Masters Inter-County Finals -Ladies O 50s

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Once again the Kent o50s trio of Mandy Akin, Candy Wilton and Karen Hume found themselves making their way to Pontefract, for the (re-arranged due to snow) Inter- County Finals.

The event promised to be an exhibition of exciting squash with well over eighty players at the venue including ex professionals, current World, European, British Open and National champions amongst the players representing their respective counties.  Squash wise, the event didn’t disappoint.

Kent’s semi-final was against Herts, their opponents for the last 2 years at this stage. First up was Karen who won comfortably at no.3. She was followed by Mandy, who, playing an inspired Isobel Smith,  did well to take a win 3-1. The final match between the number 2 strings was a thrilling match, going to the wire, with Candy emerging the victor 15-13 in the 5th. Kent was through to the final 3-0.

The final was always going to be a close affair, with the Yorkshire team strengthened by a no.1 who wasn’t old enough to play in the original final back in March. Again Karen was first on court, this time to face a formidable opponent-the current World and European O60s champion, Julie Field. With a poor record against Julie, this was a tall order for Karen, especially playing on Julie’s home courts. However, playing some inspired squash, she was able to take the match 3-1.

Next on, with an equally difficult match was Mandy against ‘the baby’ of the ‘Yorks’ team and a former National Champion, Andrea Santamaria. Unfortunately for Mandy, Andrea, enjoying the luxury of her home courts, was on fine form and took the match 3-0.

So, to the final match and with the match poised at one all, Candy faced yet another former National Champion, Nicky Horne. Fighting all the way, Candy put up a great fight in a high quality game, but went down 1-3, 15/7 14/16 16/18 9/15.

Yorkshire were victorious, reversing last year’s result.

Kent U11s: National Finals Winners

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Kent under 11 boys marched to victory at the Inter Counties Finals in Nottingham last weekend. It proved to be third time lucky as the team had been runners-up for the last two years.

The competition was always going to be competitive as within the four teams making the finals, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Warwickshire and of course Kent, 5 players were currently ranked in the top six in the England Rankings.

Kent stormed past Gloucestershire winning all three matches. First up was Freddie Miles who had a very convincing win and won 3-0. Next up was Dylan Roberts versus Harry Bloomfield. This pitted the England’s current number 2 v England’s Number 3. This was a real yoyo battle that went to the full five games. Dylan won the final game 11-8. Jude Gibbins was up next and had a very conformable 3-0 victory. This took Kent through to the final for the third consecutive year, a great achievement in itself.

In the finals they had to play Warwickshire who had won the other semi-final against Hampshire 2-1.

Warwickshire were strong opposition. They had 3 top 20 ranked boys in the team and the current number 4 ranked boy playing at number 1 for them.

The finals were on the all glass show court, much to the boys delight. Again up first was Freddie Miles. Freddie played amazing squash and again stormed to a 3-0 victory against a boy current ranked way above him. This gave Kent the perfect start.

The number 1 seeds were next on and it saw Dylan Roberts current England number 2 against James Lee currently England’s number 4. James got off to a commanding start winning the first two games and leading the third 9-4. Dylan managed to save the game and the match by winning the game 12-10. Dylan then went on to take command and take the next game 11-1 and the final game 11-6. A great come back and a victory for Kent with a match to spare.

The result meant Kent were champions even before Jude Gibbins played. Again Jude played some very assured and quality squash coasting to a 3-0 win. The boys all performed amazing well under pressure and shows why many had them as favourites to win the final.

Well done Kent Squash and especially coach Steve Franks who has nurtured and developed all the boys from an early age. Congratulation, you are now National Final winners.

Paul Roberts

Ladies O50s

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Last Sunday saw the Kent ladies O50s team (les Dorrises) begin their quest to retain their national title won last year.

So far so good- one match played against Cambridgeshire and one victory duly recorded.

First on was captain Karen Hume, who nursing a flourishing cold, managed to record a 3/0 win over Rebecca Moore.  She was followed by number one string Mandy Akin, who despite having a swollen thumb following a fall from her bike, sustained victory over England international, Sarah Howlett, by the same score. Finally Candy Wilton, exhibiting all the flair and grace that we have come to expect from her, completed the hat trick of 3/0 victories for the team.

The second stage of the event will be held at Nuffield Health Bromley on Sunday November 26th, with Kent playing at 10 30am and 3pm and we look forward to seeing you there should you wish to come along and support.

Karen Hume

Success for Kent Masters in Norwich

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Kent was well represented in the finals of the first 2017/18 regional tournament- The East of England Masters held in Norwich last weekend.

Keeley Johnson won the Ladies O40s; Karen Hume won the Ladies O55s and Gordon McManus was victorious in the Mens O60s.

Mandy Akin and Nigel Belle were runners up in the Ladies 045/50 and Mens O75 respectively.

Karen Hume

Under 11 English Championship 2017

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The English U11 championships finished 4 June 2017. It was a good day for Kent:  Jude finished 9th and Dylan an amazing 2nd.

Dylan beat the first seed, Harry Bloomfield, 3-0 in the last 16, the 8th seed, Matthew Barkley, 3-2 in last 8 and the 4th seed, Sim-Basker, 3-1 in the semi-final.  Dylan lost, in the end, to the 2nd seed, Alex Broadbridge, 3-0 in the final.

Jude lost in the 1/4 final to Jake before going on on to finish 9th.

Report by Paul Roberts

Kent U11’s come second in country!!

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The Kent U11’s competed in the National U11 Festival at the National Squash Centre, Manchester on Saturday 8th April.

The 3-boy team of Jude Gibbins, Dylan Roberts and Ayaan Ratnayaka faced the best U11s in the country and faced some tough challenges throughout a long day of squash… nearly 12 hours!!

In the qualifying stage, they had to face Norfolk, Sussex 2 and Warwickshire 1 to make it to the semi-finals.
After beating Norfolk and Sussex 2 without dropping a game it was set up for a tense match against Warwickshire to see who could win the box. Ayaan fought hard to set up the team but lost out on a tie break to his opponent but Jude and Dylan showed why they have moved up the ESR rankings recently to beat the 1 and 2 strings.

Semi-final against the favourites, Essex, who fielded three top 12 ESR ranked juniors!!
A tough match to make it to the final. Ayaan, who improved with every match in the tournament made it difficult for his opponent ranked 90 places higher than him but narrowly lost leaving it again to Jude and Dylan. Jude set up the match by meeting the tournament’s top seed 2 – 1 leaving Dylan to handle the pressure of steering Kent to the Final. No problem!! Dylan proved cool under pressure seeing off his opponent 2 – 0 and Kent was in the Final!!!

The Final… a repeat of last year. .Sussex!!
Again, a determined performance by Ayaan went cruelly unrewarded as he lost 2 – 0 and thus 1 – 0 to our neighbours. Jude fought hard and showed maturity well above his years to be looking to control the match in the 3rd game but disaster struck along with his opponents racket which put him off his stride and on the deck. After returning to the match his opponent had the edge and so lost 2 -1. Dylan showed what could have been as gave a master class of squash to beat his opponent 2 – 0 and rounding off a 100% performance in the tournament not losing a match.

A wonderful team performance from both juniors and parents in ability, attitude and dedication to the cause, the future looks good for Kent. Special mention should go Ayaan and his parents who cut short their holiday in Sri Lanka so that he could play and returned Sunday to continue the break.

Steve Franks

KENT LADIES BAG THE DOUBLE!

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Kent Ladies O 50 team today retained their county title in Pontefract this weekend, emulating their performance as part of the O40 team two weeks ago. The team beat Herts 3/0 in the semi final and then faced Yorkshire in a re-run of last year’s final (only this time Yorkshire had a new number one).

First on was the captain, Karen Hume, who narrowly missed out on beating Yorkshire’s Paula Arrowsmith for the first time 12- 15 in the fifth, after 58 minutes of keenly contested squash.

Next on was Mandy Akin at no.1 string, who had the added pressure of having to win in order to give the team a fighting chance of the title. She managed to secure victory in the fifth, in a tightly competitive match.

With the match standing at one all, it was down to number 2, Candy Wilton, to save the day. Having lost the first game, Candy settled down, found her shots and took the next three games: sweet victory against Yorkshire on their home territory.

Thanks must also go to Becky Czuczman who helped the team get to the finals weekend and to whom we wish a speedy recovery.

Karen Hume

MO65 Inter Counties Stage 2. Kent beat Hampshire!

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Robert Smith,Ken Randall,Peter Young

It was a shame that there were only 2 teams competing in this division for Stage 2 of the O65 Inter County Tournament.

Robert Smith at No.3 was first on and having lost the first game 11/15, received a good talking to from wife Karen, then went 2/1 up! A chance in the 4th at 14/14 to win the match was not to be and the 5th went to the wire. It’s not often one can say honestly ‘we was robbed’ but poor marking decisions upset Robert in the last few points and he lost 16/18.

No.1 star Ken Randall, next on had to win for Kent to stay in the match. At 0/1 down things were not looking good but then some solid, excellent, positive play by Ken ensured he won the next 3 games. So the match finely tuned at 1/1.

So it was left to Peter Young at No.2 to notch up a victory for Kent. His opponent, Chris Wilson, has a formidable pedigree and having lost the first to him 7/15, it all seemed an uphill struggle for Peter. But with dogged determination (and some again poor marking decisions which goaded him into fierce action!) the match was levelled at 2/2 and so this match also went to the wire. 14/14 in the 5th and it was anybody’s game. Supporters and players on both sides were now on the edge of their seats, hearts pounding, nerves shattering and finger nails diminishing fast!

So it was with much relief all round, especially for Kent, when Peter eventually triumphed 17/15!

So a win for Kent 2/1

Detailed results:

HAMPSHIRE KENT

1.Joe Flaherty lost to Ken Randall 1/3    15/10,7/15,10/15,13/15.

2.Chris Wilson lost to Peter Young 2/3    15/7,12/15,15/10,7/15,15/17.

3.Barry Downer beat Robert Smith 3/2    15/11,6/15,7/15,16/14,18/16.

Nigel Belle