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Sunday, June 20, 2021

ESR: Inter-county finals preview

Alan Thatcherhttps://squashmad.com
Founder of World Squash Day, Squash Mad and the new Squash 200 Partnership, building clubs of the future. Founder of the Kent Open and co-promoter of the St. James's Place Canary Wharf Classic. Author and Public Speaker.

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The last Inter County titles of the season will be decided this weekend at the prestigious “Park Club” in Nottingham.  The top eight Men’s and Women’s County Teams will play out a full Monrad draw to decide not only the titles, but final places as well as relegation to Division One next season.

MEN

ESSEX, HERTFORDSHIRE, LANCASHIRE, MERSEYSIDE, NOTTINGHAMSHIRE, OXFORDSHIRE, SURREY, SUSSEX

Holders Surrey will look to retain their title, and headed by Tom Richards (W25) and Charles Sharpes (British U19 Champion) they have a good chance of doing so. Pressure will come from last season’s runners up Hertfordshire, led by Chris Ryder (W38) and Adrian Waller (W65 and current British Under 23 Champion) who has the distinction of having held every National Junior Title.

Recently promoted Oxfordshire will also look to pressure for the title and have Scott Handley and former National Champion Mark Cairns at 1st and 2nd strings.  Essex could be dark horses though, with Lee Drew and Neil Hitchins topping the order.

Sussex, headed by Olly Pett (W119) and the experienced Tim Vail will also be in with a shout but Nottinghamshire, with home advantage may surprise everyone!   Peter Billson’s Lancashire and Steve Siveter’s Merseyside will look to upset the big boys, but could become embroiled in a battle to stave off relegation

WOMEN

CHESHIRE, ESSEX, KENT, LANCASHIRE, NORTHUMBRIA, SURREY, WARWAICKSHIRE, YORKSHIRE

The Women’s competition may not have so many top ranked players, but all the teams are littered with a mixture of experience and some talented juniors.

Holders Warwickshire will start as favourites, despite the loss of Emma Beddoes, called up to the England Team for the European Team Championships in Finland.  In her absence Sarah-Jane Perry will lead the team.  Last year’s runners up Yorkshire will hope that Carrie Ramsey (W103) and U19 no 2 Katie Smith will be able to push them all the way.

It’s difficult to separate the other contenders but North West neighbours Cheshire and Lancashire could prove the biggest threat. Newly promoted Surrey and Northumbria are both unknown quantities and could put pressure on established Premier League teams Kent and Essex in a potential relegation battle.

This is a fantastic opportunity to see an intriguing mix of professional, amateur and top juniors play for their counties in what will prove to be a great weekend of squash.  Admission is free with two rounds on Saturday starting at 10am running through to around 8pm and the final rounds where final positions will be decided on Sunday starting at 10 am with the both finals scheduled for 1.20pm.

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