University of Warwick Open : Top seed Buckley wins

Final : Top seed Buckley takes the spoils

[1] Sam Buckley (Irl) 3-1 [5] Sam Osborne-Wylde (Eng) 11-8, 11-2, 12-14, 11-7 (61m)

Except for Miles Jenkins, who gave Sam OW a tough match yesterday, these two had breezed through. This was therefore an eagerly anticipated match. Could Osborne Wylde knock Buckley out of his rhythm? The answer was quick to come. Osborne-Wylde started the match firing, repeating his clinical backhand attacking form that helped him edge the semi-final yesterday. Sharp volley and counter drops. But as the game settled, Buckley made a comeback, extending the rallies and forcing some Osborne Wylde errors. Final score 11-8 Buckley, spinning his web.

Buckley started off strongly, dominating all throughout the second game with Osborne-Wylde struggling to keep in the game. Osborne-Wylde also looked reserved on some of his lunges which could be due to the severe blistering to picked up during his semi-final match against Miles Jenkins, and at this stage the result looked like a formality.

Despite being 2-0 down, Osborne-Wylde started the 3rd with a spring in his step – reminiscent of his form throughout the tournament. As it went on, you could see he was struggling physically, but he would not lie down, pulling off some simply remarkable retrievals. The game was neck and neck all throughout with Osborne-Wylde reaching game ball first, but then found himself match ball down. Buckley dominated the rally from start to finish, well, all but the last winning cross court drop from O-W and not before O-W had had to get the dive out to stay in the match. Quite simply without a shadow of a doubt the rally of the tournament, saved for Championship ball. Not to waste the monumental effort he put in, he managed, somehow, to pull through to win 14-12, and keep himself in the match.

The fourth game saw some extremely high quality squash from both, but the physicality of the rallies, coupled with the accuracy of Buckley meant the injured Osborne-Wylde struggled to keep up. He fought every single rally, and the result was in doubt right up to the final stroke. The guttural roar from Buckley when the stroke decision was announced, and the phenomenal effort from the other Sam to take this match so far, just shows what it means to these players. 3-1, and a first tour win for Sam Buckley. Surely two future stars of the tour on show.

Semi-Finals : Two Sams set to contest title-decider

[1] Sam Buckley (Irl)  3-0 [7] Heston Malik (Eng)   11-5, 11-5, 11-8 (40m)
[5] Sam Osborne-Wylde (Eng) 3-1 [2] Miles Jenkins (Eng)   11-9, 11-13, 11-5, 12-10 (69m)

Business as usual for Buckley in the first game. Back In the groove, making solid shot selections and keeping the ball very, very tight with immaculate length.

Second game and the frustration was starting to get the better of Malik. He had to try something to knock his opponent out of his rhythm but whatever he tried it didn’t work.

Indeed, he threw everything at him at the end of game 2, and there were some stunning rallies but Buckley still won most of them.

If I thought the 3rd would be one way traffic, I was very wrong. Surely he was out of ideas and energy? No. All credit to Malik, he pushed Buckley all the way, actually for the 1st time this week making him struggle to find his strangling length. A crucial unecessary error from a cross court drop from the back at 8-7 up, proved crucial and from there Buckley ran straight through.

The second semi had a solid start from both players, trading points in some lengthy rallies before Osborne-Wylde stole the first game 11-9 with some clinical drops and court craft.

The second game saw an increase in intensity and hard hitting from Jenkins, which was neutralised well by Osborne-Wylde. The game went on and on and lasted 18 minutes, but not attritional squash – far from it. In the end, the accuracy of Jenkins prevailed with him clinching the game 13-11, game on!

Both players looked to start the third game with a bang, and they did not disappoint. Osborne-Wylde darted off to an 8-3 lead, but the game was not won yet. Jenkins didn’t let the game die easily and ensured he put some more work into Sam’s legs, before the game ended 11-5.

The 4th followed a similar pattern with Sam controlling the early part of the game, before possibly seeing the finish line and losing the structure to his rallies somewhat. 8-4, and 10-8 leads gone in a flash, before some tight refereeing decisions saw him over the line. A slightly disappointing finish to a great match between two very clean players. Hats off to all 4 players this evening showing how our story can be played, both physically and in spirit.

The two Sams to face off in the final.

Day TWO : Quarter-Finals

[1] Sam Buckley (Irl) 3-0 [8] Lewis Anderson (Eng) 11-1, 13-11, 11-4 (29m)
[7] Heston Malik (Eng) 3-1 [3] Lewis Doughty (Eng)   11-13, 11-5, 11-6, 11-4 (58m)
[5] Sam Osborne-Wylde (Eng)  3-0 [4] Anthony Rogal (Eng)  11-7, 11-6, 11-4 (25m)
[2] Miles Jenkins (Eng) 3-0 [6] Rory Richmond (Sco)  11-4, 11-4, 11-4 (26m)

Sam Buckley played a practically perfect opening game. I’m sure Lewis wasn’t happy with his game, but it’s not that he was bad, just Buckley was controlled, clinical and error free. 11-1.

Anderson was 10-7 down in the second, staring down the barrel, then did incredibly well to keep himself in the match, as 2-0 always seemed like it would be tough comeback. But having won 4 points in a row with some brave shot-making, a couple of rash shots meant Buckley took that game too. And that was that. The 3rd similar to the 1st, and Buckley was through in 3.

There’s more than a hint of nominative determinism with Lewis Doughty – he’s the definition of his name – brave and persistent (I looked it up). A 20 min first game with him winning it is probably exactly what he had in mind, and it’s what he delivered.

Heston Malik came back strongly though, with the ball getting a little softer his short game paying dividends and largely being in front of his opponent for the 2nd game. It was a tough 3rd too, up until half way through, then Malik eased, and then accelerated away. Malik had more and more control of the rallies in the 4th and the match finished just shy of an hour, with Malik able to control the T.

For the second day in a row Sam Osborne-Wylde just had too much pace and intensity for his opponent to live with, wrapping up another quick fire win in just 25 minutes. Rogal just not able to lay a glove on him.

After a perfect first rally from Richmond, finished with a lovely tight forehand short volley, the final match followed a similar pattern to the previous match but in Miles Jenkin’s favour. Jenkins had too much control for Rory Richmond, who was not able to wrestle Jenkins from the T, who from there exerted his own kind of pressure on his younger opponent. It was nice to see Jenkins and Richmond chatting about the match after and words of wisdom being passed on to the next generation. Hopefully all Scots will be supporting England in the football on Tuesday in a similarly neighbourly way J

Day One : Top eight seeds through to the quarters

Play in the inaugural University of Warwick Open got underway today with a commanding performance from top seed Sam Buckley. Playing against home hope and senior Belgian International Nathan Masset, he hit a consistent length which Masset lived with for the start of each game, indeed playing some really nice rallies of his own, but ultimately he couldn’t break down.

In both games the scores were even to 4s, or 5s, but then Buckley pulled away. The third was then a formality, and a marker has been laid down to the rest of the field. Buckley 11-5, 11-4, 11-0.

Bailey Malik took the 1st game against Lewis Anderson in a frenetic shot-fest, but after a nip and tuck 2nd game, couldn’t quite match his slightly more experienced compatriot, losing 11-7, 13-11, 7-11, 7-11.

Michael Creaven gave Heston Malik a scare in the third set going 9-8 up, but other than that Malik was largely untroubled in his match winning 11-5, 11-5, 11-9.

Rob Thirst was carrying an injury, went through the formality of hitting a few serve returns but was clearly not fit to play and retired shortly into the second game against Anthony Rogal having not scored a point.

It took a while for Lewis Doughty to break down Tayne Turnock, but that he did, after losing a tightish first game, he’d done the hard work and slowly ground down the spirited Turnock, running out a fairly comfortable winner in the end winner in the end, 6-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-4.

Sam Osborne-Wylde looked razor sharp, and just too fast for Andrew Glen, who couldn’t get near him. He looks like the player most likely to do damage to the higher seeds. Osborne Wylde 11-3, 11-2, 11-4.

Miles Jenkins will probably be glad of being pushed just a bit by a spirited display from Jamie Carmichael who asked a few questions of the no. 2 seed, of course jenkins had all the answers on this occasion, winning 6, 6 and 4.

The last match on, between Rory Richmond and Amaad Fareed, was by far the most contested and contentious with way too many decisions, as announced by the referee on occasion. Fareed showing deceptively good racket skills, in both senses, but not wanting to play the ball or clear much either. One wonders that if he played the ball as much as the man, whether the result may have been more favourable for him, as he certainly displayed some great shots. Richmond keeping his cool, just, to run out a 3-2 winner. 10-12, 11-8, 13-15, 11-8, 11-3.