With just one game to go in Chichester’s Premier Squash League campaign, the race for play-off places has intensified.
Chichester’s penultimate match in the south division – against Coolhurst – brought only their second defeat of the season.
Both sides looked strong and it was a close contest.
Nele Gilis (world No34) was first on court for Chichester and played world 18 Donna Urquhart.
The Coolhurst player was in no mood to hang around and won 11-5, 11-6, 11-6 as her pace and corner hitting proved too strong.
Tim Vail got into his stride from the very start of his match against Coolhurst’s Joe Green and his variation of pace and shots enabled him to comfortably take the first 11-4.
Green took stock and got back into the match in the second and combined his running and retrieving game with some nice touches. Vail had to some extent lost his length and started to look impatient by going too short too soon and Green won it 11-8.
The third continued in the same vein and Vail began to look tired and Green ran through 11-5. In the fourth Vail summoned up the energy to reassert himself and get back into the match and he fought back to win it 13-11 and take the match to a deciding fifth.
By this time his efforts were taking their toll on Vail and Green’s fitness came to the fore as he closed out the match in 73 minutes, winning 11-5 to put Coolhurst 2-0 up on the night.
Chichester’s No1 Paul Coll (world No16) played former Chichester top string Adrian Waller (world 38). Coll, who the previous week reached the semi-finals of the Canary Wharf Classic, struggled a little to retain his usual high tempo which allowed Waller a few glimpses to play and control the game.
Nevertheless, Coll’s class, using his phenomenal physical stamina and strength, is far above many of his opponents and he ran out a 11-9, 11-9, 11-6 winner to give Chichester hope.
Chichester’s Olly Pett was controlling his match against Angus Gillams. Although Pett dropped the third game, his class was such that he ran out a comfortable 3-1 winner in 39 minutes.
The deciding match was between the second strings – Nathan Lake, world No57 for Chichester, taking on world 44 Raphael Kandra.
The first two games were extremely tight and left it 1-1 on the night. Lake started to look slightly tired and faded in the third to lose 11-2 before throwing everything into the fourth to win 11-8 and force a decider.
Lake gave his all in the fifth and battled to lead 9-8 but, despite an extremely valiant effort, Kandra took the final three points to give Coolhurst the match.
The final match is a home tie against Surrey on Tuesday, April 4. The winners of this match look set to win the league but the losers could qualify as runners-up to qualify for the semis – it really is that close.
Chichester have not been this close to glory for nine years. Tickets are on sale now and all support is welcome – call 01243 785664.
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