Defending champions Surrey Health will fight to keep hold of PSL title
By HOWARD HARDING – Squash Mad PSL Correspondent
Derbyshire club Benz-Bavarian Duffield will call upon the services of two world champions as they bid to wrest the Premier Squash League (PSL) title away from five-time champions Integrity Surrey Health & Racquets in the 2014 final next Tuesday (May 6) at the Surrey Sports Park in Guildford.
It was following Yorkshireman Nick Matthew’s third men’s World Championship title win last November in Manchester that Lancashire’s Laura Massaro became England’s first women’s World Champion for 15 years in Malaysia in March – giving both world titles to England for the first time ever.
PSL champions in 1998, 2006 and 2007, Duffield are back in the final for the second year in a row and for the seventh time since 1995. But Croydon club Surrey Health have dominated the PSL since first winning the trophy in 2008 – and last year secured a record fourth title in a row.
The defending champions will be led by England internationals Peter Barker, Adrian Grant and Alison Waters – ranked 7, 23 and 5, respectively, in the world – while Matthew and Massaro, both ranked two in the world (and pictured above), spearhead the Duffield attack.
Matthew is celebrating his 11th successive season for Duffield – and victory in the semi-finals earlier in the month marked a league record 40th successive PSL win!
“First of all, it is a massive honour to play on the same team as a fellow world champion,” said Sheffield star Matthew as he looked forward to his fifth PSL final for Duffield. “It might be the only time ever, so we both really appreciate it whilst it lasts!!
“In terms of Duffield, it is a great club with a massive sense of community feel, led by a great manager & great friend of mine in Felix (Frixou). I would love to win the final for him more than anything really.
“What I have noticed about Surrey is that they not only have a great team, but they have a great team spirit, which is crucial in team events if you want to have success year upon year as they have done,” added the 33-year-old. “We will have our work cut out but we will be cheered on by our travelling contingent and give it a massive shot.”
Massaro, playing in only her second season for Duffield – and her second successive final – endorsed her team-mate’s enthusiasm: “I am really looking forward to playing in the PSL final again. It will be as tough as ever playing Surrey in the final but hopefully we can all perform well on the night and pick up the win.
“It would mean a great deal to the players and all the members at Duffield if we were to claim the title and I’m really excited for a great night of squash,” added the 30-year-old from Preston. “The team is really hungry and hopefully that will give us the edge on the night.”
PSL Final line-up:
Benz-Bavarian Duffield v Integrity Surrey Health & Racquets
Nick Matthew v Peter Barker
Stephen Coppinger v Adrian Grant
Joel Hinds v Adrian Waller
Andy Whipp v Davide Bianchetti
Laura Massaro v Alison Waters
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