Avenue 1st team kicked of their season against strong opposition from Abshot 1 on Thursday 12th September. After a long summer it was evident that most of the team had been on holiday and enjoyed many BBQs with squash taking a back seat. With new summer signing Mark Philips joining the team, for an undisclosed fee, things looked promising and he opened his account, and the 1st teams, with strong 3-0 victory. Richard Hopp was next on, whilst he has hung up his coaching rackets he was keen to make an impression for the team. His opponent, a strong left hander, played a fast paced game which caught him a little cold in the first 2 games but he came right back into it in the 3rd game. Unfortunately, his opponent held out in a close fought 4th to nip the win 1-3. Ross Down faced a very interesting test in his 2nd sting match. His opponent, sporting well worn squash attire, was know for his slow and methodical play and this seem to hypnotise Ross for the first game as he was on and off before he knew it. The second and third games were extremely close with Ross having game balls, unfortunately Ross wasn’t able to get the crucial point which would likely opened the match up (0-3). Allen Downer, also known as marathon man, went on knowing that only a 5 set match would give him the work out he was looking for. He duly obliged by letting his opponent take a 2-1 game lead, who doesn’t like a challenge? He fought back hard though in the 4th game to level the match but was just pipped at the post in the 5th which could have gone either way (2-3). Last on was Michael Hallett, again not one to shy away from a challenge he let his opponent take a 2 game lead. He fought back hard in the 3rd game and the 4th was very tight, but his opponent came through with some well placed straight drops from the back of the court to take the win (1-3). Overall a very good performance from the team against what will be on of the stronger sides in the league.
The Avenue 1st teams second match of the season, on Thursday 19th September, saw them face off against newly promoted Trojans 3. Trojans have had a huge influx of players in light of Totton Squash club raising its prices (£14 for 40 mins!!!) and many players have walked away from the club. This meant the 1sts would be up against a strong side. First on was Ross Down, who looked a little bit jaded for the first game. He did mention his wife was away for the week in Portugal so single dad duties were no doubt taking there toll! After the slow start he ramped the pace and intensity up which proved too much for his opponent blowing him away 3-1. Richard Hopp, at 4th string, had mentioned before the match he was getting himself match fit and undertaking lots of exercise to get himself there. It seemed maybe he had forgotten his veteran status, not hard given his baby faced looks, finding it hard to move in the first two games. He fought back to take the third game but this proved the end of the energy supplies as his opponent came through to take the match 1-3. Allen Downer on next at 3rd string had decided he didn’t like the nickname marathon man and would prefer ‘Basher’. He certainly lived up to it in the first two games as he wacked the cover off the ball. Unfortunately his opponent, whilst also a bit of a ‘basher’ was a little bit better at killing it off and before Allen had a chance to get his bearings he was staring down a 0-2 deficit. The third game saw him calm down, taking the pace off and getting the ball in good areas. The fourth game was nip and tuck to about 6 all when a few unforced errors let his opponent get a lead which was too much to claw back (1-3). Matthew Yates on at 5th string needed to win to take it to the last game and give the team a shot at taking home the evenings spoils. He didn’t disappoint, but after taking the first game quickly he decided a breather in the second was needed and would raise the stakes a bit. However, he calmly then dispatched his opponent in the 3rd and 4th games to take it to the evenings decider (3-1). Michael Hallett at 1 set about the game quickly applying pressure with strong cross courts and tight length, something his opponent was unable to counter throughout. He came through with a solid 3-0 victory giving the Avenue 1st it first win of the season!
In the post match interviews the captain was asked how he felt the first two matches have gone?
“ Well it’s a good start, the boys have obviously had a good rest over the summer and are looking fresh and up for the new season. Really pleased with efforts so far, especially Allen who has put in a marathon effort in his matches. Our summer signings of Mark and Matthew have come good so I can’t ask much more from the lads”.
And what are your thoughts on the Avenue 1st prospects for the season?
“We’re looking good at the moment, really pleased to get the win last night and hopefully once we get a few of the other lads back from injury and the tennis season we can really hit our straps. Petersfield up nest and we have a good team availibility, I will love it, love it, if we beat them there!”.
And what about the support for the team skip?
“Well its been fantastic, two home games and it’s great to see people around the courts watching and supporting, brilliant!”