ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic  21st to 25th March 2011  London  






Day of the Challenge ...

We had a few lunchtime activities on semi-finals day, aimed to help promote England Squash & Racketball's new partnership with Dunlop - more of that later.

First up was a challenge between squash legend Jonah Barrington and son Joey. Now, Jonah may have six British Open titles to his name, but at the age of 68 he needed a little help, so while he played with one of Dunlop's current top of the range rackets, Joey was using one of his Dad's Maxply rackets from the seventies.

Added to which Joey was barred from hitting short winners, and referee Linda Davie was, shall we say, leaning towards the elder Barrington in her decision-making.

So, one game to 11 it was, and while Joey was managing to pummell the ball to the back, as he does, with his new weapon, Jonah was able to catch him out with some nifty flicks from the back of the court, and not a little backchat too.

"He actually coped with the racket very well," admitted Jonah afterwards. "It's probably 220 grams compared to the 140 he plays with and the head is very small, but he was hitting the ball well."

Joey reached matchball, thought he'd won it when he slammed a volley into the nick only to hear the referee call "fault, short ball," and we were into extra points.

"I've never played a tiebreak in my life," mused Jonah, who won the next point with one of those flicks, then started on the verbal intimidation as he took as long as he could before serving for the match.

Whether the pressure got to Joey, or whether Jonah was threatening some unmentionable punishment should he dare to beat his old man we'll probably never know, but when Jonah put in another back-right to front-left wristy flick Joey couldn't react in time, Jonah's arm in the air and certain members of the audience were delighted too.

"What did you think of those two last shots, not bad eh," beamed Jonah, who was not noted for outright winners in his heyday. "I just hammered the ball to the back until they missed, how could they beat me ..."

"I would have like another game or two but it would probably have been embarrassing for the poor lad, I was really beginning to find my touch there."

The Barrington's team up again tonight as the SquashTV commentary team. "It should be interesting," said Joey, "but as the lead commentator I'll be able to tell him when to shut up, which will make a change."

"I'm not sure what will happen," said Jonah, "I don't think we've ever talked for more than a minute, maybe a minute and a half, without arguing ..."

To see how they get on, tune in tonight ...

After the Barringtons came a racketball challenge between Jon Kemp and Alison Waters, the Women's National Champion naturally taking the honours, then some of the players and squad juniors tested their racket arm power against the radar speed gun (John White's 172mph was the target).

Top speed, 158 Declan James

Nick Matthew 147

Jon Kemp 148

Challenge Day Gallery


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