Round-up of the finals night action at Rutland Squash Rackets Club
Having completed the much delayed 2019-2020 finals only last November due to the pandemic, and having missed 2021 altogether, it was a true joy to be able to hold the Rutland Squash Rackets Club finals for 2022 at the right time.
The evening began with the Willis Plate final between Michael Crawford and Scott Green.
Both players were new to playing a match in front of a significant crowd of spectators on the balcony, but Michael rose to the challenge more swiftly and secured the first game 9-1.
In the second game, Scott began to get the measure of Michael’s tactics and played some superb drives straight down the side walls to frustrate his opponent.
At 5-5 the game could have gone either way, but Michael’s determination to run down every point paid dividends and enabled him to win 9-5.
Scott fought back bravely in game three and after some time the score was still only at 2-2.
A couple of unlucky errors on Scott’s part, however, saw Michael take the lead and then dominate the rest of the game, resulting in a 9-4 win and thus the match.
The next match on court was the Willis Cup final between Jon Wolloff – the defending champion – and Philip Bailey.
Jon is renowned for his precision lob serves and, although the left-handed Philip coped well with his deliveries, he found it difficult to make returns that really challenged his opponent.
This meant that Jon was often able to finish off points following the return of serve, especially given his superb ability to play a soft drop shot off an opponent’s drive.
Philip, however, was fighting hard and played some beautiful low drives which Jon was unable to return.
Both players covered the court with impressive speed and many rallies brought rounds of applause from the balcony, but Jon was determined not to give Philip the opportunity to bring his game onto the court and in the end the scoreline was 9-3, 9-1, 9-4.
The final of the Handicap Competition was also due to be held on this same evening between Ben Harford and Philip Bailey.
However, work commitments abroad meant that Ben was unable to be there so this final was held at a later date.
The Handicap Competition result is always difficult to predict as it relies on the correct level of handicap given to the players, often a challenge for the organiser with players new to the club and even the sport.
There is also the risk that the scores get mixed up using “American” scoring with a minimum of 21 points to be earned.
As it happens the handicap assigned between Ben Harford and Philip Bailey was spot on and the scores tell the tale of a great final.
Ben started each game with a four-point advantage, therefore the games would be played to 25 points.
Each game Ben steadily clocked up the points with Philip desperately trying to keep in touch.
The first game belonged to Ben at 25-20 with Philip slow off the blocks.
The viewing gallery was worried that the handicap given was too advantageous to Ben, however, Philip kept calm and overturned the deficit in the second game 25-22.
The tempo was frantic with both players playing an impressive array of boasts and drops and both covering a lot of court.
Ben produced his usual ‘power out of nowhere’ game while Philip was applying his deft touches that are always a pleasure to watch.
This set up an intriguing and tense decider third game.
The scores flip-flopped as they approached the end point, but Ben then had a good run and looked to have won it with the score at 22-20.
However, Philip kept his head down and dragged the points back squeezing past Ben at the post with a final score of 25-22.
A great final and worth noting that Philip has held the Handicap trophy since 2019, but this was his tightest win yet!
Anyone interested in finding out more about the club can visit www.rutlandsquash.co.uk