Squash ace Tony secures third Gala club championship

Tony Elliot, the champion, left, and runner-up Kev Douglas.
Tony Elliot, the champion, left, and runner-up Kev Douglas.

After a great weekend of finals, with an epic five-setter at Wimbledon and England winning the Cricket World Cup, all eyes descended on Galashiels for the Squash Club Championship of 2019.

Tony was also going for three titles in a row but Kev was gunning for his first ever title and both players were up for the occasion.

Club stalwart Andy Waddell was the referee and he got the players started promptly after the five-minute warm-up.

Tony Elliot won the spin and he took the hand, reeling off a couple of quick points before the players settled into typical back hand rallies.

Both tried tried to keep the ball tight to the wall and both produced some good squash.

Tony kept the ball tighter to the wall than Kev and continued his lead to 6-3 and then 12-6.

An uncharacteristic fluffed drop shot by Tony gave Kev the hand back and Kev’s hard, fast style of serve meant he commanded the rallies and got it back to 12-10, before Tony got the hand back and hardly missed a thing after that, taking the first 15-11.

The second game went point for point until it was 3-2 for Kev.

Then a cross-court drive by Kev made Tony twist and he seemed to pull up a bit, with his pace slowing. Kev noted this and capitalised by sending the ball from left to rightand went 7-2 and 10-3 up, seemingly coasting.

Tony shook off his apparent groin injury and regained focus. A deft drop to the front corner was out of Kev’s reach and brought Tony back into the game.

Tony soon got it back to 13-9 but his movement was still not quite there and Kev, who has one of the hardest hits at the club, played a gouple of full-length shots with pace and took the second 15-10, tying the game at 1-1.

After a couple of minutes breather, Tony seemed to come back refreshed and it was ‘game on’. Tony was back to his usual squash and hardly missed a shot, despite Kev’s best efforts. With fast shots and some bluffs ,Tony took off to a 9-3 lead.

This game was more a war of attrition, with Tony just returning the fast drives from Kev and, although Kev made a game of it, Tony took it 15-9 for a 2-1 lead.

Tony only needed one more to win and the tension could be felt by fellow members and spectators in the viewing gallery.

Tony settled quickly in the fourth and normal service was resumed, as Kev was chasing the game and Tony went to 7-3 and 10-4 with some straightforward long tight squash.

However, one unforced error by Tony and Kev’s confidence rose, as he started to command the rallies from the T-line and sent Tony running from corner to corner.

Kev brought it back to 11-9 but Tony seemed to find that extra gear when it mattered and remained focused, like a true champion, to win the game 15-9 for a 3-1 victory.

Tony is coached by Scotland squash international Rory Stewart which, said Tony, had made a big difference to his game and he was looking forward to more challenges over the coming year.

Ref Andy Waddell commented on the game’s high standard of speed and skill.