Inter-County Weekend Round-up

Over 45s: 4th Place

By Tim Burrell

Tim Burrell in action against Surrey

On 18th May the Berkshire over 45 Men’s team headed up to Wolverhampton for the Intercounty finals, looking to defend their title. The county had put together a strong team of Tim Burrell, Darren Gray, Jeremy Baker, Paul Johnson and Richard Bodkin.

Having received a first round bye they faced a very tough Norfolk team. The team got off to the best possible start with a very confident display from Richard to take the first game in swift fashion. The 2nd was a closer affair with Richard just squeezing over the line. This knocked the wind out of his opponent and he duly wrapped the match up 3-0.

On the adjacent court Jeremy got off to a slow start going 0-1 down. From that point on Jeremy regrouped and battled his way to a 3-1 win with a fine performance. 2-0 to Berkshire and although things looked rosy we knew that there were tough matches ahead.

On went Tim and Paul. It’s great to see Paul – an ex-Berkshire champion – back on court after his various injury problems. Unfortunately, this match came just a bit too early in his recovery and despite showing some silky shots he went down 0-3.

Tim was having an equally tough time on the next court. Despite a lot of running he also went down 0-3.

Last on was Darren. This was a tough close match, and the 0-3 score line didn’t reflect how close the match was. But 0-3 it was and an unfortunate 2-3 loss for Berkshire.

The following day we played Surrey in the 3 / 4 play-off. Jeremy got off to a blistering start at number 2 – replacing the absent Darren. Having won the first game Jeremy struggled to maintain the pace. He lost a crucial second game 10-12 and ended up going down 1-3.

Richard and Paul both fought valiantly but could not pull off a victory – losing 0-3 and 1-3 respectively.

Last on was Tim and he had a real battle against the Surrey no 1. After losing the first he regrouped to take the next two games and lead 2-1. A lapse in concentration and it was 2-2. The 5th was neck and neck until Tim managed to pull clear at the end and take the match 3-2 meaning the team finished on a positive note.

Despite a 4th placed finish overall the team all had good matches and we look forward to giving it another go next year.

Over 55s: 3rd Place

By Graham Hooper

Graham Hooper, Steve Dodridge, Dave Weston, Rick Weatherall & Stuart Milton

The men’s O55’s travelled to Stourbridge full of confidence as, on paper, the squad was very strong.

First match was against Yorkshire with Rick Weatherall and Mike Ramsay being the first combatants. Mike was making his debut for the O55’s and soon showed his skill and, although coming back from injury, was too strong for his opponent and won 3/0. Meanwhile Rick was having his work cut out . Trailing 2/1 Rick upped the pace and fought back to win 3/2. Dave Weston and Stuart Milton were next up. Dave had a battle but his superior fitness came to the fore and he won 3/1. Meanwhile Stuart was playing at 1 string. At this age group Stuart is one of the best players in the country and his strength and athleticism was too much for the Yorkshire number 1 with Stuart winning 3/0. Finally, number 2 Steve Dodridge was last on. Steve’s skill and deception had his opponent wondering where the ball was going next with Steve comfortably winning to give an overall score of 5/0 for the team.

Second match was against Cheshire. Mike had returned home which meant that Graham Hooper came in at number 5. Unfortunately, right at the end of his earlier match Rick had pulled a muscle so had to pull out of his match leaving Berkshire with only 4 fit players. Whilst Graham battled to a 3/1 victory Steve Dodridge had his hands full at number 2. Fighting back from 2/0 down to force a decider, unfortunately Steve came out on the wrong side of a 3/2 score line. A great effort from Steve but it was always going to be a tight battle. This meant that both Dave and Stuart needed to win in order that the team progressed to the final. Dave got off to a good start against a well-known opponent to some of the Berkshire team. Leading 1/0 and comfortably ahead in the 2nd game his opponent started to show all his tenacity for which he is known and, despite Dave fighting all the way, Dave went down in 4 games. Finally, Stuart was back on court showing all his skill to dismiss the Cheshire number 1 comfortably, again winning 3/0. Allowing for Rick’s injury it meant that the team went down 3/2.

Come Sunday morning we were supposed to play Beds in the 3rd 4th playoff at Wolverhampton but due to a lack of players, Beds failed to field a team and the Berkshire boys finished in 3rd place.

A good effort from the squad who vowed to return in 2025 refreshed and fully fit!

Over 65s: 3rd Place

By Ripley Oyler

Ripley Oyler, John Petruschke & Alistair Lloyd

Having beaten Essex and Middlesex in the regional Section at home in March, playing at Caversham Park Village, we travelled to Stourbridge Squash club with high hopes. 8 teams in a knockout format. Our team: Alistair Lloyd, Ripley Oyler and John Petruschke.

Quarter Final v Warwickshire
John was on first against Alan Mackenzie. John started well, taking the first 2 games 11-9. Then the zigzag went wrong and it was 2-2. A nervy 5th, but John hung on to win 11-9. A good start.

Alistair was next on against England International Geoff Redfern, a very tricky player. Alistair lost the first, won the second, lost the third. Fortunately, Geoff tired at this point and Alistair dominated the next two games 11-5, 11-5. Match won.

Ripley then played a dead rubber with Dilwyn Rosser, winning 3-1.

Semi Final v Oxfordshire
A second game in the afternoon, not easy at over 65. John opened, with several niggly injuries, but what do you expect at 69? A close battle all the way, but lost 9-11 in the fifth.

Alistair then played current England International David Kirk. Lots of accurate, varied shots, but David retrieved most of them and won 3-0. Too quick. Match lost.

Ripley cemented the defeat by losing 0-3 to Robert Warner. Far too many changes of direction from Robert’s very tight boasts.

Third place playoff v Northumberland
Sunday morning we played Northumberland who were out for revenge as we beat them in the semi last season.

John played Alan Coates. A hard fight to win the first game 12-10, then forgot how to play and lost the second 2-11. After a good telling off from the team, which encouraged John to regain control, he won the next two 11-4 and 11-5 to take the match.

Alistair then played Adrian Alderton, the Wales number 2. We discovered Adrian used to play for Greenacres 40 years ago in the Berkshire league. He had more hair then so was hard to recognise. Adrian won a tight first game 13-11. Then Alistair played some lovely shots to take the next two games 11-7 and11-8. He was unlucky to lose the fourth 7-11, and Alistair appeared to run out of steam and only managed 1 point in the fifth. One match each.

Ripley came on court for the decider. A dreadful start losing the first 4-11. John helpfully suggested hitting the ball to the back of the court and volleying the serve. This sage advice, plus the usual determination, changed the game. Ripley won the next three games 11-6, 11-4 and 11-4. Bronze medal in the bag!

Team photos and handshakes all round. Thanks to everyone for competing. All 3 of us were then back to Birmingham in June for the British Masters Open.

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