Lancashire County Closed 2018 Report
The Lancashire Squash County Closed took place on the newly refurbished courts at Rochdale Sports Club over the weekend of 16th -18th March one of the coldest on record. The schedule was thrown out by the gridlocked motorway network around Manchester & the unseasonable snow storms.
Entries were down on previous years, probably due to the tournament being held later than usual & the fact that the regulars from Rochdale were away for the Cheltenham Festival. As a result, it was decided to combine the Masters over 45 to over 55 into one event as last year’s over 45 finalists had now turned 50. Only one lady entered to add to the disappointment. Two juniors from Wigan Sports Club, Adam & Josh Ford played in the Open event for the first time, Adam reaching the Semi-final at the expense of the Rochdale player Steve Spedding, where he lost to the eventual runner up also from Wigan. 16-year-old Josh gave another local favourite Gaz Evans a fright before he ran out of steam. Gaz, now 36, didn’t have enough left in the tank when he met eventual winner, Isaac Rawcliffe, complaining that he was giving away 16 years to his opponent!
The Open final was a hard fought 3 setter between the number 1 & 2 seeds, Isaac beating Ryan for the first time 11/4, 11/9, 11/5. The over 35 final also went with the seeding, Rochdale’s Richard Mills retaining his trophy at the expense of Matt Walsh from Tame Valley, 11/3, 11/3, 11/3. The combined Masters produced some of the closest matches with the number 1 seed, last year’s over 50 champion, falling in the Semi-final to Gary Wood 11/4, 11/8, 3/11, 6/11, 12/10. In the Final against the number 2 seed from Rochdale, Steve Cummings, Gary once again took the first 2 sets 11/8, 11/8 before losing the next 3, seeming to let a couple of decisions distract him. Steve repeating his victory from last year. The over 60 Final saw last year’s runner up, Neil Rodda, against newcomer to the age group Alan Connor. Alan proved too mobile, winning 11/6, 11/6, 11/3. The over 65 was also between last year’s beaten finalist & a newcomer to the age group, with Phil Shacklady beating his Marland Hill club mate Bob Houldsworth, 15/11, 15/3, 15/8.
Plate events were held in the Open, where former University mates Matt Oakes & Steve Spedding contested a close 5 setter, Matt eventually winning 13/11, 8/11, 6/11, 11/4, 11/6. The over 35 plate between Rochdale’s Ben Caffrey & Whitefield’s Craig Chisholm resulted in a win for Ben 11/2, 11/7, 11/7. The combined Masters plate was won by Andy Craig who beat David Whittles in another 5 setter, 11/9, 8/11, 9/11, 11/6, 11/7.