Recently the Isle of Man Squash Rackets Association sent a team to Gibraltar to enter the European Squash Championships. The team consisted of Nathan Mead, Oscar Hill, Patrick Fitzpatrick, Malcolm Levy, Harvey Douglas and its manager Les Callow. There were 15 men’s teams and 11 women’s teams from all over Europe taking part in the competition. In the men’s event, the teams were split into 4 pools to play a round robin for the first 2 days with the top two in each group progressing to the quarter-finals. The Isle of Man was grouped with Greece, Luxembourg and Slovakia.
The IOM team got off to a great start on the first day by beating Greece 3-1. Harvey Douglas, who was still a junior the day before the competition started, was the only loser, but showed that he is a rising star in the Island squad.
Next the Isle of Man came up against a very strong team from Slovakia. Nathan Mead proved his prowess by beating the Slovakian number 1. Oscar Hill at number 2 just lost out in the 5th set by 3 points and although Patrick and Malcolm played well, the IOM team lost 3-1.
The following day, the IOM team faced Luxembourg. Again Nathan Mead won and both Malcolm Levy and Patrick Fitzpatrick played great squash but were beaten in 2 very close matches. The Isle of Man lost 3-1 to Luxembourg and finished 3rd in their group, which meant that the team could then only play for 9th to 12th place in the overall standings.
In the playoffs the IOM team first met Croatia. Luck was not on its side. Despite playing great squash, Nathan Mead lost a thrilling match 16-14 in the 5th set. Patrick Fitzpatrick and Malcolm Levy also took their opponents to 5 sets only lose by a couple of points. The overall result was 3-1 to Croatia.
Thus on the last morning, the Isle of Man played Greece again for 11th and 12th place. Although the team had beaten Greece in the round robin match, this time it was without its number 2 player Oscar Hill, who had to return home due to work commitments. Harvey Douglas now got the chance to represent his country for only the second time at senior level. Harvey played strongly but his more experienced opponent won a very close match 3-0. Tired legs after playing 4 matches in 2 days proved the deciding factor in the other matches, with Nathan Mead being the only winner for the Isle of Man. At 21 years old, he will certainly be a force to be reckoned with as he starts his professional career.
The Isle of Man team finished a very creditable 12th ahead of other small nations like Gibraltar and Guernsey.
The Island team would like to thank the Isle of Man Squash Rackets Association, the Isle of Man Sports Council for their support and Global Monetary Solutions for their sponsorship of the playing shirts.
Photo from left to right is Harvey Douglas, Nathan Mead, Patrick Fitzpatrick, Oscar Hill and Malcolm Levy, missing from photo is team manager Les Callow.