Squash: Chichester’s brave effort failes to land play-off spot

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Chichester won final match of the season in the Premier Squash League - but narrowly failed to make the play-offs.

At home to Exeter Diamonds, who were second and 15 points ahead of Chichester in the play-off spot, it was mathematically possible for the hosts to overhaul them but it would take a monumental effort.

Chichester are renowned for their great team spirit and competitive nature and the players fought for every point and game.

Hannah Wright Davies wasted no time putting them 1-0 up, with a solid no-frills performance against Rhianne O’Donnell.

She dominated from the outset although O’Donnell made it tight in the third.

Chichester’s world No61 Robbie Temple played Exeter’s Mathieu Castagnet (world 31) and won the first game 11-9.

Castagnet worked his way into the match and kept the pace going to win the second 11-5. In the third Temple got off to a bad start before a tremendous fightback rewarded him with a 12-10 win to take him 2-1 up.

In the fourth it was nip and tuck all the way before Castagnet snatched it 11-8. An enthralling decider developed. The match had great retrieving and nick hits plus superb entertaining squash for the packed, vocal gallery.

Temple’s ability to hold the ball in the front of the court made all the difference and he came through to steal the fifth 11-8 to put Chichester 2-0 up. The match had lasted an hour and 16 minutes.

Olly Pett faced Joey Barrington and quickly forged a 2-0 lead only to be pegged back by gritty, indomitable squash from Barrington which brought the match to 2-2. Despite a slow start, Pett pulled himself together in the fifth to snatch it 11-9.

Next, Alex Gough and Exeter’s Tim Vail did battle. Vail had the edge throughout the first two games before Gough rallied superbly in the third. He moved Vail all around the court and pulled one game back.

In the fourth Gough pulled away and another deciding fifth looked possible. Vail, however, rallied better and pulled through 3-1.

The final match was between the two left-handers, Chichester’s Jon Kemp, world No37, and Exeter’s Laurens Jan Anjema (world 13).

Anjema stormed ahead in the first and was winning the battle down the backhand wall to take the game 11-6. Kemp retaliated with great holds and pace to level the score with an 11-4 win.

In the third Anjema again forged a lead and maintained the pressure to take it 11-5. The fourth was a tremendous game with both players playing at the top of their game.

Kemp kept mixing the pace and direction while Anjema’s game was solid down the walls. Kemp reached 10-7, game ball, which would have meant another fifth-game decider.

A collision between the two sent Anjema flying and time was subsequently needed to wipe down the floor. Anjema recovered well and clawed his way back to force a tie-break which he won 15-13.

Chichester won 3-2 but it was not enough to reach the play-offs.

Mike Phillips, team manager and squash and racketball professional coach at Chichester Racquets & Fitness Club, said: “This was the end of an excellent season for Chichester, who won seven and lost three matches but narrowly missed the play-offs.

“The team are definitely moving in the right direction.”

Final standings

Surrey 164

Exeter 147

Chichester 138

St George’s 137

Winchester 66

Bristol 42

Bognor’s secomd team ground out a close win when they visited Storrington seconds to keep themselves in with a chance of promotion from division four west.

Captain Dave Meagher suffered one of two losses despite a late rally, going down 5-9, 3-9, 9-10 to Andrew Rolland.

Bognor’s response came from Steve Darlington, who won a close match 3-2.

Steve Carruthers at No3 was also on top in his match and put Bognor ahead and second string Josh Bennett had a great win to increase the visitors’ tally.

No1 Andy Parker, up against a promising junior, lost in three but Bognor won the match 3-2, taking 14 points to Storrington’s 8.

The next match at Hawthorn Road is tomorrow (April 5) at 7pm and is the first team’s final outing of the season. Opponents Midhurst are one of Bognor’s challengers for league honours so it is likely to be a highly-charged affair.

Visitors welcome - details on 865462.