Cause of death, exhaustion. Thank you all concerned for helping with the tournament and the bbq yesterday. I had lots of help with the marking and imaginative handicapping. Particular thanks to Matt Price and Tim Dulson for filling in at the last minute - also thank you Tim and Mrs Tim (Caroline) for assisting with the bbq as well as Huw Moores for his eloquent speech. It's great to see everyone (almost?) enjoying themselves. Thanks also to Steve Walters for supplying the implements and his barbie.
Round 1 saw a full house of 32 players with some very tight matches - including 3 where the scores were exactly level after 16 minutes with Huw Moores pipping Canaan Brown at the post and James Hansell doing the same to Dave Davies - "I didn't know 16 minutes could last that long!". No peace for the wicked though as everyone was through to the next round - main draw or plate, the matches were equally tough and exciting. Unfortunately Dave Davies couldn't quite make up his 19 point deficit against new boy Andy Cowgil in the first game in the plate so it was an early bath for him.
I was busy keeping time, working out the draw and handicaps so unfortunately didn't get to see many of the matches. I did, however, get to see the last few moments of Sarah Creed's second round match with Huw - Another marathon battle after Canaan. He was gradually clawing back his 30 point deficit in an heroic effort when a mistake in the last minute sunk his chances - Huw sank to the floor and surrendered with only seconds to go. Moments later, Sarah informed him that she would need to concede as she needed to leave early. All that effort obviously drained him as he failed to catch Alex Rowlands in the next round.
The day saw many interesting encounters, not least Ashley Maybury vs Les Stamp - youth, stamina and skill vs guile and deception. Close by no cigar Les! Still, that left you free to have a pint and assist with marking.
Plate hunter Dave Rhys saw his comeuppance when he met Matt Price in the quarter-finals. I think he was ready for a rest and a pint at that point anyway. Matt didn't have the wherewithall to put new member but old stage Phil Maybury (of the Maybury squash dynasty) in his place, so with Canaan just short of catching Andy in the semis, it was was Phil vs Any Cowgil in the final. Despite a 30 point advantage, an exhausted Phil put the ball out on one two many occasions leaving the human dynamo Andy to edge past Phil by a single point in the dying seconds of the Plate final. Absolutely brilliant game to watch!
Meanwhile, in the main draw quarters, Will Bradshaw showed real class in putting away James Hansell with accurate and measured shots, Richard Maggs sprinted past Dave Angove, and Ashley Maybury just failed to catch Elinor Jones in an excellent display of squash technique. That left Will vs Alex - bad luck Alex, I think we were a little too generous with Will's handicap by underestimating his stamina and class. Meanwhile Rich Maggs couldn't make up his 16 point deficit to Elinor. That lead to an epic final in a similar vein to last year when Owen Heyes took on Helga Moore. I'd like to say Will didn't put a foot wrong but he was foot-faulted twice. Although Elinor played with poise and accuracy (coaching does pay) Will continuously ate away at the 60 point differential - had we underestimated him again. Some constructive marking by super-ref Dave Dean (under advice from many experts in the crowd) lead to a real cliff Hanger with Will Bradshaw emerging the winner by a single point. Another fantastic spectacle!
The rain disappeared so we all adjourned to the terrace for a well-deserved drink accompanied by Burger etc courtesy of Mel Proudlock and sous-chefs Tim & Caroline Dulson. A very pleasant evening was had by all. The hard-core beer aficionados eventually adjourned to the Plough in Whitchrutch while the party animals headed downtown. Me- I went home almost as exhausted as many of the contestants.
Thank you all again for helping to make it an epic and memorable tournament.
FYI this was only our second handicap tournament - last year's was equally nail-biting. https://www.rhiwbinasquashclub.co.uk/club-news/2018/april/22/timed-handicap-last-man-standing/. It is probably the only tournament of its type in Wales.