NORMAN ROLLS BACK THE YEARS : Selby seals points as TWP St George’s Hill snatch their first win of the season in the Premier Squash League.
Ross Norman, Squash legend and the 1986 World Champion who has not played top level squash for six years put TWP St George’s Hill on course for a famous victory against local rivals Unisport Guildford at St George’s Hill , Weybridge last night.
Norman was called up when local youngster Tom Richards turned his ankle in training and was ruled unfit to play. With several other players away playing international tournaments Norman was the obvious choice to keep the team competitive in a match they needed to win to have any chance of making the league semi finals.
The super fit Norman, just two months short of his 50th birthday defeated 21 year old Jamie Matthews by three games to one in a 48 minute match which had the old bones creaking but not quite giving way as Norman retreived almost superhumanly all that Matthews could throw at him.
It’s 22 years this month that Norman ended the five and three quarter year unbeaten run of Pakistani Jahangir Khan in the World Open Final in Toulouse and his classy performance against Matthews showed that he is still capable of beating players in the world’s top two hundred.
TWP’s lady player Rachel Willmott nearly failed to make the match due to a major crash on the A3 which left her stranded in her car for an hour and a half. Her comprehensive drubbing at the hands of World number 6 Alison Walters must have made Willmott wish she had stayed at home. She showed glimpses of quality but her efforts went unrewarded as British Champion Walters dominated most rallies with her hard hitting.
TWP’s Adam Fuller was making his debut for the Weybridge Club against former World number 11 Steve Meads. Fuller narrowly lost all three games as Meads showed just too much class for the newcomer.
Mark Krajscak, TWP’s Hungarian import flew in from Vancouver to take part in the match. His opponent Stacey Ross sensed that he could capitalise on his opponent’s jet lag and snatched the first game. Krajscak’s “power nap” on arrival in England obviously paid off as he recovered to win the second and third games. The fourth was a humdinger which reached an amusing climax as Ross gasping for breath asked for a new ball at 10 all. Krajscak, who would have well within his rights to refuse, bizarrely agreed and then even more strangely allowed himself to be rushed into a restart as Ross tried to use the freezing new ball to his advantage. Ross rolled the first return for a quick winner but then Krajscak produced a gem of his own before hounding down two more Ross attacks to narrowly snatch the match.
The decider kept the large crowd entertained until the last rally as TWP’s Daryl Selby ranked 37 in the world faced South African number 1 and World number 61 Jesse Englebrecht. Most people expected Selby to saunter to victory as Englebrecht had like Krajscak just returned from Canada. Englebrecht came out of the blocks fast and took Selby by surprise as he took the first game 11-5 and raced ahead in the second. Selby vitally just managed to claw back that game and dominated welll in the third to take a two one lead. It was Selby who looked as though he had spent twelve hours on a plane as Englebrecht hunted down the volleys to level the match and then lead 7-1 in the deciding game. Selby looked spent as Englebrecht reached four match balls at 10-6. Incredibly Selby stayed calm and won the next six rallies, shattering the last resistance of the indefatigable South African.
An amazing night of squash was enjoyed by all present. The highlight for nostalgia buffs was undoubtably Ross Norman’s amazing age defying performance but for sheer excitement Daryl Selby’s comeback in the final game would be hard to top.TWP St George’s Hill gained their first win of the season despite having several players missing. They travel to Exeter on December 2nd hopefully at full strength, where they will hope to climb the league table with another win.