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​2024 Prizes

 

Willis Cup Winner:  Ben Harford

Willis Cup Runner-up:  Richard Park

Willis Plate Winner:  Philip Bailey

Willis Plate Runner-up:  Brian Margetts

Handicap Cup Winner:  Rob Halls

Handicap Cup Runner-up:  Ben Harford

 

Doubles Cup Winners:

Guy Jones and Tony Byers-Brown

Doubles Cup Runner-up:

Greg Watts and Peter Turner

Ladies Cup Winner:

Katharine Gaine

Ladies Cup Runner-up:

Helen Ike

Myles Knauer League Winner:

Michael Crawford

Myles Knauer League Runner-up:

Ben Harford

 

CONGRATULATIONS to all our finalists.

 

This years’ competitions delivered a memorable evening, with the exciting guarantee there would be a new name on all cups for 2024. The gallery of spectators were treated to a wonderful selection of drinks and nibbles while they enjoyed a true spectacle of squash, played in great spirit with great determination from all involved.

 

The Willis Cup Final paired Ben Harford, appearing in his first final and Richard Park with a new-found drive to finally get his name on this illusive trophy. As expected with young Ben on court, the game began at a frantic pace, Ben initially opting for the power game with the knowledge that he could cover the court to meet Richard’s deft drop shots and well-hidden boasts. Richard handled the fast game well and went out to a 4-0 lead, he looked well in control until Ben somehow found even more power and after several long rallies clawed back the deficit.

 

The players traded points through the middle of the game and neither could breakaway by more than a point, 7-7 being the turning point as Richard played two beautiful soft drops, tight to the left corner and held his position centre court to pick-off Ben’s returns. Richard taking the first game 9-7, quickly leaving the court to either celebrate, rehydrate or possibly defibrillate.

 

On his return to court, Richard lost his serve after the first point and Ben steadily began to build a lead, playing a great length and covering the court well to counter Richard’s tight game. Ben seemed well settled at 6-3 but Richard dug deep and the two fought for the point with the serve changing hands seven times until Ben finally broke the deadlock and went on to take the second game 9-3. Richard off to the Defib!

 

The early exchanges of the third game were thrilling, the serve repeatedly changing hands at 1-1 with several long points including a bizarre rally where the two seemed to play Badminton with only repeated backhand volleys. This long game suited Ben as his fitness is unparalleled in the club, however it was a change in his style of play that saw him gradually extend his lead, leaving Richard well behind with his two hard-earned points. Ben demonstrated he now possesses a more complete game, with lob serves and feather-light drops, weapons that have been previously absent from his armoury (now we’re all in trouble!) He took the third game 9-2

 

High on confidence and sticking with his lob serve, Ben raced to 6-0 lead until Richard found an extra gear and ground out a long rally to take the ball, only to serve out and pass the serve straight back to Ben. Visibly annoyed at his mistake, Richard again committed to retake serve and rallied well to pick up a run of points while Ben picked up the odd point, against the run of play, to extend his lead. One last flourish from Richard as Ben failed to claim two match points but the writing was on the wall and Ben took the forth game and match 9-4. A game worthy of a final and possibly a window into what we can expect from both players in the future!

 

As Richard and Ben battled for the Willis Cup on Court 3, Court 2 hosted the eagerly awaited Doubles Final between Belton regulars Guy Jones & Tony Byers-Brown and Peter Turner & Greg Watts (Belton’s adopted son). With an impressive combined age of 264, these chaps have forgotten more about squash than most of us will ever learn.

 

The first game proved to be a well contested, close affair from which Guy and Tony took the spoils 12-7.  The game featured some excellent rallies, one reaching its conclusion with contact to the head which thankfully did not require an HIA. Following the agreement that nobody wanted to have to fill in the newly commissioned Accident Report book, further points were replayed after lets were called, some contentious but all given with good grace.

 

Peter & Greg had no plans to go quietly into the night and raised their game for the second, pushing hard to draw the match level and give the watching crowd the decider they so rightly deserved. The combination of Guy’s powerplay and Tony’s cunning lobs proved too much for their opponents and they took the game 12-9, thus claiming the newly donated silverware. The Belton Crew’s prowess for doubles squash and racketball is a fantastic feature at the Club and is always a popular attraction on finals night. New players are always welcome and safety headgear is available but optional.

 

Next up on Court 3 came the Willis Plate Final between Philip Bailey and Brian Margetts, on paper an unlikely match-up as Philip was the current holder of the Willis Cup, having in 2023 regained a trophy he last won in 2017. With no time to dwell on how he had ended up heading through this side of the Willis Competitions, Philip began his usual concise game and seemed to breeze through the first game, without Brian troubling the scorers. 9-0 and it looked as though this one could be labelled ‘speed squash’.

 

At the break, from the gallery, a member of his Support Team pointed out to Brian that the game had started and passed a cold beer down to the court, it was clear Brian had other plans so he refused and suggested it be kept on ice, for now at least. The second game threatened ‘more of the same’ as Philip began to build a healthy lead, reaching 4-0, a long rally was replayed following a let, this allowed a seemingly rejuvenated Brian to grow into the game. The huge cheer from the gallery (and Brian) as he notched up his first point seemed to inspire a possible comeback as he served powerfully, pinning Philip to his backhand corner. A wise move as Philip is known for his dead-eye accuracy with his forehand return of serve.

 

The two traded points and for no apparent reason decided to referee their own game, with Brian donating a couple of points to Philip that in truth he did not need. A shrug of the shoulders from renowned match referee and scorer Bob Black and the players battled out a 9-4, with Philip consistently finding a tight line and the perfect length at which the ball dies at the back of the court, 2-0 Philip.

 

Following a quick reminder that Bob had a better view of the game than the two players, the third game was more evenly matched. The early exchanges saw Brian draw away with a three point lead, had he left it late to push this game to its limits? While it looked as though Philip could take the rising pressure he made a couple of unforced errors, twice hitting the tin, resulting in the return of serve to Brian. Again serving from the left Brian would pin Philip back and pick up his return with a neat boast to the front as he stretched his lead to a seemingly defendable 8 points to 3.

 

Never one to roll over, Philip remained cool and calm as ever, surviving eight, yes eight, game points. The ooohhhs and ahhhhhs from the crowd grew ever more painful as the inevitable tiebreak loomed closer. Reaching 8 all, Brian called for the game to 10 and the serve changed hands four times before Philip picked up the ninth and held to take the tenth and match winning point. A cruel but brilliant way to close out a game that should by all rights have gone to Brian. A great battle for the Willis Plate, Philip a worthy winner and a delicious cold beer for the runner-up Brian.

 

As is now customary on finals night the last game on court was the ever-popular Handicap Cup. Using ‘American’ scoring, winning points are rewarded regardless of who is serving. Recent years provided some surprising match-ups but this year it came down to two of the top players in the club, Ben Harford and Rob Halls. With Rob being an unknown force in his first year as a member his handicap may have been somewhat fortuitous but if there’s one man you’d back to chase down any handicap it would be Ben.

 

Looking to pull back fifteen points, Ben started at his usual turbo speed, winning a couple of early rallies with his determined pace and power. Rob was unphased by the early onslaught and calmly restored his advantage and with deep, testing serves and excellent follow-up positioning held Ben off by around ten points through the middle of the game. The serve changed hands but the gap stayed around the ten point mark until at 18-30 down, an uncharacteristic, unforced error by Ben seemed to pave the way for Rob to capitalise and stretch the lead with a run of points to take him within touching distance of the win. One last spirited effort from Ben saw him pick up two late points but the first game went to Rob, 36-20.

 

Rob carried his form into the second game, with two early runs of points, again using his deep serve to put Ben under pressure, then utilising a shot more at home on a tennis court, Rob regularly demonstrated a light, slicing boast to drop shot, pulling Ben to both front corners of the court. Ben covering great ground to reach the drops but unable to give himself enough room to play anything other than a counter drop which Rob seemed to read well and pick off. Rob stretched his lead to a very healthy eighteen points mid-game, leaving Ben a huge task to mount some sort of comeback. At 11-33, with the deficit at 22 points Ben returned to his power game and increased his speed of play resulting in a great run of six unanswered points but by this stage it was clear that Rob was prepared to play the waiting game and pick up points when on offer, closing out the second and match winning game 36-19. An entertaining Handicap Final marked the end of the on-court action.

 

Another successful Finals Night closed with the presentation of the trophies by Hilary Black. Thanks were passed to Rudy and Helen for the drinks and nibbles, to Bob and Rudy for scoring and to Hilary for presenting the prizes. Players and spectators then met in The Vaults to enjoy a beer.

 

The Ladies’ final was played at a later date due to unavailability of one of the players, and was a repeat of the previous year’s final between Katharine Gaine and Helen Ike. Katharine was the defending champion so the pressure was very much on her, and this showed in the opening points of the first game as Katharine played a number of nervous unforced errors that gifted Helen several points. In the middle of the game, however, Katharine began to find her form, delivering some much better serves and playing her drives to a better length, which enabled her to pull ahead and take the first game 9-5. In the second game Katharine’s serves continued to pose problems for Helen, particularly on the backhand side, and Katharine was able to take the game with relative ease 9-2. The third game, however, was very different as Katharine’s touch with the serves deserted her and Helen was playing some superbly driven shots to the back of the court. At 5-5 the game was evenly poised, but then Katharine drew ahead to 8-6 and it looked as though she had the match in the bag. However, Helen was not going to give up easily and played superbly well to save two match points and level the score at 8-8. It could not have been closer, but Katharine managed to pull off a couple winning shots to close out the game 10-8 and thus take the match.

 

The League trophy could not be presented on Finals Night because the placings were so close amongst the top few players that it was necessary to wait until the March matches had been played before doing a final tally. League organisers Bob and Hilary Black, to whom much thanks are owed for their excellent running of the leagues, have confirmed that the winner of the Myles Knauer League trophy is Michael Crawford, (another new name on the cup), and runner-up is Ben Harford.

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The draw for the Willis Cup and Plate competitions can be viewed here.  Competition rules can be viewed here  The annual knockout competition for all club members features a Plate competition to allow those who are unlucky in the first round to draw swords in a fiercely competitive competition that often throws up the feature match on Finals Night.

The draw for the Handicap Competition can be viewed here  The Handicap Competition scores can be viewed here  Handicap Competition rules can be viewed here  Our popular 'American scoring' handicap competition means a level playing field (or court) for all,  this competition can throw up fantastic results and to lift the trophy is a real badge of honour!

​League Squash


Our members can compete for the Myles Knauer League Trophy. The competition runs from October through to, and including the March league, with friendly Summer leagues during the 'warmer' months. Current Leagues (July and August) click here


Our leagues run all year, with the main squash season being through the winter, September to April. The league structure is well-run with promotion and relegation at the end of each month, providing both competitive and social squash for every level of player. Monthly Winter leagues and bi-monthly Summer leagues are posted here and displayed on the notice board in the club.

Cup Competition, to suit all abilities


​A knockout competition with plate rounds ensures multiple chances for success. Our popular 'American scoring' handicap competition means a level playing field (or court) for all. We pride ourselves on cup competition for men, ladies and even mixed doubles! Draws for all cups are made at the beginning of December. These are made on an opt out basis. Please respond to the email from the competition organiser which will be sent to you in November if you do not wish to take part.

​RSRC Late New Year Social and Belton v Rest of the World competition – February 2024


Thursday 22nd February saw the resumption of our annual Belton v Rest of the World (i.e. those members who live anywhere other than Belton!) competition followed by a meal at The Vaults in Uppingham.

The competition involved squash singles and doubles plus a racketball match, and thirteen members took part, with Greg Watts displaying his versatility by playing both squash doubles and racketball singles. Paired with Katharine Gaine, (who had only played doubles twice before), Greg fielded much of the play against the Belton pairing of Jeremy Leaf and Tony Byers-Brown and was frequently having to direct Katharine to the right part of the court, but somehow the RoW pair managed to squeeze a 21-19 victory, with the final point being won on a very sportingly conceded ball contact with the body by Tony.

After a brief rest, Greg switched rackets and took to the court for his racketball game against Steve Barson. There were some great rallies, with Steve playing some beautiful shots down the walls and Greg countering with some very effective boasts, but in the end Greg’s wily shots got the better of Steve and he secured the match for RoW.

In the squash singles (best of three games) Brian Margetts, Martin Brown and Pete Turner beat Morris Borthwick, Charlie Plows and Mal Philpott respectively by two games to nil, but the fourth singles game between renowned ‘enemies’ Jon Wolloff and Richard Park was a thriller. The match went to the deciding third game and although Richard had three match points Jon somehow managed to claw his way back to 8-8 and then take the game on the tie-break.

Overall, therefore, it was a 4-2 win to Belton. The trophy was presented to the victorious Beltonians at The Vaults (our Club sponsors), where players and spectators all enjoyed an excellent meal (and several drinks, as can be seen in the photo!).

Team Belton.jpg
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