Ah, Finals Night – the evening where the stakes are high, the play is fierce and reputations lie on the line. Everything is to play for on this occasion; and nowhere was it seen more clearly than in the Men’s 060/5 category. Brian Day beat Richard Soanes 3-0, but Peter Arbuthnot delayed his journey to see his new-born granddaughter to play Nigel Reeve instead. Sadly for Peter, he headed back down the A11 with nothing but a 0-3 loss for company, leaving Nigel as Men’s O60/5 champion. The Men’s O45 saw Martin Guppy beat Phil Buttery 3-1, and Rob Hambrook took a rowdy 3-2 win over Steve Moxey to win the title. Katie Cox was runner-up to Robert Thirst after a 3-0 defeat in the U23; Lucy Cox beat Chris Nixon by the same margin, and Josh Hall went down to James Thacker 3-1.
The Ladies’ Racketball Plate Final between Pam Reeve and Karan Cox was closer than the scoreline might suggest, with Karan emerging as 3-0 victor. Shaun Cramer had good 3-0 wins over both Brian Day and James Thacker in the Men’s B Racketball, and Steven Knight beat Ian Sneddon 3-1 in the same competition. The Ladies’ Racketball Champion is Julie Johnson, who beat Sue Kuhaudomlarp 3-0, and Steve Dawson had a thumpingly-brilliant run against David Gouldby, coming back from 0-1 down to win 3-1 and take the Men’s A Racketball title.
The Men’s C Plate semi-finals saw James Thacker beat Phil Buttery 3-1 to set up a final with Shin Azegami, but Shin couldn’t dent James’ winning streak and went down 0-3. In the Men’s B Plate semi-final, Jason Brooks triumphed 3-1 over Josh Hall, but he lost 1-3 in the Final to – yes, you’ve guessed it – James Thacker. The Ladies’ Plate Final was also a pairing of familiar faces, where Lucy Cox beat Sue Kuhaudomlarp 3-0.
At last, it was time for the main draw finals. Jason Brooks went head-to-head with Ben Margolis in the Men’s C Final and came away with a 3-0 win and the title, and Herman Van Der Berg made the home crowd very happy with a 3-1 victory over Robin Chipperfield in the Men’s B Final. The Ladies’ match was a hard-hitting battle between Katie Cox and Katie Lawrence, and that same crowd were left gasping by the skill and force demonstrated at every point; but it was Katie Cox who walked away with the title of Ladies’ Champion after a five-game slog. Lastly, it was the Men’s A event. After a shaky start, Ashley Bowling looked more purposeful against Norfolk’s defending champion as the games progressed, but in the end, there could only be one winner – and that was, once more, Jamie Goodrich, who never set a foot wrong throughout his 3-0 victory and came away with the crown of Men’s Champion once more.
So that’s it for 2018, and what a championship it was. It had a little bit of everything – drama, upsets, tantrums and gamesmanship – but above all, it had more than its fair share of brilliant squash, fair play, healthy competition and sportsmanlike behaviour. Thanks must go to our tournament sponsors, Top Spin Tennis, for providing the entry bags for our competitors, to Katie Lawrence, for her scheduling wizardry, to Brian Day for filming and to our referee, Mike Campbell. Most of all, however, thanks must go to all the supporters who created such a great atmosphere throughout the week, and to the competitors, for making the Norfolk County Closed Squash Championships 2018 such a great event for players and spectators alike. We’re looking forward to welcoming you back to the courts next year.
Match Of The Night: It has to be the Ladies’ Final match, which overshadowed the Men’s Final in terms of tension, drama and uncertainty. Katie Cox came storming out of the blocks to go 2-0 up, only for Katie Lawrence to drag it back to 2-2; the final game was too close to call, but it was Katie Cox who will have her name etched on the trophy for 2018. An excellent match from two players who both gave their all to each game.
Player Of The Tournament: James Thacker. Four categories, no withdrawals, a scheduling nightmare and more matches than you could shake a racket at, he came away with a trio of trophies as rewards for his efforts. Well played, James.
Name Dilemma Of The Tournament: There are many candidates for this – Sue ‘Just-call-me-K’, Katie and Karan Cox, Ben and Ben, Katie and Katie, Chris Smith and Chris Smith – but in the end, it has to be Shin Azegami, who was listed as Shin Agazami for the entire tournament and never complained once.
Supporter Of The Night: Lucy Cox. Lime Tree Road’s resident cheerleader kept her nose buried in her chemistry revision throughout the whole of her sister’s Ladies Final Match.
Hero Of The Night: Claudie Lawrence and Ava Fox. Two little angels who mercilessly exploited their cute-factor and blackmailed everyone into buying at least two raffle tickets. They’re destined to be the next stars of Junior Apprentice.
Villain Of The Night: Steve Dawson, for going home with the magnum of prosecco that has been sat next to the organiser’s desk all week.
Text Of The Tournament: ‘So…anyone have an old racket for sale? (Seriously)…’ Better start saving those pennies, Bradley.
PS. Has anyone seen Adam Goodson?
Ladies’ Plate: Runner-Up: Pam Reeve Winner: Karan Cox
Men’s B: Runner-Up: James Thacker Winner: Shaun Cramer
Ladies’: Runner Up: Sue Kuhaudomlarp Winner: Julie Johnson
Men’s A: Runner-Up: David Gouldby Winner: Steve Dawson
Men’s C Plate: Runner-Up: Shin Azegami Winner: James Thacker
Men’s B Plate: Runner-Up: Jason Brooks Winner: James Thacker
Ladies’ Plate: Runner-Up: Sue Kuhaudomlarp Winner: Lucy Cox
Men’s O60/5: Runner-Up: Philip Godfrey Winner: Nigel Reeve
Men’s O55: Runner-Up: Simon Cullum Winner: Robin Chipperfield
Men’s O45: Runner-Up: Steve Moxey Winner: Rob Hambrook
U23: Runner-Up: Katie Cox Winner: Robert Thirst
Men’s C: Runner-Up: Ben Margolis Winner: Jason Brooks
Men’s B: Runner-Up: Robin Chipperfield Winner: Herman Van Der Berg
Ladies’: Runner-Up: Katie Lawrence Winner: Katie Cox
Men’s A: Runner-Up: Ashley Bowling Winner: Jamie Goodrich