York edge squash firsts contest

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Photo by Haikal Bekti Anggoro

A dominant performance from York’s first seed Ed Shanon sealed a 3-2 victory for the away side in an otherwise close and extremely tense encounter.

Shanon saw off Lancaster first seed James Hill 11-0 11-2 11-3 with a superb display, returning everything Hill could throw at him and covering the court seemingly effortlessly.

The scoreline was perhaps harsh on Hill, who found his opponent regularly returning shots which ought to have been winners.

This followed four fascinating matches throughout which Lancaster and York were inseparable, balancing the contest on a knife-edge.

In the opening match, Nick Costa got Lancaster off to the ideal start with a straight-games win over Sam Westmorland, 11-9 11-8 11-6.

Westmorland offered strong resistance in the opening games, but appeared to be tiring come the third and Costa’s fitness showed as he took the final game more comfortably.

The fourth-seeds’ contest was extremely close, with York’s Myles Knight eventually triumphing in five games over James Flanagan.

Flanagan had started extremely strongly, taking the first game 11-4, much to the delight of the growing crowd on the balcony outside the courts.

The proximity of the crowd to the courts no doubt contributed to the extreme tension of the second game, which Knight took 14-12 on a tie-break, capitalising on Flanagan’s failure to convert game point and levelling the match.

Knight built on the psychological boost of winning that close game by securing the third 11-8, with Flanagan’s frustration starting to become evident.

With the momentum seemingly shifting in York’s favour at this point, Flanagan dug deep and levelled with an 11-6 win, holding off a threatened comeback from Knight to secure game point.

With the majority of the crowd – made up off thirds, seconds and women’s players predominately – behind home side Lancaster the onus was now seemingly on Flanagan to put Lancaster in a dominant position in the firsts’ contest overall.

However, Knight battled to an 11-8 victory in that deciding game, putting the overall score at 1-1.

The third seeds produced an equally thrilling contest, with Lancaster’s Loui Quelcutti edging out Dave Potter over five games, 5-11 11-9 11-13 11-7 11-5.

Quelcutti did well to recover from a slow start in the first game, as well as losing the closest game of the match on a tie break, 13-11, before sealing victory in the final two games.

Speaking to SCAN after his match, Quelcutti revealed that he was “pleased to beat [his opponent] because he wrote an article saying that York were going to win everything.”

With the match clearly shaping up to go down to the wire, the quality of York’s top seeds became evident. Matt Lewis dispatched Lancaster’s Joe Reeds, who was visibly disappointed with his performance, 11-5 11-5 11-2.

Lewis showed clinical finishing in killing rallies which Reeds might have won, and ultimately secured a comfortable victory, levelling the contest and setting the stage for the points to be decided by the outcome of the first seeds’ match.

Despite fantastic support from club members, Hill was unable to cope with the undeniable class of Shanon, who eased to victory before Hill was really able to establish himself in the match.

Hill was diplomatic and pragmatic in his post-match assessment. “Brilliant effort by all the first team guys and a fantastic result for the club as a whole,” he said, referring to the fact that victories for the Seconds and Women’s teams meant a 6-4 points victory for Lancaster Squash Club.

With reference to his own match, Hill admitted that “credit’s due to the top-quality York players, they deserved the victory in the first team.”

Hill concluded that “overall, [this has been] a brilliant year for the club.”

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