University of Warwick/Kenilworth Squash's PSL season comes to an end with a hard-fought Semi-Final loss
Premier Squash League Semi-Final Match Report, 9th May:
University of Warwick/Kenilworth Squash 2 v 3 Tradition @ The RAC
Thursday 9th May saw the unfortunate conclusion of The University of Warwick/Kenilworth Squash’s season as they bowed out 3-2 to powerful London outfit Tradition @ The RAC.
It was a semi-final match-up between the divisional winners from the North (Warwick-Kenilworth) and the divisional runners up from the south (RAC).
On paper RAC were heavy favourites, but the match went right to the wire.
World ranked 50 Ben Coleman wore Warwick’s Mark Fuller down in a gruelling, tight first game, and was more comfortable in the second to take first blood for the Southerners.
Next up Warwick/Kenilworth’s talisman, world no. 6 and Warwick Alumni Sarah-Jane Perry took on friend and rival World no. 12 Alison Waters. After losing the first, SJ stormed back in the second to level it up 1-1, and all was to play for in the decider. At 10-7 down, it looked like a 2-0 lead for RAC. However, Sarah-Jane is unbeaten in this league for 5 years now, and for good reason. 5 strong, disciplined rallies later she was the victor 12-10 in the third and the tie all square, staggering unbeaten run intact.
Next, Warwick’s Dan Mekbib took on the RAC’s combustible George Parker. The match followed predictions with George the stronger player, Dan hanging in, and George finding it difficult to keep stable, on an emotional level. After he received a conduct warning for ball abuse, he was on the edge of losing it, but crucially, he stayed on the edge and didn’t fall off. Parker won the deciding set 11-8, and took a 2-1 advantage in the tie for his team.
There was no margin for error now for Warwick/Kenilworth, and Mahesh Mangaonkar ranked 64, took on England’s Captain and World 20. Daryl Selby. Whilst not reaching the same levels of antagonism as the previous match, this was another physical battle and there were plenty of debates with the referees. At 1 game up, and 11-10 match ball up, Mangaonkar sent Selby the wrong way. Selby pushed off and rolled his ankle. After a break, Selby decided he couldn’t continue. Mangaonkar won the match, and had successfully squared the tie up, 2-2.
It now came down to the 1 strings, Iker Pajares for Warwick/Kenilworth and Paul Coll for RAC. Coll, World number 5, is nicknamed The Superman, and he proceeded to demonstrate why. So quick and balanced, Pajares had to work so hard to get him out of position. Coll’s class shone through and Pajares who fought so hard, was unable to put much pressure on Coll. RAC proceeded to reach the final as they did last year taking the tie 3-2.
Coach/Manager Steve Townsend commented “It’s been an unbelievable season for us with many memorable performances. This match came down to just 2 or 3 points and that’s of much credit to the team as we were heavy underdogs. We have a young squad though and we’ll come back better and stronger next year desperate to go one better.”
RAC go on to face Pontefract in the final at St. Georges Hill on June 1 st.
The University of Warwick/Kenilworth Squash 2- 3 Tradition @ RAC
Iker Pajares 0-2 Paul Coll 5-11, 5-11
Mahesh Mangaonkar 2-0 Daryl Selby 12-10, 10-9 rtd
Daniel Mekbib 1-2 George Parker 7-11, 11-7, 8-11
Mark Fuller 0-2 Ben Coleman 9-11, 5-11
Sarah-Jane Perry 2-1 Alison Waters 6-11, 11-1, 12-10