Sarah takes Gala squash title honours against new mum Kerri

Winner Sarah Chrystie, left, with runner-up Kerri Andrews and  baby Fionnlagh.
Winner Sarah Chrystie, left, with runner-up Kerri Andrews and baby Fionnlagh.

Sarah Chrystie 3, Kerri Andrews 0 (15-10, 15-13, 15-4)

The Ladies’ Final at Galashiels Squash & Raquetball Club had been long awaited and a highly anticipated duel, as defending champion Kerri

Andrews came up against debutante Sarah Chrystie.

Kerri had a spell out of the game earlier in 2018 as she gave birth to son Fionnlagh. Indeed, she had only been a mother for around 12 weeks before competing in a squash final, having come through a gruelling semi-final 3-2 against former club champion Rachel McAleese.

Sarah was playing in her first tournament at the club, having previously played for many years in Dubai and just recently moved back to Scotland. Coming from a sporting family, Sarah’s brother is Melrose RFC first team coach Rob Chrystie.

The match didn’t fail to deliver top-quality squash. Although Sarah took a 4-1 lead in the first game, both ladies were quick out of the blocks and any idea of starting slow and sussing the opponent out was non-existent.

The pattern of the first game was whoever had the serve would score four or five points, and vice-versa.

Sarah went 4-1, 4-4, 9-4, 9-10 – then, when Sarah got the serve back at 10-10, she seemed to find a different gear.

Although Kerri was proving a formidable opponent, Sarah would play the back-back-front game and the drop shots were proving decisive, and she motored on to 15-10.

The second game went much the same way – whoever had the serve would reel off several points on the trot.

In this game, Kerri scored several points from some deft drop shots which Sarah just couldn’t reach. But Sarah was fit and covered the court well.

Kerri got the serve at 13-12 down and, unfortunately, served out, which dented her confidence, and Sarah took the second a very close 15-13.

In the third game, Sarah wasn’t missing anything and Kerri fought valiantly, refusing to give up. But Sarah seemed to have found her rhythm and the ball was going exactly where she placed it. This third game finished 15-4 but was just as scintillating as the other two.

Match umpire Del Sharratt said: “That was one of the best matches I’ve watched for a long time. Both ladies seemed to have kept their best squash for the big occasion.

“It’s particularly impressive that Kerri Andrews has just had a baby and is back playing at this level already – her enthusiasm and dedication is commendable.

“Sarah just joined the club early last year and has proved a major asset. The ladies’ game has started to soar recently, as we have attracted a couple of new lady members, and, hopefully, the ladies’ tournament can thrive over the next year.”