By MIKE HEGARTY (Squash Mad Correspondent)
Daryl Selby and Lowri Roberts emerged as the champions after a brilliant weekend of squash at the Lexden Open sponsored by Anglian Flight Centres.
Although retired from the PSA World Tour, Selby has supported both the Canterbury and Lexden tournaments since winning a silver medal with Adrian Waller in the men’s doubles at the Commonwealth Games.
It’s always a delight to have him around because he gives so much back to the sport he clearly loves.
Lexden fans already know his reputation as a great entertainer after successful exhibition evenings against Mohamed ElShorbagy and James Willstrop.
He was fully tested on more than occasion but battled through to win the title after Lowri won a dramatic and entertaining five-setter in the women’s final.
3/4 Lowri Roberts bt 3/4 Emma Bartley 3-2: 10-12, 8-11, 11-2, 13-11, 11-3
A great match befitting a PSA final. For the first two games Emma was at her attacking best, cutting the ball off on the volley and chopping in winners. Lowri really had to weather the storm there.
Maybe it was nerves, maybe a little bit of tiredness crept in, however between Lowri chasing down everything and then stretching Emma with accurate length, Emma’s margin for error got narrower and narrower.
Emma began clipping the tin more and more, and then shot for more and more winners to try to make up for it. Lowri moved fantastically until the end, pressuring her young opponent into errors.
A great performance from Emma and one she’ll learn from. Lowri the deserving champion. She played fantastically all weekend.
(1) Daryl Selby bt Will Salter 3-1: 7-11, 15-13, 11-3, 12-10
My goodness, what a final this was. Will is physically incredibly fit, gets everything back and makes his opponent work hard for every point. This showed as he came flying out of the blocks, jumping onto every loose ball and really taking the game to Daryl.
Daryl played himself into the match, stretching Will into all four corners with accurate holds, boasts, drops, angles. It took an incredible amount of skill to be able to play like that consistently and it disrupted Will’s rhythm enough for Daryl to start clocking up points. A mammoth second game saw Daryl win 15-13 to draw level at one game all.
Will struggled to back up, maybe mentally went a bit flat in the third game and Daryl was all over him, not giving him a chance to get back into it.
Will reset for the fourth game, forced a few errors from the Selby racket, but it wasn’t quite enough to deny the talented elder statesman.
I’m delighted with the quality of both finals. Both lived up to the occasion, topping off a fantastic weekend of squash. Will, Lowri and Emma are all destined for bigger things on the PSA tour. Daryl as ever is a fantastic champion and ambassador for the sport. Until next year!
(3/4) Lowri Roberts bt (1) Amna Fayyaz 3-0: 11-5, 11-6, 11-2
Interesting clash of styles. Lowri looked to take the middle away from her opponent, hitting good length and working off any loose balls she forced out of her opponent. Amna looked for angles and deft winners, chopping in some beautiful crosscourt kills from deep. The difference was Lowri’s work rate, she was busier around the T which earned her a 3-0 win.
(3/4) Emma Bartley bt Grace Clark 3-0: 15-13, 11-3, 12-10
This match was all about whether Grace could keep the ball off Emma’s racket long enough to stop her crunching in winners. Grace played a good game, solid length, trying to get the ball running in behind her taller opponent. Emma capitalised on anything loose, ripping the ball in low and hard and stretching her opponent. It was nip and tuck for large parts of the match but ultimately it was Emma who came out on top.
(1) Daryl Selby bt (3/4) John Meehan 3-1: 11-6, 11-9, 6-11, 11-8
Speed versus courtcraft. Daryl was working the ball around brilliantly, fading the ball into the side walls and deep into the corners. John is very fit and quick. His plan was to try to keep the pace high and move his opponent away from the middle.
John started to tire Daryl a little and got some good success, but Daryl’s holds and dying lengths had eaten into the young Scotsman’s legs equally. A good performance from John, but Daryl too experienced.
(5/8) Will Salter bt (5/8) Tayne Turnock 3-0: 12-10, 11-3, 11-3
Both these players are physically very strong, hit hard and move well. The rallies were long and Tayne played very well with his attritional style. Once he’s in a rhythm though Will is just unstoppable at that medium pace. The ball just doesn’t bounce twice against him. A number of spectators commented that both in style and technique he reminded them of a young Joel Makin. Quite a compliment!
(1) Amna Fayyaz bt (5/8) Catherine Holland 3-0: 11-6, 11-7, 11-8
Young Scot Catherine Holland showed clearly today that her game is improving. She hit solid lines, moved well and attacked when the opportunity presented itself. Amna however today was the better player all around, just that bit better length, bit sharper into the front, and looked in control for large portions of the match.
(3/4) Lowri Roberts bt (5/8) Isabel McCullough 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-9
A contentious match, with the referee called into action many times. For the most part though it was Lowri winning the exchanges, attacking the front well and moving her opponent around with a lot of skill.
(3/4) Emma Bartley bt (5/8) Ellie Jones 3-0: 11-5, 11-2, 11-5
This was a contrast of styles. Emma is tall, wants to control the middle and hit down on the ball severely. Ellie moves very well and likes to work the ball around. Today Emma’s ability to rip the ball in short was too good and Ellie didn’t get a chance to play herself into the match.
Grace Clark bt Siobhan Wilkins 3-0: 11-2, 11-3, 11-1
Having taken out the second seed in round 1, unseeded Grace Clark is showing some serious form downing Siobhan Wilkins in quick fire fashion; never letting her opponent get a foothold in the match.
(1) Daryl Selby bt (5/8) Mike Harris 3-2: 11-4, 11-6, 7-11, 7-11 11-8
What a match! Daryl looked in cruise control for the first two games, moving beautifully and putting Mike under intense pressure. Mike was trying to lift to buy time but found the out line too often.
Then Mike found his range a bit, the lobs started to die, and the holds had a bit more snap to them. Daryl looked to be in trouble as Mike drew level at 202.
In the fifth game Daryl regrouped, got back to how he played in the first two games and came through the winner.
(3/4) John Meehan bt (5/8) Andrew Glen 3-0: 11-4, 11-7, 13-11
This was a very high quality encounter. Both players are lightning quick, hit great length and volley brilliantly. The difference today was that Andrew maybe wanted to win a little too much and frustration got the better of him. One error would usually be quickly followed by another or two. Again though it was high quality stuff from both players and great to watch.
(5/8) Will Salter bt (3/4) Martin Ross 3-0: 11-5, 11-6, 11-5
Will is proving himself to be fearsomely difficult to beat. Simple squash, doesn’t give away many cheap errors, absolutely will not let the ball bounce twice. Today Martin couldn’t find a way to break Will down consistently enough. Solid performance.
(5/8) Tayne Turnock bt (2) Owain Taylor 3-0: 11-8, 11-5, 11-6
Tayne in his earlier rounds showed that he is a phenomenal athlete, plays at a brutal pace and asks questions of his opponent’s movement and fitness. It transpired after the match that Owain was very unwell with a stomach illness, which is exactly what you don’t want when playing someone like Tayne.
Full results on Squash Info
Men’s draw here
Women’s draw here
Pictures courtesy of Mike Hegarty and Lexden Rackets and Fitness