Squash finals hard-fought

THERE was a packed balcony at Cromer Squash Club on Friday evening where a large and appreciative crowd enjoyed yet another in a long line of classic finals in the club's annual handicap tournament.

THERE was a packed balcony at Cromer Squash Club on Friday evening where a large and appreciative crowd enjoyed yet another in a long line of classic finals in the club's annual handicap tournament.

The tournament was being held for the 27th time and the final featured two long-serving veteran club members. Neither had previously won the tournament, but had played each other numerous times and knew exactly what to expect.

After a long and gruelling match, which featured 34 minutes of excellent squash from both players, the younger Henri Paul overcame an eight-point handicap to defeat 61-year-old Martin Braybrook (0) 14-15 15-11 15-12 15-8.

Both players had been involved in some hard matches on the way to the final and again Paul's determination and all-action style proved decisive.

Braybrook, whose only previous performance in the final ended in defeat way back in 1985, started promisingly, taking the opening game 15-14 after Paul had saved three game balls. But Paul drew level after controlling much of the second game and taking it 15-11.

The crucial game turned was the third. The players traded point for point, but after Braybrook led 10-5 he was unable to close out the game as Paul won six consecutive points to go ahead 11-10 before winning 15-12.

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The younger man completely dominated the fourth game to win it

15-8 and become the 22nd player to have his name perpetually inscribed upon the winners' board which is on display in the clubhouse.

Braybrook was gracious in defeat, saying: 'I have got no complaints. Henri was the better player on the night and fully deserved his victory.

'The handicap committee got the handicaps about right, although if I had received a couple more points it would have been interesting!'

In the semi-final Paul had defeated the 2007 champion, Ben Herrieven (-15) 15-6 15-7 11-15 15-9 after earlier victories over Martin Sanville (2), Alec Burrows (-5) and Peter Foster (7) while Braybrook, who had a first round bye, scraped through in his semi-final against Sue Guest (12), winning 7-15

15-13 15-14 15-13 after previously beating James Dunnett (10) and John Pelton (6).

The plate competition for first round losers was won by Nick Dunnett (8) who defeated his younger brother James (10) 15-12 14-16 19-17 15-8. In what was almost a family affair their father, Alistair (9) lost to Nick in one semi-final while Adam Sexton (2) lost to James in the other.

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