Like I said in yesterday’s post, Mount Pleasant LTC is a great club. And it is a particularly great club when, thanks to some magnificent windows, the bar is basked in glorious sunshine. Which was the case today, at least for a few hours!
I only got to the club at 1pm to play my Men’s A 9th place play-off match against Michael Craig. I lost 3:0, mainly because Michael happened to virtually pick all of my best shots up with interest (a lot of interest). Before that there was a tough match between Neal Pollock and Neil Murphy; Murphy, as he does so often, toughed it out 3:2. Both were B-draw players who, thanks to the new mode, made it through to the A-draw. On another court Sam Olwill impressed the crowd with an array of spectacular shots, which turned out to be just about enough to get past Paul Linehan. Olwill and Murphy therewith both finished 13th in the A-draw.
Now, on to the finals: the ladies were on court first and I watched parts of the first two games. Laura Mylotte was playing at full steam, hitting powerful kill shots from all over the court, and Breanne Flynn had no weapon to counter with. Flynn managed to extend the rallies more in game two and took a 5:2 lead, but Mylotte’s relentless hitting let her catch up the three points difference, and she pretty much didn’t look back after that, taking the final 3:0. She therewith completed a spectacular run of not dropping a single game throughout the tournament – I guess that’s what you call a romp!
The big question was whether or not this – the current Irish champion losing – was a bad omen for Derek Ryan in the men’s final. At first the answer was no: Derek was magnificent in the first game against third seed Steve Richardson, taking it comfortably 11:3 and being in full control. But while there was much to admire with Derek’s game, Steve will have been disappointed with himself for making it just that small bit too easy in game one. Steve came back strongly in game two, which proved to be really tough. Steve has a lovely lunge on his backhand with which he picked up virtually all backhand drops and boasts of Derek, always making the next shot a hard one for Derek. Ryan snatched the game in a tie-break but that took its toll, and the third was all Steve. Game four was a nail-biter, and the tension on court grew, with the referee becoming more and more involved. There were a lot of hard calls to make and both players seemed to be disappointed in the referee’s decision-making every once in a while, but the match was played in a good spirit all in all. Derek held a matchball that Steve saved like a champion, and he then went on to win the tie-breaker. The fifth game continued at a super standard and at 6:3 up Steve looked to be running away with it. However, he got upset with one refereeing call and lost focus slightly, giving Ryan a path back into the game. 9:9, then 10:9 Richardson, but Ryan saved the matchball with a wonderful cross-court, hit at full stretch from backcourt. In the end Derek (who received a slightly comical conduct warning for time-wasting) took game five again in another tie-breaker and followed up his national championship title with the Mount Pleasant Open title.
It’s been a wonderful few days of Squash here in Dublin, and I’m sure there’ll be plenty more of great Squash to come in 2013! What’s particularly pleasing to see is a high amount of juniors who are really beginning to challenge for the front places, and most likely for spots in the national team over the year. Lastly, a big thank you to the crew here at Mount Pleasant (particularly Aidan Coppinger and Henry Gillanders) who put on another fabulous tournament. – Dan Z.