SQUASH: Patel secures a double victory

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RUTLAND Squash Rackets Club held their finals night in front of a large crowd recently.

Three trophies were at stake with Ian I’Anson and Hari Patel top of the bill, in the final of the Willis Cup.

I’Anson, a long-standing member of the club and winner of many finals in the past, met his nemsis this year losing 3-0 to Leicester University and former Uppingham School student Patel in the final.

The pair also met in the final of the handicap competition while Paul Martin and Katharine Gaine competed for the Willis Plate.

But the evening began with the Willis Cup final between I’Anson and Hari, during which the spectators were treated to real exhibition squash. The quality of play was outstanding from both players but Patel invariably found the winners, playing to a perfect length or boasting off the nearside wall with unerring accuracy to secure a 9-2, 9-0, 9-0 victory.

While the pair were recovering to prepare themselves for their second match, Martin and Gaine went on court to contest the Willis Plate final.

Both of them are teachers at Uppingham School and had run in the school’s annual five mile cross-country race that afternoon - Martin 130th and Gaine 195th - so both players were struggling to find their top form.

The first two games went Gaine’s way as she exploited her left-handed shots around the front of the court but in the third game Paul was utterly dominant, forcing his own game on his opponent and scarcely making a mistake.

Gaine won some fortunate points in the fourth game to take the match 9-5, 9-5, 1-9, 9-4.

I’Anson and Patel then returned to court to contest the Handicap final.

Patel had to give Ian four points with games played to 25 and I’Anson was quick to notch up a point in the first game. But the newly-crowned Willis Cup champion scored a run of points to create a 13-5 advantage. From that point I’Anson struggled to regain control and Hari won 25-15.

The second game was ferocious in every sense. Ian raced off to a 10-2 lead but then Hari began to claw his way back to 10-10 with some superb strokes, and the game was delicately poised. Moments later it was 15-15, then 19-19, with each player producing strokes of phenomenal accuracy before Patel broke away with a winning streak for the last few points to record a 25-15, 25-19 victory.

The ladies’ final was postponed when Gaine declared that, unlike I’Anson and Patel, she was unable to play twice in one evening.

This match took place a week later when Gaine beat Vicky Byers-Brown, who showed she had not lost her form while working abroad recently.

Byers-Brown stormed to a 7-4 lead in the first game but Gaine pulled back to run out 9-7 winner. The remaining games went her way and she secured the next two games to win 3-0.

The winner of the League Cup for 2011-12 is yet to be decided as it will depend on the final matches played this month.

Ian I’Anson and Jeremy Wood are the two combatants for this title, and at the time of going to press there is just one point separating the two of them.

Anyone interested in joining Rutland Squash Rackets Club should contact the club via www.rutlandsquash.co.uk.