Men & Women $3k PSA Challengers, 05-07 Nov, Exeter, England
 Alison Thomson (Sco) 3-0  Katie Malliff (Eng) 15-13, 11-7, 11-6 (46m)
 Tom Walsh (Eng) 3-2  Simon Herbert (Eng) 4-11, 11-2, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6 (70m)
Alison Thomson 3-0 Katie Maliff : Another title for Thomson!
The first game was very nip-tuck, with both players just looking to try and settle in to the match, finding their lengths and trying to move the ball around without making mistakes. It was virtually point for point all the way through with both players having game balls, but Thomson kept her head and closed it out.
The second and third games were a different story. While Maliff was always in the game and played some quality stuff, Thomson kept a slender lead throughout, converting opportunities well at the back end of each game to take the title.
A great weekend’s effort from Thomson and brilliant to see the U19 Maliff coming through the draw so well. Plenty more wins store from the youngster going forward!
Tom Walsh 3-2 Simon Herbert : Walsh gets his first PSA title!
The first two games of the match were seesaw affairs, with both players looking to find their rhythm and control of a quick bouncy ball. Herbert’s positive hard low hitting taking the first, but then Walsh ran through the second in one hand after going 0/2 down. Really controlling his line nicely and putting Herbert under pressure.
After that both players settled into the match, finding consistent lines and length and both looking to press up and hunt across the middle. Points mainly coming from pressured errors or from well worked rallies, rather than outright winners.
Walsh getting a better run of points toward the end of the 3rd, Herbert to the end of the 4th.
The 5th game was tight at the start to 3/3, however from there Walsh upped the intensity of his hitting, taking the ball early and at pace and really stretching Herbert around the court well, causing him to make some forced errors and concede some strokes. This game him a 6/3 lead and from here the players went virtually point to point, with Walsh always a couple ahead, eventually seeing the game out 11/6 after 70 minutes of hard fought high intensity Squash.
A fantastic match, massively appreciated by the packed out crowd at the club who haven’t seen quality Squash at that level for a number of years.
Congratulations to Tom for taking his first PSA Tour Title, thoroughly deserved. Hard luck to Simon, who seems to be improving every time I see him at a PSA, and will continue to fly up the rankings over this next period.
Thanks to everyone who tuned into the live streaming on Twitter and Facebook over the weekend, most of the matches will be uploaded to our “Squash Events at Exeter Golf and Country Club” YouTube channel to be watched back at your leisure!
Thanks to all of our tournament sponsors, without who this couldn’t have happened at all, also to the PSA, whose tournament grant enabled us to run both a Men’s and a Ladies $3k at full prize money.
A great first full PSA at the club and we look forward to hosting more in the near future!
Semi-Finals, Mike Harris reports
Alison Thomson 3-2 Rana Ismail
What a game! Fantastic battle and demonstration of varied high pace Squash from the two players. Ismail starting the first two games well, using the harder new ball to her advantage with some powerful hitting, taking any opportunity that Thomson gave her around the middle of the court to attack with pace. Thomson frustrated to not convert an 8/4 lead in the second.
The third was a seesaw game with Ismail going to a 9/4 lead herself, before Thomson dragged it back to 9/9. Then Ismail got to match ball but after a couple of brutal rallies Thomson squeezed through 12/10 to much fist pumping.
From then on it was a completely different story. As the ball softened a bit, Thomson gained far more control of the T and her pace variation mixed in with her improving and clinical short game exposed Ismail’s moment. Also forcing a number of errors from her opponent. Thomson managing to finish the 5th game strongly.
A brilliant match and a rather relieved Ally T.
Simon Herbert 3-0 Sam Buckley
This was a good match up between the flair and expansive play of Herbert and the strong basics and physicality of Buckley.
Herbert once again hitting his straps from the get go, taking a quick lead in the first and closing it out despite a few random errors.
Buckley grew into the match better as it went on, managing to hit the back corners of the court well and forcing errors and loose play from Herbert throughout the second and third. However, the talented English youngster always managed to keep his winner count under the error count throughout, and did enough at the back end of a tight 3rd game to see it through and make it to the final.
Katie Maliff 3-0 Kace Bartley
Again an interesting match up between the creativity and flair of Bartley and the solid structure and movement of Maliff.
This time however Maliff was relentless in the quality of her straight hitting and short game, hunting anything loose that Bartley gave her. In the first two games Bartley didn’t do enough to break through the Maliff wall and was forced into making too many errors and opening the court up too early.
At the start of the third game Bartley dug in far better to 4/4, working the ball around with higher percentage play and putting Maliff under more pressure than before. However, Maliff continued to keep hitting the corners well and kept the intensity up to finish well 3/0.
Tom Walsh 3-1 James Peach
Battle of the splendid beards. (James winning on that front, sorry Tom.) Both players got through their quarter final matches without too much damage done (sadly from my POV) so this promised to be a tight fixture.
Tom started out really well, playing at high tempo and twisting and turning James, shooting to a 7/0 lead. James managed to find his short game though, shooting off several winners to drag himself back into it. Tom however managed to maintain his consistency and force errors from James under pressure, taking the first.
The second was more even at the start, going toe to toe for most of the first half, before a series of errors under pressure from James gave Tom the game.
James managed to control his error count better in the 3rd and managed to get in front of James more consistently throughout. While the game was still tight all the way through, James managed to save two match balls at the end and reel off a couple of high quality rallies to get one back.
Tom regrouped after the frustration of the end of the 3rd, found his lines and control of the T again, and took a firm hold at the start of the 4th, getting an early lead. James couldn’t work his way through and instead started making mistakes again, eventually meaning Tom took the last game relatively comfortably in the end.
Looking forward to the finals tomorrow with what looks like two very evenly matched line ups! Matches will be streamed on Facebook from 3.30pm onwards!
Quarter-Finals, Mike Harris reports
Sam Buckley 3-2 Filip Jarota
Nice to get a schedule ruining match on first isn’t it… This was always going to be a high intensity physical match between two strong players and both of them came out playing at a good pace. Touch and go all the way through but Buckley squeezed the first with a couple of nice holds & variations to upset Jarota’s movement. There was more variation of pace and height from both players in the second, both stretching the play well. Jarota using better variations taking the ball in short to break up Buckley’s movement, and from a close start, raced away at the back end of the game.
Tight start to the third to 3/3 then some quality positive play and hunting around the middle from Buckley took him 7/3 up. However Jarota kept calm and worked his way back into the game patiently, with an exceptional pick up at the end to sneak it 11/8.
The fourth was again touch and go point for point, but this time Buckley getting the run of points at the back end with some quality short hitting to see it out. Both players at this point looking equally capable of taking the 5th. Buckley got a great start going 6/1 up, and with the ball softening a bit his short game continued to be the difference between the two at this stage. Despite a mini come back from Jarota and a few errors from Buckley, the Irish gentle (?) giant took it 3/2. A high quality battle.
Alison Thomson 3-0 Kiera Marshall
Thomson has been on good form on the tour at the moment and came out of the blocks well, hitting her lines positively and with good depth. Marshall not really able to get in front consistently enough to get continuous pressure. The second game was tighter than perhaps the score suggested, with some really nice exchanges and variety from both players. However Thomson’s court coverage and ability to pick off any half chances Marshall gave her, did the business. Marshall did her best to try and change things up in the 3rd but went a bit too far the wrong way and through a few mistakes and loose hitting gave Thomson an early lead which she didn’t relinquish, taking the match 3/0.
Simon Herbert 3-1 Theis Houlberg
Ginger lunatic Herbert played some fantastic aggressive attacking Squash straight from the start, taking the first very quickly with Houlberg not finding an answer. However with every ying there must be a yang and some loose hitting at the start of the second made the game much more open for Houlberg to start getting some more control. Herbert found his percentages again after the start and along with some superb speed and dynamic movement to get some of Houlberg’s attacks, took the second game with Houlberg not really able to find an answer. Herbert’s radar went AWOL a bit in the 3rd and Houlberg was able to capitalise and get in front and take it. However once again the Herbert hard drive kicked in and he regained control in the 4th and went through to the semis!
Rana Ismail 3-0 Polly Clark
Ismail started off using her power really well again, hitting the back corners hard and stretching Clark well. Clark relying on a couple of loose shots to get in front and attack. Clark started much better in the second, hitting with more purpose and variations to get her on the T and on top of the rallies. She used height nicely to negate the pace that Ismail was looking to maintain. However Ismail adapted well and through the use of some good boats and different angles was able to see the second game through. The third was closer again with some really good exchanges but Ismail had enough in the weapons locker to see it through.
Kace Bartley 3-0 Emma Bartley
The battle to see who is the Bartley-est Bartley! Unfortunately I was on court myself at the time so cannot pass judgment but Kace got the job done in a tight 3/0.
Tom Walsh 3-0 Mike Harris
I wish I could write you a tale of the dashing tournament organiser who overcame the odds to defeat the number 1 seed in a battle to end all battles of Squash at its finest. Sadly I can’t. It’s was 3/0 to Walsh who was far sharper and more clinical than I. Certainly looking in good form at the moment and will be interesting to see how the next round goes!
Katie Maliff 3-0 Katriona Allen
Again I didn’t get to see this one because I was marking Peach/Dadds but a big upset win here for Maliff who by all accounts was clinical in seeing it through 3/0.
James Peach 3-0 Rob Dadds
Peach is a regular at EGCC having played many of our satellite events in the past so he settled into the game quickly. However Dadds played some brilliant precise lines, restricting the natural attacking game of Peach, leading to a very close game through to 9/9, from where Peach just snuck it.
After that however it was a bit more one way traffic, despite some close rally exchanges Peach was attacking brilliantly from all over the court and kept being the one to either hit the winning shot, or be the one to make the mistake. Unfortunately for Dadds the winners came through on top and Peach got off court in style and through to the Semis unscathed!
Round One, Mike Harris reports
Some great games to start the event and a few seeding upsets along the way. Quarter Finals will start from 11am tomorrow and will be streamed via Facebook & Twitter!
Ali Thompson 3-0 Tessa Harris
Tessa was a late stand in due to a couple of drop outs the day before the event, so got stitched up by her husband (tournament organiser) and put against top seed Ali. They had a good run out with Tessa’s double handed backhand providing some interesting variations and a few “home advantage” back wall nicks. Thanks to Ali for not being harsh and putting me in the garden shed for the night…
Sam Buckley 3-0 Jordan Warne
First time I’ve seen Sam play and was impressed with his technique and general game structure. Jordan started a bit slow in the first game, but Sam was solid and clinical with his finishing and hands around the T. The second game was much tighter but Sam once again got a slight lead half way and didn’t let go. Jordan in the 3rd tried to mix up his play with more angles and pace variations, but Sam controlled his lines really well and saw the match out.
James Peach 3-0 Josh Attwell
Attwell had a tough run up to this event having only just got over from having COVID recently. Peach looked solid from the start, taking a large early lead in the first game and not letting it slip. Attwell started much better in the 2nd with his short game being more clinical, however Peach still had too much in the locker toward the back end and closed the 2nd and 3rd games out in clinical fashion.
Kiera Marshalln 3-0 Rosie Kirsch
Both players came out at a high pace, pushing up high on the T and hunting well. Rosie just making a few more errors than Kiera in the 1st. Similar story in the 2nd with Kiera moving the ball around nicely and while Rosie competed well through the game the error count was just a bit too high. Better start in the 3rd for Rosie to got to 6/3 up, however Kiera upped the pace and hit a better width and length to force errors once more. Once she got back to 6/6 it was tight but Kiera saw it through to take the win.
Rob Dadds 3-1 Tobias Weggen
Big tall guy match! Both players looked from the start to push high up on the T and use their reach. Some nice variations of height and pace down the lines all the way through the match and some great open court exchanges as rallies progressed. Tobias snuck a tight 1st game but Dadds came roaring back in the second with some great positive attacking play. Similarly in the 3rd game the play started to open up a bit more which suited Dadds who continued to attack well and after a tight opening, opened up a lead and finished well. Dadds got a good start in the 4th but then a slip from Weggen meant he had to drop out with a hamstring issue unfortunately. A real shame in a fairly played open game.
Theis Houlberg 3-0 Quint Mandil
Theis started solidly with Quint making too many unforced errors. Despite a good come back from 6/2 down to 8/8 Theis managed to close the game out. The play in the 2nd game was much more measured by both players, with better pace and height variations from both. Nip and tuck all the way through with Theis just doing enough at the end to close it out. Some really nice height usage (lovely high ceilings here) from Theis in the 3rd broke up Quint’s rhythm and gave him a big 8/1 lead. From there despite some good attacking play from Mandil he was able to finish it 11/6.
Rana Ismail 3-0 Katie Cox
Rana was on it from the start, not giving Katie any time to build a rhythm or settle. Good high intensity high pace play. Rana got a good start in the 2nd as well with a 9/2 lead, despite Katie starting to work her way back in with some good short variations she couldn’t get too much change out of her. 11/5 to Rana. The 3rd was tighter at the start to 3/3, but then Rana’s power hitting broke her through Katie’s defenses and she raced through to take the final game 11/4.
Kace Bartley 3-0 Phoebe Colman
Kace has a really nice relaxed style of play and great ball skill. Some fantastic soft hands and ball control gave her an early 7/0 lead. Phoebe tried to work her way into the game but Kace’s smooth operating couldn’t be broken down. Similar set up in the 2nd and 3rd with Phoebe unable to get through Kace’s control of the T and the pace of the game.
Tom Walsh 3-0 Martin Ross
Both players like to play at a high tempo with a high T position so this lead to some fast paced exchanges down the backhand line in particular. Tight all the way through but Walsh taking it just. 2nd game much more one sided, while the rallies were tight Walsh just able to work the opening and finish the rally better than Ross. Similar stuff with Walsh looking increasingly imperious and in control. Clinical finish to the match.
Polly Clark 3-1 Olivia Besant
Slower paced first game than a couple of the previous matches. Both players using different heights and widths nicely in this left vs right hand battle. Olivia using some good angles and boasts from a variety of positions to break Polly’s play up, but Polly was just solid enough to sneak the 1st. Very similar second game, but this time Olivia finding the winners on the volley at the right time to see it through. After that Polly injected some more pace into her play, hitting lower and harder to the back, taking Olivia’s volley away from her and stretching the play more. This did the job as she was able to take the 3rd & 4th in a similarly positive fashion.
Katie Maliff 3-0 Tashy Baker
Maliff started well with her straight lines and clinical balk hunting around the mid court being particularly effective. Baker not quite able to get into any areas of the court to dominate play. Baker got into the second game much better, hitting the corners of the court more consistently, going toe to toe with Maliff through the start to 5/6. However Maliff regained the T from there, and rolled off a series of points, finishing with a splendid cross court nick on the backhand side to go 2 up. From there Maliff was in control through the 3rd game and while Baker played some great Squash she couldn’t break her down.
Filip Jarota 3-1 Hasnaat Farooqi
Probably match of the day this one. Another right vs left hand battle, Jarota keeping the tempo high and switching the play side to side well. Farooqi kept in the game well with some good ball skill but it always seemed to be Jarota in control of the T & rally. Farooqi played some great varied pace and attacking squash in the second, taking Jarota off the T and getting himself in front to take a tight second. The third was very close, Farooqi just in the wrong side of a few errors, under intense pace pressure from Jarota hunting the ball constantly. The fourth was tight through to the mid point where Jarota finally managed to get a lead away from Farooqi and finished off a great match 11/6.
Katriona Allen 3-0 Jem Morris
I missed this one as I was desperately in need of caffeine. Word on the street was that it was a good game but Allen’s PSA experience and quality shone through. Good effort from Morris who was another very late call up due to a drop out!
Emma Bartley 3-0 Catherine Holland
Emma’s height and reach proved to be hard for Catherine to break down, controlling the T really well and not allowing Catherine to get in front. There were some really good exchanges and variations of angles from both players but Catherine couldn’t do enough to break through Emma’s reach and control of the centre of the court.
Simon Herbert 3-0 Jack Turney
A very open game between the two English players, both looking to attack whenever the chance presented itself, leading to some exciting fast paced exchanges. I can’t say more than that as I had to get my creaking body ready for my match.
Mike Harris 3-1 Rohan Mandil
Mandil came out at a fast pace, using the bouncy new ball to twist and turn Harris well at the start. However once Harris got moving and started to be able got vary the pace of his hitting he was able to close out the first. After that it was a bit of a topsy turvy affair, with Harris able to continue mixing the pace well to gain control of the T, but also making a lot of mistakes in the 3rd game to give Mandil some cheap points. In the end however he managed to do enough to see the game through 3/1.