A celebration of squash with the Roehampton Club Championship finals and grand opening of the new Heffler Court

Roehampton Club Squash Captain, Cavin O'Driscoll has written a fantastic article about the grand opening of the new Roehampton Club squash courts and the Club Championship Finals played there recently ...

It was a fitting spectacle to see so many members and guests attend the annual club championship finals recently and to celebrate the opening of the new Heffler Court.

With a full schedule, the evening got off to an early start with the U19 junior singles being hotly contested between last year's champion Rory Giddins, and James Lamming. This felt like a re-run of the Roehampton Schools tournament final with an Eton v St Pauls rubber. Despite a niggling injury, Rory got off to a good start to take a close first game 11/9. However James was able to take the upper hand early in the second game, going confidently on to win the next three games to take the match 3-1 and the U19 crown.

Meanwhile on the new Heffler Court the nearly veteran over 40s doubles got underway. Partners Ric Ford and Mike Hill had a thirty minute warm up due to one their opponents Tony Forshaw and Cavin O'Driscoll being caught in traffic. Ford and Hill were keen to stamp their authority early in the match with the first game going easily to them 15/6, the next was a bit closer at 15/11. A change of tactics and sides saw Forshaw and O'Driscoll finally turn up and push their opponents to a close third game 17/15. Ford and Hill were too strong and victorious with a 3-0 win with their opponents seemingly still stuck on the Upper Richmond Road in traffic.

This year's true vets O45 men's singles competition was fraught with injuries and w/o but then what do you expect of players of this genre. The final was eventually competed between Mike Hill and Cavin O'Driscoll. Having already played in the O40s doubles final both players were keen to take an early bath. Hill stomped into an early first game lead with good length and handy drops taking it 9/4. O'Driscoll took the second game by the same margin to make it 1-1. Hill continued his crafty game tactics and notched up some notable forehand volley nicks to take the game 9/4 and game tally 2-1 ahead. Hill thundered to a 7/1 lead in the fourth game lead and closed out a deserved 9/7 game and 3-1 match win to take the O45 Vets title.       

The Handicap Doubles had provided many close battles through the draw and the final was to prove another close encounter. Will Evers & Andy Nowell took on Chris Goodenough and Charlie Dessain, both Chris and Charlie had also made the Singles handicap final so they had a busy evening in store. The match could not have started closer with Chris and Charlie winning the first 15/14 and the second game seemed to be as close until Will and Andy found their rhythm, cutting down on their errors and taking the second game. The third game followed the same pattern as it was extremely close until 10/10 when once again Will and Andy stayed calm to take a 2-1 lead. The fourth was over before anyone could blink as Chris and Charlie raced into the lead with winning shots and sensible play and went into the final game looking favourites for the title. A nervy 5th game saw a few lets to start and no-one wanting to make an error. A little spell of good play and good fortune saw Will and Andy open a lead and it looked like a comeback was on the cards, from 13/4 to 14/8 but Will and Andy were not to be denied and took the match 3-2.

After a short rest Chris and Charlie were back on court to battle for the handicap singles title. Having only been partners 10 minutes before they now had to focus on their own game and it was Charlie who started the brighter using his 2 shot advantage to take the first game. Chris then dug deep to reduce his error count and keeping the ball at the back of the court Chris took the second game.  Continued pressure from Chris and good width close to the side walls really pushed Charlie in the third and Chris took a close game to lead 2-1. The fourth game still proved tricky for both players as fatigue set in but it was Chris with his hard hitting crosscourt who prevailed hitting the winning shot and with a smile as big as you can imagine to win the handicap singles title, putting a new name on the trophy.

The men's open singles championship had one of the largest draws seen in recent times (perhaps the largest of all time). The final was whittled down and contested by the top two seeds; olde master and reigning champion, Steve Richardson and up and coming young Ben Coates. A packed and standing room only gallery were treated to a  first game played at a fast and furious pace with both players trying to probe and push each other to extremes. With enthralled spectators marvelling at supreme ball hitting and retrieving skills, it went down to the wire with olde hands Richardson using his experience and patience to take the first game 10/9. With an expectant crowd awaiting a gladiator battle for the second game it appeared that young Ben had unpicked an old back injury. Unbeknown to Steve he continued at a blistering pace and took the second game 9/0. With Ben now clearly unable to properly compete, Steve took the third game 9/1 and secured a well-deserved fifth and record successive Roehampton Club men's title.

On the near stroke of seven o'clock the new Heffler Court was officially opened by Lady Tara and Leo Heffler. After many years in the making, a dream and inspiration of Mike Holland, Chris Gotla, Nigel Clarke and the late Ross Heffler was born. Ric Ford, Squash Chairman and Marc Newey, Chief Executive gave thanks to the Heffler family for Ross' labour of love, Board members for their support, development committee and contractors for all their hard work and efforts. With the ribbon cut and stage set, a truly packed out Heffler Court was treated to a spectacle of the Open Doubles final between two Pauls, (Paul Lindsay and Paul Taylor) and Alex Williams and David Le Guern. The match was played at a fast pace with players going for their shots and trying to change angles with regularity as they looked to work an opening for a winning shot. It was however more of 'age and experience' over 'youth' as the two Pauls made few errors and keeping the pressure on Alex and David they managed to take a 2 games to love lead. Alex and David never gave up and their determined spirit (must of been their inspirational Spring Box shirts) saw them take the 3rd game as the match was turning out to be a truly great spectacle for the crowd. The Pauls however seemed to focus again in the 4th and tight shots mixed with patience play saw them close out the game and match 3-1 - a truly entertaining game.

To celebrate the new 2015 squash champions and opening of the Heffler Court, members and their guests retired to the dining rooms for speeches and prize giving.

Our Chairman, Chris Blackhurst, gave a fitting welcome speech with recent humorous extraordinary tales of the late Ross Heffler. Following dinner Michael Holland continued tales from the life of Ross and with tears of joy we stood for a minutes applause to celebrate his memory and contribution to the Roehampton Club.

A fabulous evening ended with the prize giving and it was left to the current men's open champion, Steve Richardson, to sum up a tumultuous year for squash at Roehampton. 'We now have the best squash facilities in the South East, probably in the country. There are two people who have been in the background driving this forward, without who this would not be possible and I want to thank them, Ross Heffler and Paul Lindsay'. Steve, I whole heartedly second that on behalf of the whole squash section. We also have to thank the Board for their continued support of squash. Roehampton can now boast first class squash facilities with a vibrant and growing section. I think we can all look forward to an exciting and action packed season at all levels.            

Squash Captain
Cavin O'Driscoll

Finals 2015

Open - S. Richardson bt B. Coates 10/9, 9/0, 9/1
Ladies - C. Woodworth bt L. Barry  w/o
Over 45's - M. Hill bt C. O'Driscoll 9/4, 4/9, 9/4, 9/7
Open Doubles - P. Taylor & P. Lindsay bt D. Le Guern & A. Williams 11/7, 11/8, 7/11, 11/6
Over 40's Doubles - M. Hill & R. Ford bt A. Forshaw & C. O'Driscoll 15/6, 15/11, 17/15
Handicap - C. Goodenough bt C. Dessain 3/1
Doubles Handicap - W. Evers & A. Nowell bt C. Goodenough & C. Dessain 14/15, 15/10, 15/12, 3/15, 15/8
Junior Under 19 - J. Lamming bt R. Giddins 9/11, 11/2, 11/5, 11/5
Junior Under 13 - S. Hill bt R. Sarin 3/0
Best & Fairest - Jo Cochrane

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