Chichester take place in country’s top squash league

Adrian Waller is back with Chichester for another season
Adrian Waller is back with Chichester for another season

The 32nd season of the world’s most prestigious squash league gets under way next Tuesday.

Twelve teams will once again compete in the 2015-16 Premier Squash League season. Chichester Racquets & Fitness Club’s team will battle for the points and endeavour to win a place in the play-offs against perennial rivals Winchester and Exeter with Bristol, St George’s Hill and Surrey making up Group B.

Chichester have a new line-up this season. Rex Hendrick has returned to Australia but two new signings have been made – Matt Hopkin from Australia and Paul Coll from New Zealand.

Hopkin, from Brisbane, is ranked 114 in the world. Coll is world-ranked 41 and won the Australian Open in August. He is based in the Netherlands and hopes to play for Chichester as often as possible.

The PSL have changed one of their rules – an under-21 player (previously it was under-24) must play in at least 50 per cent of the matches.

Kyle Finch, 16, will be taking a more active part in the team. He recently reached the semi-finals in his first professional event – the Belfast Open. Since he will remain under-21 for several years, Chichester hope to retain his services for many years to come.

Rex Hendrick has returned to Australia but two new signings have been made – Matt Hopkin from Australia and Paul Coll from New Zealand.

Adrian Waller (world No26) and Nathan Lake (world 16) return for a second season while Robbie Temple returns for his tenth season with the Chichester club.

Lauren Briggs will be starting her fifth year as Chichester’s leading lady player.

The first fixture is against local rivals Winchester next Tuesday (Oct 6). Tickets and more information on 01243 785664.

Meanwhile, Chichester Racquets & Fitness Club triumphed in the 2015 Hampshire Summer Squash League, winning a hard-fought final at Portsmouth’s Nuffield Centre.

Reigning champions Chichester entered two sides in the competition, which includes teams from in and around Hampshire, each comprising five players, at least two of whom must be women.

In the semi-finals, Chichester II beat Chichester I 3-2, gaining revenge for a 5-0 defeat earlier in the competition, while Nuffield recorded a 4-1 win over Trojans.

In the final, Chichester II took an early lead with captain Zoë Shardlow winning in straight games against Bev Brockway. On the adjacent court, second string Neal Smith went one up against Paul Raux before the Nuffield man came back strongly to win the next three games and level the match at 1-1.

Chichester’s Hannah Wright Davies, Sussex No2 and one of the country’s best amateur players, played former world No23 Sarah Spacey. Spacey has recently returned to squash after a break of 14 years and this was a much-anticipated clash. Wright-Davies played superbly to see off a below-par Spacey and retake the lead for Chichester.

In a thrilling encounter between the two top strings, Chichester’s Lewis Strudwick claimed the opening game against Steve Sperling, whilst on the other court Cameron White, playing at number 3 and in his last match before heading off to university, started well against Graham Winning and looked capable of victory.

The Nuffield players had other ideas though and steadfastly fought for every point and all of a sudden Chichester was in trouble. Winning took a 2-1 lead over White while Sperling levelled at 2-2 with Strudwick.

In a nail-biting finale the No1 strings battled to 13-13 in the fifth before hero-of-the-day Strudwick closed out his opponent to claim the next two points and clinch the game, the match and the title for Chichester.

White, despite a valiant effort, was defeated 3-1 to make the overall match score 3-2 to Chichester.

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