Local Lad Wins The Butcombe Race of Champions – Series 2 @ Chew Valley Squash Club
Chew Valley Squash Club held their second in a schedule of five open tournaments recently and this final turned out to be an all valley clash. Drawing entrants from across the South West the tournament was held at the Chew Valley Leisure Centre where spectators were treated to a feast of squash. The knock-out rounds started on the Thursday night and continued into the Friday with the semis and the final being played on the Saturday.
DAY 1: The tournament opened with a match between Andy Fountain and Gareth Thomas (the owner of one of the sponsors – Integrale) and turned out to be a fairly routine win for Andy with Gareth never really getting moving. Not the scintillating start to the tournament that the organisers, sponsors and spectators had hoped for!
However, the next match stepped things up a gear. Alan Lade against Lawrence Slade was a battle of experience versus youth. First blood went to youth with Lawrence taking the opening game 9-4. Alan fought back and leveled at 1-1 by cruising to a 9-3 win. That’s when it all fired up. The next two games were hard fought with some long rallies. In the end Alan’s experience and deft touch won the day as he took the tie 3-1; 9-7 being the scores in the final 2 games.
Undoubtedly though, the match of the opening night was the quarter final clash between Rich Nichol and Jamie Watson which was the first 5-setter of the tournament. Rich took the first game 9-4. This seemed to get Jamie riled. In the second game spectators were treated to an awesome display of sheer power as Jamie smashed his way to a 9-1 win to level the match at one game all. The momentum was clearly with Jamie at this stage. Rich fought hard in the 3rd game but couldn’t stop Jamie taking it 9-5 to go 2-1 up in the tie. Jamie’s dominance continued into the fourth game; well at least for part of it. When Jamie went 6-0 up in the fourth game it looked to be all over for Rich as he was staring at a 1-3 defeat but he had other ideas. The atmosphere was electric as Rich wrestled back control of the game with a tremendous display of squash. From having been 0-6 down he didn’t drop another point and came out the winner 9-6 to level the match at 2 games all.
Momentum with Rich he went 4-0 up in the final game. Jamie staged a bit of a come-back; 4-2 to Rich. The standard of squash was spectacular! Rich took control again and moved into a commanding lead at 6-2 up. Jamie refused to give up and brought it back to 6-4. At this stage the match could have gone either way. Rich edged further ahead at 7-4; just 2 points away from victory. Jamie wasn’t finished and with some brilliant squash leveled at 7-7 with the spectators on the edge of their seats! Which way was this tie going to go? Rich dug deep and moved into the semis by winning 9-7; both players exhausted and spectators applauding a great display of squash. The opening night of the tournament ending on a massive high!
DAY 2: the matches didn’t produce anywhere near as much excitement. All of the matches going with seeding and pretty much being 3-0 wins for the seeds in both the main tournament and the plate competition.
DAY 3: Onto the semis & finals in both tournaments; expectations ran high for more great squash.
The main tournament semis were Joey Williams v Mark Simmons and Rich Nichol v Andy Fountain.
Disappointingly Rich had to withdraw with an injury which meant that Andy automatically went into the final. However, the other semi-final made up for the disappointment and was another epic 5-set thriller. The opening game was a pretty tight affair that was eventually won by Joey 9-6. The second was strange with Mark seeming to have a problem getting his head around the task and giving himself some rather loud “self-coaching”! It was all to no avail as Joey went 2-0 up by taking the game 9-1. This seemed to spur Mark on and he quickly level
ed the match at 2-2 winning games 3 and 4 by 9-4 & 9-5 respectively. So it all rested on the fifth. It was neck and neck with neither player flinching as the match went to 6-6 in the decider. As the number one seed, Joey dug into his reserves and closed out the tie 9-6 and moved into the final against Andy Fountain.
The plate tournament semis were Alan Lade v Jamie Watson and Tom Miller v Ricardo Paredes. No surprises here as Jamie and Ricky played their way into the plate final.
THE BUTCOMBE RACE OF CHAMPIONS FINALS: The plate final, Jamie Watson v Ricardo Paredes, was the first off and it proved to be the more exciting. Jamie powered his way to a 1-0 lead with a 9-7 win in the first game. Not to be outdone, Ricky took the second game with an identical score. Games 3 and 4 had to be seen to be believed. Jamie won the third game 10-8 to take a 2-1 lead but the see-saw game continued and Ricky took the fourth game 10-9; things couldn’t get much closer! So, it was into the fifth to decide who would win the plate crown. At this stage it looked like the youthful Jamie had the upper hand with Ricky looking like he had given all. Nothing could have been further from the truth as he drew on reserves and experience to move into an 8-4 lead; just one point from the crown! Cue time for him to have a little wobble as Jamie pulled back to 6-8 and looking likely to over-power Ricky. However, Ricky was not to be denied his title and with a massive final point he took the crown 9-6; well done Ricky.
The main tournament final was between Joey Williams v Andy Fountain. Joey, the No1 seed cruised into a 2-0 lead winning 9-4 and 9-0. Andy then staged a massive comeback and took the third game to 7-1; tantalisingly close! Joey wasn’t having it though and turned it totally around to win 9-7, taking the match and the title 3-0. A great result for Joey who went one better than in Series 1 when he was runner-up.
Chairman, Brian Pate said “It was great to see so many quality players entering Series 2 of the tournament. Better still that Joey, who has come through the Club’s youth ranks, took the title on home ground. Thanks go out to all who entered, the organisers and the sponsors Butcombe Brewing Co, Integrale and The Pelly, Chew Magna. Roll on Series 3”
You won’t have to wait long for Series 3 which takes place on Thursday 22nd to Saturday 24th February. The Series Finale is scheduled for Summer 2018.
The Tournament opening match. Andy Fountain (L) v Gareth Thomas (R)
Action shot from the epic Plate Final between Jamie Watson (in white) and Ricardo Paredes (in black)
The trophy presentation: From left to right; Gareth Thomas (MD of Integrale, the T-shirt sponsors), Ricardo Paredes (Plate Winner), Jamie Watson (Plate Runner-Up), Joey Williams (Tournament Champion), Andy Fountain (Tournament Runner-Up) and Brian Pate (Chairman of CVSC)
The Butcombe Race of Champions's standings after 2 out of the 5 Series Tournaments