JESTERS V ESCORTS at the RAC, 9th January, 2023

Jesters Team captain, Richard Winter writes:

I managed to get to the RAC club slightly early as I was hoping for a lie down in the Turkish bath before the match. 

The Sports reception area and outside the squash courts was abuzz with squash members having already played or about to go on. It was a great atmosphere. 

My initial thoughts were that they had all heard that Jesters legend and former junior champ and Hong Kong superstar, James Barrington, was playing at the club for the Jesters and they had all come to watch, but I knew that wasn’t the case as James wandered down the steps and no one recognised him!!

They were all there because the squash at the RAC is in rude health and the leagues and tournaments are in full flow. 

Our Jesters vs Escorts match was due to start at 7pm and most of the players had assembled by 6.30 ready for the get go. 

First up on court 1 was James Barrington vs. David Simpson. 

The gallery was full with all the players eager, stretching and warming up. David started strongly and James was taking his time to warm up. David won the first game while the ball was still cool but I could sense James was starting to find his length and lob in the second. He came close to winning it, but David hung on to go 2 games up. James may have needed that second game. He was looking tired but started to play some refined squash and won the next 2 games with a thrilling 15/13 in the 4th. Sadly for James and to David’s delight, James ran out of steam in the 5th. He had needed that 2nd game. The gallery had lots of fun betting on who was going to win the 5th. One up to the Escorts. 

Meanwhile on court 2, Jill, our RAC club ladies champion and past Over-65 world champion, came on for her second appearance of the night having just played a 45 minute doubles tournament match. Sam Phey is an accomplished squash player and the first game was very close. Jill had the benefit of already being warmed up but in the second Sam stated to move Jill around, and the rallies became longer and longer. Jill held on winning the second as well. The third game was epic. Both players winning points after each other to a 10/10 climax. It literally could have gone either way and had it gone to Sam her fresher legs may well have taken the match to 5 games. Jill used all her vets match skills and closed out the game 12/10 winning 3/0 and pulling a point back for the Jesters. 

So I had gone on to play Bertie on court 1. Bertie is a rackets player and has a great connection with the ball. He plays real tennis and racquets and is fit and a runner. I managed to pull ahead with a very close 12/10 first game and 11/9 in the second. Bertie pulled the next two back, so it was down to the 5th. My veterans squash lob and serve started to become more effective as Bertie started to tire and I closed out the match 11/6. 3/2. 2/1 up to the Jesters. 

Meanwhile Zaynab and Alex had gone into court 2. I didn’t see it but it sounded close with Alex taking it 3/0 and bringing the match to an exciting 2/2. All down to the number 1s. 

Tucker flew in from Orlando this morning and only agreed to play last night when the Jesters number 1 had to pull out at the last minute. Rufus though is young, fit and tenacious. Tucker won the first but by all accounts Rufus had the legs and punished Tucker with long rallies and very tight squash. Rufus nailed it 3/1 and sealed victory for the Escorts 3/2. 

We all retired to the long bar for refreshments and dinner. 

As always, the RAC buffet was sublime and we all overindulged on the roast beef, steaks and chicken pie, washed down with the club Sauvignon. 

Round the table were stories from Barrington of victory in a match, from when he was 17 against the legendary Wiltsrop team on the Lancing courts. And from Campion about the feeling of relief after winning the world championship in the USA, and Tucker’s feeling of desperation losing to Ramy Ashour in front of 3000 adoring Egyptians on their home turf. 

Well done to all the candidates. Happy new year all and happy squashing. 

Richard Winter