Mutton claims third squash title

CROMER Squash Club's 24th annual tournament reached its conclusion when the reigning champion and No 1 seed Steve Mutton, who was appearing in his sixth successive final, retained his title and became club champion for the third time.

CROMER Squash Club's 24th annual tournament reached its conclusion when the reigning champion and No 1 seed Steve Mutton, who was appearing in his sixth successive final, retained his title and became club champion for the third time.

He overcame the challenge of Alex Foster, 17, who was seeded No 3, winning 9-4 9-5 9-10 9-1 in an interesting and well contested final which was characterised by a number of long punishing rallies.

Mutton, who has gained the reputation of being the most naturally gifted player in the club, has several years of experience and this shone through against his hard-hitting and extremely athletic young opponent.

Mutton took the first game 9-4 in just nine minutes as both players made a number of unforced errors but the key game was the second one in which Foster opened up a 5-1 lead. This was where Mutton's experience came to the fore and his patient play enabled him to gradually claw back the deficit. And despite Foster serving a further eight times, he was not able to pick up any more points as Mutton eventually closed out the 13-minute game 9-5.


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In the third game the champion seemed to be heading for a straight-game victory as he had two match balls at 8-7 and another at 9-8. But a combination of over-eagerness and good play from the youngster gave him the game 10-9 after a further 15 minutes play.

This only postponed the inevitable. In the fourth game Mutton changed his tactics and a series of accurate drop shots and delicate drop volleys took him from 0-1 to 9-1 and the championship in one hand.

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Mutton became the third player to complete a hat-trick of club titles and he needs just one more win to equal John Baker's record of four.

However, Foster has youth, fitness and ability on his side and his day will surely come soon.

In the semi-finals Mutton comfortably beat surprise semi-finalist Martin Braybrook, who benefitted from Dave Jones' withdrawal through injury 9-6 4-9 9-4 9-7 in a match which was not as close as the scoreline might suggest. Foster also won 3-1, beating another unseeded player Henri Paul, who reached the semi-final after the No 2 seed Paul Roebuck withdrew.

The plate competition was won by Ben Herrieven, who in the shock of the tournament was beaten 9-6 10-9 9-2 by Martin Braybrook in the first round. He beat Alec Burrows, who lost to Foster in the first round, coming out on top 10-9 9-5 9-1. The club were grateful to veteran coach Hugh Bradbury who refereed both finals.

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