Senior Inter County Finals – Nottingham Squash Rackets Club – 30 April – 1 May 2011
The Inter County road show rolled into Nottingham for the long Bank Holiday weekend for the Senior Finals. The top eight men’s and women’s county teams were all involved and played out for final positions. By the end of Sunday afternoon we had found our champions but also who was relegated
ROUND ONE (Saturday am) – Men
In round one Essex, led by Lee Drew and Neil Hitchens came through 3-2 in a tough match against ‘home’ side Nottinghamshire led by Eddie Charlton and Mark Fuller, despite being 2-0 down through wins by the experienced Matt Oxley and youngster Declan James.. Hot favourites Surrey led by Tom Richards saw off Lancashire 5-0. Another tight match between newly promoted Oxfordshire and Hertfordshire went to the wire. All square after the first 2 games, but Herts came through strongly at the top of the order with wins for Chris Ryder and Adrian Waller. Sussex easily beat the other newly promoted side Merseyside 5-0
ROUND ONE (Saturday am) – Women
The Women’s first round progressed with little incident, A 5-0 win for Warwickshire led by Sarah Jane Perry in the absence of Emma Beddoes – away at the European Team Championships over Lancashire – and a delighted newly promoted Northumbria 4-1 over a young Kent team. Yorkshire headed by Carrie Ramsey beat another young side Surrey 4-1, and Cheshire led by Rachel Chadwick beat the other newly promoted side Essex by the same margin.
ROUND TWO (Saturday pm)
This round would decide who would progress to the final, who would stay up and who would be relegated – so the pressure was on.
Essex v Surrey
It was 1-1 after the first 2 rubbers, Phil Nightingale 3-1 for Surrey at 5th string and Ben Coleman 3-2 for Essex at 3rd string v Neil Frankland. Rory Pennell put Essex 2-1 up, beating Alex Ingham 3-0. So holders Surrey needed to win at 1st and 2nd string to reach the final, and they duly did with comfortable wins for Tom Richards and Charles Sharpes over Lee Drew and Neil Hitchens.
Hertfordshire v Sussex
The 2nd Semi between Hertfordshire and Sussex was equally tight. Again 1-1 with Nick Mulvey beating Dave Mann for Herts and Brandon Handley beating Keith Timms for Sussex. Herts then turned the screw with wins for Chris Ryder and Mark Woolhead, so 3-1 up and through to the final. The match was completed with Tim Vail beating Adrian Waller for Sussex in the dead rubber 2nd string match.
Relegation Play Offs
Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Lancashire and Merseyside all needed to win to stay up next season. Nottinghamshire comfortably beat Lancashire 4-1 to send the northerners down, with Nigel Willis the only Lancashire winner at 5th string. The same scoreline saw new boys Merseyside relegated as well with just Steve Siveter at 1st string winning against fellow newbies Oxfordshire, who were delighted to cement their place in the Premier Division.
Warwickshire v Cheshire
Warwickshire, keen to reach the final again, played really well against Cheshire, racing to a 2-0 lead and winning 4-1 with wins for Sarah Jane Perry, Leonie Holt, Vicky Hynes, and Chloe Pearson. Hannah Williams was the only winner for Cheshire.
Northumbria v Yorkshire
This was a much tighter semi, and arguably the match of the weekend. Newly promoted Northumbria would show their strength in depth as they pushed the slightly depleted holders Yorkshire all the way. Catherine Bowles gave Northumbria the perfect start as she beat Libby Beecroft 3-0 at 5th string. Sarah Oswald then beat Zoe Rickaby 3-2 at 3rd string and an upset was on the cards. Karen Heron was unlucky to lose 3-2 to Andrea Santa Maria 11/7 in the 5th at 4th string. Then no 1 string Carrie Ramsey levelled the tie with a 3-1 victory over Jane Allman. Everything then rested on the 2nd string match between Sam Ward (Num) and Katie Smith (Yorks). Ward went 2-1 up and had chances to take the 4th game and secure a spot in the final, but Smith won it 14/12 to take the rubber into a 5th and deciding game. It could not have been tighter, nip and tuck all the way, but Smith held her nerve and eventually clinched it 12/10 to take Yorkshire through to another final
Relegation Play Offs
Surrey’s young side showed plenty of promise for the future and were delighted to beat Kent 3-2 to remain in the Premier division. Essex found the experience of Lancashire too much and were relegated following a 4-1 defeat.
DAY 2 – Sunday
Men’s Play Offs
7/8 Lancashire beat Merseyside 4-1
5/6 Nottinghamshire beat Oxfordshire 3-2
3 /4 Sussex beat Essex 3-2
Women’s Play Offs
7/8 Essex beat Kent 5-0
5/6 Surrey beat Lancashire 3-2
3/4 Cheshire beat Northumbria 4-1
Warwickshire took the women’s crown for the first time in 31 years, while Surrey retained the men’s title, making it 8 wins in 10 finals, and their 2nd in a row on day two of the Senior Inter County Finals.
Warwickshire beat Yorkshire 5-0
Warwickshire proved too strong for Yorkshire. Unusually the no 1 strings Sarah Jane Perry and Carrie Ramsey went on first as Carrie wanted to get away to attend a christening. It was a tight rubber, but Perry set the tone of the match for Warwickshire with a 3-1 victory. Young Chloe Pearson edged Warwickshire closer to the title with a good 3-1 win over the experienced Andrea Santa Maria. The potentially deciding 4th string match was understandably tight and it looked as if Yorkshire might establish a foothold in the final as Zoe Rickaby clawed her way back from 2-0 down against Jemma Holt. However the effort was too much and Holt won in the 5th to give Warwickshire the title. Vicky Hynes and Leonie Holt wrapped things for a 5-0 victory.
Surrey beat Hertfordshire 4-1
Surrey captain Neil Frankland gave the holders the perfect start as he beat Keith Timms 3-0 in just 20 minutes. A tight rubber between 5th strings Phil Nightingale and Eamonn Price could have gone either way, but Nightingale won it 3-1 to put the title in reach for Surrey. Alex Ingham clinched it for Surrey with a 3-1 victory over Marc Woolhead. Tom Richards beat Chris Ryder 3-1 at first string for Surrey to make it 4-0. Adrian Waller was the only Hertfordshire winner as he beat Charles Sharpes 3-1 at 2nd string.
PA to Chief Executive