The Flying Frenchman Greg Gaultier wins his 1st World Championships Greg paid tribute to France when he said about the recent terror attacks “Our hearts were broken, all the French people and all around the world. But so many people came to talk to me and support me about it, we got emails, texts. There should be peace in this world and respect. Whoever you are you have to give respect to people. There should be no terror and today we put on a great fight, but it was a fight with respect on and off court.”
At 3pm today I was in sunny Spain having a relaxing time on the beach, but just a few hours later I battled my way through Storm Barney (when did we start naming storms?) to reach Strathgryffe a little late, at around 7.15pm – but it turns out I was very early!
First up tonight and starting early (as he had to leave early) was Joe against Dave at number five. When I arrived the pair were having some humongous rallies and I thought this must be really close. However I soon learned that they were just playing a friendly as Joe had already won! Well he obviously wasn’t that keen to get away! Still 3 points on the board for us!
The number 4s went on next as Doug took on Graham Proud. I had never seen Graham play before and was impressed with his range of shots. This wasn’t one of Doug’s finest games however and he was well beaten.
My opponent still hadn’t turned up so next on at No.1 were Craig against Martin Woods. This was an interesting game as it appears that Craig is now in a position to really challenge Martin. I had the pleasure of marking this one and I said to both players before they went on “Call your own pickups and don’t moan at my decisions” Craig replied that he could only do one of these requests so I would have to pick!
This game was all about whether Craig could put enough physical pressure on Martin to tire him out. After the 1st I was sure he could, but when Martin came back and won the 2nd things were not quite as certain. However Craig knuckled down and really made Martin work harder and harder as the match progressed. It was soon obvious that Martin didn’t have the legs to run all of Craig’s rallies down. So a good 3-1 win for Craig – although neither man seem to want to take the last point and in the end it took an amazing fluke from Craig to secure the match (I would be inclined to give Craig MOTM again this week).
Still no sign of my opponent so on at No.2 was Jason Lang returning to his old club against Ross (Red) Lawrie. Jason has been playing very well recently and so I thought he would be too strong for Ross. But squash constantly surprises you and Ross was playing brilliantly and his range of shots was amazing. Every time Jason went cross-court, Ross was on it in a flash and often volleying away a winner or playing some ridiculously good shot!
So could Jase keep the ball to a good length and straight? Well at 2-2 in games it appeared that he couldn’t do it often enough; so now it was anyone’s game! Ross was putting away all services on the volley time after time and Jason was struggling to straighten the shots, so consequently Ross was dominating the ‘T’ and putting Jason’s cross-court returns away. It was all very close in the end (about 10-10) and it was a shame that the match finished on a stroke, but there you have it and Ross fully deserved the 3-2 victory. MOTM to Ross for them I would say.
Still no sign of my opponent Dave McCormack at 9:05pm – however I was told that he was on his way direct from work. We eventually started around 9:30pm and I was told later that we finished just 12 minutes later. I won 3-0 quite comfortably although the last two rallies in the 3rd game were particularly tough.
So I went for a shower, but Dave just put his clothes on and went back to work (well that’s the first for me in 35 years of league squash!).
The pizzas were even later than Dave! But they were worth waiting for especially the vegetarian one! We chatted all things squash and what could be better than that for a Wednesday night out!
And later, when I did that Facebook thing to see what the main words that I used on Facebook this year were, I don’t think anyone will be too surprised to see the results!
First on tonight at the same time was myself and Joe (McDonald) against Matthew Stout and Mark Coil respectively. I didn’t see Joe’s match but he told me that Mark was just too quick and too good and he lost 3-0.
Matthew, my opponent, was also too quick and too good, but that didn’t deter me. Even at 0-2 down I was still desperately thinking of how to get myself in to a winning position. Fortunately for me, it was probably more to do with Matthew taking the foot off the gas than me playing amazingly (although I was quite pleased with my shots and change of pace) and I did sneak the 3rd game. The 4th was also close but Matthew always kept the lead and in retrospect I think I was lucky to get one game (and I strained my Achilles again! Sport hurts!).
From the way things went tonight I felt like I lived every match, but in reality I only really saw one other game which was Jason (Lang) v Patrick O’Sullivan at No.2. These two had the longest warm up in the history of squash, but eventually graced the court with their presence. And it was worth the wait and this was a real cracker to watch. The games ebbed and flowed and just when I thought Patrick was on top Jason came back at him again and again. Inevitably this went to 5 and by this time both players had put a massive amount of work and were looking pretty tired. However this did not stop either of them from giving everything again in the last game. It was very close and (from memory) Jason had a chance to go 10-10, however he tinned one just at the wrong time and Patrick cleared up the crumbs to win 3-2. I’d give Patrick MOTM tonight for his performance (pleasure to ref as well – from both men).
Craig turned up at last (via Giffnock) and with a damaged right hand, so we were treated to a very ‘Un-Craig-like’ performance from him as he lobbed and dropped his way through the match. I missed most of the match as I was marking Jason’s epic, but I joined it in the 5th! It was great to see Craig playing all the shots in the book and use the height of the court against Stuart Pitt at No.1. And it was a right ding-dong between them as well – Craig had the better movement which kept him in it and time and again he fizzed an unplayable shot to keep him in the match. In the end this went all the way and either man could have won it, but it was Craig who held his nerve and won 3-2 (MOTM to Craig for playing with an injury and winning!).
Doug was also on at the same time and he was playing Mark. I saw young Mark warm up and wondered if he had too many
shots for his own good, but the answer to that was no! I only saw the last game and was also watching Craig at the same time (we had all 3 courts by that time) but Doug wasn’t able to get the ball behind his opponent often enough to use his strength. Having said that Mark was excellent and will be a top player in the future (still it’s always painful to loose to an apprentice welder 1-3 – it’s the goggles!).
A real good squash match tonight, very enjoyable even though we lost 17-7 (and although I lost I’m taking credit for winning at No.4 in the 2nd team with the advice I gave to spons Michael Jackson!)
The 24-year-old Egyptian came into the final without dropping a single game, but it looked like Gaultier was feeling the effects of playing an extra three games.
Elshorbagy raced into a one-game lead after starting the match with a punishing pace. Things looked to be going from bad to worse for the ‘French General’ in the second as Elshorbagy doubled his advantage with relative ease.
Gaultier won the 3rd and in the 4th built up another strong lead after Mohamed struggled to deal with the change of pace but the number one seed battled back to force the match into a tense tie-break and edge a hard-fought 11-5, 11-7, 5-11, 12-10 title. Read more…
First up today on Wednesday was me as I was greeted by a very keen Gavin (Picken) who was ready and raring to go. I was subsequently told that Gavin competed in Ironman events and had recently came 2nd in an impressive 105 mile competition (it was fortunate that no one told me this to start with as The thought of running round like a maniac all evening would probably have put me off).
Anyway as we were knocking up I was testing out a few shots to see how Gavin reacted and I noticed that every time I gave him an easy backhand volley he didn’t take it, interesting! So the plan was hatched. If he was going to stand back that far I would see if my boast to his backhand would catch him out. Master plan! The first two games sailed by with me in complete control. His teammates were down in between games trying to point out the problem and as I went on for the 3rd Hamish said in a stage whisper “….and if that doesn’t work resort to violence!”
Well Gavin came back on a changed man and he kept it deep on the backhand and started volleying everything and suddenly I was 0-6 down. Well I regained some composure and came back to eventually win the game and the match, before he was able to really work for me out. I must say he was lightning to any shots I played, so it was good to beat Ironman-105.
While I was playing I noticed this blond bloke on the balcony, but didn’t recognise him at all and assumed he was playing for Western 2. When he passed me to go on court I again assumed it was one of their team wearing the same colour shirts as us; then their No.1 Mhairi went on with him and it struck me that it was actually Craig!?! Well he certainly wins the master of disguise prize! Anyway he played Mhairi Charlton and after Mhairi’s epic performance against us a few weeks ago (winning 3-1 for their 1st team) she was really up against it tonight. Craig was just physically too strong and could get all of her, (brilliant) shots and then he could twist and turn her with pace and power. Mhairi battled really well, but it was inevitable that Craig could turn up the power at any time and so he won 3-0.
Next on was Jason Lang at No.2 against Hamish Foster. Jason also didn’t recognise Craig, but I did recognise the now familiar silky movement from Jason – and he doesn’t half whack the ball. Hamish was beaten for pace (he was also beaten for skill & movement!). It was a nice gentle run out for Jason and an easy 3-0.
Doug went on next at No.4 against ‘Dangerous Dave Kelly’ and this turned out to be the match of the night. It was obvious that Doug’s Head wasn’t really in the game tonight and Dave took full advantage of this. At 1-2 down Doug would have to pull something out to win this one. Fortunately, ‘cometh the hour….’ and all that rubbish and Doug was determined to make a fist of it. Dave hasn’t played many team matches this season and so he was tiring quickly. Doug must have sensed victory because he upped the pace and subtly changed all of his crosscourt thwackes to include some good straight driving. The tide was turning! And so to the 5th! Grim determination saw Doug through this match to win 3-2 and this must have helped as i’m sure I saw him smile after!
Joe went on at the same time as Doug so I lost I missed a lot of this one. He appeared to win the 1st reasonably easily (v Jon Moore) but then lost the 2nd. I watched the 3rd game and he played very well to dominate his opponent, keeping Jon on the end of every rally and tying him up at the back of the court. In-between games I went down and asked Joe how he managed to lose the 2nd as I had seen nothing to indicate he should have. So the (brilliant!) advice was as ever “Keep doing what you’re doing and don’t do what you did in the 2nd!” I then went back to watch the No.4 string and wasn’t massively surprised to hear that Joe had run out a 3-1 winner by getting an unassailable lead in the 4th (despite a mini come back from Jon).
So an 18-3 win for us which I think is our first this season this season. And loads of pizza from the newly opened Western restaurant (including a goats cheese and sweet potato one, no really it was actually quite nice – especially with chilly sauce and chips. The food of athletes!)
I’d organised 6:30 PM starts for Doug and I against Hamilton last Wednesday, so obviously the match started about 7:15 PM! To be fair traffic is a nightmare about our club at match time and the Hamilton guys had to fight their way through the M8 traffic to boot.
Doug eventually made it on first against Chris McGeady and I went on around the same time against Allan Mackay so I missed a lot of Doug’s match. However he appeared to dominate from the word go it appears and won his match 3-0 by keeping it simple and not letting Chris in for a moment.
After our previous ding dong battles in the past couple of seasons I personally was really hoping not to have to pay Calum Philip again (!) so was delighted to hear that he’d challenged his way up to No.2 for this match. Like Doug, I also won 3-0 but my score line flatters me somewhat. Don’t get me wrong I thought I played really well and I was trying to mix it up against Allan. However I was lucky to win the third from 8-2 down, and in fact I was worried throughout the match that it could have gone either way at any time (including at 12-12 in the 2nd!). Win in three don’t lose in five as my old man always used to say to me (I can’t believe I’m quoting my dad! He’ll not let me forget this!)
Next up at No.5 was Joe McDonald v Stephen Healy and this was a real tough one. Joe took the 1st game 11-9 but it was nip and tuck all the way. And it only got tighter from there on as the 2nd and 3rd game games were even closer and Joe unfortunately lost both of them 10-12. Stephen was really tricky to play and it was very difficult to predict his next shot. The 4th game was much easier for Stephen and he won it 11-6 as Joe tired. But an excellent tussle and a 3-1 win for Hamilton.
Jason Lang took to the court next against Calum Philip. Calum apparently was apparently equally as relieved not to play me as I was not to play him! However it was out of the frying pan into the fire as he took on t’other Jason, who is very much in form. Having said that at 1-1 Calum was playing really well and crashing his normal shots all over the court and normally in the nic! However Jason managed to regain control and took the 3rd and 4th games by getting excellent leads in both and despite comebacks from Callum he had just too much of a lead
Last on was Craig Valente-Wallace v Kenny Boyle at No.1. No Craig is loving his tough matches this year so it was no surprise that this one was going the whole way!
An excellent 1st game for Craig was followed by a great comeback from Kenny as he went 2-1 up in the match. Craig clawed back the 4th to set up a grandstand finish on the 5th.
Both men must have been very tired, but I suspect that Craig didn’t realise just how tired Kenny was becoming. Despite this Kenny gave it everything in the 5th and came home with a 3-2 win. However I would have liked to see Craig really make Kenny work in the 2nd and 3rd games and then see if the 5th went the same way. Obviously we will never know and fairplay to Kenny as he looks as sharp and determined as ever.
So another excellent 3-2 win for the team and it was just in time for baked potatoes for dinner. This will have taken Jason back to his Renfrew days – it certainly took me back as well! And it was good to see that the 4th team did not nick all the food this week!