Winners and runners-up

JESTERS CHAMPIONSHIP 2023 at the RAC, Finals Night 31st Jan 2023

Jester Sean Haydon writes:

This year saw a record entrance (+200) which resulted in us unfortunately having to put many keen entrants on the waiting list.
In saying that the best excuse this year for not entering was from and actual RAC member Jeremy Krzystyniak – “Its an appalling excuse but I’m on an Indian cookery course

All Jesters would again like to give very special thanks to Peter Chalk (Chalky), Janet Raffety and Tim Garner for their time and efforts they put into this tournament.
I cannot stress how much goes on behind the scenes let alone on the even days. On that note as much as I would like to take the credit of the event write up below, this, has skilfully been written by Mr Tim G himself.

The Amateur Championship – 2023

Most tennis fans were pleased to see Novak back at the Australian Open, but ALL squash fans were delighted to see the Amateur Championship return for another year. The third edition of the Women’s championship was again hosted at The Queen’s Club in west London, while the 42nd edition of the Men’s Championship landed at the Royal Automobile Club and Oxford & Cambridge Club. Both draws then joined forces for a fabulous night of squash on Pall Mall on the Monday night.
Once again it was a strong entry list (some said the strongest ever, a big claim!), with 132 male and 12 female players making it to the starting line and an incredible 166 matches being played over the weekend (and just one match needing a referee over the weekend – the two players are now on the little known Jesters yellow card…!)

The Amateur
Holder: Jamie Wilde
1. Jamie Wilde
2. Jared Carter
3. James Snell
4. Lee Rossiter

The pre-event seedings suggested there might be changing of the guard, with two debutant ‘youngsters’ appearing in the top 4. The quality of the line-up was epitomised by Alex Portz’s 90 minute win over last year’s giant-killer Jeremy Harris … in the last 32. There were numerous bruising encounters that often saw the victor fall at the next hurdle. Luke Bishop gained revenge over Jamie Wilde to secure a third consecutive final berth, while James Snell couldn’t get back into the Monday nights finals as he was shown the way out to Pall Mall by Nottingham Uni student Jared Carter (who had also put paid to Mr. Jesters Steve Richardson’s campaign!)

The Final
“It didn’t disappoint!” was the headline last year, but sadly this year everyone left disappointed. After a high quality first game, Carter tweaked his ankle chasing a Bishop drive into the back corner and after a couple more rallies he realised it was the end of the road and conceded. Not the way Bishop would have wanted to win his first Jesters title, but thoroughly deserved after the quality of the squash he played over the weekend.

Luke Bishop bt Jared Carter 5/9 2/0 retd inj.

The Women’s Amateur
Holder: Kim Hay
1. Kim Hay
2. Laura Neill

Twelve players headed to the Queen’s Club to take part in the in the third edition of the Women’s Championship. The match of the tournament saw Amber Marshall knock out defending champion and hot favourite Kim Hay, while Lansdowne’s Laura Neill cruised through in straight games to face her in the final.

The Final
Neill started well, but couldn’t close out the first and what turned out to be crucial first game. Marshall, who was inspired to play the event after watching boyfriend Bishop play in 2022, grew in confidence and took the title in straight games.

Amber Marshall beat Laura Neill 10/9 9/5 9/4

The Over 35’s Amateur
Holder: Tim Garner
1.Jamie Douglas
2.Tim Richards

Jamie Douglas stepped up an age group to put paid to Lithemba Velleman’s hopes of a third consecutive final, but it was Tim Richards & Chirag Shah who fought out the match of the day. A pulsating 5-setter saw Shah come through after a quality encounter.

The Final
Douglas came out firing and closed out a perfect first game, but Shah wasn’t intimidated as he bounced back to level things up. However, he couldn’t maintain the level as Douglas started to get a strangle hold and (his words) not only actually finished a Jesters uninjured, but also with the trophy!

Jamie Douglas beat Chirag Shah 9/0 2/9 9/1 9/3

The Veteran’s Amateur
Holder: Mike Gregory
1.Nick Freer
2.Tim Garner

The Veteran’s was once again a competitive category, but Tim Garner’s decision to throw his name into the hat caused the expected usual mutterings. Nick Freer again had the better of Nick Staunton, only this time at the quarter final stage before his defence was halted in its tracks by Paul Boyle. Garner came through the bottom half, but not before Rob Staunton tested his movement with some accurate play into the front backhand corner.

The Final
It was Lansdowne battle of old & new, with Boyle having started the journey 15 years ago. Looking slightly edgy (and maybe a tad weary) Garner started slowly and Kiwi Boyle came out firing. After losing the first (and having a stern word with himself) Garner steadied the ship and closed out proceedings in four.

Tim Garner beat Paul Boyle 5/9 9/0 9/1 9/1

The Vintage Amateur
Holder: Eamonn Price
1. Eamonn Price
2. Alex Betts

As tends to be their way, the top seeds had little trouble though in taking their final berths, though Price found O’Driscoll a little quick around the court which might have given an indication of the upset to come.

The Final
For the past three finals, Alex Betts found himself at the altar as the bridesmaid, but this time it was Betts that was the belle of the ball as he put his nemesis to the sword. Betts was in fine form, building on a tough first to gain the ascendancy and deservedly lift a first Jesters title.

Alex Betts bt Eamonn Price 9/7 9/3 9/1

The Venerable’s Amateur
Holder: James Barrington
1. James Barrington
2. Dermot Hurford

Last year’s finalists collided at the semi-final stage and this time it was Laurence Molke who got the better of James Barrington, while Dermot Hurford eased through the bottom half.

The Final
There was no doubting about the quality of the final. Dermot Hurford was sharp from the off and raced to take the first, before Molke got into his running. Two close games ensued and if Molke had nicked one of them it may have been a different story. Or it may not!
Dermot Hurford beat Laurence Molke 9/0 9/6 9/7

The Vulnerable’s Amateur
Holder: Stuart Hardy
1. Stuart Hardy
2. Peter Culver

Once again, the Vulnerables didn’t live up to their name, with a bumper 16-draw making it to the RAC. There were plenty of quality matches, but it was the top seeds that eased through to the final.

The Final
The top two seeds based out of Colets faced off in the final and Hardy was in no mood to go easy on his club-mate. However, after building up a good lead he took his eye off the ball and dropped it to lose the third. Hardy steadied the ship in the fourth and eased to a successful defence of his trophy.

Stuart Hardy beat Peter Culver 9/6 9/1 7/9 9/3

The Amateur Plate
Holder: Zach Abbs

A bumper 45 players took part in the Plate event, which was drawn from the Over 45s and younger. It’s also known as the ‘mystery draw’ as you are never quite sure how many matches you have left until you are in the final on Monday! There were some truly brutal encounters and the finalists ended up playing 6 matches over the weekend necessitating lots of white kit washing and/or trips to Lillywhites.

The Final
It was a battle of the Bens in the final, with Mann eventually coming on top of Adams in what by all accounts was a fantastic game of squash – particularly impressive after the volume of squash over the weekend.
Ben Mann beat Ben Adams 9/3 9/4 1/9 9/6

The Women’s Amateur Plate
Holder: Georgina Brown

The Final
Stephanie Smith lifted the Plate title with a win over Emily Emitt, but even more poignantly after an Achilles injury sustained in the event in 2020!

Stephanie Smith bt Emily Emitt

Ladies Plate Champ Stephanie Smith

The Championship team of Peter Chalk, Janet Raffety, Sean Hayden and Tim Garner helped deliver another fantastic weekend of squash. Thanks to Harry Parkes as chief photographer.
The prizes were handed out by Robert Dolman (President of The Jesters Club) with over 120 guests attending the evening. It was a fantastic atmosphere and enjoyed by all who attended.
The RAC, Oxford & Cambridge Club & the Queens Club once again proved wonderful hosts of the event and everyone looked forward to returning in 2024.
Mic drop.

– Tim Garner