The 2018 Douglas Open Squash Tournament was played over three nights last week. There was a full entry of 32 that included five juniors and two women.
The first two rounds were played best of three games to 11 points. In the first round current island number one Dave Norman played 13 year old Ben Leith and what a game this turned out to be with young Leith showing that he is going to be a player to watch in a couple of years. He displayed some great shots and good retrieving, making Norman work for his win. Unfortunately Norman was carrying an injury coming into the competition and had to pull out without playing another match, leaving the top spot open.
In other first round notable matches Magnus Lamprecht beat Jon Shepherd 2-1 in a closely fought match, Rob Boyles had to work hard to beat a determined Beth Jones 2-1 and A league players Steve Morley and Rob Colquitt won 2-1 against C league regular Darren Smethurst and Dean Sowerby respectively.
In the second round Steve Morley had to use all his experience to beat Rob Boyles 2-1 with the last two games going to 11-10. Ben Peach was also made to work hard by Allister Crossley in his 2-1 win. Darren Smethurst and Beth Jones had a very close match with Jones eventually winning 11-10 in the third game. Junior Christian Webster played very well to get a game off Stuart Highy who won 2-1.
At the round 3 or quarter finals stage the top eight in the draw played best of five games while all the other players continued to play played best of three due to lack of court time. Number two seed Thom Whiteway had to go to four games to beat Hamish Thornton 3-1. Mike Hayler was drafted in to the top eight to fill in the gap left by Dave Norman and this proved a good choice by the organisers as he came back from 2-0 down to beat Ben Peach 11-6 in the fifth game of a thrilling match.
In the other round three matches Jon Shepherd beat Marc Taggart2-1, Stuart Highy managed to beat Les Callow11-10 in the third, Oliver Williams beat fellow junior Christian Webster 2-1 and Fraser Dorling beat Ben Leith 11-10 in the third game. Harvey Douglas, another junior beat Fatheha Essa 2-1 in a very competitive match.
The semi final of the night was between Patrick Fitzpatrick and newcomer to the island Jason Blue. This match was full of flowing squash with long rallies and great retrieving, but by the end of the fourth Blue, not used to playing two hard matches in one night, had started to run out of steam. Fitzpatrick used this to his advantage, winning the fifth game and the match.
It was great to see some of the juniors playing in their first senior competition and they all acquitted themselves very well with Oliver Wait finishing in the top 16. However the award for best junior went to 13 year old Ben Leith not only for his overall performance but also for his sporting attitude on court.
In the final round all matches were best of five games. Beth Jones went 2-0 up against Les Callow before Les managed to level the score, but Beth proved to be the stronger player winning the last game 11-7. The match of the night was between Ben Peach and Steve Morley. Ben won the first 11-10, Steve then won the next two games, but although Steve fought for every ball Ben managed to win the last two games 11-9 to give him the match.
In the lower half of the draw the Plate event was played between all the first round losers. The top four in this event were Alan McNair, Marc Taggert, Mark Henson and Jon Shepherd, all solid B league players. The final of this ended up as a duel between Jon Shepherd and Mark Henson with Shepherd taking the title 3-1.
The final was between Thomas Whiteway and Patrick Fitzpatrick.In their previous meetings in team matches the scoreline has been very close with Thom winning their last match by one point in the fifth.However the previous evening’s hard match against Jason Blue took its toll on Fitzpatrickresulting in Whiteway winning the competition and the Douglas Open title 3-0.