Locals get a taste of the high life
By DAVE IRESON in Aberdeen
Awarding local spots in PSA tournaments provides an opportunity for home players to test their merits against the professionals.
Trying to bridge the gulf in fitness, shot selection and match-play can be a challenging experience, as the locals found during day one of the TRAC North of Scotland Open at Aberdeen Squash Club.
 Mark Fuller (Eng) vs Gavin “Stallion” Sutherland (Sco)
The “Stallion” was sporting the neon Grampian colours, rather than the traditional ASRC whites. The first didn’t go very well as the Stallion struggled to find his length on a very warm court 7 and failed to win a point. The Stallion looked to vary his length a bit more and try and this seemed to work as he managed to get into the game, and forcing some errors from Fuller, who took the second 11-5. In the third the score was not a reflection of the game. The Stallion used his trademark holds with much better effect causing Fuller to check his movement, and forcing several boasts, and moving Fuller all over the court, however the gulf in standard was perhaps a bit too much, and Fuller closed out the game 11-2, with some great retrieval.
Fuller won 3-0: 11-0, 11-5, 11-2
 Youssef Soliman (Egy) vs Richard “Russell” Hollins
Local Richard “Russell” Hollins returned from competing for Scotland in the U19 European Team Championships. Both players seemed to be comfortable spending the majority of their time in the front half of the court. It was pretty even all the way through the first, both players trading nicks and holds, but in the end the Egyptian’s experience prevailed at the end first closing it out 11-9. The second and third games were a similar story, a lot of balls into the front, a lot of holds and nicks – bit of a crowd pleaser!
Soliman won 3-0 11-9 11-4-11-3 (21 min)
 Martin Svec (Cze) vs Michael “Scrapper” Black (Sco)
Local favourite Mike “Scrapper” Black loves his trademark backhand-wiggle crosscourt, but Svec read it well and volleyed Scrapper all over the court. It almost kicked off, when Svec hit a crosscourt drop-roller off the frame. Scrapper came out fighting in the second taking the game to Svec – perhaps intimidating Svec with his imposing stature and forcing some errors from the Czech. However Svec does enough to close out the game 11-8. Scrapper uses the counter drop to great effect in the third, exposing some slightly dodgy front court play from Svec, and earns himself a game ball. However, Svec had put enough work into his legs in the first two games to draw level and then close out the match 12-10.
Svec won 3-0: 11-4, 11-8, 12-10 (24 min)
 Matthew Hopkin (Aus) vs Robert Dadds (Eng)
Hopkin looks silky smooth on a squash court, smooth movement, and some lovely holds – very impressive. Makes the first look easy taking it 11-8. In the second there is more of the same from Hopkins, however the end product slightly lets him down as he makes a flurry of unforced errors, handing Dadds the game 11-7. Absolute joke squash in the third and fourth from Hopkin: holds and nicks for fun, making Dadds run diagonal after diagonal. Very impressive stuff.
Hopkin won 3-1: 11-8, 7-11, 11-5, 11-7 (34 min)
 Joshua Masters (Eng) vs Calum Johnston (Sco)
Calum aka “Tank”, originally from just outside Perth, he now studies in Aberdeen and trains weekly at ASRC, and was the first local to take to the court. He took a while to get used to the pace of the professional game, going behind in the first, and eventually losing out 11-6. Into the second and for the first time in history Tank actually tries to slow a game down, decent stuff; goes down 11-6 in the second. Masters was too strong for Tank in the third, taking it 11-4. Tank managed to stay on court for (just) longer than 20 minutes, which was his objective.
Masters won 3-0: 11-6, 11-6, 11-4 (21 min)
 Joe Green (Eng) vs Brian Byrne (Irl)
In the third game, and with Green leading 2-0 and 6-4, Byrne accidentally clipped Green with the racket. He suffered a bleed just below his eye, resulting in an extended injury break to allowing the bleeding to subside. On resumption, Green lost several points in a row, but managed to claw his way back to 9-10, after which the bleeding started again, forcing Green to concede the game. With Green leading 4-2 in the fourth, Byrne is forced to leave the court as a result of a blood injury. Byrne returned to the court and both players proceeded to get involved in a “cross court fest”, Green clearly trying to expose Byrne’s forehand. A couple of critical errors towards the end saw Green take the fourth and match 11-9.
Green won 3-1: 12-10, 11-6, 9-11, 11-9 (94 min)
 Micah Franklin (Ber) vs Tristan Eysele (Rsa)
Absolutely epic fifth game; both players playing attacking squash, coupled with some excellent retrieval. In the end it looked like Eysele just had a bit more in the tank than Franklin, managing to convert the fifth at the third time of asking.
Eysele won 3-2: 11-6, 10-12, 9-11, 11-3, 14-12 (61 mins).
 Ashley Davies (Eng) vs Connor Sheen (Eng)
The first game saw an edgy start from Sheen, making several unforced errors, giving Davies an early lead. Both players seem to want to expose their opponent’s forehands, with an exchange of crosscourts in the first, Davies however managed to maintain his early lead and close out the first 11-5. The second saw a complete reversal, this time Sheen stepped up the court increasing the pace, and volleying much more than the first, and once again opened and early lead. Despite a spirited come back from Davies with some deft touch across the front, Sheen closed out the game 11-9. Davies straightened up in the third, looking to take away Sheen’s volley. This paid dividends, as Davies won 11-4. Davies increased the pace in the fourth hitting crisp drives deep into the court, forcing some frantic retrieval and loose shots from Sheen. Davies closed out the fourth and match 11-9.
Davies won 3-1: 11-5, 9-11, 11-4, 11-9 (45 mins).
Pictures by MIKE HEGARTY (ASRC)