SIMON JOHNS stepped up to the task to defeat his Birmingham University opponent in a fifth-set decider to ensure Stratford SC remain in promotion contention in the Warwickshire League Division Two.
Johns faced a final-match decider after Stratford, lying second in the table, twice levelled the away fixture.
With regular first string Richard Rosenthal out injured, Johns was tasked with securing victory despite playing above his usual team ranking. The match was extremely close, with extended rallies and accurate shots being played for almost every point.
The university player took a 2-1 advantage, but the Stratford player refused to give up. Having fought back to win the fourth game, Johns took control of the fifth from the outset and won the decider against his tiring opponent, 11-5, securing the match 3-2 for Stratford.
With all team players moving up in the team ranking due to Rosenthal’s injury, second seed Simon Kemp took to the court first against his student opponent. Kemp’s opponent used his experience of the home court, together with some excellent shots, to take the first two games. Kemp managed to pull a game back by taking advantage of his opponent making a number of unforced errors but the Birmingham University student managed to edge ahead in the fourth set to win the game 13-11 and the match, 3-1.
At fourth string, George Owen played one of the university’s lecturers. His opponent played an unorthodox style of squash, but Owen managed to stay in the match thanks to his agility around the court.
With the game again going the full distance, Owen played some decisive points towards the back end of the fifth game to take the match 3-2 and to level the tie for Stratford.
Third string, Freddie Milles, didn’t fair well against his opposing number. Although the game scores were close, Milles lost 3-0 and still appeared to be off his best after having been out with injury for a lengthy period.
Stratford’s experienced club player, Rolf Wilson, played at fifth string. Playing one of the university’s top female players, Wilson’s team match experience and guile around the court proved too much for his opponent, and he won the match 3-1.
With the last match of the year being away from home against table-toppers Edgbaston Priory, Stratford will look to secure some important points to comfortably position themselves in a promotion spot, ready for the second half of the season.