Young show promise in squash events

The Bulter and Mulhern Shetland Squash under-15, under-13 and under-11 competitions took place recently. First were the under-15 and under-13 girls.

Kirsty Laurenson and Aimee Strachan played a very tight match, both doing well in their first open. However Kirsty just managed to edge ahead at the end of both games to win the match. Emma Niven was next up against Aimee. This match was for the under-13 title. Emma served well at the start to give her a good lead and Aimee was unable to catch up as Emma won.

The under-15 girls final was then between Emma and Kirsty. Again serves were the most important shot but Emma came back after an early lead from Kirsty with more strong serving. Kirsty tried hard but Emma’s experience was too much as she won the title.

There were two very strong entrants in the boy’s under-11 event. The final saw Scott Smith take on Joe Niven. Joe played a very precise angle game with very good volleys and front court shots allowing him to edge the first game after a mas­sive 24 rallies. The second game was also tight until Scott hit some long drives to win a streak of five points and then hold his lead with some more deep shots to take it to one game all. Joe tried hard to fight back but Scott played well to keep his momentum and take the under-11 title.

The other events were the playoff and plate event for the under-13 boys where eight boys fought it out for four playoff places. The one to four seeds Mark Ferguson, Ryan Kirk, Andrew Bain and Craig Smith managed to maintain their seeding, holding off Alfred Holt, Drew Cooper, Joseph Morgan and Kieran Fraser.

The top four seeds then played off for regional seedings. After several matches this left Craig and Andrew to play off for third seed. Andrew defended his seeding well with some great concentration in game one and a massive streak of seven points. Craig is known for his tournament form though and showed equal composure in the second to edge a tight game by two points. Craig made a fast start and Andrew pulled it back to within one point but Craig showed good focus and ran out winner in the final game to become third seed.

First seed playoff saw Mark play Ryan. Mark tried hard at the start but was unable to stop Ryan scoring small streaks. Mark fought on with great spirit but was unable to deal with Ryan’s power as Ryan took a close first. Ryan then used a good combination of powerful serves and drives to keep the pressure on to win first seed.

The under-13s plate event was played between Alfred, Drew, Joseph and Kieran. There were several close matches to decide the final, specifically Joseph taking the first game off Alfred with some error free squash. Alfred fought back though to win the match by only two points 27-25.

Another very close match was Drew against Kieran. The first gigantic game took 32 points as the lead see-sawed back and forth with the players giving their all. Drew finally edged it and kept the momentum going to get into the plate final against Alfred. Drew seized the initiative in the first with a streak of six. Alfred was unable to recover enough to save the game. Alfred fought harder in the second and took a three point lead with some good tactical squash. Drew dug deep and got a streak of four to get him back in and then edge over the line to win the under-13 plate event. The under-13 and under-15 boys’ finals are this weekend in Unst from 2pm to 6pm, all spectators welcome.

The Bulter and Mulhern Shetland Squash under-19, under-17 and plate saw some fiercely contested squash this month. Five out of the 11 players were playing in their first tournament with a mixture of experience of between a few weeks to over six years.

The top two seeds Kevin Moar and Ellis Robb and their vast experience showed as they pro­gressed through to the under-19 final without too much difficulty. The final was a different affair with continuously long rallies which both players were determined not lose. Each game was only decided on a few points. Ellis ran hard and showed some strong backhand strokes but in the end it was not enough to stop Kevin’s powerful squash as Kevin eventually edged ahead in each game to win the title.

However furious the final was this was nothing like the ferocity of the battle for number three seed.

Michael Thomson was given the first chance to defend it as he took on injury prone Lorne McNiven. A great start saw Michael take the first game and show a glimpse of form that might take him to the final. Lorne showed why he has won the under-15s two years on the trot with a determined fightback. Some smooth movement and excellent shots saw the first upset of the draw.

The next hotly anticipated match saw Patrick Nicol, seed four, take on Michael Swierczewski. Both players excel under momentum and Michael managed to play some low powerful squash to make the first six point scoring streak and edge the first game. Patrick came back from the brink of a 2-0 defeat with an unbelievable streak of eight to take the second. There was nothing in the third with each player struggling to get on top until halfway. Michael then managed to gain some momentum and finish with another streak of six to win fourth seed.

The final twist in the onslaught for third seed saw Lorne take on Michael Swierczewski which was also the under-17 final. Another upset looked on the cards when Michael managed to gain pockets of momentum to edge the first game. Lorne was stopping any sort of streak though and the second game saw Lorne break up the momentum enough to take the upper hand and edge it back to one game each. Both players battled hard in the third but Michael was playing too strong to lose it as he edged a 2-1 lead. Michael caught Lorne off guard as the intensity of the match took its toll and took a six point streak early on to keep Lorne out of reach and allow him to power home to take the under-17 title.

The new fifth and sixth seeds Michael Thomson and Patrick Nicol successfully defended their seedings to meet in the under-19 plate final. Michael’s powerful drives made it difficult for Patrick to gain momentum as the rallies were broken up enough for Michael to edge ahead in each game al­though in the last game a final surge from Patrick saw a strong end game which almost clinched it as Michael just stopped it in time to kill off the match and retain the plate.

The seven to 11 seeds struggled against the experience of the top six but their potential and ability shone through as they battled off for seventh place. Liam Evans showed some great determination in his first season to hold on to seventh place, the culmination a final battle against Stuart Ferguson whose experience and tight shots kept the game close clear of two but was not enough to stop Liam’s strong angle game from winning the match.

Stuart did well to finish in eighth after a determined performance by Sandy Leask which saw only a couple of points in each game. Although this was reversed by Sam Beeston as he managed to beat Sandy to take ninth. Robert Mac­Dougal competed well but with only a few weeks of squash experi­ence had to settle for 11th place.

The under-19 and under-17 girls were played in one round robin. First up were Leanne Jamieson and Emma Cree Hay. Emma, playing in her first tournament, hit some good shots but was unable to keep up with Leanne’s strong serving and placement as Leanne won the match. Next up was Emma and Hannah Garrick which was also the final for the under-17s. Emma did well with some close points but could not stop Hannah scoring some large runs of points to win the first. The second was much closer as Emma fought back from a 5-0 deficit to draw level at eight-all but was just unable to match Hannah’s variety of play as Hannah won the under-17s.

The under-19 final saw Hannah take on Leanne in a rematch from last year. Leanne took an early lead with some determined squash but after some excellent rallies Hannah got back on top to take the first. Leanne went on the attack again in second and after some impressive squash managed to level it at one game each. This obviously took its toll as a fast start from Hannah in the third saw Leanne unable to keep up as Hannah won the under-19 title.


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