Callow, Baker, Cheetham and Levy claim the Isle Of Man Squash Masters Titles

The Isle Of Man Masters Squash Tournament for 2023 took place between Tuesday 24 and Friday 27 January. This year the Tournament organisers decided to combine the Over 50s and Over 40s categories into one draw, with the highest placed Over 50 and Over 40 player taking the titles of Over 50 and Over 40 champion respectively. The same strategy was used for the Over 70s and Over 60s age categories. Alongside the Masters Tournament an Open Tournament was played for players too young to enter the age restricted tournaments. This was divided into an ‘A’ grade competition for the better players (players with a playing level exceeding 3,500 points) and a ‘B’ Grade competition for players with a lower playing level. Players were allowed to play in a maximum of 2 events.  

Overs 70s and Over 60s Tournament 

There were 5 players competing in the Overs 70s and Overs 60s event. The top seed and youngest player was Steve Baker, the other players in seeding order were Richard Haley, Les Callow, Gerrit Du Toit and Phil Shaw.

The last 3 players to be listed are Over 70 so they would be battling it out for the Overs 70s title. All 5 players were allocated to 1 group and over the course of the completion each player would play against the other players in the group.

The matches in this category went according to seeding on the whole. Long time sparring partners Callow and Shaw had a 5 game match with Callow just clinching it in the end. Du Toit produced a fine display to push the much younger Haley all the way to 5 games, but just failed get the winning point.

The deciding matches to determine the top and second spots were between Baker and Haley at Over 60s level, with Baker gaining another 3-0 win to claim the top spot. Callow and Du Toit duelled to decide the Overs 70s champion with Callow coming out on top in another 5 game match to take the title.

Overs 50s and Over 40s Tournament 

There were 12 players entered into the Overs 50s and Overs 40s competition. The players were seeded and split into 4 groups of 3 players with each player playing the other players in their group. When the group competition and finished the 4 players winning their groups entered a monrad competition to decide the winning places. The 4 group runners up also had a monrad contest to determine placings 5 to 8 and the group losers did the same thing to determine positions 9 through to 12.

The top seed for this event was the evergreen Ashley Sandyford-Sykes followed in seeding order by Malcolm Levy, Hamish Thornton, Steve Baker, Lyndon Cheetham, Dave Freer, Douglas Jacobsson, Richard  Cretney, Richard Haley, Dasa Brynjolffssen, Steve Pitts and Phil Whittam. The top 3 Over 50s were Sandyford-Sykes, Baker and Cheetham. The top 3 Over 40s were Levy, Thornton and Freer.

In the first round Stone Art Squash teammates Steve Baker and Lyndon Cheetham, seeded 4 and 5 respectively had a good match. Lyndon Cheetham has hit a rich vain if form and beat his higher ranked opponent in a 5 games to upset the seedings.

The results in the play offs for the 5 to 12 placings went according to seeding but the matches of note were Freer versus Cretney plus Pitts  against Haley, these were both real humdinger matches with Freer and Haley coming through the 5 game encounters by the skin of their teeth.

The first placed players in the groups consisted of 2 Overs 40s and 2 Over 50s. Malcolm Levy met Hamish Thornton in the Over 40s final, they took it in turns to win games with Levy winning the final game to take the match 3-2. Unfortunately Ashley Sandyford-Sykes had to withdraw from the tournament which meant Lyndon Cheetham claimed the Over 50s title with Sandyford-Sykes taking the runners up spot.

Open Tournament – B Grade

The B grade was contested between 11 players. There was a preliminary round for 6 competitors with the 3 losers going into a round robin group of 3 players. There 3 preliminary round winners and the top 5 seeded players all entered a monrad style Competition to get an overall ranking for all the players entered into this event.

Ben Peach was the number 1 seed, followed in seeding order by teammate Damien Loughrey, Harvey Douglas, Lance Wyllie, Michael Fernandes, Dave Freer, Alan Macnair, Phil Butler, Steve Pitts, Phil Whittam and George Rumney.

The preliminary round losers were Pitts, Whittam and Rumney, They played a round robin competition. Pitts had 2 cracking 5 game matches in this group. He lost to Strix Squash Squad team captain Rumney but managed a win in his match against Whittam, he got his monies worth.

In the monrad stage of this category the only seeding upset occurred when Michael Fernandes beat Jaguars teammate Lance Wyllie in a 5 game match, he took the final game 13-11.

The play off matches brought an improvement in placing for Freer who overcame the higher ranked Wyllie in 5 games to claim the 5th placing. Atlas Group Arrows player Butler also improved his ranking by a place by beating Macnair in 4 games.

The semi-final matches saw the top seeds and Cannell Print teammates Ben Peach and Damien Loughrey progress through to meet in the final. In the final the youthful Peach looked fairly controlled and comfortable taking a 3-0 victory over Loughrey.

Open Tournament – A Grade

There were 6 players in the A grade competition. All these players are ranked in the top 10 places on the island and all bar 1 has represented the IOM at International level. The players were seeded and split into 2 groups of 3 players with each player playing the other players in their group. When the group matches had finished the 2 players winning the group had a play off, as did the second and third placed players. So the players ended up with a ranking of 1 through to 6.

In the first group consisted of the top seed and tournament organiser Thom Whiteway, he was joined in his group by 2 over 40s players Malcolm Levy and Hamish Thornton. The other group consisted of Over 50s player Ashley Sandyford-Sykes, who was joined by 2 younger players, Pat Fitzpatrick and Jason Crease.

In the first group, Malcolm Levy had two 5 game matches. He went 2 games up against top seed Thom Whiteway but Whiteway showed his fighting qualities to dig in and take the next 3 games to win the match 3-2. His match against Hamish Thornton had the same 3-2 scoreline but this time it was in Levy’s favour. The second group was topped by young Pat Fitzpatrick, who was pushed hard by Jason Crease in their match. 

The third and fourth place play off was between Levy and Sandyford-Sykes, Levy had yet another long attritional 5 game match, he came through it on top to claim the bronze medal spot. Thornton got the 5th spot as Crease had to withdraw with a knee injury.

The final brought together 2 of the best under 30s players on the Island, Thom Whiteway and Pat Fitzpatrick, they are the future of Isle Of Man squash. These players had yet another close encounter with Whiteway winning in 4 by the score of 11-7,14-12, 4-11 and 13-11 to become the  Open ’A’ grade winner

Prize Presentation

The tournament prizes were presented by Bill and Brian Karran, the brothers of the late Dave Karran who was a very active squash player, well liked and remembered fondly by those who knew him. Isle Of Man Squash continue to be very grateful for their on going and faithful support.


Congratulations go to the champions and runners up :-

Over 70 Winner – Les Callow

Over 70 Runner Up – Gerrit Du Toit

Over 60 Winner – Steve Baker

Over 60 Runner Up – Richard Haley

Over 50 Winner – Lyndon Cheetham 

Over 50 Runner Up – Ashley Sandyford-Sykes

Over 40 Winner – Malcolm Levy

Over 40 Runner Up – Hamish Thornton

Grade ‘B’ Winner – Ben Peach

Grade ‘B’ Runner Up – Damien Loughrey

Grade ‘A’ Winner – Thom Whiteway

Grade ‘A’ Runner Up – Pat Fitzpatrick