Duffield defy the odds to keep up unbeaten PSL group record
AN inspired night in West Yorkshire extended Benz-Bavarian Duffield's unbeaten record at the top of their group in the Premier Squash League.
Without all their leading world-ranked players, the Derbyshire club beat Chapel Allerton 3-2 to make it six wins out of six in Group A.
Duffield were up against the odds all the way through to the deciding game of the night, when world number 15 Alister Walker lined up for the home side against Joel Hinds, ranked 152 places below him.
But they did it, to leave team manager Felix Frixou to declare: "That was one of the best nights I've been involved in in my life.
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"I had to use all the motivation I could think of to get them through but they deserve all the credit because they played like troopers."
Frixou was forced into another late change hours before the match when 16-year-old Lily Taylor withdrew from what would have been her PSL debut and multiple British age group racketball champion Lesley Sturgess was brought in.
That meant she too made a PSL debut but at the age of 53 and had to face the 21-year-old former European Junior champion Carrie Ramsey. She lost in three games but there was no disgrace in that.
However, Duffield were soon in front on the night with wins for Andy Whipp and Chris Fuller.
Whipp and Shaun Le Roux are team-mates in the North West Counties League and Le Roux has argued that he should be the higher-ranked player in that side because he is up to 52 in the world but Whipp set out to make a strong case for keeping things the way they are.
He gave up only four points in taking the first game and showed no signs of allowing the Chapel player back into the contest to take the next two 11-8, 11-5.
"That's the best I've ever seen Whippy play," said Frixou. "In that form, he would give anybody a close game."
Fuller also had a point to prove against James Earles, having lost to him in a county match two weeks ago.
But this was a positive and determined show from the Duffield player and he had his revenge 11-7, 11-5, 11-7.
At that time, Aqeel Rehman was in the middle of a battle with veteran Simon Parke, the former world number three, with the first two games going to the Chapel manager 11-7, 11-7.
Parke was the winner when the pair met in Duffield at the start of the season but Rehman steeled himself and battled back to take the next two games 11-5, 11-3.
Parke dipped into his depth of experience to win the decider 11-8 but knew he had been pushed close.
Frixou admitted he thought his side might be heading to a 3-2 defeat then but Hinds had other thoughts and surprised Walker by taking the first game 11-8.
The Botswana national took the next two 11-8, 11-6 but Hinds gave him a torrid time in the fourth and was 7-3 up when Walker started to complain about a back injury.
He played three more points, which Hinds won, before retiring and so the match went to Duffield, who are at home to Pontefract on February 5 in their next outing.