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Highland fling as top Scots reach last four

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Junior project runs hand in hand with Loch Ness Challenger
By MICHAEL GREGSON – Squash Mad Highlands Reporter

Todd Harrity and Robbie Downer join the juniors on court
Todd Harrity and Robbie Downer join the juniors on court

This evening the Inverness club hosted not only the Quarter-finals of the hugely successful £15K Loch Ness Challenger – with local interest burning brightly – but also an important launch for the £10K Big Lottery-funded Development project for Squash in the North of Scotland.

 The Celebrate! Fund enabled a junior Hot Shots coaching and competitive event for Under-12s today – this to be followed over the coming months by a dedicated programme introducing youngsters to the sport across a wide geographical area.

“We’re really excited about this programme,” said Coach Allan McKay, “and it will help the North in the long term, building a legacy on the foundations of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.”

Today’s Be Personnel Loch Ness Challenger play continued to be fiercely competitive:

(1) Alan Clyne (Sco) bt (6) Raphael Kandra (Ger) 11-5, 11-8, 11-8 (50 mins.)
As the energetic Scot bounded around the court, it was easy to see the level of intensity and sharp athleticism he brings to every match he plays. Raphael was a calm and focussed presence, able to challenge in every aspect of the game; but Alan’s steadiness ensured a 3-0 win and a place in Saturday’s semi-finals.

(9) Mahesh Mangaonkar (Ind) bt (5) Jaymie Haycocks (Eng) 11-13, 11-8, 3-11, 11-5, 11-6 (83 mins)
Great match, in which Mumbai’s Mahesh showed wit and guile as he sparkled to a semi-final berth. Salopian Jaymie’s line and tight straight play put pressure on Mahesh throughout, but he failed to find an answer to his opponent’s imaginative and entertaining play.

(3) Steve Finitsis (Aus) bt (6) Zahed Mohamed (Egy) 11-6, 12-10, 11-13, 11-7 (73 mins)
The young Egyptian showed real flair and variety in his play, testing the tall Aussie’s resolution. The two players were evenly matched, and despite rallying strongly in the middle stages, Zahed was unable to put sufficient pressure on Steve when lobbed or driven to the back. It was the Aussie’s ability to play length and lift which proved crucial.

lochlobjoel(10) Greg Lobban (Sco) bt (8) Joel Hinds (Eng) 11-6, 11-3, 11-4 (45 mins)
Greg Lobban (right) was in commanding form this evening, working his opponent with a combination of deft tight play and astonishing agility and reach.

He said: “I’m pleased with the match tonight, everything seemed to go right, and I was happy to handle whatever came back at me.”

Veteran Welsh coach Phil Williams commented: “It was nice to see how well Greg is killing the ball. The Scots boys are certainly pleasing the organisers and the crowds, and the weekend will make a fitting climax to a great tournament.”

This was a great win for the Scot, who ensured both semi-finals will feature a home-grown player.

As night fell in the Highlands, a heron swooped gracefully down, plundering the riches of the fast-flowing River Ness. But only four from a rich array of talent were able to plunder a semi-final place.

Loch Ness Challenger Semi-Finals:

Saturday June 21, 2014:
Alan Clyne v Mahesh Mangaonkar
Steve Finitsis v Greg Lobban

For more info go to:
http://www.squashness.co.uk or, on Twitter: @squash_ness

 

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