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LILLESHALL GRADED OPEN 2013 - THE STORY

23-08-13

The Lilleshall Sports Centre hosted its inaugural Open squash (graded) competition a couple of weekends ago organised by Sam Hodgkins. It was well attended by both players and spectators with some enjoyable and competitive matches.

A number of Lilleshall Squash club members took part and appeared to really enjoy the atmosphere and quickly got stuck in to some closely fought matches.

Sam has provided a write up of the weekend with some photos.

A Grade

The men's final of the a grade saw the number 1 seed Karim Ali Fathi up against Oliver Mapp. Karim had come through to the final unscathed, having not dropped a game or been really tested so far. Oliver, on the other hand, came through a tough, physical encounter with Oliver Rawlins (who had taken out the number 2 seed in the quarters) in the semis the day before, which he narrowly won 11-9 in the fifth.

The final was expected to be a similar story for Karim (the world ranked number 47-PSA Rankings July 2013) with another straight games victory. Although, while Karim did win 3-0, he was forced to play very well by an improving Oliver Mapp. Oliver managed to last longer than Karim's previous opponents, and never game him an easy rally.

Oliver will take heart from his performance, as he looks to join the PSA himself in the very near future.

Karim was simply too good overall. A string of classy performances led him to win the title, while blessing the Shropshire crowd with a calibre of top quality squash we rarely get to see in the area.

Click photo to expand

B Grade

The B Grade saw the largest number of entries, and was the only event to have both the semis and final on the Sunday.

The first men's semi saw Number 1 seed John Parkes, yet to drop a game, up against similarly named, but unrelated, Nick Parks. John was nearly thirty years older than Nick, but you wouldn't have known it the way John covered the court. The first two games proved to be crucial, with John taking both from 9-9 to win 11-9 11-9. The match had been very physical and the disappointment of losing both games seemed obvious in the third as John stormed through it from the midpoint.

The second semi final saw the number 2 seed Carl Lace up against Matt Inglis. The first game set the standard for the match, with a blistering pace and gut wrenching rallies. Carl managed to take it, but it did cost him a large physical effort. This seemed to tell more obviously towards the end of the second game, as Matt took control of the rallies and started to punish Carl and work him mercilessly around the court. This was the story for the remainder of the match, and Matt managed to carve out a 3-1 victory.

The set the stage for a great looking final, as John once again would attempt to hold off a much younger player. Like the two semi finals, the match started with long testing rallies, with all four corners of the court being explored at a relentless pace. John was controlling the T for the most-part, but Matt seemed happy to attack from the back. It worked well in the start, as Matt took a 1-0 lead and led 8-7 in the second. John, sensing this was a crucial stage, pushed hard and gave it everything to take that second. He then went on to storm through the second game, and it looked like Matt was starting to tire. Although, Matt managed to find some extra energy from somewhere, and we were right back into a real battle. Again, Matt was happy to give John the T, and resolved to attack from the back of the court. At about 9-9 we started to see fatigue again on Matt's face, and even though he would save two match balls, John converted on his third attempt to win after about an hour's play.

John was a deserved winner, but like Olly in the A Grade, Matt will take a lot from this performance.

Also, local Lilleshall junior Luke Bywater gave the home crowd something to cheer about when he won the Plate against Shrewsbury's Guy Rutter, coming back from the brink at 2-0 down to take it 3-2.

C Grade

It was a family affair all round in the C Grade, as not only the Final, but also the Plate Final was to be contested by members of the same family.

The Plate final saw brothers Andy and Thomas Hepworth face off, and it was the younger Hepworth, Andy, who won the match, and claimed bragging rights.

The Main final saw father versus son, as Stephen Hill took on his own son John. It was a tense match, as John smelled the chance to claim his first tournament win against his father, who had beaten him only weeks ago in another event. It went to a fifth game and, with adrenalin flowing, it seemed nothing could stop John, as he seemed to start picking every ball up and returning it with increasing interest. He stormed through the fifth, and won 3-2.

 

 

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Club Chairman: 01952 812655

Club Treasurer: 01952 255885

Email: info@lilleshallsquash.co.uk


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