Long-serving club member John Baker is still Cromer Squash Club’s Veterans champion after retaining his title, which he won for the first time in 2014, on Friday evening.

Appearing in his ninth veterans final in the past eleven years the four times former club champion came from behind to win a pulsating final against the 2010 and 2011 champion and No.1 Seed, Henri Paul, 14-12 6-13 11-13 13-10 13-8 to win an unprecedented seventh title in front of a large and appreciative crowd.

Played under the point-a-rally scoring system the match was hugely entertaining and featured some excellent squash from both players.

The opening game showed just how evenly matched the two players were as there was never more than two points between the two of them before Paul served for the game at 12-10. He wasn’t able to close out the game however and Baker won the next four points to win the game 14-12 and open up a 1-0 lead.

The second game was completely different as Paul stormed into a 6-0 and 10-2 lead before taking the game 13-6 to draw level at 1-1 and when he recovered from being 1-5 down to take the third 13-11 it looked as though he was on course for victory.

The fourth game followed a similar pattern to the first and when Baker made a rare unforced error to enable Paul to regain the serve at 10-10 Paul was only three points from taking the title.

However, Paul made an error of his own which enabled Baker to close out the game 13-10 and level the match at 2-2.

The final decisive game was dominated by Baker from the start. He led 7-3 and then 12-6 before taking the final 13th point to win the game 13-8 and the match 3-2.

Interestingly over the five games, Baker won 57 points while Paul won 56, which shows just how close the match was.

As always the final attracted a good crowd to the Norwich Road balcony and technical director Barry Starling, who himself was runner up in the tournament 27 years ago in 1996, but who, because of injury is no longer able to take part, said: “Time and time again John has proved that when it comes to competitive tournament play he is unbeatable.”

Paul, who was also beaten 3-2 in last year’s final, was gracious in defeat, saying: “Well done John. I was outclassed tonight.”

Since winning his first handicap tournament in 1984 Baker has, over the past 39 years, now won no fewer than 20 titles at the club – four club championships, five Over 35 titles, seven veterans’ titles and four handicap tournaments – and no other player is remotely near that record.

Report by Martin Braybrook