The Veterans Squash Rackets Club of Great Britain

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The fifth annual Festival of Squash organised by the GB Vets was held at the RAC, Woodcote Park, Epsom on Sunday 5th. November. By 9.30 a.m. groups of “keen, fit young players” from the GB Vets, the Army and the Escorts, began arriving to join the players from the host RAC team. Each side fielded four singles and six doubles players. As the day wore on, several players including Phil Ashman (for the Army) and Keeley Johnson (making her debut for the GB Vets) played both singles and doubles whilst Nigel Belle demonstrated the spirit of the event by volunteering to play singles for the Escorts when they lost one player. Nigel had a great 3-2 victory over James Dubois. You can read elsewhere that this Nigel took this form to the Midlands Masters in Edgbaston the following weekend when he won the Over 75 event!

It was great to see several GB Vets make their debut at the festival including Dean Newberry and Chris Goodbourn in the Singles, Alan Thomson and Dave Clarke in the Doubles and Keeley Johnson in both Singles and Doubles. Alan and Dave won two of their doubles, while Keeley won her singles match and teamed up with Mandy Akin to win two out of their three doubles. However, it was the Robert Smith and Karen Hume team that surpassed themselves to win all three of their doubles! Chris Goodbourn matched this great performance by winning all his singles matches. In the other singles, Dean won two of his matches (and looks like a fine addition to our team for the future). Sadly, Philip Ayton was injured in his second singles, after a winning his first match, and had to retire. Keeley stood in for Phil’s final match which she won. Nick Sheppard put up strong resistance in his three matches but was not able to post a win.

Over the whole of the day, 92 games were played in the 24 Singles matches, and 74 games in the 18 Doubles matches. For the Army, both Nick Palmer and Craig Webb won all of their three singles, whilst Ross Gardiner (with Jay Piggot and Brad Allan) won all his three doubles matches for the RAC.

The result of the overall competition went down to the wire with a large gallery watching the final doubles match between the Army and Escorts which went to an exciting fifth game. After the splendid Jane Belle and Di Hendry, who had managed the timetable through the day, had reckoned up all the points, the result showed the closest competition since the event started in 2013:

The Army: 66
GB Vets: 62
R.A.C.: 41
Escorts 33

Shortly after the final matches finished, hot and cold canapés, were served with beer and wine for both players and guests. Finally, the GB Vets Chairman, Tom Hendry, thanked James Dubois and the RAC for their generosity in making it possible for the event to take place in such fine surroundings. Tom then thanked Jane Belle and Di Hendry for their hard work orchestrating the matches for the four courts throughout the day. He also thanked all the team captains for assembling their players and congratulated everyone for both turning out and exemplifying the spirit of the event -that participation was much more important than the result!

The 2017 Festival of Squash Trophy was then presented to the Army’s captain Phil Ashman for the fourth year in a row. Finally, Phil Ashman thanked his players, opponents and the organisers for another great event and spoke for all present, stating that they could not wait for the next festival.

See you all on Sunday November 4th, 2018!

Tom Hendry
Chairman, GB Vets.

    James Dubois RAC Phil Ashman (left) & Tom Hendry
The Army Team The GB Vets Team The Escorts Team Jane Belle & Di Hendry