AFTER a strong finish to 2015, Stratford Squash Club players were keen to start this year as they mean to go on in Warwickshire League Division Two.
Prior to the Christmas break, second placed Stratford travelled to division leaders Edgbaston Priory with hope of closing the gap between the teams.
First to take the court was George Owen at number four. With his matchplay continually improving, Owen took the advantage against his opponent by taking the ball early and executing some accurate squash to secure a convincing 3-0 win.
At fifth string, the experienced Rolf Wilson played one of Edgbaston Priory’s top female players. With his valuable match experience, Wilson executed a near perfect display to secure another 3-0 victory for Stratford.
Looking to seal an early victory for Stratford, Freddie Milles played some impressive squash at third string. Despite having missed most of the first half of the season through injury, Milles was in good form and won three very tight games for Stratford to seal victory for the visitors.
At second string, Simon Kemp played an opponent who he had narrowly beaten in the first half of the season. However, his opponent played a much-improved style of squash, taking the ball early and making conditions hard for the Stratford player with some deft touches and accurate lobs.
Although competitive in every game, Kemp eventually went down 3-0.
Finally, at first string, Simon Johns battled well for Stratford. However, with the score at 1-1, Johns pulled a hamstring muscle and, with his mobility impaired and not wanting to risk further injury, Johns succumbed to his opponent 3-1.
A 3-2 match win ensured Stratford went into the Christmas break as division leaders.
The first match back after the Christmas break saw Stratford welcome Barnt Green to Swans Nest Lane. With Stratford heading the division, the team were keen to continue their momentum.
First up on court was George Owen at fourth string. Having only lost two of his matches all season, Owen never found himself out of position, covering the court well and outmanoeuvring his opponent to win his match 3-0 in straightforward fashion.
Reliable Rolf Wilson again played some experienced squash, maintaining his unbeaten run with a quickfire 3-0 victory.
Playing at two for Stratford, Simon Kemp stamped his authority on the match, taking the first two games with relative ease.
However, the game soon turned on its head as Kemp’s opponent eventually found his form and pushed the match to a decider. Unfortunately for Kemp, the momentum was with his opponent and the Barnt Green player managed to secure the deciding game 11-9 and therefore the match by three games to two.
The first string match saw Simon Johns up against an experienced county player. The opening two games between the team’s top players were evenly shared.
However, some unforced errors by the Stratford player at crucial times in the third and fourth games saw the match slip away from Johns who went down 3-1.
With the match level at 2-2, the decider saw Freddie Milles look to become the hero of the hour. With both players demonstrating contrasting styles of squash, the contest was destined to be a close battle.
With the match at one apiece, the following three games all went right to the wire – 12-10 – with Milles taking the fifth and final game in a brutal contest which saw both players give their all.
By winning 3-2, Stratford have moved away from their nearest rivals. However, with the teams below having a match in hand, it is expected the points difference will be reduced in the coming weeks. For now though, Stratford will enjoy sitting proudly at the top of the division.
Anybody interested in joining Stratford Squash Club and who would like to hear about its junior and senior squash and racketball programmes can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.stratfordsquashclub.co.uk.