Six teams comprising of three men and two ladies recently attended this year’s CSSC Team Squash Event held in Nottingham on the 5th and 6th February 2016. Last year’s winners HASSRA had returned to defend their Title and repeat their impressive previous year’s win. Standing in their way was opposition from a new look Defence Team (DSRA), Revenue and Customs (RCSL), Land Registry, North West and a newly formed London Composite Team.

Winning Team - London Composite

The initial competition was formatted into 2 Round Robin Events with 3 teams in each group. The top 2 teams in each Group would progress into the Semi Final whilst the 3rd placed teams would play in the Plate Final.

In Group “A” HASSRA got their campaign off to a fine start with a 4-1 victory over North West. North West’s only winner was Paul Lane coming back from 2 games down to defeat HASSRA’s experienced Chris Beldon in the 5th game 15/10 ! North West’s fortune however looked to be improving in their next match when facing the new London Team - their ladies Shena Ferrie and Sian Hughes both stormed to impressive wins. North West’s men Dan Willets, Paul Lane and Jim Fay however could not repeat this feat - losing to the impressive London trio of Tony Webb, Ethan Thornton and David Nethercott. HASSRA the Champions would now face their first major hurdle as London the newcomers flexed their muscle! The early part of the clash went convincingly to HASSRA when their experienced ladies Keeley Grindle and Jackie Codman both produced fine wins over the London ladies, Carol Stone and Susan Gillam. HASSRA’s men however could not repeat this success - all three matches going to the London’s male trio! London would top the group whilst HASSRA would progress as runners-up.

In Group “B” the Defence Team looked in determined mood to once again get their name onto the Trophy – their first hurdle was against the experienced Land Registry Team. The Land Registry ladies Ruth Sleigh and Marian Holmes both put up fine performances against the strong Defence opposition of Joanne Stroud and Kate Cunningham but both had to eventually concede, Ruth losing 15/10 in the 5th game and Marian 16/14 in the 4th! Land Registry’s men Nigel Williams, Matt Thomas and Graham Cole also struggled against Defence’s Ollie Spiers, John McFarlane and Tom Littleton all losing 3/0! Land Registry’s fortune seemed to be taking a turn for the better in their next match against Revenue and Customs when Ruth Sleigh notched up a fine win over RCSL veteran Pat High Comer 3/1. Marian Holmes for Land Registry meanwhile also had recovered from 2 games down to draw level at 2 games all. Marian however could not find the extra few points needed in the 5th - going down eventually 15/10 to RCSL’s Hilary Craven. RCSL went on to take control when Geoff Irwin and Wayne Smith both produced fine 3/0 victories over Nigel Williams and Graham Cole! Matt Thomas for Land Registry however did produce a consolation win in the second string match against Glenn Wilkinson 3/1. The final Tie of the Round Robin between Defence and Revenue proved always to be an uphill battle for a tired Revenue Team with Defence producing a 5/0 score line to go forward as Group winners with RCSL progressing as runners-up. Land Registry would go into the Plate Final to face North West.

The first Semi Final on the Saturday morning saw London facing the RCSL Team. RCSL got off to a fine start when Hilary Craven produced a 3/0 win over London’s Susan Gillam. London’s David Nethercott however soon put the tie on an even footing by defeating Revenue’s Wayne Smith 3/0. RCSL’s number 1 player Geoff Irwin needed all his experience against the youthful Tony Webb and indeed fought hard in the opening game having one game point before losing it 18/16! Irwin led for much of the second game but again could not convert the advantage eventually losing 15/12 and similarly 15/11 in the 3rd. This was pivotal and with London’s Carol Stone defeating Revenue’s Pat High-Comer it was only left for Ethan Thornton to wrap things up 3/0 against RCSL’s Glenn Wilkinson.

The second Semi Final saw holders HASSRA face the prospect of a match against their old adversaries – Defence! The ever faithful Jackie Codman took an early lead for HASSRA by defeating the youthful Kate Cunningham 3/0. Tom Littleton playing for Defence soon levelled the match by defeating HASSRA’s Kevin Mulligan in a hard fought encounter. HASSRA however then took another step forwards when Keeley Grindle produced some fine squash to defeat a very worthy opponent Joanne Stroud. Once again the tie was levelled when Defence’s veteran player John McFarlane proved too good for HASSRA’s Chris Beldon winning 3/0. The stage was set for each Team’s number 1 player to decide the outcome –the youth of Defence’s Ollie Spiers versus the experience of HASSRA’s Marc Thomas. This was to prove to be the match of the Tournament! HASSRA edged the 1st game 15/10 only to see the second go to the Defence player 15/12! The third and fourth games replicated this pattern to ensure a fitting finish to the match with a fifth and deciding game. It would be a battle of stamina, nerves and determination. In the end it was HASSRA’s ability to doggedly keep the ball in play and force those crucial errors out of the younger Defence player that ensured HASSRA’s 15/10 victory – very well played Marc Thomas! HASSRA had achieved their second final in consecutive years.

The Final itself was to see the new London Team face the HASSRA Champions – ironically a repeat of their earlier encounter in the first day’s Round Robin. Once again the HASSRA’s ladies Jackie Codman and Keeley Grindle proved their superiority with fine 3/0 victories! HASSRA needed just one more tie to retain their Title - their weary men however could not quite find that “extra yard” and the powerful London trio took full advantage to hammer home their point by taking all 3 games 3/0! Congratulations and well played to the London Composite Team - the new Champions.

Winning Team Captain Tony Webb receiving cup from Linda
Runners up HASSRA Team with Team Captain Sian Hughes

The 3rd/4th place play off was won by DSRA who defeated RCSL 3/2. In the Plate Final North West’s Shena Ferrie produced a match winning performance against Land Registry’s Marian Holmes by edging past the winning post 16/14 in the 5th and final game to ensure their Team’s overall 3/2 victory! Well done North West.

Plate winners North West

Prizes were presented by Civil Service Squash Rackets Association retiring Chairman Linda Parsley. Thanks were extended to all the participating players and to Nottingham Squash Rackets Club for the use of their fine facilities.

The next Squash Event will be the Squash Masters and Racketball Tournament in Nottingham on 22nd / 23rd April 2016 – further details can be found on our Website