Ball battles in vain as Ipswich lose

SQUASH: Ipswich 0 Exeter Imperials 3. Ipswich Sports Club went down 3-0 to Exeter Imperials in their first home National Super Squash League match of the season at Ipswich Sports Club last Monday.


Ipswich 0 Exeter Imperials 3

IPSWICH Sports Club went down 3-0 to Exeter Imperials in their first home National Super Squash League match of the season at Ipswich Sports Club last Monday.

Before the match the Ipswich Sports Club were awarded a Gold Award by England Squash, which makes the ISC a centre of excellence for squash in the region.

Exeter were the runners-up in the NSSL last year, and Ipswich probably prevented them from winning the league by beating them on their home ground. This time Exeter were taking no chances and brought out a top-notch team, consisting of Ong Beng Hee (WR 8), David Evans (WR 28) and Hadrian Stiff (WR89).

The Ipswich team consisted of Bradley Ball (WR 43), Pete Genever (WR 44) and Ben Howell (WR 82). Normally Genever would have played one and Ball two, but as Genever had a few world ranking points coming off at the start of December, he was one place below his team-mate, so the positions had to be reversed.

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The match of the day was the No. 1 string, Ball against Ong Beng Hee. On paper this was a walk-over for the young Malasian player. However, Ball had other ideas and in the first game stormed into a 5-0 lead. Ong came back hard at Ball, who converted another nick to win the game 9-7.

The second game was a different story with Ong taking full control and winning 9-4. The third game also went Ong's way and it looked like Ball was going down when at 3-7 in the fourth he hit some rolling nicks, coupled with a few unforced errors from Ong, including one service that was out, which helped to put Ball back into contention at 6-6. Ball then had the taste of victory and took the fourth game 9-7.

The final game was very close but Ball dug deep and went 8-6 up to give him two match points. Ong was not going to give up and fought back to 8-8 when the rules of the NSSL are that the first player to two clear points wins the game. Ball had another match point at 9-8, but Ong eventually won 11-9 in a highly entertaining match played in good spirit.

The Welsh wizard, Evans probably remembered his 3-0 defeat to Genever in the British Open earlier this year and looked set to put the record straight. Evans is very tall and quickly steps across the court to intercept balls, in an apparently effortless style. Genever took the first game 9-7, but then the pendulum started to swing in Evans's direction, when he took the next three games and the match 3-1.

The No. 3 string saw Howell take on Stiff, whose world ranking of 89 is deceptive, as he is no longer playing in PSA events. When he played regularly he was up in the 30-50 range. Howell had some good results leading up to this match, beating Paul Price (WR 19) and Shahid Zaman (WR 29) on two separate occasions. Stiff had beaten Howell 3-0 earlier in the year, and on the night Howell couldn't do anything to reverse the result. The Ipswich player battled to 7-7 in the second game, but eventually went down 3-0.

The next home match for Ipswich is on Monday, February 17 against Halifax, start time 7pm. Tickets are available from Ipswich Sports Club by telephoning 01473-225889.

Further information and online tickets can be obtained from the team's website

Results: Bradley Ball lost to Ong Beng Hee 9/7 4/9 3/9 10/8 9/11; Peter Genenver lost to David Evans 9/7 3/9 5/9 7/9; Ben Howell lost to Hadrian Stiff 4/9 7/9 5/9.