CHICHESTER’S 2013-14 Premier Squash League campaign began in fine style with a 4-1 beating of Winchester.
The Chichester Racquets & Fitness club side have strengthened their squad this year with the signing of world No 60 Rex Hedrick from Australia.
Lauren Briggs was first on and started in confident fashion against Jane Allman. Although the Winchester player showed spirit, Briggs proved far too strong and her experience throughout gave her an 11-3, 11-4, 11-4 victory.
Robbie Temple was up against Scott Fitzgerald on the glass-back championship court. After a sluggish start by both players, Fitzgerald narrowly won the first game 11-8.
Temple upped his game in the second to draw level 11-7. An entertaining match ensued with Temple gradually finding his range and confidence to take the next two 11-5, 11-6.
Hedrick’s debut was versus Winchester number-two string Robert Downer. It became clear from the outset this would be an attritional encounter.
Downer battled well in the first two but Hedrick looked to volley everything he could to enforce the pressure, and took them 11-6, 11-9.
The third was even until 5-5 when fatigue seemed to catch up with Downer, and Hedrick took full advantage to run out 11-5 winner to give Chichester an unassailable 3-0 lead.
Anthony Graham was facing Winchester’s Daniel Poleshchuk from Israel. The Winchester player won a very tight first game 11-9 before Graham took hold of the game to take the next two, 11-6, 11-8.
The score, however, didn’t reflect the evenness of play. The fourth game was even tighter and very competitive with Graham eventually taking it 12-10.
With Chichester 4-0 up, Jonathan Kemp (world 50) took on Marwan El Shorbagy (world 26 and 2012 PSA young player of the year). There were some breathtaking shots from both players and first blood went to El Shorbagy 11-7. Kemp struck back and, with some of his trademark nick shots, won the second 11-4.
In the third El Shorbagy snatched it 11-8. The fourth game had it all and enthralled the packed viewing gallery. Kemp had several game balls and El Shorbagy numerous match balls before he finally converted one to give Winchester their only win of the night.
Next, Chichester head to Surrey H&R, the reigning PSL champions, for a hopefully-explosive match on Bonfire night.
Hedrick is unavailable and team manager Mike Phillips will have to make careful selection decisions if Chichester are to continue their winning ways.