This year we had a terrific 34 juniors enter the Closed Handicap competition and saw some great matches. The competition start off one Saturday morning before the start of half term with all those who were not away, playing in their first round matches. The match of the morning was defending champion, Billy Oliver (16) playing youngster Patrick Bairstow (10). Billy was starting on -15, to Patrick's +6 and the handicapping worked well with Billy eventually coming out 2-1 winner after a close call in the 3rd!
The tournament was run flexibly this year to try and accomodate so many players wanting to play, but this also meant it dragged on a bit and the Finals were rescheduled 3 times! Next year, the organisers plan to run it over a single weekend.
The Finals took place last Saturday lunchtime after coaching and saw Max Wilson take on Tom Mercer in the plate. Max was starting on +2, compared to Tom's 0, and came out 3-0 winner in a match that was closer than the scoreline suggests. (11-9, 11-8, 11-7).
The main final saw Alistair Geear (14), who had overcome last years winner Billy Oliver in the quarter finals, taking on Bradley Crane (10) who had had a terrific win in a close semi final against George Brown that had to be played over two sessions as it was so close (3-2 to Brads). In the Final, Bradley came out the blocks better, taking the first game 11-4. In a gladatorial second game where both players were on the floor on occasions, Alistair levelled, winning it 11-5. The 3rd game was incredibly close with Bradley having several game points that he tinned before Alistair nicked it 13-11. The next game saw the older player's experience tell and he took the game 11-5 and the match 3-1. Both played good squash, and with the improvements Bradley has made in the last year the other older juniors should watch out next year!