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Squash final an epic

PUBLISHED: 08:22 06 March 2008 | UPDATED: 08:52 13 July 2010

Cromer Squash Club's annual handicap tournament produced an epic final at the Norwich Road courts on Friday.

The week-long tournament ended in triumph for 17-year-old Alex Foster (-10) who overcame the challenge of club stalwart Kim Payne (-3) in a pulsating final 8-15, 12-15, 16-14, 15-11, 15-11.

Cromer Squash Club's annual handicap tournament produced an epic final at the Norwich Road courts on Friday.

The week-long tournament ended in triumph for 17-year-old Alex Foster (-10) who overcame the challenge of club stalwart Kim Payne (-3) in a pulsating final 8-15, 12-15, 16-14, 15-11, 15-11.

For Payne, who was celebrating his 52nd birthday on finals day, it was almost a birthday to remember. But while he had a six-point advantage in each game he was also giving away 35 years, and this was probably the deciding factor.

At one stage it did look as though Payne, who won the tournament way back in 1986 and who was veterans champion in 2004 as well as being runner-up in the Over 35 tournament in 1997, was going to roll back the years. He came within just two points of doing so. After dominating the first game 15-8 and then taking a much closer second game 15-12 he served at 10-10, 12-11, 13-13 and 14-14 in the third game. But he was not able to get the all important winning points. When his last serve went out of court a grateful Foster didn't need a second invitation and took the game on his serve 16-14.

Foster dominated the last two games, and although Payne battled gamely to the end he was forced onto the defensive as both games followed a similar pattern with Foster taking them both 15-11 to come out on top 3-2.

Foster has only been playing squash seriously for less than two years but he has made rapid progress under his coach, Hugh Bradbury, and is a member of the Norfolk junior squad.

He impressed the large crowd with his all-round athleticism and general attitude as he became the 21st different player to win the tournament.

In the semi-finals Foster, who had a first round bye, defeated last year's runner-up, Clive Slater (+5) after previously beating club second team stalwart Malcolm Crane (+4) and another young player, James Dunnett (+10). Payne won an epic semi-final against Henri Paul (-5) , after wins against Adam Smith (-2) and the 2005 champion, Chris Marshall (+8).

The final was preceded by the final of the plate tournament for those who lost their first match in the competition and coincidentally both finalists Michael Holdom and John Pelton (+4) had the same handicap and both had appeared in previous finals.

As was expected the match was extremely close and Holdom, who was champion in 2003, beat the 2004 runner-up 15-12,17-14, 15-13.

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