Men’s Squash were narrowly defeated 3-2 by Nottingham Trent last Wednesday (28 November), as they failed to progress to the quarter-finals of the BUCS Conference Cup.
Photo: Whye Tchien Khor
UEA were on the back foot before the tie started, as key player Stefan Lubek was on holiday in Venice and not due back until the Wednesday evening. Nevertheless, captain Luke Grindle was confident his team could produce a result, maintaining that UEA still had “a lot of talent” even without Lubek.
Five matches were due to be played, each of which were the best of five games. David Blackwell, who stepped in for Lubek, dominated his opponent in the first game and the Nottingham Trent player was clearly becoming increasingly frustrated as the match went on and was simply unable to match the shot selection and ferocity of Blackwell. Needless to say Blackwell went on to win his tie 3-0, with his opponent only scoring a handful of points.
The second match was a lot closer. Filip Svoboda took to the court for UEA but faced a tricky Trent opponent. Both players utilised the backhand drive to great effect but unfortunately Svoboda was edged out 12-10 in the first game. Trent were able to outpace the home side in the second game too, and clinical shots saw Svoboda facing an uphill struggle if UEA were to salvage anything from this match. He lost 3-0, but the scoreline certainly didn’t represent how tight the match actually was.
With the scores level at 1-1, Ben Nicholson lined up for UEA in the highlight of the fixture. Both participants played incredibly fast-paced squash and were also evenly matched physically. Trent looked to utilise the backhand drive but Nicholson remained composed and forced his opponent in to making simple mistakes, and won the first game 11-6. However, a rejuvenated Trent player levelled the tie just minutes later, him too winning 11-6.
Nicholson kept calm and dominated the third game, aside from one rally that saw the Trent participant perform two acrobatic dives and still go on to win the point. Nicholson dug deep in the fourth game, despite looking tired and outplayed his opponent, coming from 8-5 down to win 11-8, putting UEA back in control of the tie.
Callum Macdonald faced a tough task as he went up against Nottingham Trent’s first player. He lost a one sided first game but improved well in the second before Trent began to pull away. Macdonald lost 3-0 and with the scores level at 2-2, the decider would involve UEA captain Luke Grindle.
It was a very tight first game, with Grindle pulling off some fantastically skilful shots. Despite this, he was edged out by Nottingham Trent and the pressure began to mount in the second game. Grindle lost points early on, which gave Nottingham Trent a 2-0 lead. They went on to comfortably take the third game too, leaving UEA disheartened after they deserved to win.
The team will now look to recuperate over the Christmas break, and return to action on January 23 when they face Aston in the league.