Isle of Man gain vital experience and perform well in the European Team Championships – a full report

Isle of Man Squash Rackets Association sent a squad to compete in the European Team Championships from the 3rd to 6th of April in Lisbon, Portugal. The Isle of Man were in Division 3, competing against nineteen other European countries, and for the first time in ten years put forward a women’s as well as a men’s team.

The IOM Squad is pictured above. The men’s team was made up of Thomas Whiteway, Oscar Hill, Malcolm Levy and Patrick Fitzpatrick while the women’s team consisted of Beth Jones, Michelle Smith and junior Amaline Batty. None of these women have ever played international squash before so this was a great experience as well as a big challenge for them.

Arriving at the courts in Lisbon it was obvious that the matches would be a challenge due to the courts being semi open air and the temperature in single figures.

The first matches were played in a round robin format and the men’s team were drawn against Malta, Lithuania and Poland while the women had to play Norway and Luxembourg in a group of three. The Isle of Man men were first on court against Malta and although they put up a spirited fight they lost 4-0. The women then played a very strong team from Norway (who eventually finished third) and again played well but lost 3-0. The men were back in action three hours later against Lithuania and, although three of the four matches went to five games, the team lost 4-0. An early start the next morning saw the women back in action and again they played well in some very close matches but the more experienced Luxembourg team came out on top. 

Unfortunately for the Isle of Man men, Malcolm Levy had to head back home due to a family illness which left them one man short and due to play Poland the next day. After some discussion it was agreed that Team Manager Les Callow could fill in at number four for the remaining matches. 

In the men’s match against Poland the IOM number one Thomas Whiteway managed to take a game off his Polish counterpart before losing in four. Patrick Fitzpatrick and Oscar Hill had close games but lost 3-0 which then left number four Les Callow to take on the young Polish player who was 52 years his junior!  Young legs proved to be the winner but Callow had a great match and managed to get 7 points in one game. Squash is a very big sport in Poland and it was no surprise that they eventually won the tournament.

On the Friday the IOM men played Guernsey in what was the battle of the small Islands and proved to be very close. Three of the matches could have been won by either team but Guernsey proved to be the stronger on the day winning 4-0. The women played Slovenia next, coming close in every match but eventually losing 3-0. Their afternoon match was against Romania and they showed improvement again, pushing their opponents all the way with Michelle Smith taking her match to four games.

Finals day was on the Saturday and the IOM men were drawn against Belarus. Fitzpatrick and Hill both worked hard to win their matches 3-1 resulting in a 2-2 result for the men in their last match of the championships. The women’s last match was against Greece and all our women demonstrated how much they had improved over the competition with all three coming close to winning their match.

Team manager Les Callow commented “Two things stood out when you watched all the matches. One was the fact that it was so cold on court with players wrapped up in blankets waiting to play and the ball not getting hot enough to bounce and the other thing was just how much all the teams have improved.”

The Isle of Man loves playing in this event and will be back next year, hopefully much improved and with a full complement of players.

I have included some Pre Match photographs below –

IOMSRA Handicap Cup Competition for 2019

The IOMSRA Handicap Cup Competition commences on Thursday the 2nd May and will climax in a final to be played on Friday 17th May. The picture below shows last years winner Conister Racketeers Pioneers and encapsulates what it means to win the Cup Competition. The picture shows, left to right – Andrew Brown, Calum Baker, Nic Kieswetter, Rob Boyles and James Leith 

The IOMSRA Handicap Cup competition is for teams in the B and C leagues. Each team is given a Handicap which is derived from the teams results over the course of the season. Additional points are given to C league teams to make them competitive against the B league teams. The Handicaps for the teams are shown below, if you want to know how these were derived just contact me and I will send you the Excel Spreadsheet that I used to derive them.

The Cup matches will be scored like the league matches so the team score will be a determined by adding the scores of the best 3 games of each player together for the team. The scores for each team member will then be added together to give a Total Points scored for the Team. Please note the will be ‘NO BONUS’ points added to the winning team, but the difference between the teams handicap values will be added to one of the teams instead.

Please note that a player will NOT be cup tied, he can play for both his B and C league teams in the cup unless they play each other of course. If they do he must select 1 of the teams to represent.

I have yet to do the draw but the format of the draw which includes the dates of matches is shown below – 

 

 

Congratulations to Island Exhausts Vets on becoming IOMSRA Division C Winners

The final round of IOMSRA Division C Fixtures was played on Friday 5th April resulting in the Island Exhaust Vets becoming the winners of the C League. The team is pictured above and is back row from left to right – Phil Shaw, Ian Sheard (Captain) and Peter Sharples. Front row left to right – Jimmy Fick and Lee Loughren. 

Division C has been very close since Christmas as the final placings in the table below shows – 

Division C Champions –

Island Exhaust Vets won the pre-Christmas block of the league fixtures and Island Exhaust Vets also won the post-Christmas block therefore as they won both these blocks they are the undisputed IOMSRA Division C winners. The is no need for a C league final to be played. 

 

IOMSRA – Important Dates for your Diary

29th April – Monday

Division A Final to be played between EasyGym and Cannell Print. It will be played at the NSC and will start at 6.30pm.

 

15th May – Wednesday

Captains Meeting to be held at the Woodbourne Pub in the Pool Room starting at 7pm. It will be followed by an IOMSRA Committee Meeting. Venue still subject to Confirmation.

 

17th May – Friday

IOMSRA Handicap Cup Final. It will be played at the NSC starting at 6.30pm.

 

18th May – Saturday

Annual IOMSRA Prize Giving. Venue is to be confirmed but the start time will be 7pm. Food will be served and prizes and awards for the Squash year will be presented.

 

14th June – Friday

IOMSRA Annual General Meeting. Venue to be Woodbourne Pub in the Pool Room starting at 7pm. Venue still subject to Confirmation.

 

 

 

 

 

Crowe Dragons crowned Division B Champions

The Photograph below is of Crowe Dragons – left to right – Oliver Wait, Ben Peach, Jon Shepherd (captain), Magnus Lamprecht and Peter Ferguson    

In Division A the clash between Cannell Print and Team AON would decide the Division A winner. Island players Pat Fitzpatrick and Thomas Whiteway had a good close battle with Fitzpatrick just taking the fifth game 11-9 for AON. Cannell hit back to make it 1-1 when Ashley Sandyford Sykes won 3-1 at second string. At three Jason Crease had a very convincing 3-0 win over Cannell’s Ben Peach. However Cannell had the experience of Mike Hayler at four and the athleticism of Joshua Green at five who both performed well and ensured a 3-2 and 155-145 victory for Cannell Print, taking them to the top of the table.

The other fixture was between StoneArt and EasyGym, with StoneArt gaining a surprising 5-0 win to claim the third spot in the table and consign EasyGym to the Wooden Spoon position. Hamish Thornton and Allister Crossley both won in straight games. Team sponsor Lyndon Cheetham and Douglas Jacobsson both had to work harder to get their 3-1 wins. The closest match of the fixture was the number one string battle between Paul Barnett and Jason Blue. The first three games were really close with only 2 or 3 points separating the players when the game balls were won, however Barnett ran out of steam in the fourth with Blue winning 11-1 to secure the whitewash for StoneArt.  

Crowe Dragons secured the B league title with two very strong performances back to back to capitalise on the Outcasts loss last week. This final week they took on Island Exhausts who unfortunately suffered player availability issues which meant a  call up for Richard Cretney on the morning of the match and Mark Harrop an hour before the match. The Dragons also had players injured or off island meaning they had to draft Lyndon Cheetham back into the team. The Dragons team was very strong and took all the matches 3-0, so the overall match score was 5-0 and 250-143. Congratulations go to Crowe Dragons – Division B Champions.   

The other B league match was between the Sharks and Conister Racketeers Pioneers. This was a good final match for the Sharks that saw them finish a solid third in the league. The match score finished 5-0, but this does not reflect the great spirit and close games thoughout. Particularly entertaining was the game between Mark Webster Smith and Rob Boyles with Mark winning 3-1. A close second was that between Mark Stratford and Barry Irvine which went all the way to five games. Saturday morning squash ‘stable-mates’ Dave Freer and Dean Sowerby finished 3-0 to Freer in a closer match than the score suggests. Douglas Jacobsson and Greg Ansara took the other wins for the Sharks.

In the C League Island Exhausts Vets and Dandara Falcons had a cracking end of season fixture with the final score line in no way reflecting how tight the contest really was. Falcons Vusimbe Zivave and Kale Combes both had chances to take games off their opponents Lee Loughren and Richard Cretney but failed to get the vital points. Graham Partington had a bit too much experience for Jon Cox at third string winning 3-0. The Falcons only win came through Lewi Long who fought back from 2-0 down against Ian Sheard, using good tactical play and clever shot selection to take the match to five games clinching the final game 15-5. Peter Sharples won 3-1 at number one resulting in the overall points score 247-160 to the Vets.

Browne Craine Dragons chances of winning the Division C improved as a result of this 4-1, 242-190 points win over Hansard Racketeers. At either end of the team sheet Dragons Jon Shepherd and Helen Cave picked up 3-0 wins. Fatheha Essa asked her work colleague Shahrukh Mirza to play for her team and he definitely did not let her down, with both these players picking up 3-2 wins against Racketeers Andy Dalrymple and Daryl Richards. Hansard Racketeers win came through the grey fox Matt Corlett who won in four very competitive games. 

Buchanan & Pitts Misfits dropped only five points in their 4-1, 245-189 win over Dohle Stars. Terry Holt has missed a lot of squash this season through work commitments but this was not evidenced by his 3-0 win over Brian Cowley. The hard hitting Jay Dernie also won 3-0. John Watterson and Stephen Pitts were both taken to five games by Dohle Stars Luke Tippett and Antony Bentley Roberts but the Misfits managed to secure the match winning points in the fifth games. Dohle Stars only victory came at five through Eckhard Garbers who played well to secure vital points for his team.