reports summer 2014

1st July

Home Sobell 1 vs West Herts  Lost2-3

            Sobell II vs Uxbridge   Lost 2-3

Sobell 1 v West Herts

The Sobell first team entertained the babies of West Herts (well actually all but one are not babies).

Adam was first up playing a guy who while was never going to win any fashion awards (Bangay edged Tim out on the night on that one), although anyone who can drop the ball from anywhere on the court that low above the tin consistently can get on a squash court with his t-shirt tucked in to his Simon Cowell shorts.  Adam and I had a friendly the day before and he had talked about him (assuming that I might play him) and he said the strategy was that even though he played amazing shots, you just had to keep going and try and close the game out.

Well , that’s exactly what he did.   The guy kept playing the good shots, but Adam hung in there and moved him about until he ran out of puff and took the match.  I have seen Gavin beat a guy he had no right to a couple of times and Eva got a really good result a couple of years back in a really tough 5 setter, but that was definitely up there a great win and was the performance of the night. 

Gavin was playing at 1 following his wins against Jack and was up against a very tidy, clever player.  Gavin went down in straight sets and wasn’t very happy with his performance.  From the gallery, it was hard to agree with his assessment as I thought he moved well, played good shots, but was just up against someone who was better on the night.

Following Adam was Glen playing at 3.  I was on at the same time, so didn’t see the match, but he was up against a guy the same age as him.  Glen was 2-1 up and 14-9 up in the 4th….. and lost.  Sorry Glen, but I think the captain won't take to kindly to that sort of performance and you can expect to find yourself on rotation for the next match J

I was on at the same time as Glen playing a Kevin who had beaten me when I had played away (including a bagel after I took a game of him).  I started poorly, hitting the ball too hard for a court that was burning hot.  After losing the first match, some good advice from Jack to hit it hard and low or high and soft worked and I took the next 3 games to win in 4.

Finally up was Jack at 2.  Again a similar story to Gavin in that he was upset at how he played losing 3-1, but I think his opponent was a very good player who could run, defend well and attack very well.  Jack pushed him close, but he was 2 or 3 points a game better than him.  The gap is getting closer though and I can see Jack getting the better of him soon.


Sobell 2 vs Uxbridge

The Sobell second team welcomed 4 players from Uxbridge, sadly Stuart Murty missed out on his team squash debut, but I'm sure his debut will come soon.

I didn’t see the first couple of matches, but with Rohan out, the captain was moved up to 2 and got the job done in 4.  The other match I didn’t see was Richard Bowman returning from injury and lost at 4, 3-2. 

Robin played at 3 against a very similar player to himself.  Someone who kept it tight, moved well.  From what I saw of the match his opponent was a few points a game better than him and he lost 3-1. 

Playing at number 1 with Rohan out was Tim playing a female number 1.  Any thoughts that she shouldn’t be number one was dismissed after seeing her crack a few shots in the warm up as hard as Tim.  It was interesting watching the match develop as they were both very similar players, very dangerous at the front of the court.  The first game was tight, but she slightly edged it.  Tim came back in the second game, got his backhand going and bullied her off court.  Third game was a decider and she did a better job at the back of the court of waiting for her chances than Tim and she closed out the game in the 4th.  Well played by Tim, but I suspect that if he meets her in the return, the result will go the other way.

Number 5 was a walkover for us as their player didn’t turn up.


18th June

Home Sobell 1 vs Ealing   Won 4-1

            Sobell II vs Finchley Manor   Lost 2-3

Sobell 1 got back to winning  ways on Wednesday evening  against a good Ealing outfit thanks to the Italian Stallion (Antonio) who got out of his sick bed to play his match on crutches.  Speaking of Antonio, I got to the venue  around 8.30 with his match deadlock at 2 games each. In the end the Stallion got rid of one of his crutches and hobble around to take the final game.

Just before Antonio match, Adam came across a good decent female player in which he won in straight 3.  I didn't see any of Adam's match, but It was a message to anyone who is trying to take that no 5 slot. 2 up Sobell.

So it was down to Mix Nationality Gavin to take all the pts for the Sobell.  Gavin also came across a good decent female player with good killer shots at the front of the crt.  Once  Gavin had his female opponent game worked out he race into a 2 games lead.

What happen next is anyone's guess.  Maybe Gavin lost concentration?  Maybe his female opponents mini - skirt was to short for his liking?  Whatever it was it worked for his female opponent and she came back to level the match at 2 games each.  With the fitness on Gavin side, he took the final game and the match for the Sobell.

Jack playing at 2,  was on crt at the same time as Gavin  against an Irish dude who looked like he was more interested in beers than playing squash.  Once the match got on his way, Jack realise he was in for a long night.  His opponent was cracking the ball ( if you give it to him on a plate).  A few chosen words from myself didn't  seem to have done the trick.  In the end the Irish dude had more plates than beers and won in  straight 3.  A bad day in the office for Jack.  I am pretty sure Barry would want to know a bit more about those plates and beers. 3 - 1 Sobell.

So it was matter of myself going on crt and counting my back wall boast which I think was 50/50 with the front wall.  After loosing the second game,  I won the next 2 games and to take the match to a 4 - 1 victory for the Sobell.

Next up is that kid from West Herts and his minders at home next Wednesday.

Sobell II
The match was away at Finchley Manor. Rich played first at 3 and was looking good from what I saw- nicely on the tee and finishing rallies cleanly and sensibly. Whilst warming up, I could hear the occasional swear from his opponent, so I think he did a good job of frustrating him and won 3-1 (I think)

I played a seasoned player at 5 and went 1-0 down without too much of a fight. Robin gave me good advice to extend the rallies and tire him out. I had a go and got into it a bit but it was to no avail, losing 3-0. He moved well and found the nick at will. rather annoying!

Robin had the marathon of the night at 4, reaching match ball against a very seasoned player (complete with funny eye wear. not at all like mine!) unfortunately, his opponent fought back and ultimately took the points.

Rohan was at 1 and had a good win, especially in light of breaking a string on his trusted racket. he adapted to his new one and came through to make it level at 2-2. 

Tim played 2 in the decider in a frustrating stop start game. Getting caught flat footed quite a bit, he didn't really get going and lost 3-0.

The consolation to the loss was the great thai food put on afterwards (plus lots of beer). And thanks to Rohan for rearranging his car seat collection to drive us all home- quite a feat!


13th June

Away Sobell 1 vs Hazlewood Lost 1-4

           Sobell II vs BA Lost 2-3

Sobell I made the trip up north to Hazelwood last Friday and returned with our tails between our legs!

Adam went on first at number 4 (no one else arrived on time, Jack was battling public transport and Glen and I were waiting for Tim to do his hair before arriving at our designated meeting spot) against a player much like myself really, quick around the court, the odd decent shot mixed in with some not so decent. We missed most of the first set due to our late arrival but it appeared to be a comfortable first set win for Hazelwood. Adam then tightened his game up and was cruising 14-11 up when he switched off for a second and served up a fault. Two quick points later it was 14 all and we had a battle on our hands. Unfortunately Adam lost this vital set 18-16 and went on to lose 3-0.

Tim at number 5 was playing against a debutant who looked all of about 13 years old. This young chap could give the ball a whack but we all knew he was quite nervous and Tim duly put him away in 3 straight quite comfortably. So one match all and that’s pretty much where the good news stopped for us that night, very much in line with the timing of Spain’s fortunes that night against the Dutch!

Glen went on at number 3 against the chap he played last time out at Hazelwood where they fought out an almighty 5 setter which Glen’s admitted he should have won in 4 but went down in the fifth. Glen wasn’t at the races however this night, playing a bit loose and also a couple of dubious ‘not up’ calls from the marker which spoilt any momentum Glen was trying to build up. Went down 3 – 0 and things not looking too good. Sobel down 2 - 1.

I didn’t get to see Jack’s game at number 1, I did however see his opponent hit a few backhands in the warm up and thought $h!t. (Kevin – reminded me of that guy I played at Southgate). Jack went down a very credible 3-1, winning the second set with some good, tight, smart squash according to Tim, but by that stage Jack said he 'couldn’t breathe' from that point onwards. I think we’ve all been there at that hard to breathe stage with the exception of Glen of course, who still outruns us all.

I went on last at number 2 and saw my guy hitting the ball rather well in the warm up and thought hopefully he doesn’t play like that in the game. I was a good 10 years younger so I figured my usual strategy of tiring my opponent out was the way to go. Lost a tight first set 15-13, getting an annoying deep cross court nick against me at 13-13 but thought I’d ran him around enough to be in the game going down the stretch. I won the second set comfortably, but then lost the momentum and lost the third. Had an argument with the marker in the fourth, where I thought my opponent had collected his own winning shot before the ball bounced twice. I was totally out of position and would not have retrieved the shot but I thought I’d question the marker. I came to realise he hadn’t seen this at all, avoiding my question by responding ‘I don’t understand what you are saying, hand out’. After trying to explain my case on more than one occasion (and perhaps pushing the boundaries a little) I gave up and moved on. What this did give me though was a much needed rest (which wasn’t my intention Kev, please take note!) and I went on to win the fourth. Much to my surprise, my older opponent out ran me quite comfortably in the fifth and took a well-deserved victory. More training required for me to get over the break since the winter season.

4th June

Home Sobell 1 vs Finsbury Won 4-1

            Sobell II vs BA Lost 2-3
It was all fun and games last night at Sobell due to a mix up with the court bookings that meant both Sobell 1 and Sobell 2 had only 2 courts to play both matches on. 
So, the games were shortened to 11, point a rally. That, combined with the added pressure of so many matches needing to be played resulted in fast paced, rushed matches.
On first were Antonio and myself. I didn't catch any of Antonio's match but from what I heard Glen is thinking of dropping Antonio due to his poor performances for the team. 3-0 win...Quality as always from the top boy!

1-0 Sobell
I went on and started off well, taking the first, only then to be confronted by my lack of match fitness. The second wind came but I then found I had absolutely no confidence or control over most of my shots and made it very easy for my opponent to win with all my unforced errors. I went down 3-1. Unquestionably more court time required!

Next up was Gavin who played a decent player but Gavin's tight, disciplined and consistent play prevented his opponent from getting into the match. Lovely squash. 3-0 Gavin.

2-1 Sobell
A fired up Adam went on court next, determined to prove his place in the team. Did he do that? Oh yes...lovely shots, great battles with a very good number 5 (who I'm told is new to Finsbury and will be playing higher than that in the future). A tense 4th game with Adam 2-1 up saw him fend of at least 2 game balls to hold his nerve, dig deep and win the match in 4. A gutsy win. 3-1 Adam.

3-1 Sobell MATCH WON
Jack was on last against a player who on the warm up looked as if he had got his court mixed up and was there to play a Sobell league 23 match. However, he turned out to be  a very tricky, unorthodox and quick opponent that frustrated Jack into making mistakes and to feel as if he was playing crap... he wasn't, he just needed to stay calm, be patient and  it would happen. He did just that and won in 5. Superb!

4-1 Sobell
Lovely food from Glen, as always and support from the 'all seeing' Barry, our treasured mentor


Sobell 2 v BA 3

As you know, another srew-up by our 'better' management meant that the games were shortened to 11, point a rally. 

On first was myself (Rohan) - We stole crt 1 as it was free. I started off well taking the first game with my trickle boast working a treat. Then came a knock on the door! The second and third games were played on crt3. I won the second in familiar fashion before narrowly losing the third with some errors creeping into my play. Again, a knock on the door!! Finishing the match on crt 5, I hit a number of shots into the tin early in the fourth and completely switched off. 2-2. The final game was much more competitive. But again, I was rather loose, made a number of unforced errors (which cost you very dearly in a short game) and a couple of lucky nicks by my opponent saw me go down 9-11 in the 5th. 

0-1 BA

Whilst I was playing, Tom managed to get his game out of the way and showered with an easy 3-0 win. Not much to say about this one other than watch out to the guys playing above him in the team!!  


Next up was el capitan Richard.  Richard played some lovely tight squash from the first serve and controlled the first game to win it comfortably. In the second, some complacency set in and Richard allowed his opponent to get a number of loose drop shots to pick him off time and again. With the score now 1-1, Richard stepped up another gear and again used a good length to work his elder opponent around the court and force him into mistakes. His back hand (pause and) serve was working well to the delight of Tim helping him to take the last two games comfortably for a 3-1 win. 

2-1 Sobell

Enter Tim Dennis. A usual slow starter in team matches, Tim got off to a flier against an unorthodox (yet effective) opponent and took the first game within minutes. The second game was tight all the way but a few shots into the tin late in the game saw Tim give his opponent the edge which allowed him to level up. Annoyed with himself, Tim looked to attack more in the third and this paid off. Getting his opponent deep and then playing some lovely deft touches at the front of the court. It was feeling like Tim was going to take this much needed rubber when his opponent (who had been lazing about on the floor between each game) suddenly sprung into life. A number of shots into the nick, a couple of dubious let decisions by the captain, and too many shots into the tin from Tim, saw the game level up 2-2. The last game was 'one' to forget! We are still waiting for Tim to show up! Less said the better me thinks!


The final rubber went down to the wire. Robin played some of the best squash of the night with terrific width and length giving his dangerous opponent limited opportunities to attack. Robin lost the first game narrowly before seeking revenge in another point-for-point exchange in the second. In fact, this continued all the way through the match up to 8-8 in the 5th. It was a delightful match with great gathering when needed, tight defending and low hard driving on both sides of the court. Showing more patience than his opponent, and great shot selection, Robin rallied on to a 11-8 win to take the decider and give Sobell 2 a 3 sets to 2 win - A superb effort under pressure!

3-2 Sobell

 Again, we enjoyed some delightful carribean cuisine from the host with most and a few beers to wash it all down. The beer definitely tastes better after a win! Many thanks once again Glen


28th May

Home Sobell 1 vs Coolhurst Won 5-0

            Sobell II vs Southgate Won 3-2

Sobell I v Coolhurst

Antonio was up first on court 4 playing at 1 against a player who was probably a better match for Jack at 3 than Antonio.

Clearly Antonio was upset / angry at being on a carb free diet and missing out on all of Glen's post match food and decided to take it out on his opponent in a display that left Barry purring with a delight from the gallery as he took the poor guy apart piece by piece until there was nothing left.  He had plenty of sympathy from upstairs from those who had the same treatment themselves.

Hanro was on at the same time playing an equally mismatched opponent, but showed no mercy and put him away.

Nadeem was on court after marking Hanro and was playing at 5 against a guy who was wearing a wife beater and you could say.... The game looked even more of a mismatch and was over very quickly in 3 judging by how soon he was watching mine.

I followed Antonio and after a slightly shaky start also finished the game in 3.

It was left to Jack complete the whitewash and he duly obliged in probably the least competitive match Sobell I has played in a long time.

Sobell II v Southgate I

 Sobell II welcomed Southgate who turned up with only 3 players.  Needing only one win to get the job done, the captain got the result that was required in an easy win at 3.

 The most completive match was played out on court 1 with Ben playing against a young fit quick player who was very tidy.  Ben played very well, but ultimately was undone by his opponent being slightly better around the front of the court.  On that performance though, not sure how many better 'team' players there are in the Sobell league bar Rohan.

Tim followed Richard at number 1 for the second team and from what I saw lost the warm up.  He also lost the match in not a whole lot longer against a very good player who looked like he would have given Antonio a better match than the Coolhurst number 1.


The post-match food was very good as normal, so good in fact even with Southgate missing 2 players it was all gone before Richard and Tom made it out of the changing room.

Edit #2

Thanks for all the congratulations for winning the league guys, the kind offers of trophies / medals / Best player in Sobell T-Shirts are very kind, but a free court is enough

Edit #3

Hanro and Antonio are having a 'knock about' on the 25th before the team match - a lot of my cash says that will be better than the main event

Edit #4

Competition for the first team is very, very though, yet all the signs are that #1 / #2 in the second team might be a good place to get a decent game

Next up is another home fixture with Sobell I up against Finsbury I and Sobell II v BA 3.  Whoever is marking matches for the second team, give them absolutely nothing, their calls away were absolutely shocking and we aren't the only team to notice they can be 'biased'


22nd May

Away Sobell 1 vs Cumberland  Lost  1-4

           Sobell II vs LA Fitness Norwood Lost 2--3

Sobell 2 rocked up at LA fitness Northwood (well I rocked up at Fitness First Northwood 1st until I realised I had typed the wrong club in sat nav)

When I got there, Tom and Richard (el capitano) were both on court, playing at 2 and 3 respectively.

Tom was 2-1 up and in a tough fight against a very steady if unspectacular player who I had an awful lot of trouble putting away the last time.  Tom narrowly lost the 4th as tiredness started kick in and so did mistakes and Mr steady kept going and closed out the 5th

Richard on the other court was looking like he was having the easiest team match I have seen him play.  His opponent was fit and quick, but he didn't have the skills to trouble Richard and Richard got the job done in 4.

Following Tom on the cold court was Robin at 4 playing an old wily player who was looking to shorten the points to avoid running.  It was quite a close game but after a little advice from upstairs Robin lengthened the rallies and again, the match was done in 4.

Matt was playing at 5 against an ex Kenyan nationally ranked player who knows Tim Dennis from his younger days.  While he doesn't have the legs anymore, like an old boxer, the shots are still there and he kept it high and tight and put anything that was loose away ruthlessly.  Sadly Matt played into his hands my not keeping his eye on the ball which meant that he was 2 down before he was even warmed up.  Matt started to hit the ball harder and extend the rallies in the third, but the old man got the job done before he ran out of gas.

So finally I was on to play the decider in my first time as number 1.  The game started well with me playing to his backhand and I took the first game pretty easy.  Sipping a drink I was thinking to myself, I'm top of the league Sobell league and winning at number 1, I have this squash thing nailed, sadly that is about as good as it got.  In the second game, by opponent started to handle my shots down the backhand a bit better than slowly but surely drew me into a hitting match which led to amongst others me hitting him, him hitting me and him almost me when I was at the front of the court, which drew a smile at the gallery when I pointed to my rear end and asked him if the target isn't big enough :-).  Anyway the hitting game paid dividends for him and I found myself 2-1 down and 11-6 down.  I managed to dig in and fight back to 14-14, but a really bad stroke call as well as a mistake meant he won 3-1. 

Match aside, must mention the post squash food which was at a restaurant about 15 mins from the centre.  Pakora, sheesh kebabs to start, chicken / veg curry went down very well with the team.

Second point to note is that although the second team were 'promoted' to league 4 this summer, the LA fitness Northwood team we played were the same as the one we played in the winter, which suggests that the leagues have been 'rearranged', so it should mean Div 4 is a mix of the league the second team were in as well as the one above.

16th May

Preseason "Friendly" Sobell 1 vs Sobell  lI   Lost 2-3 !!!

To mark the start of summer squash, Sobell’s “first” team took on Sobell’s “second” team on Wednesday night in a much anticipated grudge match. 

Before the match started the First Team knew that they were in for a tough night.  With summer loan signing Antonio not playing, Hanro away in South Africa and a host of other players on the sidelines, captain Glen had his work cut out to get a team out at all (which he only managed with the help of an emergency loan from the second team!).  Once the teams were revealed rumours swirled about why “star man” Kevin Jackson was not making an appearance for the second team: had he been dropped? Had his transfer demands gotten too much? Was this a tactical masterstroke by second team captain Richard? Or was he just in the pub? (We quickly worked out what the answer was!)

Up first was second team captain Richard against Tom, playing at four for the first team.  Having played for the second team for most of his time at Sobell, this was an ideal opportunity for Tom to show what he could do against his captain.  The match was a real clash of styles with Tom’s cross court drops playing off against Richard’s straight drops!  All in all it produced an entertaining match and some long exciting rallies.  After the third game, with Tom 2-1 down and starting to tire, I decided to head down and give a few words of wisdom to our new player.  As usual my pep talk had the opposite effect and Tom battled hard but went down 3-1. Thanks to Tom for playing and I think I’ll stick away from coaching from now on! 1-0 to the Second Team.

On court at the same time was Nadeem for the first team against Ben for the seconds.  Nadeem had been coming back from injury, as we could see from the heavy strapping on his knee.  I didn’t see all that much of the match, but from what I saw there was some good line and length being played (along with one or two less good drop shots).  Ultimately, the fitter man won out as Ben came through in 3.

Following on from Tom and Richard was Paul (playing for the first team) against Robin (playing for the seconds).  I was marking on the other court so didn’t see all that much of the game but we could definitely hear it as Paul made his views on some of the marking known.  Robin came through in three making it 3-0 on the night and putting the second team in an unassailable position.

It was then down to me and Glen to salvage some pride for the first team.  Captain fantastic Glen was up first against Rohan.  Rohan was hitting the ball quite sweetly, but seemed to be a bit taken aback by the wily veteran’s shot selection (who else hits a back wall boast when the ball bounced before the service line?!).  A combination of devastating lobs and quick movement put Glen ahead, but Rohan always looked dangerous with his own volley boasts and flicked drop shots.  Glen’s decision to extend the rallies, however, paid off and Rohan started to tire as Glen ground him down.  The first two games were close with Glen just pulling away at the end to take them.  The last game was less so as Glen ran out a 3-0 winner – restoring some pride to the first team.

I was up last against Tim in what felt like our 100th game this month.  As usual it was a question of me running to pick up Tim’s drops and trying to take advantage of some timely errors.  The game went backwards and forwards with some good winners, shocking errors and questions asked of the marker Paul (who did well to put up with both of us!).  The result was a final set decider in which I got the first chance at 14-12.  At this point however Tim turned on the style and hit a two stunning winners to take the game to a tie-break.  Another winner saw Tim get a match ball of his own at 15-14 but an unforced error with the court at his mercy let me back in.  At this point all I could think of was the stick I would get from Kevin if I lost!  Thankfully a couple of lucky shots managed to see me home 16-14, winning the match 3-2.

All in all a chastening night for the Sobell first team and a good result for the seconds, the pain was eased afterwards by some top notch food from Glen, leaving everyone raring to go for summer.

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