The men’s squash team produced a comfortable win for the university yesterday with a 5-0 whitewash over division rivals the University of Warwick. This sent out a clear message of intent to the rest of the teams within the league and moved them up to third in the process.
In the fixture the firsts faced a rather difficult tie in the form of the University of Warwick who were originally ranked above Lincoln prior to proceedings. However, after arriving almost an hour late they found themselves under pressure almost immediately.
The match started with Andy Oram of the University of Lincoln (UOL), squaring up against the opposition’s rather agitated Gabriel Chan. Oram seemed relaxed and somewhat laidback in the pre-match preparations and this was evident almost straight away as he raced towards a 7-3 lead much to the frustration of Chan. Even with Chan finding his feet as the match developed Oram made no mistake in winning the first game for the hosts through a scoreline of 11-8.
In the second game there was more of the same from Oram, as he made his way round the court with ease much to the dismay of Chan who could only watch in awe. The backhand shots that he played illustrated his dominance for the entirety of this particular game and this was the main factor as to why he clinched an 11-7 win.
The final game followed suit as Chan lost his way both mentally and physically due to the superiority of Oram. Because of this, UOL won this game with a victory of 11-4. This gave UOL a 1-0 lead and at the same time formed the foundations of a tricky and rather dismal afternoon for the visitors.
After Oram’s dazzling display it was time for Jarek Grebenik to take to the court for the University of Lincoln. He faced difficult opposition in the form of Sam Gelder who was born and bred in Lincolnshire. This didn’t faze him though as he was very focused and concentrated on the task at hand. He kept his nerve to beat the player in the first game via tie-break, 12-10.
Grebenik then played some decisive shots early on in the second game making full use of his forehand and chipped shots to go up by seven games to the opponent’s five. Gelder rallied back to 7-7, but after making a few repetitive shots into the tin he lost this game and UOL edged this one 11-8.
In the third and final game, there was an immediate response from Gelder as he claimed a 3-2 lead with a shot that ricocheted off both the side and front walls to the left of the court. This left Lincoln’s Grebenik with no other option but to focus on the next point. He did exactly that and with a series of deserved winners he took the game to a tie-break. Here, he played some superb squash to acquire a margin of two points and the win, 13-11. Another win for UOL and this gave them a 2-0 cushion, heading into the last three stand-offs.
On court three, it was time for Josh Maddison to come to the fore against Warwick’s Josh Gorman. The travelling squash player looked more appropriate for a festival than a game of squash as he wore an elusive bandana for the duration of the game. His appearance in combination with a lack of technical skill on the day made it fine pickings for Maddison as he took the first game 11-4.
Maddison, a dominant and composed character on the court used his opponent’s growing frustration in his favour as he used alternative chip shots on different areas of the court in the second game. Although Gorman did give a better account of himself in this game, much to the anger of Maddison, it didn’t stop him losing 11-8 to the UOL player who had now established a 2-0 lead going into the decider.
In the deciding game Gorman once again found himself on the back foot as many of the shots played by Maddison left him exhausted. This left him emotionally and physically drained with his racket and the point scorer bearing the brunt of his frustration. After four successive points Maddison prevailed over Gorman and gave Lincoln a 3-0 lead over Warwick with Captain Alex Rhodes the next player in waiting.
It was to be in the fourth match where the hosts would face their toughest test from the away side. After a convincing 11-3 win for Rhodes over Rob Murphy in the starting game not many would have backed the opposition’s player to mount a challenge in the match.
However, after narrowly losing the second game 15-13 Murphy produced some excellent shots to take the third game which received some appreciation from Rhodes who missed an opportunity to secure the win earlier in the game. This gave Murphy a much needed boost and he exhibited extraordinary racket skills to win 11-6. This levelled the match at 2-2. However, Rhodes relied on his experience in the sport to dissolve the situation and claim a significant 11-3 win against the in-form Murphy.
This put the result beyond doubt with a 4-0 scoreline going into the final match.
It was up to Will Casban to maintain the perfect score for the firsts in the remainder of the action and he did so consistently with 11-9, 11-8 and 11-7 wins over Warwick’s Fergal Monssey. Despite being originally omitted from the first’s team sheet Casban justified his selection by controlling the game from start to finish. He set the tempo and carried out game defining shots at crucial moments. His awareness of the court and his ability to force errors from his opponent subsequently handed UOL a well-deserved 5-0 victory over the University of Warwick.
This result moves the men’s Lincoln squash team into third in their table and it underlines their credentials to teams of a similar calibre.
Captain Alex Rhodes said: “The team played really well and we came out on top against a team who are above us in the league, so that’s quite good.
“A result like that against a team above us, takes us up to third in the table and stands us in good stead for the second half of the season.”