The 82nd year of the Hampshire County Closed squash tournament returned for a final day of intense matches involving a range of diverse players from all different grades. The welcoming and friendly spirit throughout the day made it a cordial day for all standards and 66 squash players participated. The event took place 23rd to 24th November at Winchester Racquet and fitness club.
The Mens A grade finalist Rob Downer, a professional self-funded squash player, came down from Nottingham to compete in the men’s final in this year’s tournament. Having played for 23 years, he believes the wide variety in styles of play and training is what is most enjoyable about the sport. Squash has taken him to many places, including having a sponsorship with Decathlon as a brand ambassador. Although squash players are notoriously known for over training and Downer often finds it difficult acclimatising to different tournaments worldwide, he believes keeping healthy mental state is what helps him most in games. His advice to junior squash players is to “be patient to find your own way” and to those who are considering a professional career in squash is to make sure aspects of their life are working in harmony so they can perform at their best quality.
Active squash player, Kyle Finch from University of Nottingham also participated in the finals. Playing for 10 years, his passion for squash is driven by the amount of variety involved in the sport, from agility to hand to eye coordination and its diversity. He believes the most important aspect when it comes to playing squash is having enthusiasm and love for the sport and those thinking of going professional should ensure they are prepared to put all their effort in. Finch commented that the event was well organised and it was refreshing to see a men’s and women’s competitive tournament and the friendly atmosphere throughout the day.
Competing in the women’s final were Megan Thompson and Olivia Besant. Thompson also coming travelling from University of Nottingham says squash has given her so many opportunities to travel and make friends and that there is no harm in picking up a racket and therefore anybody who wants to play should always try.
Besant adds that squash is a great way to meet new people and that playing friendly matches and internal leagues are a really fun and social way to be healthier while also enjoying yourself.
Results from the Hamsphire county close squash tournament
A Grade mens Rob Downer beat Kyle Finch 3-1
A Grade women Olivia Besant beat Megan Thomas 3-2
B Grade Men Ross Shadick-Coe beat Jonathan Graham 3-0
C Grade Men David Ward beat Jake Mundy 3-1
D Grade Men Alistair Smith beat Simon Thompson 3-2
O45 Mens Phil Ashman beat Craig Muskal 3-0
O55 Mens George Kousseff Beat Simon Dancer 3-0
The event was organised by Arif Faizi the tournament director and the Hampshire County Closed turned out to be another successful, action packed set of squash matches and we look forward to more exhilarating matches for the 83rd year. Grateful to our sponsors Dunlop, Repulink, Hampshire Squash and the software Sport Manager. Also a special mention to Stan Thornton for refereeing during the weekend and to Amy Thompson for taking the photos.
Olivia Besant and Rob Downer
All the winners