Andover-based Hampshire squash captain and former Red Rice player and Farleigh teacher, Stuart Summers, capped off a great season that saw his teams win the Berkshire Cup and finish second and third in the top Hampshire and Berkshire Leagues, with a second selection for the English Squash Masters team.
The Over 40 Home International Championships, held in Aberdeen, was initially thought to be a two horse race between Ireland and England – the opening match of the weekend. Third string Summers started well taking an early lead, before the match evened out. He eventually let slip a 2-1 lead in a very long and demanding match mostly due to the effects of travelling. The team ended up beating Ireland 4-1 and held the early upper hand for the weekend.
Wales, who had earlier beaten Scotland, battled hard but could not cope with the English intensity. Summers (3) and Jon Gliddon (4) both won 3-0 with Nick Wall (1), Paul Boyle (2) and Coutney Downing (5) all winning 3-1. Ireland beat Scotland 5-0 in their second round match which meant that England only had to beat Scotland to retain the title.
Surprisingly, captain Wall dropped himself for the final match which left things on a knife edge. Ireland beat Wales 5-0 which left no room for error and with players getting edgy on court, Downing (5) led early on but found himself having to save two match points before winning 3-2. Gliddon fought tooth and nail to edge ahead and lead 2-1, an advantage he did not relinquish. Boyle had an incredibly tough match that saw him work his fit opponent relentlessly round all four corners of the court, just scraping a win in four games.
Summers, now at number two, still needed to win and the opening game was very tight and the home player executed some punishing boasts and cross court nicks to take it 13-11. Summers dug in, changing the tempo of the match with some hard hitting and a deft touch around the front and with his opponent caught off guard, took the second game 11-3.
A desperate battle ensued as both were pushed to the limits. Summers’ preparation paid off as he showed great strength in the later stages of both games taking them 11-8 and 11-9. Chris Stanley (4) had a tough struggle but also won 3-1 and despite the 5-0 scoreline, Scotland were unbelievably close to causing an upset that would have allowed Ireland to lift the cup.
Afterwards, Summers praised the help and support of Cheam School with the flexibility granted to play the qualifying tournaments. He was also quick to thank Bob Johnson at Pro Kennex and long-term kit supplier Stitch-a-Logo.