Saturday, June 22, 2024

Nightingale and Ellis make it the Little and Large Show at the Kent Open

Brothers are Green with envy as the not so jolly giant muscles through
By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad ‘s Roving Reporter, Reluctant Referee, Floor Sweeper and Occasional Bar Steward 

KOshepsIt was the Little and Large Show at The Mote as Phil Nightingale and Sam Ellis won through to the qualifying competition of the Kent Open.

The 6ft 5in Nightingale overcame brothers Laurence and Joe Green in the Pre-Qualifying Finals, while the 5ft 8in Ellis had to work hard to bundle out Steve Wykes and Joe Magor, who rose above their status as club toilers with impressive style and tenacity.

Nightingale faced a twin-pronged attack from the teenage Green boys. The 16-year-old Laurence possesses an outstanding repertoire of attacking shots and I hope he is not coached out of employing them.

The only ingredients missing are the knowledge, the ice-cool temperament and the control to finish off rallies when he has done the hard work in setting up the opening for a winner. However, he’s been mega-busy with school exams so we can forgive him for the occasional lapse of judgement.

Big brother Joe, 19, looks almost as old as Daryl Selby with his facial fuzz, and his playing style is also similar. I would advise a few sessions on court with the Essex maestro to learn about control and discipline in tight situations.

Nightingale is such a mild mannered individual off court but often sparks frenzied responses from his opponents because of the odd trailing leg, inadvertently extending halfway across court.

He actually possesses sound tactical awareness, superb touch at the front of the court and a reach that makes it difficult to get the ball past him.


Joe Green threatened to do that in tonight’s final, intelligently moving the ball around the court, but his confidence appeared to evaporate once Nightingale worked his way back into the match.

His drops became more tentative and he failed to work the ball into areas of the court that had earlier appeared to expose some flaws in his opponent’s movement. Amazingly, Nightingale’s outbursts of anger on court always followed winning points. Clearly a not so jolly giant, Green or otherwise.

Ellis has enjoyed his time at The Mote so far, and he could be forgiven for almost forgetting that the social side of the tournament had passed and he was now expected to step up a gear or two.

However, let’s not take anything away from his opponents. Steve Wykes won the first game and looked set to claim the second at 8-4 up.

However, Ellis reeled off five points in a row to hold game ball before Wykes retaliated to hold game ball at 11-10. An astonishing tiebreak developed with Wykes holding five game balls before Ellis snatched it 18-16. A tired Wykes surrendered the third and fourth games but can be proud of his performance.

We look forward to his return for the Party Weekend hangover Doubles.

Magor, one of squash’s great animators, persuaders, cajolers and total party animal, is a gifted tournament organiser and no mean player.

Despite a wobbly backhand swing that clearly needs a little cosmetic surgery, he has developed an excellent hold on his forehand, and his improving fitness allowed him to fight off the mizuki madness flowing from his opponent’s racket. Ellis now meets Anthony Brindle in the qualifying competition, while Nightingale faces Phillip Bull. Two exciting battles are in prospect.

The Mote’s James Evans faces Jonathan Geekie in a repeat of his qualifying final last year, which he won straight out of school to claim a place in the main draw.

James has another exam today but will no doubt pitch up fresh and keen to do well again with the guaranteed backing of his home-club crowd.

More local interest focuses on Josh Masters, who meets George Parker in what should be an outstanding match between two hugely promising juniors, while title sponsor Jonny Powell faces top qualifying seed Michael Harris. Early betting suggests Powell will hit more nicks than the minutes he remains on court.

Number two qualifying seed James Earles faces Joel Makin, while Youssef Abdalla and Nick Mulvey looks another attractive match-up. Play begins at 5.30 at The Mote, and admission is free all week.

One final note of encouragement goes to young Bradley Masters, who lost a close match 3-1 to Joe Green but shows major hints of emerging talent.

The pre-qualifying tournament means an extra couple of days’ work for the organisers, but it’s well worth the effort for providing more competitive opportunities for young pros, it gives club players the chance to join in the show, and it gives spectators two extra days of entertainment.

Select Gaming Kent Open, Pre-Qualifying semi-finals, The Mote Squash Club, Maidstone, England.

Joe Green beat Bradley Masters 11-9, 9-11, 11-6, 11-8
Phil Nightingale beat Laurence Green 11-5, 11-8, 11-9
Joe Magor beat Pete Higgins 11-13, 11-3, 11-6, 11-5
Sam Ellis beat Steve Wykes 6-11, 18-16, 11-3, 11-6
Nightingale beat Joe Green 4-11, 11-8, 11-6, 13-11
Ellis beat Magor 11-7, 11-5, 12-10


[1] Michael Harris (ENG) v [L] Jonny Powell (ENG) Court 1: 6.15
[L] Phil Nightingale (ENG) v [7] Phillip Bull (ENG) Court 2: 7.00
[8] Joshua Masters (ENG) v George Parker (ENG) Court 1: 5.30
Suleman Khan (PAK) v [3] Reuben Phillips (ENG) Court 2: 5.30
[4] Youssef Abdalla (ENG) v Nick Mulvey (ENG) Court 2: 6.15
[L] James Evans (ENG) v [5] Jonathan Geekie (SCO) Court 1: 7.00
[6] Anthony Brindle (GIB) v [L] Sam Ellis (ENG) Court 1: 8.30
Joel Makin (WAL) v [2] James Earles (ENG) Court 1: 7.45

 Pictures by SIMON SCOTT Kentbridge Sports


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