SENIOR COUNTY CLOSED 2008.
This years county closed returned to Tynemouth squash club on weekend 18th/19th and 20th of January. With 51 mens entries and 15 ladies the entry was high and there were an A/B and C events for the men and a 16 draw for the ladies.
Dave Barnett was number 1 seed and favourite to defend his title with last years losing finalist Paul Lord as number 2 seed. The first round all went to seedings with the only close match between 5/8 seed Liam Gutcher being pushed all the way by fast improving junior Richard Shellam, Gutcher won 3-2.
Quarter-finals played on sat morning, Barnett beat a tired Gutcher 3-0, Lord comfortably beat Craig Forsyth 3-0, 3 seed Paul Millington was beaten in a long match by Tynemouth team mate Nick Pugsley 3-2 and Richard Elliott beat his Westoe team mate David Elsender 3-1 to set up a semi with Barnett.
In the semis Barnett and Lord comfortably progressed to the expected final beating Elliott and Pugsley respectively. The final was, like the previous year a long tough match. Lord started strongest playing more accurate squash winning the first 9/5, Barnett started well in the second with some long tough rallies getting a early lead and winning it 9/5. Lord took control of the third leading 6-1 before after a couple of tough rallies he began to tire and Barnett fought back to 8-7 up before Lord held his nerve to take it 10/8. Lord by then was tired and in both the fourth and fifth didn’t have much resistance as Barnett won 9/2 and 9/1 to take his 5th county title.
Plate event was won by Jesmond’s Nick Hale beating Tynemouth’s James Wilson 3-0 in the final.
Kimberley Hay was the favourite this year after losing in the final last year. Emma Barnett was seeded second. Both top seeds had never been county champion before so a new champion was guaranteed.
Hay had a bye in the first round , again all seeds progressed reasonably comfortably to the quarters on the saturday evening. Hay played fellow junior Anna Oswald and won 3-0, Barnett beat Anna’s sister Sarah also 3-0. Karen Heron travelled up to play from Coventry and beat Eleanor Bowles to make the semi and Hannah Cliff completed the semi line up beating fellow Tynemouth player Dawn Ward in a very close 3-1.
The semis were played on Sunday morning, Hay played Heron , Heron played very well winning the first and almost the second before Hay took control winning 3-1 and making her second final. Barnett played very well to beat Cliff 3-0 and set up the expected final.
Hay started very well opening up a 8-2 lead in the first game before Barnett settled in to her game and came back to lead 9-8, Hay kept her nerve to take the game 10/9. The second wasn’t so close Hay winning it 9/4 and looking strong. Barnett then started to play her best squash being positive and taking the game to her opponent and was rewarded winning the third and fourth 9/3. Barnett continued in the fifth leading 4-0 before Hay calmly started her fight back she didn’t seem fazed by being behind and played some controlled squash to get a lead and never let it go taking the game 9/6. At 16 years old Hay won her first senior title a great achievement.
Plate was won by Michelle Robertson beating Nicky Dobson.
The B final was an ‘old’ versus ‘young’ affair. 16 year old Dan Ward played previous County Champion John Evans who has started to play again after 15 years off! Experience won through on this occasion with Evans winning 3-0, Ward however played well and will be back for revenge next year.
Plate was won by another junior Christian Beck who beat Northumbria uni student Dave White 3-1.
In this final it was the ‘junior’ who beat the ‘senior’. 14 year old Sean Millington son of previous County Champion Paul beat Andy King in a very close final. Millington eventually won 10/8 in the fifth.
Plate was won by Niel Gibson beating Tom Gifford.
A big thank you to Clive Lucas tournament organiser, Derek Collins and Chris Park who helped event to run so smoothly.