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After an excellent season last year, Lancaster women’s squash team were undoubtedly looking to push on to more success this academic year. However, despite sitting third in their league after two games, the women were yet to win a game before Wednesday’s clash with Durham University.
Before the match, SCAN spoke with team captain Anitha Jayamurugan, who indicated that, despite the losses, the women had much to be positive about. Crucially, whilst they were losing games, the team had been accumulating points and keeping their matches close. When pushed by SCAN for her thoughts on the match-up with Durham University, Captain Jayamurugan described herself as quietly confident – in the end, she had little to be worried about, with Lancaster storming to victory.
The match began with Jayamurugan facing Lorna Sokolowski. Immediately the gulf in class was apparent, with Jayamurugan dominating the first game to take it 11-4. At the same time, Meg Singleton had been paired up with Alex Conway, and proceeded to make light work of her opponent, racing into the lead before some excellent serving rounded off the game to make it 11-2. The second game was much the same, with Conway having little answer to Singleton’s fantastic use of the court; indeed, Singleton rarely allowed a rally to develop such was her dominance. In a matter of moments she had won the second game 11-2.
Jayamurugan was also in dominant form on her court, having taken her second game 11-5. With the Lancaster players looking a cut above their Durham counterparts, it was of little surprise to see them both claim their respective matches 3-0 – Singleton again winning her game by 11-2 to complete a very impressive performance. After Jayamurugan had wrapped up her final game by 11-4, Lancaster were firmly on top in the match and were looking highly dominant.
The second round of matches saw Katie Shearston and Hannah Ballard of Lancaster come up against Annabel Mockbridge and Izzy Why of Durham. From the outset, both these matches appeared closer than the first ones. After racing into a 7-3 lead in the first game, Ballard allowed Why back into the game, with Why levelling it up at 7-7. Just as it looked like Durham might win their first game of the day, Ballard played a couple of excellent drop-shots and claimed the game 11-8.
In the other match, after some close and competitive squash, Shearston had claimed the first game for Lancaster 11-8. The second game was again tightly poised, with neither player able to pull away from the other to claim victory. After some superb play from Mockbridge she took the lead 10-9, and only a spectacular shot from Shearston prevented Lancaster from losing their first game of the day. An epic encounter ensued, with Mockbridge constantly taking the lead, only to have Shearston claw her way back into the game. With the score at 14-14, Shearston finally took control, playing a couple of powerful shots to take the game 16-14.
Back on the other court, Ballard had dominated her second game with Why, claiming the game 11-2 in no time. With victory almost assured, Ballard turned on the style in the third game, showing some deft shots to which her opponent had no answer. Although Why stayed in touch with Ballard throughout the game, there was little trouble for her as she wrapped up the final game 11-8 to claim victory in the match. On the other court, after such a gruelling second game, Mockbridge appeared to have lost her way as Shearston cruised to victory 11-2 in her final game to make it four wins out of four for the Lancaster women.
After such a dominant performance, Jayamurugan was delighted with her team, telling SCAN that the victory was testament to the amount of training and hard work she and the other members of her team had been putting in. It was an impressive performance all round from Lancaster, and they will undoubtedly be hoping to build on this as their season progresses.