge an 11-6 win.
The fixture system threw up a rare evening at Hawthorn Road, with Bognor Squash Club’s first and second teams both playing home fixtures – and surprisingly both came out on top.
The second team took on Storrington seconds with a scratch line-up which included occasional team players.
At No5 George Parker was unable to make much impression on Michael Standring, who won comfortably in three games while veteran Ken Norman, despite a good effort went down 2-9, 2-9, 5-9 to Tim Horn.
Bognor’s third string was big-hitting Rod Everett in his first match of the season and he imposed himself on the match, beating Paul Kearsley 9-3, 9-4, 9-6. Another debutant for the season was Andy Parker at No2 and despite dropping the long third game, he proved too strong for Perry Lewis winning 9-5, 9-3, 8-10, 9-3.
At 2-2 it was all down to No1 Steve Darlington and his match went to a fifth-game decider against Joel Message. Darlington had to come from behind twice but made no mistake in the fifth and won 7-9, 9-6, 2-9, 9-4, 9-1 to secure the win bonus and 14 points to Storrington’s nine.
The first team, having beaten second-placed Horsham the previous week, faced league leaders West Worthing in what appeared a daunting task and they did not get off to a good start as No5 Jon Corke, despite dominating opponent Alex Carlton for much of the match, managed to lose in three extremely close games - score 9-10, 8-10, 8-10.
But then things looked up for the home team as captain Steve Carruthers outlasted Clare Young in a thrilling fifth game to win 9-3, 3-9, 9-7, 2-9, 10-8.
Will Burley, in a rare appearance, put Bognor ahead when he beat Sy Phillips 9-6, 9-10, 9-4, 9-7 and No2 Glen Peskett added to the tally when he took on Kelly Eastment.
The Worthing player pulled back the second to level but she had no answer as Peskett closed out the match taking the next two games and winning 9-2, 6-9, 9-5,9-1.
Top string Greg Jansz was on top from the start and beat James Harvey in straight games 9-3,9-4,9-1 to seal a great night for Bognor.
Bognor took 17 points, West Worthing III seven.
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