Last weekend saw Guernsey’s junior squash players come together to fight for Island titles. For many players it was early in their tournament career and the weekends experience gave them vital experience in a local and familiar environment. The usual top of age groups all made appearances, and it was good to see that titles in certain age groups were getting tighter and tighter than in the past with the Under 11s’, U15s’ and U19s semi-finals and finals being extremely close.
In the under 11 draw, which included the U9s’ event, players started off in a group stage, moving on to semi finals, finals and position playoffs. Ben Taylor, Jake Haines and both looked like strong contenders off the back of their junior festival experiences in the UK. Unfortunately Noah Purdue could not play through injury, which was a shame as he, along well as the other boys who travelled away, could have bought some experienced and high quality squash into the competition for some of the younger members to look up to. The Semi Finals provided some great entertainment for the crowd, with Marco Phillips and Seb Crowson putting in hard fought efforts against Jake Haines and Ben Taylor respectively. But unfortunately this wasn’t enough and both Haines and Taylor won 3-0 to win their places in the Final. Taylor Proved to be too strong for Haines in the final. Despite this Jake showed some real class in the first game, just losing 11/9, and came back from 2-0 down to win the third 11/8. Taylor knuckled down in the fourth game, hitting some great length, and pouncing on every loose ball, he took the game one point at a time. Haines contained him in a lot of this game, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough and he lost the game 11/9 and the match 3-1.
Jack Turvey looked like a strong contender for a win in the U13 boys, after a win in this age group last year despite playing up. Other contenders for the title were Elliot Coutu, Ben Anderson-Relf and James England, who have been training hard over the last couple of months for this event. For some players in this age group this was their first Island Closed Tournament, but being a monrad draw they got the chance to play 4 matches and play more players of their own standard as the draw progressed. In the top half of the draw, some tight matches were fought in round two, specifically between Fowler and Coutu, and Davies and Ben Anderson-Relf. James England, Ben Anderson-Relf, Jack Turvey and Elliot Coutu all drifted into the Semi Finals, with both England and Turvey winning 3-0 to take them to the final. Despite England becoming stronger each game, he was no match for Turvey who showed a vast range of shot hitting to take the match and the U13s title 3-0.
In the Girls events, the Under 13 and 15 draws were combined to give the players involved more matches. Lauren Roberts was the favourite to win the U15s while Danielle Parr was the favourite to win the U13s event. The first game of the weekend saw Danielle Parr against Lauren Roberts. Danielle started well winning the first game 11/6, containing Roberts and making her fight for every point. The second game was far close with Parr edging it 12/10 in the tiebreak. She then went on to win the 3rd game 11/8 resulting in a clean 3-0 win. Becky Guilmoto appeared on court next to play Sammie Roberts. Roberts started well and quickly seized the 1st game, and continued this form to beat a rather subdued Guilmoto 3-0. The match of the group had to be the two Roberts sisters (Sammie and Lauren) battling it out for 1st and 2nd place. In previous years Lauren had always come out on top and despite the result being 3-0 in Laurens favour, Sammie definitely gave her a run for her money, especially in the first game where it went to tiebreak.
Again the Boys U15 and U17 draws were combined, with some interesting games to be had. Jeremy Taylor had been showing great form recently, challenging higher ranked players in Guernsey and away in the UK. Leo Fossey and Tom Stewart have always had titanic battles in the past; Ben Bourgaize & Sammy Parr were also not out of contention for a title. Unfortunately after Sammy’s first game against Jeremy Taylor, he had to withdraw from the tournament due to injury and couldn’t compete. Tom Stewart was focused and proved his ability at the weekend to win all of his matches in straight sets. This is a sign of how hard he has worked recently to adapt and discipline his game as he moves up the national rankings. Tom won the U17 Boys title. The match of the weekend had to go to Leo Fossey and Jeremy Taylor, who had the most closely contended game of their playing careers together. Although the result was 3-1 to Fossey, Taylor pushed him all the way, and it was down to subtleties and focus at important points that won Leo the match and the U15 title.
In the boys U19 draw, 4 players who have had a wealth of experience in the Guernsey Squash & Racketball system, we’re all in a group format to play for points and the title. Tom Offen kicked things off in a match against Janick Radford, who really pushed him in the first U19 match of the event. Janick won this match 3-0, although Offen put the foundations in early for a performance that would improve in quality throughout the tournament. Long-timer Alex Robin was probably playing his 12th junior closed tournament, he’d been here before, he’d walked the walk but would this be enough! Alex finished third, with his closest game on the Sunday morning against Tom Offen. He won this 3-1 but not without a fight, and it was good to see these two players really competing in the 3rd 4th playoff. The U19 final saw Charles Stenner take on Janick Radford. These are 2 players who play very regularly, train together, and understand each other’s games. Both players have put new weapons into their lockers throughout the season, and it was always going to be interesting to see who had the upper hand. With each player winning alternate games, and the match going to 2-2, the 5th was anyone’s game. Each point seemed to last an age, and Radford finally managed to edge the game 11/8 and the match 3-2. This was the longest game of the season, and the experience and maturity these 2 players showed was a sign of promising things to come in the future, both for them and Guernsey Squash.
The Mixed U23s event saw Natalie Dodd, Matt Robilliard and Zak Parsons all fight it out for the title. Zak played Natalie first, and managed to take the match 3-0 in a flurry of hard-hitting and accurate squash. The tightest game saw Dodd lose 11/9, where she really extended rallies and pushed Parsons around the court. His fitness prevailed and he managed to keep the tempo up to take the match. The next match saw Dodd take on Robilliard, where both players showed their versatility in play and range of shots, pushing the ball around the court with an intriguing mixture of pace and height. Robilliard managed to do this slightly better and won the match 3-0. In the final match of the U23 group Robilliard looked tired and started on the back foot. Parsons noticed this and wasn’t going to give him a chance to get into the match, which he then closed out 3-0 to leave him as the U23 champion and Robilliard the runner up.
All in all this event showed the promising future that Guernsey Squash have in the future, and is a great tournament to show quite clearly the improvement of players year on year. The Guernsey Squash coaching team, committee, and all of it’s members look forward to welcoming all juniors to return to the tournament next year, and to seeing new players emerge. And are very excited for many years to come of the Ogier Guernsey Junior Championships.