Sutton Coldfield 2016

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Sutton Coldfield International 2016
05-10 Dec, England, $5k

Chris Hall reports

Herrewegen comeback stops Harris

Belgium's Jan Van Den Herrewegen staged a comeback from two-nil down to beat Mike Harris in the final in Sutton Coldfield.

So we were down to the final two, our finalists both having endeared themselves to the crowd this week. A full house were packed into the show court tonight and a noticeable buzz of anticipation during the build up to match time.

A fast pace from the first rally, both players looking to get in front and inflict some damage. Mike ending some quality early rallies with an early backhand cross court nick (he hasn't missed many all week!) and a backhand winner down the middle to fool his opponent. Another few even rallies went the way of the 8th seed, finding some more impressive finishes and taking advantage of a stroke to lead 6-2. Jan hadn't been plating badly to this point and got himself back in the game at 5-6 with some well constructed points and some aggressive length hitting. Mike found an inside out forehand volley winner which sent Jan the wrong way to help him to 9-7. He would reach 10-8 and close out the game on his first game ball, a simple looking backhand drop into the tin from Jan.

Mike was ambitious even for him at the start of the second game, two errors to start and another winning attempt that was slightly off that Jan countered well to lead 3.1. Just as we were thinking his radar was off he finds another two winners to draw level before Jan finds the tin on a backhand volley drop and concedes a stroke to fall behind 5.3. The backhand drop and volley drop being an area that would let him down a few time this evening with a number of errors from winning positions. From here Jan started to really test and put Mike under pressure who responded by lifting his way out of trouble, the first real time he had been forced to slow the pace like that this week. Some hard fought rallies including a lucky nick each to reach 9-9, before a nice rally from Mike and a backhand error going short from Jan handing the underdog a commanding 2-0 lead. Despite losing the game Jan was starting to respond better to Mike's attacks, reading them better and Mike become just a little bit more ragged in his play.

An close start to the third to 5-5, both players having their moments. Mike tended to win his rallies with some beautiful outright winners, whilst Jan constructed the rallies well before working the opening. An impressive not up call on his own shot from Jan edged things to 6-6 and this is where the tide started to turn. Mike was going short too often and was lacking the quality on his shots when he did, opening up the front of the court against a dangerous Jan who countered well. Some of Jan's play was really forcing Mike to defend and lift, giving the Belgian a respite from the barrage of shots, able to enforce his own game. 3 errors under pressure from Mike, and a inch perfect lob brining the second seed back into the match at 2-1 down.

If there any question Mike would change his tactics he answered with a backhand slammed into the nick on the return the very first rally. Another three winners and a mistake in that backhand front corner from Jan took Mike to 4-2. Jan finishing the next rally with a lovely disguised crosscourt drop that had Mike going the wrong way. However for all the Jan showed at the front there were maybe too many errors to go with it, another backhand volley drop into the tin to se Mike to 5-3. Jan again looked to be controlling the rallies, forcing a high pace and some dying lengths puttin Mike under pressure, scores even at 5-5. A highly competitive next 6 rallies including one rally which Jan launched into a dive not once but twice. The scoreboard level at 8-8 and you sensed if Mike was going to win the match it had to be in this game as he was looking slightly tired for th first time this week and Jan was coming on strong. An error from the Devon man and a stroke conceded gave the Birmingham based Belgian a chance to level up, which he did with an outrageous forehand drop.

The momentum looked to be with Jan as he started the fifth game very impressively, taking advantage of Mike's slowing movement to quickly establish a 6-1 lead. Mike was still pushing hard and found a few strong points but was still behind 9-4, Jan eventually wrapping up the game 11-4 to round off a remarkable final, the players receiving much deserved applause as they left the court.

A huge thank you to all of the players who competed this year, I can't remember a match that was even slightly controversial or ill tempered. Thanks must also go to our title sponsor Aston and Fincher without whom this event would not have been possible.

Sutton Coldfield International 2016
05-10 Dec, England, $5k
Round One
07 Dec
08 Dec
09 Dec
10 Dec
[1] Jaymie Haycocks (Eng)
11-3, 11-5, 11-8 (34m)
[Q] Darren Lewis (Eng)
[1] Jaymie Haycocks

11-8, 11-4, 11-7 (30m)

[Q] Andrew Birks
[1] Jaymie Haycocks

16/14, 11/8, 11/5 (35m)

[8] Michael Harris

[8] Michael Harris


8/11, 9/11, 11/6, 11/8, 11/4 (71mP


[2] Jan Van Den Herrewegen

[7] Elliot Selby (Eng)
11-4, 11-2, 11-4 (20m)
[Q] Andrew Birks (Eng)
[8] Michael Harris (Eng)
 6-11, 11-4, 11-6, 11-6 (40m)
Bradley Masters (Eng)
[8] Michael Harris

11-1, 11-7, 16-14 (45m)

[4] Mark Fuller
[4] Mark Fuller (Eng)
 1-11, 11-13, 11-7, 11-4 (50m)
[Q] David Haley (Wal)
[wc] Miles Jenkins (Eng)
 12-10, 16-14, 9-11, 11-5 (65m)
[3] Mohd Syafiq Kamal (Mas)
[3] Mohd Syafiq Kamal

14-12, 7-11, 11-7, 11-7

[Q] Vini Rodriguez
[3] Mohd Syafiq Kamal

11/5, 11/8, 11/9 (41m)

[2] Jan Van Den Herrewegen

[Q] Vini Rodriguez (Bra)
 11-13, 11-8, 11-4, 11-3 (32m)
[6] Ben Coates (Eng)
Owain Taylor (Wal)
11-4, 11-5, 11-2 (28m)
[5] Ben Grindrod (Nzl)
[5] Ben Grindrod

 9-11, 12-10, 9-11, 11-2, 11-6

[2] Jan Van Den Herrewegen
Alex Noakes (Eng)
11-6, 11-6, 11-7 (42m)
[2] Jan Van Den Herrewegen (Bel)

David Hayley  3-2 Scott Young  12-10, 11-6, 10-12, 10-12, 11-9 (79m)
Vini Rodrigues 3-1 Phil Nightingale           11-5, 8-11, 11-3, 11-2 (39m)
Darren Lewis 3-2 Chris Longman    12-14, 11-9, 11-3, 9-11, 11-7 (55m)
Andrew Birks 3-0 Dan Bergin                          11-9, 11-5, 11-7 (32m)

Round One:
David Hayley bt Barry Talbot -             11-4, 11-7, 11-7 (23 mins)
Scott Young bt Josh Owen               - 14-12, 11-3, 11-2 (29 mins)
Vini Rodrigues bt Kieran Mullis             - 11-1, 11-6, 11-5 (21 mins)
Phil Nightingale bt Nigel Stephens        - 11-6, 11-2, 11-6 (25 mins)
Darren Lewis bt Roshan Bharos            - 11-7, 11-7, 11-9 (32 mins)
Chris Longman bt Stuart George - 6-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-4 (57 mins)
Dan Bergin bt Andy Murray -        11-7, 7-11, 11-8, 11-7 (34 mins)
Andy Birks bt Kashif Arif - Walkover
Chris Hall reports

Mike Harris 3-0 Jaymie Haycocks

A big shock in the first match of the night, Mike showing that yesterday's upset against Mark Fuller was no fluke and producing another quality attacking performance.

We were anticipating a fast start from both players after if their matches yesterday were anything to go by. Jaymie came out of the blocks much the quicker, taking charge of the middle and unleashing a variety of winners to quickly lead 5.0. Mike managed to get himself involved in the rallies but Jaymie still on top to reach 9-5 and leave the crowd certain the game was done.

It appeared that he slightly took his foot off the gas and started to chip the ball around rather than playing the aggressive game that had got him to that point. Mike started to take advantage of this, attacking whenever he got the chance and finding 3 winners to help him draw level at 10-10. From here it was either Mike winners or errors taking us to 14-14, Jaymie not quite assertive enough to discourage him. Two winners from Mike giving him an important first game.

The consensus amongst the audience was that the first was just a blip for Jaymie and they were almost proved correct as he rediscovered his attacking intent to lead 6-2. A similar pattern to the first from here as Mike improved his game and Jaymie not quite as forceful in the second half of the game. Five winners from Mike and three very uncharacteristic errors from Jaymie, giving the Devon man a 2-0 lead.

The third game was Mike's turn to start quickly as he found two forehand cross court nicks and a forehand kill. This was followed by Jaymie hitting an error and conceded a stroke to put the underdog 5-0 up and on the cusp of a big win. The top seed was not giving in just yet and played some good stuff to recover to 5-4, including two inch prefect boasts.

He was then well in charge of the following rally before a defensive boast from Mike rolled out of the nick, not that Mike needed the luck given the form he was in! A couple of no let's for Jaymie, and a backhand winner from Mike taking us to 9-5 and the verge of an upset. Two unforced errors from Jaymie giving Mike a very well deserved victory.

Jaymie will no doubt quickly get over this loss and find the form which has seen him record some impressive results lately.

Jan Van Den Herrewegen 3-0 Mohd Syafiq Kamal

Jan was looking noticeable sharper at the start for this game compared to the first couple of games yesterday, winning the first game with a controlled and dominant display. Mohammed restricted to attacking from very difficult positions and finding the tin regularly.

A much better start to the second for the in form Malaysian to lead 3-1 but as was to becoming a pattern, two errors quickly followed. He was showing some lovely form at the front of the court and some quality play but perhaps needed to be a little more patient at times.

Two soft backhand drop winners helping him to a 6-4 lead until an error and reverse angle boast winner from Jan (perhaps a nod to our own Marcus Hayes) drawing the players level at 6-6. Another unnecessary error from Mohammed and a perfect length from Jan giving the Birmingham student a small cushion at 8-6. He managed to maintain this lead to hold game balls at 10-8, another mistake from Mohammed sealing the game.

The third was a very evenly contested affair, Mohammed perhaps realising he needed to cut out the risky shots and the players treating us to some very good play. A very even start to get to 5-5, Mohammed getting his nose slightly in front to lead 6-5. Jan noticeably picked up the intensity from this point looking to close the show in straight games.

This seemed to pay off as despite leading again at 8-7, Mohammed reverted to his high risk game, another two or three tins handing Jan match balls at 10-8. The second seed forcing a mistake on match ball to cap off the win.

Chris Hall reports

Jaymie Haycocks 3-0 Andy Birks

Andy had done well to qualify and upset the seeding in round 1, but tonight was sure to be a different test against the home favourite.

Like yesterday Jay was at it from the start, pushing up the court and controlling the rallies to lead 4-1 and 5-2. Andy started to get into the game and found some good width to restrict the volleying opportunities for his opponent, pulling level at 6-6. Jaymie moved ahead to 8-6 before we saw Andy's trademark volley drop off the boast to help pull him back to 8-8. Like all top players do Jaymie just seemed to find something extra at the end of the game to move to 10-8 before a nick attempt into the tin from Andy handed him the game.

Jaymie started the second full of purpose, really hunting the volley and using great angles at the front of the court to take the game away from Andy. A nice volley boast that rolled to finish the game.

It seemed like we were in for a quick fire third game as Jaymie moved 6-2 up before Andy rediscovered some of the form he showed in the first game. He was now matching his opponent shot for shot and played some great stuff to draw level at 7-7. Just like the first game Jaymie managed to find enough the end of the game to see him through. Andy may not be playing full time, but he certainly showed he could mix it at a high level.

Mike Harris 3-0 Mark Fuller

Mike was just on fire this match, by far the best I have seen him play and his attacking quality was unbelievable. He totally took Mark by Surprise in the first, firing in winners from absolutely everywhere with Mark perhaps a bit passive.

Mark has never been the type to roll over easily and came out looking much sharper in the second game, countering well and playing much more positively to reach 4-4. It was starting to look like Mike's attacking at all costs could backfire on him as Mark was evening things up and getting into his stride. However from 6-6 Mike found some more fantastic play to move ahead 10-7 and an error from Mark handed him the second game.

The third started in the same way as the second with things very even to 4-4, Mike then hitting two consecutive nicks to lead 6-4 and a backhand drop shot to take him to 7-5. Mark showed his exceptional mentality to dig in and after some great squash he managed to pull things level at 9-9. Mike held match balls at 11-10 and 12-11 but some brave shots kept Mark in the game, holding game balls of his own at 13-12 and 14-13. Mike summed up his play by slamming the return of serve into the nick to save a game ball, hitting another winner to lead 15-14. Mark went for it on the serve return but found the tin, giving Mike a much deserved win.

Mohd Syafiq Kamal 3-1 Vini Rodrigues

A very good game this one and two extremely fair players. Some great play from both in the first with Mohammed taking the ball in short regularly, which also gave Vini the chance to counter. Mohammed found his range to go 9-5 ahead before a number of winners from Vini saw the players level at 9-9. Both would hold game balls with Mohammed eventually finding a cross court nick to lead 13-12 before an error from Vini sealed the game.

Mohammed was perhaps looking to attack too often in the second making a few errors and opening up the court for Vini who took advantage to lead 7-4. Mohammed tightened up and won 3 good rallies to even up at 7-7 before a number of errors handed Vini game balls at 10-7. A forehand slammed into the nick from the Brazilian taking us to one game apiece.

Whist the third and fourth games were still very competitive it was clear Mohammed was playing a more sensible brand of squash, working the opening before dispatching his winners. Vini was still playing well but always seemed slightly behind as the young Malaysian took the match 3-1.

Jan Van Den Herrewegen 3-2 Ben Grindrod

A great match to finish the night, Ben pushing last year's champion very close indeed. After an impressive performance last night the Kiwi made started impressively to lead 6-2 aided by a couple of uncharacteristic errors from Jan. The number 2 seed fought back to 8-8 but Ben found a couple of crosscourt angles to take an unexpected lead.

Ben was countering extremely well again in the second game, anything slightly loose at the front from Jan was being punished. A very even game with Jan trying to move up the court and do more with the ball, eventually finding some better quality at the front to take a tight game 12-10.

The Belgian began the third a little passive as he was in the first, Ben racing to a 4-0 lead. Jan noticeably steps up the court and looks to do more with the ball, hitting a number of quick winners to lead 7-4. Ben proving to be stubborn and works his way back into contention at 9-9 and two unforced errors from Jan leaving him one game away from exiting the competition.

Jan really came out with intent in the fourth game, pushing the pace and working his opponent, with one particularly brutal rally at around 3-1 to Jan. That rally was a huge turning point, noticeably hurting Ben who couldn't recover for the rest of the game.

Ben was looking tired in the fifth and was soon 8-2 down but put in a really gutsy effort to catch up slightly to 9-6. Jan was not to be denied as two errors from Ben gave him the victory and still in with a chance of defending his title.

Round One
Chris Hall reports

Jaymie Haycocks 3-0 Darren Lewis
Jaymie started quickly, mixing excellent length with great variety at the front of the court, punishing anything loose from Darren to take the first two games reasonably comfortably. Like yesterday Darren looked sluggish to start the match and perhaps opened up the court too much against someone of Jaymie's quality.

However he was a totally different player in the third game, moving well and playing a more sensible but positive game. The rallies were a mixture of fast and frantic play and good use of height, giving us a great quality third game. Jaymie played the big points well and managed to take a much more competitive third game.

Andy Birks 3-0 Elliot Selby
Andy looked really up for this match and was on fire throughout, finding great length and lovely touch at the front. Elliot on the other hand looked noticeably flat and perhaps didn't play the squash we know he is capable of.

Mark Fuller 3-1 David Haley
Mark went off like a train playing incredibly tight squash and anything he put short was glued to the walls, David not really finding his feet and being forced into errors.

A much more even start to the second, David playing some much better squash and finding some lovely soft drops at the front to get to 5-5. However a number of mistakes and some strong rallies from Mark saw the Nottingham man hold 3 game balls at 10-7. David played well to recover to 10-10 and then 11-11 before firing in a two wall boast winner and stunning forehand drop to level proceedings.

A high standard from both players in the third game, each judging their length well and numerous winners being played into the front corners. Mark managed to edge ahead to 8-5 when a no let decision seemed to upset David who quickly fired into the tin in the next rally. Mark going on to take an important third game.

It seemed that losing the third perhaps took the edge from David's game in the fourth, Mark always in control to wrap things up.

Vini Rodrigues 3-1 Ben Coates
A very even first game with some good stuff, Ben in particular hitting some sublime winners. The second followed a similar pattern with Vini perhaps tightening up and giving Ben less to attack, drawing level.

From this pint Ben seemed to lose his sharpness and started finding the tin with shots that were winners in the first couple of games. Vini appeared well in control in the third and fourth games, playing very well.

Mohd Syafiq Kamal 3-1 Miles Jenkins
The best quality squash of the night. MIles started well, attacking on the forehand side with some nice kills and good length. Mohd gradually cut the errors out and mixed the pace nicely. Miles perhaps forced things too much at the end of the game, combined with some excellent movement and flicks and 2 cross court nicks by Mohd to take the first.

The second followed a similar pattern, with Miles leading early through good rally construction and a few errors. In the mid stages Mohd cut out the errors and produced some great counter attacks to level things. Miles narrowly clipped the tin on game ball and Mohd eventually took the game in style. Both of these games could've gone either way.

Miles battled back well in the third, managing to cut out the crucial forehand errors. Both players mixed the pace well, with early full stretched volleys and displays of touch. It was nip and tuck stuff but Miles pushes hard to take the third.

Mohd, totally unflustered, started well in the fourth, dominating the T and hitting great length mixed with tough working drops and boasts. Miles' earlier efforts seem to show as he makes several unforced errors, allowing Mohd to run away with the game. Great squash and entertainment, much appreciated by the crowd. Mohd winning a few fans tonight with his cool demeanour and exciting play.

Jan Van Den Herrewegen 3-0 Alex Noakes
Inaugural champion and adopted Belgian legend, Jan VDHW, got his 2016 campaign off to a solid start. The first game started at a good pace, both players hitting hard to the back, with Jan looking to take the ball early. The scores were close until 7 all, at which point Jan stepped up the court to cut in some nice winners to take the lead.

Alex battled well throughout, retrieving well and playing some nice kills. Jan raised his game again at the midpoint in the second, being more aggressive to the front of the court and also surprising his opponent with some nice counter attacks.

The third was just as competitive in the early stages, with Alex digging in and Jan making a couple of errors. Jan clearly wanted to get off in 3 though and improved his length and front court game to take the match 3-0.

Ben Grindrod 3-0 Owain Taylor
Ben looked extremely sharp in this match and was taking the ball in to the front regularly and to great effect, using his speed to cover any counter attacks. Whilst not necessarily doing much wrong, Owain certainly seemed to lack the zip we are accustomed to seeing and struggled to get himself going.

Qualifying Complete
Chris Hall reports

David Hayley 3-2 Scott Young

A mammoth encounter to start the night and a huge effort from both players. The first game saw some long and drawn out rallies which all seemed to end in unforced errors, seeing us to 6-6 without a winning shot being played. David moved ahead to 9-6 before Scott regrouped to hold a game ball at 10-9, finding the tin with a silly mistake. Two winners from David closed out the game 12-10.

The second began with some better quality squash, both players finding their targets and hitting some quality at the front. A number of nicks from David took him to 9-6 and Scott conceded two stroked to hand his opponent the game 11-6. Scott looked noticeably more positive with his game in the third and raced to a 7-2 lead with some excellent volleying and attacking intent. He then made four cheap errors to help Dave recover to 8-9, before finding 3 strong rallies to steal a game back 12-10.

The fourth can be summed up in one word, errors. Oh, and strokes! I am not sure either player actually won a rally in this game, Scott drawing level with a 12-10 win. Luckily both players found some form in the decider which was even throughout with each giving it all they had in some brutal rallies. An ambitious return of serve error from Scott handing Dave the final game 11-9.

Vini Rodrigues 3-1 Phil Nightingale

From the outset it was clear Vini's plan was to take the ball in short and often with volley drops and boats to twist and turn Phil, who was responding with some nice height to recover. However Vini's attacking game was too strong and he closed out the first comfortably. The second saw a similar pattern but Phil was reacting better and playing some lovely counter drops and winners, Vini perhaps exposing the front of the court too much.

The Brazilian found the right balance in the third and fourth games, showing some lovely touches to take a 3-1 win.

Darren Lewis 3-2 Chris Longman

Chris set off brightly taking the ball in well whilst Darren was looking slightly sluggish compared to his performance yesterday. From 8-1 down Darren recovered slightly to 6-10 and played some much better stuff to save five games balls before Chris eventually took it 14-12. An even start to the second before Darren really found his form firing in trademark winners from all angles to run away with it 11-4.

The third was much of the same, Darren playing some sublime squash whilst Chris was looking noticeably tired from his five game battle yesterday. The sensible money would have been for Darren to run away with the fourth but Chris had other ideas. The Nottingham player finding a second wind to reach 4-4 before Darren totally lost focus, making six unforced errors. Some excellent squash at the start of the fifth with Darren noticeably looking to push the pace and each player doing a lot of work. Darren produced some great squash at the end of the game to take it 11-7. A fantastic match played in great spirit and thoroughly enjoyed by the crowd.

Andrew Birks 3-0 Dan Bergin

A good start from the Welshman saw him take a 9-6 lead with a number of winners from mid court whenever Andy left the ball loose. Andy found his length from here and aided by a couple of mistakes from Dan snuck a tight first game 11-9. Andy really found his stride in the second, suffocating his opponent with dying lengths and forcing a number of impatient replies from Dan.

The third game was closer but Andy was always slightly ahead showing some fantastic touch at the front of the court, summed up with two volley drop winners off his opponents boasts. A competitive match throughout and Dan should not be displeased with his performance.

Qualifying under way
Chris Hall reports

David Hayley 3-0 Barry Talbot

Welsh international David Haley looked solid throughout this opening match, working the Sutton first team stalwart hard and into all four corners. Barry will be please with his efforts and certainly made his opponent work for the 3-0 win. The second game in particular saw some lung busting rallies and nice varied play.

Scott Young 3-0 Josh Owen

Both players had been showing some good form lately and treated us to an excellent quality first game, each looking to push forward and control the T. Scott managed to sneak it and from then on seemed to be in charge, making his opponent work hard with some excellent volleying.

Josh seeming to tire after his efforts in the first but is certainly a name to look out for in the future. Scott, the former Birmingham University student, looked on top form and much improved over the last few months.

Vini Rodrigues 3-0 Kieran Mullis

Sutton junior Kieran Mullis was always going to be up against it to challenge the hard hitting and skilful Brazilian. However he worked his socks off and managed to play some good stuff in the second and third games, in amongst Vini's hard hitting and numerous nicks. Kieran left straight away to play a Warwickshire league match for the second team, an impressive commitment!

Phil Nightingale 3-0 Nigel Stephens

Experienced professional Phil Nightingale was taken by surprise in the initial stages of the match. Sutton first team marathon man, Nigel Stephens, rattled off the first five points without reply. From here, Phil started to find his length and introduced his two wall boast to great effect, getting back to parity and marching ahead to one love.

Phil continued to control the rallies well in the second and third games, using his height and reach to control the T. For Nigel it was a rare Monday night 3 game match, but as usual, he left nothing out there.

Darren Lewis 3-0 Roshan Bharos

British Open O35 champion and former world number 107 Darren Lewis was always going to provide a stern test and so it proved with an accomplished performance against Roshan Bharos. Darren used his full range of shots to constantly keep Roshan off balance and finished the rallies with some great shots at the front of the court.

The third game proved the closest but Lewis finished proceedings with two cross court nicks. Despite a competitive match Bharos could not quite influence the game enough to make an impact.

Chris Longman 3-1 Stuart George

After getting into the event at the last minute and a mad dash from Scotland, Stuart George started strongly the first game, aided by a number of errors from Nottingham University student Chris Longman. The next two games were much more even with some patient and well constructed rallies from both rallies providing great entertainment for the crowd.

It seemed that Stuart made errors at the crucial part of each game whilst Chris kept his quality up. After a strong start to the fourth, Chris raced away to win an impressive match.

Dan Bergin 3-1 Andy Murray

Dan started well, putting the ball in short and testing Sutton legend Andy Murray's new knee! Andy flashed in some customary winners and gradually found his length as the first progressed. By the second Andy was in full flow, taking the ball early and cutting in some nice drops and volley drops.

At one game all and six all the Sutton faithful sensed a potential upset, but Dan found the back corners and got in front to take the game. Andy started brightly in the fourth but like the previous game, Dan closed the court down and stepped up the pace to take the match 3-1. A great effort by Andy, after so many injuries it is great to see him back on the show court.


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