The Jacksons Squash Island Team League got underway for another season last week and spectators were treated to some great performances. Jupiter, Grant Thornton and Hansard all got off to winning starts whilst the Heritage and Bourse match had to be postponed due to some early season injuries. The second round of matches got underway on Monday with Jupiter and Hansard able to extend their good form with consecutive wins.
Jupiter came up against Grant Thornton. The number 3 strings, Tom Eulenkamp (Jupiter) & Jacques Ogier (Grant Thornton), which proved to be the closet match of the night. Eulenkamp started strong, taking the first game relatively quickly, however Ogier refused to go down easy and put the pressure on Eulenkamp, winning the next 2 games. Eulenkamp fought back and managed to scrape through the 4th, but it was the deciding game that provided the best entertainment. Ogier started strong and stormed into a 6-2 lead with Eulenkamp looking exhausted, however Eulenkamp pulled off an incredible crosscourt lob which spurred him on to bring the game to 9-9. Eulenkamp then served out, handing Ogier match point. Unfortunately luck was not on his side as Eulenkamp somehow managed to extend his winning record taking the 5th game 13-11, and subsequently the match 3-2. Grant Thornton then came back strong, winning strings 1 and 4, Jupiter were determined to win the match with Tony Jones and Bruce Tostevin seeing off the respective opponents for Jupiter to take the match 16-8. Player of the match went to Tom Eulenkamp for a second week in a row.
Hansard came up against the injury stricken Bourse, who were only able to field 4 players for the match. Bourse started well as Andy Biggins took a surprise 1-0 lead against Janick Radford whilst Leo Fossey was overwhelming Andy Parr in the other match, winning 3-0. However, that was as good as it got for Bourse as Hansard ran away with the rest of the matches to complete an ultimately comfortable 17 – 4 win, continuing with their strong start to the season and leaving them in 1st place in the league standings.
The junior side, Blackburn, came up against Heritage, last year’s league and cup winners. Heritage were looking to get their season underway with a strong start after having their match postponed last week. A clash of the titans awaited with Martin Watts (Blackburn) and Henry Birch (Heritage), however match of the night was actually between the number 5 strings. Rhys Queripel (Blackburn) took an early 1-0 lead against Tom Weatherburn (Heritage) which put the Blackburn Juniors in high spirits. Heritage’s captain, Zak Parsons, put a few words into Weatherburn’s ear, which led to two very close games with each player winning one each, leaving the match at 2-1 in Blackburn’s favour. Going into the 4th Queripel appeared to have the match in the bag, however Weatherburn intelligently tired his opponent out in the early exchanges. This proved to be the deciding factor, with Weatherburn taking the 4th and 5th games 11-3, 11-2 respectively, winning the match 3-2. Watts & Birch then got underway, with every point turning into a war of fitness. Birch took the first 11-9 after 15 minutes of gruelling squash. Watts then repeated what Birch had just done, tying the game up at 1-1 with either player looking like they could go on and win the match. Birch turned it up a gear in the 3rd winning 11-7 and looked good value for the win, which he subsequently did after another tightly contested game. In the end, Heritage got the start they were looking for, winning the match 17 – 6.
The Sitar Indian Restaurant were looking to get their season up and running with a win this week over Omakisoft, having lost to Jupiter previously. Omakisoft equally wanted the win, having narrowly lost out last week to Grant Thornton. Unfortunately for Omakisoft, Matt Robilliard was determined not to let his new sponsors down and got the match underway with a relatively painless 3-0, other than the last game where his opponent, Joe Fernandes, turned it up a notch to play at his usual standard, only narrowly losing 12-10. Matt Robin was eager to put things straight after a dismal performance last week and did just that with a comfortable 3-0 over Nick Maunder, Omakisoft’s captain. Igor Pirnau brought one back for Omakisoft, winning the battle against The Sitar’s Greg Josey. It wasn’t to be for Omakisoft though, as Alex Robin sealed the victory with a 3-1 win over Geoff Hudson. Steve Falla, Guernsey’s top veteran, put in a player of the match performance over Jeremy Taylor which promised to be closer than it turned out. Falla took a close first game 11-9 and had to rely on a tiebreak to see out the second 13-11. Taylor was struggling for fitness going into the 3rd which left the door wide open for Falla who went on to take the game 11-5, securing The Sitar Indian Restaurant’s first every victory 18 – 4.
At the end of play, Hansard topped the league standings on 35 points with Jupiter close behind on 32. Director of Guernsey Squash and Racketball, Martin Watts, said that “this year could be the most competitive the league has been in previous years which promises great potential for spectators”.