Men & Women PSA $6k Challengers, 29 Jul – 01 Aug, Herts
Georgina Kennedy (Eng) 3-0  Lisa Aitken (Sco) 11-3, 11-3, 11-8 (31m)
 Ben Coleman (Eng) 3-0  Sam Todd (Eng) 11-8, 11-3, 11-2 (33m)
Berkhamsted haven’t run a large PSA event before so this week has been exciting for all involved. It seemed to be a real success and there is definitely a thirst to run similar events in the future. Having several players involved in the event that train at the club regularly involved in the event was fab and to have a home winner was special.
The crowd got to see these players in a competitive environment which has really got the club keen to support these guys on their journeys as much as possible.
Gina Kennedy 3-0 Lisa Aitken
Gina came out of the blocks quick today and Lisa struggled to get a foothold in the match until Gina was two games to the good. There were some great rallies but Gina seemed to have an answer for most of the questions Lisa posed today.
Lisa will no doubt be disappointed with her error count today although she won’t need to wait long to play her again with them due to play each other in a few days time at the British Nationals.
Ben Coleman 3-0 Sam Todd
As the game began there was a feeling that we could be in for a fairly long match with the scores fairly level throughout the game and both had shown some good performances leading in to the final. However, from the business end of the first game Ben began to take control. Perhaps the previous matches were still in the legs of Sam having had a 3-2 and a tight 3-1 en route to the final. Whereas Ben hadn’t dropped a game on his route to the final and Sam looked a little tired.
After Ben took the first, he became more and more confident to soak up Sam’s attacks then counter attacking himself and it looked as if Sam ran out of ideas. Sam plays a very exciting style of squash we have no doubt that Sam will continue to grow/ improve but perhaps today was a case of experience over youth.
Gina Kennedy 3-1 Emily Whitlock
A match that the spectators were excited to watch and a match that didn’t disappoint. Gina came out the quicker of the two which suited her taking the first game in a slightly scrappy affair. The trend continued in the second although Emily was starting to assert herself a little more towards the second half of the game but it was Gina that took the second. Emily in the third was able to disrupt Gina’s rhythm and was winning the length battle, giving her more time to execute her short game. At the start of the fourth you could see Gina wasn’t prepared to take the match to a fifth with some superb retrieving. It was nip and tuck throughout the fourth but it was Gina that pulled through in an entertaining match.
Lisa Aitken 3-1 Georgina Adderley
In this all Scottish affair, it was evident early on that they were both very familiar with each other’s games. In the first two games Lisa seemed to have the edge with Georgina doing a bit more work through some well weighted straight lines forcing Georgina to defend more than Lisa. Credit to Georgina, she hung in well and got her reward in the third showing the crowd her own racket skills. However Lisa also looked determined not to let it go to a fifth and put in a mature performance in the forth to set up a final clash with Gina
Sam Todd 3-1 Rui Soares
The first game saw Sam get a great start going 6-1 up with Rui starting a little slow. Rui started to settle but it was a big gap to make up. Rui was able to build upon the momentum he had at the end of the first to level the match at 1-1. The match had some very quick exchanges which seemed to suit Sam more than Rui. We saw Sam look more composed in this match than previous and Sam made far fewer errors and in contrast Rui looked less comfortable than usual. At 10-6 in the fourth, it looked like Sam was about to convert but there was a spirited come back from Rui, unfortunately for Rui he made an uncharacteristic error at 10-9 much to Sam’s relief preventing it from going to five.
Ben Coleman 3-0 Rory Stewart
The first game was crucial with Ben winning in in a tiebreak in 29 minutes. There were several stoppages with the referee under a bit of pressure from both players with several traffic issues. Both Ben and Rory displayed great court coverage but perhaps Ben’s experience after winning a tough first was the difference. Rory seemed more frustrated after the first and made some errors and rash decisions that allowed Ben to grow in to the match. Ben is keeping home interests alive, with the club looking forward to the clash between Ben and Sam. They have played twice before with Ben winning both but Sam is improving all the time and should be a real test for Ben.
It was another great evening of squash with the 3 and 4 seeds in the women’s event falling to Gina Kennedy and Georgina Adderley. Top seed Emily Whitlock and Kennedy looked in full control throughout their games but both scots Lisa Aitken and Adderley didn’t have it all their way before prevailing.
Anna Kimberley had chances to level the match against Adderley which would have provided an interesting 5th but unfortunately for Kimberley, she couldn’t take advantage of a 9-7 lead in the 4th. The crowd really got behind home favourite Grace Gear which really seemed to help her in the 3rd. However Aitken proved too strong finding several winners particularly on her forehand side.
As for the men’s, Sam Todd provided the only seeding upset squeezing past Sean Conroy 11-8 in the fifth. Todd came back from 2-1 down and had a healthy lead in the fifth before nearly letting it slip. Rory Stewart went quietly about his business and looked really impressive against Conor Sheen but will face a tough prospect in the semis again Ben Coleman who came through a tough 3-0 against training partner Tom Walsh in a high quality match enjoyed by a big crowd. Rui Soares and Josh Masters provided the club with a really entertaining match with some exceptional winners.
Looking forward to a great night of semi finals after a coaching clinic for the members with Adam Fuller and Paul Carter who run the clubs pro hub. The members will be hoping that both Ben and Rui win their semis to set up a Berko hub final.
Round One :
There were no seeding upsets in the men’s event on day one but there were some good matches with the match of day in the men’s event being Tom Walsh v Harry Falconer where Walsh came through in a well contested 3-1. 4 of the 8 players in the men’s draw train regularly at Berko but there are all drawn up against each other so will be very familiar with each other’s games in this evenings quarters.
There were two seeding upsets in the women’s event, Grace Gear overcoming Kace Bartley 3-1 with Grace having plenty of local support. Gina Kennedy also provided a seeding upset and continues her good run of form. Match of the day in the women’s event was Alison Thompson v Torrie Malik with the young English women narrowly losing out in the only match of the day that went to five.
The top seeds in both events looked very strong in their first round matches but are likely to be tested further in their quarter finals.
It’s been great to see so many of our juniors coming to watch the event and being inspired by so many of these players.