Dave Norman crowned Elites squash champion

The Finals of the Elites and Masters Tournaments were played on Friday 11th January. The picture below shows the winners and runners up for the various categories.  The picture shows from Left to Right – Hamish Thornton (Winner Over 40s), Thomas Whiteway (Runner Up Elites),  Liam Davies, Dave Norman (Winner Elites), Steve Morley (Runner Up Over 40s), Bill Karran (Event Sponsor), Lyndon Cheetham (Runner Up Over 50s),  Dave O’Neill (Winner Over 60s), Brian Karran (Event Sponsor) and Les Callow (Runner Up Over 60s). The Overs 50s Winner was Steve Baker but he is not shown in the picture.

The annual Dave Karran Memorial Masters squash competition took place at the NSC last week. This included three age categories, over 40’s, over 50’s and over 60’s and this year a new event for the top players called the Elite was introduced.

The first round in the Elite competition saw some very close matches that went to a full five games. Calum Baker and James Martin had four very close games before Baker won  11-3 in the fifth. Jon Shepherd has rapidly improved this year and won the first two games against Steve Morley before Morley upped his game to win the next three. Allister Crossley against Douglas Jacobsson was always going to be a close match and they didn’t disappoint with Crossley eventually winning 11-7 in the fifth.

The second round of the Elite went with seeding but Hamish Thornton was made to work very hard  for his 3-1 win over a resurgent Rob Colquitt. Rob Boyles had to earn his 3-1 win over Ben Peach and Steve Baker was taken to four games by Mark Webster-Smith.

The over 40’s first round matches went to seeding although Sarah Simpson, the only female player in the tournament, took a game off Steve Morley.

In the over 50’s the match of the night was Mark Grace against Peter Ginty. Ginty won the first two very close games before Grace levelled the match 2-2. The fifth game went point for point to 7-7 before Mark pulled ahead to win 11-7. Stuart Highy had a close match with Lyndon Cheetham, Highy winning the first game but eventually losing 3-1. 

In the over 60’s round robin matches Les Callow managed to upset the seeding, coming back from two games down to win 3-2 against Peter Sharples.

In the next rounds of the Elite Hamish Thornton beat Paul Barnett 3-1 in a very close hard fought match. Josh Green, returning to squash after a very successful badminton career, was two down in his match against Calum Baker before pulling back a 3-2 win, and James Martin was made to work very hard for his 3-2 victory over Chris Cave. 

The semi-finals of the Elite saw Thom Whiteway taken all the way to five games in his match against Jason Blue. The more mature Steve Baker (also playing in the over 50’s) showed he still has the stamina to take on much younger opponents, winning 3-2 against prospective Island player Mason McLarney in a long and competitive match. 

In the over 40’s Steve Morley was made to work very hard for his 3-1 win over hard hitting Dave Freer and in the over 50’s Lyndon Cheetham beat Douglas Jacobson 3-1 in four very close games.

In the over 60’s Peter Sharples beat Brian Cowley and the ever youthful Dave O’Neill beat Les Callow.

The final rounds saw some very close competitive matches. In the Elites Rob Boyles played his best squash to beat Mason McLarney in the fifth game. Steve Morley had already played seven matches when he came up against James Martin but still played some great squash, however the younger Martin just managed to pull off a 3-2 win. Mark Webster-Smith also had to play his best to secure a 3-2 win over Calum Baker, the last game going to 13-11. Liam Davies and Douglas Jacobsson had a particularly close fourth game going to 16-14 in Davies’ favour, who then went on to win 11-7 in the fifth.

In the over 40’s final Hamish Thornton overcame Steve Morley 3-0 to become the over 40’s Masters Champion.

The final in the over 50’s was between Steve Baker and Lyndon Cheetham, who had two very competitive games initially, taking one game each. Then Cheetham’s lack of fitness began to tell and Steve won the match 3-1 to become the over 50’s Masters Champion.

In the over 60’s Les Callow had a 3-2 win over Brian Cowley and Dave O’Neil beat Pete Sharples 3-0. In this round robin tournament Dave O’Neil was undefeated and therefore was crowned over 60’s Masters Champion.

The final of the Elite was a much anticipated encounter between Island Champion Dave Norman and young Thom Whiteway.The pace of the match was tremendous and Whiteway was forced to dive round the court to keep himself in the game. Norman won the first two games but then Whiteway slowed the game down and with some lovely drop shots he won the third to keep the match alive. Dave however soon got back into his relentless hard hitting length game to win the match and become Island Elite Champion.

The Isle of Man Squash Association would like to thank Dave Karran’s brothers Bill and Brian for their continuing support over the last 24 years in sponsoring this event and as always they were on hand to present the trophies to the winning players.