Wael El Hindi 3-1 Azlan Iskandar
9/7, 9/4, 7/9, 9/6 (65m)
Peter Barker 3-1 Alex Gough
9/2, 9/5, 4/9, 9/2 (48m)
Davide Bianchetti 3-1 Tim Vail
9/11, 9/3, 9/3, 9/7 (64m)
Ben Ford 2-3 Peter Genever
11/9, 2/9, 9/4, 7/9, 6/9 (62m)
Vicky Botwright 3-0 Dominique Lloyd-Walter
9/3, 9/5, 9/4 (21m)
Gloom & Despondency? Not a Chance
The Crabtree Report
The final, as it happened ...
Steve Cubbins at Lee-on-Solent
Vicky in the Zone
Vicky Botwright got Surrey off to the perfect start, with a 3/0 win in 21
minutes - the match finishing moments before the first game of the men's
match on the adjacent court finished. "I was in the zone," said Vicky, who
played for Lee for four seasons.
Coming from 2/1down, Peter "Jelly" Genever kept Chichester in the hunt
with a fine performance against Ben Ford, greeted with noisy delight by
the many many Chichester fans.
Advantage Surrey for Barker
Surrey retook the lead after the top string match, Peter Barker taking a
solid two-game lead, and although the wily Alex Gough pulled one back, a
7/0 deficit in the fourth was too much.
Bianchetti bags it
A great start for Chichester player/manager as he took the first game
against Davide Bianchetti, who was docked a conduct stroke to make it
9-all in the first before "the Vole" went on to take it 11/9.
But Bianchetti fought back, taking a 2/1 lead to set up a tense finish.
Meanwhile Wael El Hindi had taken a 2/0 lead, so the race was on to see
who could finish it first for Surrey.
Bianchetti reached 8-3 match ball, but Vail held on, pulling back point by
point. 8-7 Bianchetti, 7-all El Hindi ...
After several tense and raucous lets the Italian finally put in a dropshot
too tight for Vail and the place erupted ... seconds later Iskandar pulled
a game back but it was too late.
Wael wrapped it up in the fourth and the celebrations began again ...
Premier League Title
Howard Harding reports
At the end of only their third
season in the competition, PCL
Whitehall Security Surrey Health & Racquets Club clinched the
Premier Squash League (PSL)
title for the first time after beating
PNH Properties Chichester 4/1
in Tuesday's final of the established
England Squash league
sponsored by Towergate tlc.
With both teams supported by determined and vociferous fans, it was clear
that a great evening of squash was about to be unleashed on the two
adjacent glass-backed courts at Lee on
Solent Squash Club.
Surrey H&RC, from Croydon, took an early lead when England international
Vicky Botwright, the world
No10 from Manchester, beat compatriot
Dominique Lloyd-Walter 9-3, 9-5, 9-4 in 21 minutes.
end of this match coincided with the completion of the first game on the
adjacent court - where Surrey's Ben
Ford finally clinched the early lead against
Peter Genever after the
Chichester part-timer had saved two game-balls.
Both teams knew the importance of this particular clash - the pair's first
meeting - and both sets of supporters did their best to outdo each other
in the decibel stakes!
Genever, a veteran of all 12 of Chichester's PSL campaigns, levelled the
match in the second game - and when world No93 Ford took the third,
Chichester's former tour player again evened the score.
But when Genever led 7-2 in the decider - then stemmed a fight back by
Ford to clinch the match 9-11, 9-2, 4-9, 9-7, 9-6 after 62 minutes - the
Chichester followers almost raised the roof!
By now, Surrey were again leading in the second string battle between
England international Peter Barker
and Chichester's Welsh international
Alex Gough - both of whom were playing in their second PSL
final, and both of whom had achieved their seedings in last week's
Dunlop British Open in
Barker, a rising star, took the first two games, but veteran Gough, a
37-year-old former British O35 Open champion, pegged one back. It was to
no avail, however, as the 24-year-old world No12 secured the fourth to put
Surrey back in the lead.
However, it was more than an hour and a half later - with the final two
matches playing side by side and fortunes wavering from one team to the
other - before Davide Bianchetti,
the world No30 from Italy, finally curbed the brave and determined efforts
of Chichester's second part-timer Tim
Vail 9-11, 9-3, 9-3, 9-7 in 64 minutes, and Surrey H&RC fans
cheered their team's maiden PSL triumph.
The top string encounter was an all-overseas affair - but both players
have clearly established loyal followings from their teams' fans. The
crowd were mesmerised by the talents of Surrey's
Wael El Hindi, the world No9
from Egypt, and Chichester's Mohd
Azlan Iskandar, the world No13 from Malaysia who produced last
week's biggest British Open shock when he upset second seed
Ramy Ashour, also from Egypt.
But it was the Egyptian who ultimately prevailed to win 9-7, 9-4, 7-9, 9-6
in 65 minutes to earn the Croydon club a 4/1 victory.
"I thought it would be a close affair," said Surrey H&RC team manager
Pete Smith. "But I was
confident we would win and am delighted that we did. Tonight has been a
"Participation in the PSL for the past three seasons has been a very
positive thing for us - it has helped with our junior development and has
increased our squash membership, leading to more squash being played at
"And the team spirit has been fantastic," added Smith. "Not just the
players who have played tonight, but the whole squad who have helped us to
get this far - players like British Junior champion Adrian Waller and Tim
representing club sponsors PCL Whitehall Security, added: "There's been a
cracking atmosphere tonight. Now that we've won it, we want to retain it
Chichester, who were playing in the final for the first time despite
having reached the semi-finals seven times since 1996, were proud of their
achievement - particularly since two members of their team, Peter Genever
and Tim Vail, have not played full-time squash for many years, yet have
both represented the Sussex club with distinction in all ten ties this
"I knew I had to win tonight's match if we were to have a chance of
winning the title," said Genever, a former world No23 who is now a
highly-respected elite coach.
"A night like tonight is good for the game, where you have a neutral venue
with two strong sets of supporters providing a fantastic atmosphere.
"I've represented Chichester for over 25 years now, from when I was a
junior. Most of our supporters here are my friends, people I grew up
with. Playing for Chichester in the PSL gets me motivated," concluded the
34-year-old England No21.
Egypt's Wael El Hindi acknowledged that he'd never before experienced
anything like the atmosphere during the PSL final. "Most of my countrymen
don't play leagues - they like to stay at home. But I play all over
Europe," said the charismatic world No9 who divides his time between Cairo
and Glastonbury in England, where he trains with British squash legend
"But I have never experienced anything like this before. It has been
fantastic - an unbelievable evening," said the beaming Egyptian
GLOOM AND DESPONDENCY? NOT A CHANCE
Peter Crabtree reports
the moment of truth came and went, and absent a moment of the Hargrave
jinx striking, it was always likely to be the outcome. It was a good
evening of hard fought squash played out in an almost gladiatorial
atmosphere with crowd interaction like I have never seen before in a
squash match – and it was good to see. One of the best parts of it was
that the players tried to keep their own games moving whilst there was
some unbelievable noise coming from the adjacent court. Mind you, the refs
and players had some problems communicating – no change there then!
Firstly, thanks to Lee on Solent for hosting the match. OK, so they took a
few bob at the bar, but they are a traditional squash club, albeit with a
tennis section, and their approach to this match was everything it should
have been – excellent hospitality and a welcoming atmosphere for both sets
of supporters as well as their own members. Thanks to Nutters and Alison
(I will never reveal the truth Alison!) for organising the evening and
co-ordinating the many strands that go to making up a successful event. To
“the voice of squash” Alan Thatcher for his contribution, including the
invaluable skill of knowing when to keep quiet, again thanks. Also to
Howard and Steve for the recording for posterity of the evening’s events.
So, to the real interest – a callypygous (sorry for the missing “Y” in the
programme) treat to kick off the evening. To be honest, it was a bit
disappointing, and I am sure Dom feels she didn’t do herself justice, but
when all is said and done, the rankings told the truth, as they did in
most of the matches, and a far better (on the night) player won the
Meanwhile, Jelly was rolling back the years with a vintage display of
squash against the evergreen Ben Ford. The first game was still going when
the girls finished, and after staving off 2 game balls, Jelly just lost it
9-11 in a little over 20 minutes. The hot courts and very warm evening
played a part in prolonging the games, but even so, there was no shortage
of attacking shots, and our Jelly actually twatted a straight nick to a
tumultuous roar. The match went the way of each player in turn, and
eventually, the travelling Chichester massive raised the roof when Pete
ran, or rather stumbled, out a 3-2 winner after a little over an hour. The
sentiment afterwards was that if we had to lose 4-1, then it was
absolutely appropriate that our longest serving player who has featured in
the team since our very first match (against Chris Tomlinson if I remember
rightly) should get the win. It was good to see the Bromley number 1 from
that match James Robbins spectating – still playing good stuff as well it
seems (or so he said).
So, honours even, and the seemingly ageless Alex Gough taking on the much
younger Peter Barker on the main court. The nipper rather cheekily ran
into a 2-0 lead dropping only 7 points in the process and it did seem that
it was going to be all over rather quickly. A bit of a spring appeared in
the Welshman’s legs to take the 3rd, but Barker cruised through the next
to put Croydon on the edge of a maiden PSL title. During the match, we
were treated to some exquisite shot-making from both players, and some
movement around the court that defied belief, especially from the old boy.
But this then took us into the 2 strings that we thought really held out
Vole has a habit (well several actually) of chopping higher ranked players
off the court, but the aforementioned conditions were not going to be in
his favour, and it seemed that the plan of nicking Bianchetti out of the
match was going to be a tough ask. Hence, those Vole pins were scampering
like nobody’s business, and he managed to reverse Jelly’s opening game
scoreline to achieve an 11-9 win, and maybe a scent of victory. Contrary
to everyone (from Chichester)’s anticipation, this was to be the second
longest match of the night, and after an hour and four minutes, the
Croydon player went berserk as he finally ran out a 3-1 winner to secure
the match and the title for Croydon. Poor Vole could hardly move at the
end, and my guess is it will take more than a couple of sessions of physio
for him to recover!
The number one strings were always going to be a titanic battle, and this
was a contest that was never going to be for the faint-hearted. One of
them has a bit of a reputation for blocking and barging, and the other for
excessive levels of charity on court, and both upheld their images
extremely well. Being a referee is never easy at the top level, because as
we saw, these guys are incredible athletes, and at the end we were to
witness once again Azzy doing the full splits in a vain attempt to pick up
a drop shot. But, and there always is one, the referee should have jumped
on the less savoury aspects of what was going on right at the outset,
which would almost certainly have prevented some of the nonsense that
But, it was a match that included some of the finest squash, both shots
and movement, that I have seen in some 30 years of watching top class
squash, and both players deserve the credit for it, especially given their
determination to keep play going despite the huge amounts of noise coming
from Vole’s court. There was some sumptuous racket skill from Wail (and he
did!) and wonderful athleticism from Azzy, but the culmination of the
match next door and the winning of the title seemed to relax El Hindi, and
he just played good squash to edge the match against a by now seemingly
demoralised Azlan – pity it wasn’t like that all the way through, the
squash not the demoralisation.
So, a deserved win for Pete Smith and his team – I just wish I hadn’t done
such a good job of selling him the idea of playing in PSL 4 years ago!
Thanks again to Lee for hosting the match, and to the spectators (or the
vast majority of them!!) for creating a wonderful atmosphere which will
long be remembered. “The best final I’ve seen” said Nutters – nearly right
Tue 13th May,
Surrey Health &
inMaiden PSL title bids
PCL Whitehall Security Surrey Health & Racquets Club will
meet in Tuesday's final of the Premier Squash League (PSL)
at Lee-on-Solent Squash Club - both clubs bidding to win
their first title in the established England Squash league
sponsored by Towergate tlc.
In the first final for six
years between two southern clubs, Chichester will be led by Mohd
Azlan Iskandar - the Malaysian who claimed an unexpected berth
in the quarter-finals of this week's Dunlop British Open
after upsetting second seed Ramy Ashour - while their Croydon-based
opponents will be led by Egyptian Wael El Hindi, the world
Chichester beat defending
champions Benz-Bavarian Duffield to make the final for the
first time in eight attempts, and Surrey Health defeated
University Sport Birmingham in the other semi.
"It is going to be
fantastic final, with all of the matches difficult to call, and nice
to see the south breaking the north’s stranglehold," said Surrey
H&RC spokesman Tim Garner. "We may have the slight
edge in terms of rankings but the massive Chichester supporter group
that will travel along the south coast are sure to inspire their
"To counter this, our club
is hiring a coach to take our own army of fans down the M3 and so it
is likely to be an electric atmosphere on the night.
"We are confident that we
recruited the right players this year and it was a great achievement
for the club to make the final in only our third season. But second
place is not an option," added Garner.
The final will be staged
in Lee-on-Solent where the host club is celebrating its centenary
"This year sees
Lee-on-the-Solent celebrate the centenary of its foundation back in
1908," said club spokesman Chris Raleigh. "To mark this milestone
in the Club's history we have many highpoints planned throughout the
year. On 31st May we have our grand Tennis open day with Pat Cash
as our special celebrity guest; on Friday 16th May we are hosts for
the "lost for words" event featuring Lee Beachill and James
Willstrop - this being followed by some live entertainment from the
dynamic duo. On 14th June we will be holding our Grand Summer
Foundation Ball at the Club.
"In addition to the above
we have lots of mini events going on. To be invited to host the
Premier Squash League Final on Tuesday 13th May just prior to our
own "Lost for Words" evening will make the mid week in May a
fantastic week to remember for Squash down at Lee-on-the-Solent,
where we have a long and established association with top quality
tournaments and some principal players."
Surrey v Chichester
Wael El Hindi v Azlan
Peter Barker v Alex Gough
Davide Bianchetti v Tim Vail
Ben Ford v Peter Genever
Vicky Botwright v Dominique Lloyd-Walter
On rankings you'd be mad to bet against Surrey ... so we won't.