Monday, 21 October 2013

IRTPA Championships 2013 - Manchester


I always enjoy going up to Manchester for the IRTPA Championships. I'm not quite sure why... It's always grey, dark, wet and windy!
I think it's partly 1) the great old club Manchester is 2) how they do come to support the tennis being played on their court and 3) that even though it's a home tournament for the UK based players everyone is around the club as if away in NYC or Melbourne.

This year was going to be quite a strong tournament with myself being the 6th of 8 seeds but due to Bryn Sayers and Ricardo Smith pulling out injured I was reshuffled into Bryn's vacant spot as the number 4 seed.

I took on young Neil Mackenzie (Trainee Pro at Bridport - 10 h'cap) in the 1st round. Much of the 1st set was getting used to the court as I had only 1 hour practice on court the same morning. Neil played well and deserved a close set 6/5 to myself.
The 2nd and 3rd sets saw a slightly more 1 sided match as I had a few too many weapons and experience for young Neil 6/5 6/2 6/2.

My Quarter final opponent was another young guy who has improved greatly this year improving some 4-6 points down to a 2 handicap, Darren Long (Assistant Pro at Canford). Playing Darren was something of an out of body experience feeling like I was playing a mirror image in a way... like myself a squash player who can generate some serious pace and can boast the ball out of any situation.
The 1st set was tight but at 3/3 I was able to dominate the service end and closed the set out. 6/3
The 2nd set had the same scoreline although possibly with a few less errors could of closed out the set sooner but Darren played some great shots but I again kept control of the service end which is the most important part of the game 6/3 and 2-0 in sets.
A little inexperienced young Darren allowed me to take control of the service end and spent what felt like about 98% of the 3rd set up there serving tight railroads. final score 6/3 6/3 6/0

After Saturday's dinner at the club and a day off on the Sunday for which some of it was spent at the Heaton park on the 18 hole pitch and putt golf course with a number of my fellow Professionals with Ex pro golfer Nick Howell taking the title with myself in the silver medal position, I was to face in some what of a deja vĂ¹ moment playing Rob Fahey for the second time in a week in back to back Semi finals.

Monday was this rematch, I had struggled to cope with Rob's return of serve at Lords a week earlier and this time went into the match with a different serving plan which was to create as much indecision off the penthouse as possible serving fast cut serves rather than high serves. The resulting serves gave me more opportunity to get into some rallies and get Rob on the move and the 1st set quite a harsh scoreline if I don't say so myself. 1/6
2nd set started much more promising as Rob started to serve some railroads of which I was hitting some nice quite volleys and Main-wall dedans in a way fighting fire with fire... at 3/0 to me Rob as all good players do was able to change the course of the match by now serving some unplayable caterpillar serves. I couldn't do too much about Rob winning 10 games on the bounce to lose the 2nd set 3/6 and go 0/4 down in the 3rd set. Finally Rob's serve was no less effective which I was able to get some better returns in and forced my way back to 4/4 with 4 games on the bounce to myself. It was short lived to a certain degree as I'm sure Rob had spent long enough on court and did not want to be forced into a 4th set and put the foot down and took the 3rd to take the match 1/6 3/6 4/6.
A better showing than last weeks European Open Semi final but still disappointing to a certain degree not being able to pinch that set I'm chasing to start getting my foot in the door.

Rob went on to face Camden Riviere in the final after he defeated Ben Matthews in also a rematch of the other European Open Semi final. Camden went on to defeat Rob in a tough 4 setter.

The next tournament is the biggest tournament of the year the Neptune British Open at Queen's 17-16 November - the draw to be out any day..



Tuesday, 8 October 2013

European Open 2013 - MCC

Well last night didn't quite go so good. Taking on the best player to have ever picked up a racket in our crazy game in a Semi Final of the European Open. Rob Fahey was awesome last night and try as I might I couldn't find a way to stop him and make things easier for me.

Funnily enough I felt more nervous for my 1st match against Jon Dawes on Sunday as I did last night. I think it was the fact I was generally looking forward to the challenge of taking on Rob in front of a healthy crowd. It didn't start so good. I knew I had to stay away as much as possible from his big return's, my 1st serve a high serve of which he fizzed a cut volley and couldn't believe how much it moved in the air and kicked off the floor as I understandably miss timed it into the net. I then double faulted on the 2nd point and before I knew it the set was lost 0/6 and other than those 1st two points I didn't feel I did much wrong.

With how well and relentless the hitting was from Rob - hitting dedans after dedans after dedans - I did well to weather the storm a little better in the 2nd set and was able to keep my chin up as much as I could. I plugged away and after looking back feel I did well to win a few games, 3/6 and two sets down.

Unfortunately Rob was on a mission! And after taking the 1st game and should've/could've taken the 2nd game of the 3rd set it was again one way traffic. I've never experienced relentless hitting like I was forced to try and deal with tonight. 1/6 and the match was done. I also reckon for every dedans Rob hit I hit a bandeau - above the grille, the dedans and the galleries - as I just couldn't take a trick tonight.

Rob in ominous form will now take on Camden after he managed to out tussle Ben Matthews in a tight 4 setter. Final to be played Wednesday 9th October.

I now move on, lick my wounds and prepare my mind and body for a new tournament and thankfully a new opponent in Andrew Fowler Thursday 10th October at 2pm in Manchester for the 1st round of the IRTPA Championships.

Stay tuned...


Monday, 7 October 2013

European Open 2013 - MCC

This weekend 5th/6th October saw the start of the European Open at MCC. An 8 man draw which sees the top 7 enter straight into the main draw and the next 4 to fight for the one qualifying position.
I was due to face Bryn Sayers (3) in the 1st round/Quarter Final but he was forced to pull out of the tournament with an injury which opened up the draw a little for me as the winner of the qualifying position was pitted to play myself and the runner-up of the qualifying to face Camden Riviere (2).

So my new opponent is the very consistent Jonathan Dawes Head Pro at Hatfield House. A very solid player who recently won the Category A 0-9 tournament at Oxford. Playing off a handicap of 0.5, it wasn't a full gone conclusion by any stretch. He defeated David Woodman (4) in last year’s European Open on the same court.

The 1st set was going to plan pulling away to a 5/2 lead. At about this time I was really feeling comfortable on the court. Although I wasn't forcing very well I was reading the court and playing the court well. The court at MCC is a very lively court and one tends to play the court well when almost anticipating something weird, as soon as you relax even the simplest of things feel like they surprise you. My return of serve all of a sudden wasn't as potent and was I miss hitting and making un necessary errors and Jon almost made me pay. He drew level at 5/5 and took 0-40, I was able to hit 1st gallery after being pinned to the hazard end for far too long. I defended the chase. Jon got himself a chase which I was very lucky to win. We swapped again after I hit 1st gallery at 30-40. A good serve and another well defended chase to take it do deuce and won the following points to take the 1st set 6/5.
We traded games at the start of the 2nd set, I did well to stop Jon going ahead 2/4 and leveled at 3/3 and was able to take the next 3 games as well to take the set 6/3 a commanding 2-0 lead.

I raced to a 4-0 lead before Jon cramped but even he admitted there was too much to do as I took the remaining games to take the set 6/0 and the match 3-0 which I would of taken at the start of the match. I didn't play my best tennis but Jon is a tough player and very happy to win through to the Semi Final of the tournament and now due to face the World Champion Rob Fahey this afternoon Monday 7th at 4pm. The other Semi is Camden Riviere vs Ben Matthews which is a rematch of last year’s semi final where Ben almost took Camden the distance in a very good match.

Will keep you posted.