Winter Handicap 2021/2022 Roundup

We've been delighted to welcome back competitive squash at Dulwich Squash Club and in the last few weeks we've had the latest edition of the 'Reddish Cup' our Winter Handicap Tournament. It has been fantastic to see our members so keen to get involved in one of the best events of the year, with an over subscribed 32 person draw with a range of abilities from league 1 players to those completely new to squash competing with handicaps to even the playing field.

After 33 matches, over a 4 week period we had two exciting finals on Saturday 12th February. In the plate, the competition for first round losers we saw Christopher Snell on a handicap of -7 face off against Steve Orr off of -32. In the main tournament final, we had the unusual circumstance of two members on precisely the same handicap and therefore facing off at 0-0.

Plate Final - Chris Snell (-7) vs. Steve Orr (-32)

The plate final was off first. The match would be best of 3 games, point a rally scoring to 15. The handicaps settled at Steve starting on -25 and Chris on 0. Steve started extremely strongly in the first game, with a run of winners and control of the 'T' area of the court resulting in Chris struggling to gain any real control. Steve was able to conserve energy and reel off point after point to find himself within a few points of Chris, who was struggling with the pace and accuracy of Steve. At two points in the game, Steve was able to win 13 points unanswered, which proved too much for Chris as he succumbed 7-15 in the first.

However, not wanting to go down without a fight. Chris got stuck in during the 2nd game. Bamboozling Steve with a bit more gusto to get to a few balls and catching him off guard with his ability to hit the ball both left and right handed - the 2nd game was a much tighter affair. Winning a few early points, while Steve was still in the minus 20s allowed Chris to get a feel for the pace and sneak up just a few balls tight to the tin and to the side walls. Crucially, the rallies were getting longer. Despite a valiant run by Steve, including a run of 12 points unanswered - Chris was able to do what he had to in order to even things up. Winning 15-3.

It was great to see this match go into a final game and Chris' new found confidence paid dividends. He was able to hit a few brilliant winners off of tight shots by Steve (and perhaps a couple of lucky frames and nicks too) to allow himself to stay within touching distance throughout and take the final game 15-6. Chris told us afterwards he'd only just gotten back in to enjoying his squash, so hopefully a successful run in the plate has helped his enthusiasm. Steve played brilliantly with a huge handicap to overcome, but just didn't quite have enough.

A brilliant match finishing 2-1 to Chris Snell. A final worthy of the honours board.

Handicap Final - Paul Clinton (-1) vs. Bharat Bhargava (-1)

In the final for the Reddish Cup, both Paul and Bharat had come through some tough games against good players to make the final. Both working hard on their games with coaching from Vini, Bruna and James - their runs were testament to how fast they were improving. Paul is playing a lot of squash having recently taken up the sport, while Bharat is coming back after a period without the game and rapidly finding his feet again. With matching handicaps, it was decided to play the match best of 5 games from 0-0.

In the warm up, it was hard to see who would win. However, in the first game a few long and impressive rallies told Paul's way and he rapidly took a 8-1 lead. Bharat wasn't to be denied just yet though and found his pace and took a few impressive volly winners to begin to stop the slide. It was, however, a bit too little too late as the early lead made the difference in a game that went 8-15 to Paul.

The second game was a much tighter affair. Long rallies, some brilliant gets and total commitment from both players saw a nip and tuck game slowly develop to 10-10. It was at this point that Paul's will to win seemed to go into overdrive. Every rally he made sure to get one more ball back, often at full stretch, and deny Bharat who was controlling the ball well. A run of points saw Paul win 15-11.

Paul celebrated at the moment of going 2-0 up, perhaps fully aware of just how important that game was. The rallies had been long and Bharat was running out of ideas on how to put Paul away as he refused to give up on any point. The third game, Paul had really grown in confidence and belief and his recent development really showed. A string of great gets, well placed drop shots and a real drive to win saw him comfortably take the third and the title with a 3-0 win.

After the finals had finished - a few drinks were ordered and trophies handed out to our successful finals. It was a great day at the squash club with a good number of people coming down to watch and a busy club house thanks to the hockey teams and the rugby on that day. I'd like to thank everyone who took part in what was a brilliant competition, everyone did extremely well to get their games in and the tournament was a huge success. A huge thanks to Greg Wallyn for being the handicap wizard and his tireless efforts in ensuring everything ran on time.

We will begin to look to organise the Club Championships at the end of the current winter season to give everyone something to look forward to. Hoping everyone gets the chance to enter and enjoy some competitive squash in the coming months.

Thanks for reading - Harry Gildersleve