Framboise covers the
BSPA Ilkley Open
, 02-04 April 2004
DRAW&RESULTS     Photo Gallery

Sun 4th April, The Final:

[3/4] Marcus Berrett (Yor) bt [2] Azlan Iskander (Mas)
        15/9, 5/15, 15/7, 15/8  (52m)


Marcus Berrett can’t be caught in the BSPA GP standings. It took him 52 minutes and 4 sets of very good and solid squash against Azlan Iskander to assure himself of the title in front of a large audience who packed themselves as much as they could in this beautiful show court.

The first game was pretty much Marcus’. Azlan's shots were a bit approximate, lacking precision, in particular his backhand drives and drop shots. He was obviously not happy with his game, and you could see him commentating to himself on the poor quality of his shots.

Marcus won the 1st game 15/9 playing quickly between serve, hitting the ball hard, driving and crosscourting the ball. Boy that man loves his crosscourts! His backhand dropshots are sometimes a bit high, but the rest of his game is solid, structured and high paced.

Azlan’s game was in total contrast. Even if Chingford’s Malaysian player did take the 2nd game in brilliant fashion 15/5 in 15 minutes, he was never really IN the game.

“For about 2 weeks now, I’m just very tired," said Azlan. "I had a few problems that occupy my mind at the moment. It’s not an excuse, but I lack explosive power. I suffered all week, and to be honest, I think that Peter Genever would have won the semi final yesterday if he didn’t get injured. But Marcus fully deserves to win, he has a very solid game, and today, he beat me fair and square."

I asked the young player what were his immediate plans.
“One, I just want to talk with my girlfriend. Then, tomorrow night, I’m playing James Willstrop in the Super League in Ipswich, and again the next day for the National League in Chichester. This week, James is the man to beat!”

Overall, a very well deserved victory for Marcus Berrett, a very steady and solid player. It was the first time I saw him play, and I was not disappointed …

“It was really a beautiful tournament’ declared Marcus after his win. “I want to thank all the sponsors, of course, but also the club members who made us feel very welcome, who talked to us, made us feel at home. Also, thanks to Ben Rickaby, whose perfect organisation has made this event one to remember. In particular, we [the players] really appreciated having a lounge to relax into”.

Yes, 7 sponsors for this tournaments, Yorkshire Bank, Baker Tilly, Dacre, Son & Hartley, HOS, Barrats, HBOS Insight Investment and Prince. Bless them, as thanks to them, we had a great tournament, and a lot of good matches to appreciate in the best conditions possible.

It also took a nice bunch of referees, Jeff Williams, Geoff Bickerdycke, Dave Atkins, Wendy Danzey and tournament referee John Massarella.

And a lot, a lot of help from the club members and the juniors who made this event the success that it is.

Au revoir….


Ben Rickaby
, last one to leave, first on site was again at it this morning. Not only he has made (with the help of Jane at the tournament desk, Phil at the bar, Chris, Robbie and the others) my stay here a pleasure of every minute, allowing me to work in the best of conditions, spoiling me rotten with teas and food (key to my heart…), but he was also playing a racket ball match with Alister Walker, who reached the 2nd round of the competition only to lose 13/15 in the 4th after 1 HOUR AND 36 MINUTES!

But the young Alister seemed to have recovered well, and the battle was fierce (not) between the “Ilkely number 1” Ben Rickaby, as he likes to call himself, and the world number 60. It’s was not to be Ben’s day, as he lost 14/15 in the last game.

Shame, such a cute young man….

What’s wrong with me at the moment? I have never ever been attracted to young men ever in my life, and for the past 2 months, I think that they are becoming cuter and cuter. I tell you, I’ll end up getting arrested!

But really, we were spoiled for choice today (not in young men, you silly) as, on another squash court, a tennis table had be installed, and Sally Shutt, the ladies and juniors’ tennis table coach was playing an exhibition match, and on the indoor tennis courts, a corporate tennis competition was happening.

I told you in my opening article, racquets away in Ilkley….

Oups, time to go and watch the final… By the way, if Marcus Berrett wins, nobody will be able to catch up with him in the BSPA GP standings! If he loses, only Peter Genever will be able to beat him…

Or, as Tim Garner, in charge of the organisation of BSPA events, puts it: “If Marcus wins the event he gets 500 and cannot be caught, if he loses to Azzy he gets 350 and only PG can catch him! “

Thanks once again for your efficiency, Tim….


All about Ilkley


More in the Gallery





Alister & Ben try racketball

Azlan prepares for the final

Sat 3rd April, Semi-Finals:

[2] Azlan Iskander bt [3/4] Peter Genever 
     15/13, 7/15, 5/3 rtd  (45m)
[3/4] Marcus Berrett bt [1] Adrian Grant
     15/6, 15/5, 2/15, 15/13  (42m)


Shame. A twisted ankle got the better of an “in control of the match” Peter Genever.

Genever was playing Azlan Iskander in the first semi final of the Ilkley Open this evening. He was perfectly in control of the match, playing beautiful drop shots, perfect length drives and cross courts (his favourite shot), moving very well on the court. The score was close (5/5, 8/8) but funnily enough, Peter was not the slightest threatened by Azlan's a bit loose and approximate shots. Iskander made a few tins, his cross courts were ending up in the middle of the court, and it’s only his great speed on the court that allowed him to stick with the score.

And then, Baoum! Azlan serving at 9/11, Peter is on the T, plays a drop shot in the front right corner, his opponent tries to get to it, clips Peter’s right leg.

“My food didn’t move at all, so the leg went forward, and I twisted my right ankle. I tried to go on, but I couldn’t move in and out of the right side of the court. I started to compensate with my other leg, and felt the hip going… It was beginning to be ridiculous, so I decided to stop. Shame really, because I was playing well. Oh well, it’s just one of those things…”

Yes, I quite agree with Genever. He was playing very well, was constantly in front of the ball before the accident. And even with a blue and swollen ankle, he managed to win the second game 15/7, after losing the 1st one 15/13, hopping in and out of front and back corner, visibly in pain, stretching his body to an extreme to return the suddenly very precise shots from his young opponent. But in the 3rd game, at 5/3 on Azlan's serve, Genever decided that it was wise to stop.

Blast! Unlucky really!

A very apologetic Azlan Iskander finds himself in the final, fresh like a baby just born… Things happen, Azlan, c’est la vie….

The second semi final was opposing Seed number one, Adrian Grant, Londoner again, but who is playing for Halifax Squash Club, along with his adversary of the semi final, Marcus Berrett.

Grant had lost a few games along the way in this competition, and got a close call at lunch time, playing 5 games against Stacey Ross, clinging to victory by a hair's breadth, 15/12 in the last game.

Was he tired of his previous match? Probably.

Berrett didn’t have the same problem, having beaten 'old timer' Stephen Meads pretty easily in the quarters.

How to summarise the match?

First 2 games: Marcus. 15/6 – 15/5.
3rd game: Adrian’s 15/2

And the 4th?

Lets go back to the first game. I told you in my previous report that Marcus is a very clever player. He susses his opponents out, finds what upsets them, and just plays along. At lunch time, he lobbed Meads to exhaustion. In the evening, drive, boast, left, right and centre, at a high pace, serving very quickly, using the lack of focus and precision of Grant, and giving him no space or time to recover.

In the first two games, which took 18 minutes, Grant could only defend. All his attacking shots were going in the tin or out of court (8 errors in the 1st game, 7 in the second).

In the 3rd, he meant business. He went up 11/0 before making his first mistake, and only a glued to the wall drop shot in the left corner gave Marcus another point. At last, Grant was placing himself in front of his opponent, boasting, dropping, crosscourting… He won the 3rd game in 7 minutes 15/2.

But it was too late. Berrett was convinced he could win the game, and when one plays on confidence, one can be lethally effective and daring. And even though Adrian was up again 5/1, 6/2, gradually, Marcus was nibbling away Grant’s confidence and assurance.

One very strong strength of Adrian, along with his fitness, is his capacity to move quickly, and also to anticipate. At some point in the 4th, he was actually starting running in the right direction, whereas Marcus hadn’t hit his shot yet.

Pretty impressive….

The last game was full of great rallies, both players giving it all, running like lunatics just out of the asylum, giving us a wonderful match indeed.

Actually, I was sitting next to a gentleman, who the whole match was “humm”, and “haaa”, visibly tantalised, impressed, amazed by the quality of shots, suffering every time one of the players put the ball in the tin. It’s so good to see people appreciating good squash.

At 12 all. Adrian goes for a forehand volley kill return of serve. Perfect nick. 13/12. Long rally. 13/13. Adrian's drop shot goes in the tin once, then twice.

Adrian Grant, seed number one is out. Marcus Berrett, the Yorkshireman, is in the final of the Ilkley Open 2004.

[Maybe if he wins tomorrow Framboise will get to hear that "On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at" song, Ed.]




The audience
(Fram's on the right)








Grant urges more winners from
his magic racket ... too late





Marcus Berrett


Ilkla Moor Baht 'at
the words ...
(usually sung with a Yorkshire accent, although a French one might be an interesting touch)

Sat 3rd April, Quarters:

[2] Azlan Iskandar bt Jesse Engelbrecht
     16/17, 15/8, 15/9, 15/5
[3/4] Peter Genever bt Derek Ryan
     14/15, 15/8, 15/9, 15/5
[3/4] Marcus Berrett bt Steve Meads
     15/10, 15/5, 15/8
[1] Adrian Grant bt Stacey Ross
     13/15, 15/10, 15/9, 8/15, 15/12

Finished working at the club at 11.58 pm last night. Went straight to the hotel. Up at 7.30am to write the reports of the 2nd round. And bless Peter Genever and Derek Ryan, they started an hour earlier than planned, so today was an 11am start.

So, if you thought that a single woman on tour was having the time of her life, and “bonding with the players or the locals”, think again!!!!!

So, by the time I checked the reports I wrote in my hotel room and sent them in it was 11.05, and Peter Genever, 30 (Sussex) was on court 1 against Derek Ryan, 30 (Ireland).

They started with fury, those two. 2/2. 4/4. 5/5. 10/10. 11/11. 12/12. and logically 14/14.

"1", says Derek.

So what happened in the game? You know how much Peter Genever loves hitting everything on the market, and worships crosscourt hits. Well, I never saw him being so patient, and he played more backhand drives than I can count! Peter playing drives till the cows come home? That’s a new one!

And Derek Ryan has got one specialty, the change of direction. He is excellent at hiding his shots, and plays some great deception shots.

At 14 all in the 1st, Peter had the rally firmly in hand, put Derek in the back of the court, waiting for a taxi, he just had to put the ball in court. And found the tin. 15/14, game to Ryan.

The rest of the game followed pretty much the same pattern: Derek well in the match, losing his focus, and then coming back in the rallies, and going away again.

“I lack games really” said Ryan as he was stretching. “I had an Achilles injury for 6 weeks, and I’m trying to get back into it. I need more games.”

Peter Genever played the nicest match I saw him play for a very long time. His game was varied, hit, beautiful drop shots, shaving the tin boasts… A real pleasure to see…

“I just so scared of hitting the ball! I am in front of the tin, and I’m so scared I’m going to put it in it, I play a conservative shot instead of letting go, and just hit the ball! I would prefer to put it in the tin than dollying it like I do sometimes. “

I have to say that, after Meads/Walker last night, it was nice and refreshing to have two players apologizing to each other for lucky shots, and announcing very quickly any “not up” shots. And practically no lets. Bless them!

“I really want to win this tournament”, said Peter. “I want to win, but playing good squash, going for my shots, not playing 'half and half' squash. It has been a problem all my career, fear of letting go. In the 3rd round of the British Open a few years back, I was playing Chris Walker [I saw the match, Fram], and I was up 14/11 in the last game. And I froze. I began to play a conservative game. And lost! I’ve got to learn to let it go!”

Genever won 3/1, 14/15, 15/8, 15/9, 15/5 in 50 minutes, and will play Azlan Iskander, the Malaysian number 2 world number 30.

Don’t miss it, I know I won’t…


After the quick 33 minute game between Meads and Berrett, I rushed to court 3, where Stacey Ross, world number 74, had taken the 1st game from Adrian Grant, world number 17.

I saw those two battling the previous weekend at Esporta, where Stacey had had a very long match the previous round with Stephen Meads, who he beat for the 1st time in his career. That day then, Ross was tired, Adrian wasn’t. But Stacey got a game (the second if my memory is good) off Adrian, who he plays often in training.

So, I was looking forward to a match where both of them would be physically fresh.

I was not disappointed.

We had an excellent match, full of up and down; ups from Ross, downs from Grant, who seems to have a real problem drifting in and out of matches.

The second set was pretty close to start with, 6/7, 9/10, each time on Stacey’s serve. The Surrey player concentrated well, and was in front on his opponent, directing the game and the rallies. But Adrian was just a bit more precise in his length and width, and finally got the better of Stacey 15/10.

In the 3rd, I had the impression that Ross was very tired, and that at 4/9 on serve, he had decided to let the set go (he confirmed it to me after the match, I’m so good it’s frightening), but Adrian played some poor shots, and gave back some hope to his opponent! We were soon at7/9. But like in the previous game, Grant just accelerated the pace, and got the 3rd game 15/9.

Did Adrian think he could relax? Did he become over confident? Or is it just that Stacey played one of the best matches in his life, with drop shots you could show in Squash School under the title, “One day, you’ll play drop shots like that, my son…”

Grant was up 4/0 in the 4th, and Ross decided to get in front again, playing great short drive kills, volley kills, landed-on-cotton drop shots, the whole panel. Adrian defended and retrieved beautifully, but made quite a few mistakes, got frustrated, argued with the ref, and at game ball for Stacey, dropped one last shot in the tin, giving the game to his well deserving opponent 15/8.

I thought that Stacey Ross was going to add another scalp to his belt. But you know my instinct: NEVER to be trusted…

“Stacey was always a player to watch”, John Massarella, the tournament referee, told me. In other words, he can do pretty well in this game…

Unfortunately, Stacey changed his tactics. Instead of continuing with his attacks, he started to play lengths, trying to exhaust his opponent, instead of going for his lethal drop shots and attack game.

“You know, I stopped playing squash when I was 15, and started again at 24. So, I came straight from playing every game without thinking, without any game plan, just turn up and hit the ball, going for winners after two or three shots, to being an adult, and having to learn patience and tactics. So when I’m under pressure, I’m trying very hard to compensate for my natural game which would be to attack every ball. Maybe in doing so, I’m playing too conservative, too negative.”

Yes, I think you are, dear man. I really believe that he could have won that match, although Adrian Grant cut his mistakes down to none in the last game, and got refocused. They were at 12 all, for crying out loud. Stacey went for a cross court drop shot that found the tin. 13/12. Then he stumbled on Adrian's foot going to pick up a drive, hesitated, could have asked for a let, and played it. In the tin.

“Referees do not realise how important their decisions are for us. I was afraid not to get a let, I feared they were going to say that I didn’t make enough effort to go to the ball, so I carried on. It’s my fault. I should have stopped and asked.”

And Adrian placed a beautiful backhand drive (on the right side, as he is left-handed) that Stacey couldn’t reach.

15/12. Match for Grant.

The match lasted 92 beautiful minutes of intense, inventive, varied squash, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we heard more of Stacey Ross in the next 6 months. If he could just believe that he can, he would. Just believe, Stacey, just believe…

I shared with you my fears last night about Stephen Meads' physical condition. Well, what I didn’t tell you (because I don’t tell you a 100th of what I really know, it’s called “off the record”, or “ethics”), is that he had a very bad cold for about 10 days. Already in Esporta, he was coughing his lungs out all weekend, so it didn’t got better with 3 hours of squash yesterday.

“I shouldn’t really have played this weekend”, apologised Meads, “but then, I would have been at home, fidgeting on my sofa, so I thought it best to come anyway. And after this tournament, I’ve got nothing on for a while, so…”

Marcus Berrett is a very clever player. Tall, handsome, and VERY clever. He just lobbed Stephen out of the match. And yes Meads was exhausted, but don’t believe for a minute that he threw the match away.

Lord no!

Meads went for every shot, dropping the ball at every opportunity he had, and retrieved and defended beautifully. Berrett just kept on playing long rallies, keeping the ball in play as long as he could, sending his opponent on walks around the park clockwise, anticlockwise, back and forth. And Meads played the game. He picked up every shot, every lob, every drop shot, placing some amazing drop shots or cross courting the ball.

When a player is tired, and has nothing to lose or prove, it becomes a very friendly yet fierce battle. The game was in total contrast with yesterday’s, and very pleasant indeed. Berrett was never under pressure, but had to play his best game, and could never get complacent. Any loose shot, any imprecise shot, and Meads was ending the rally by a shaving drop shot or an irretrievable cross court.

The first game was quite close, 15/10, the two others a bit less, 15/5, 15/8, but Meads went out kicking and screaming.

“Salut l’artiste” as we say in my language, loosely translated in yours to  “Farewell to the artist”…

A physically fresh Marcus Berrett will now play Adrian Grant at 7pm in the semis.










Peter Genever


















Stacey Ross






Quick Quiz: whose butt ???


Adrian's relieved ...










Meads & Berrett
before their quarter-final ...



Fri 2nd Apr, Round Two:

Every time, I get caught. Every time I’m thinking, “well, I’ll have a little lunch, have a little nap, then write, and then be ready and fresh for the next round”.

J’ten fiche! Or, as you say over here…. Yeah, right!

The final first round match, between Stephen Meads and Jethro Binns, finished at 3.50. I had a quick lunch, but still didn’t finish before 4.30, as I had to wait a bit for the meal. But I didn’t mind that much, it gave me the opportunity to have a look at the scenery.

This club is absolutely breathtaking! It’s surrounded by green, tennis court and… is it cricket, or football ground? Anyway, it’s green… And then, just on your right from the panoramic bar, well, you could be in Switzerland! A hill that goes all the way up to a blue sky, with a few beautiful massive houses planted in them. Only the snow is missing to make it all complete…

So, I arrived in front of my computer around 4.30, and by the time I found how to download the photos (I did tell you that Sir Mckenzie did provide me with a new Canon Digital Camera), then choose and attach them, it was 5.00. One hour for 4 reports? I don’t think so. I wrote the intro of the 1st round, half the “Englebrecht” one, and the second round started.

No rest for the wicked! And God knows I am. Wicked.

When you’re on your own to cover an event, the 1st day is the worst. You run everywhere, you miss a lot, and you have to make so many choices. So, the people I didn’t see at all: Adrian Grant, Peter Billson, Marcus Berrett, Andrew Learoyd. The 2 matches I only saw the match ball of (yes, funny, really): Peter Genever against Alex Stait, and Azlan Iskander vs Peter Hughes. Both of those matches had very close finishes (15/12 & 15/13), and I watched the last games with great pleasure, and may I say surprise, to see the seeded players being challenged that much.

By the way, I really upset a referee today. No, I didn’t say anything! I was trying to find out the result in Genever’s match. I asked several people, nobody knew. So, at the end of the gallery, I saw one of the referees watching. So I thought, let’s ask him then. But, he was actually in the middle of marking the game! How was I to know? Normally, referees put themselves in the MIDDLE, not on the side!!!!! That’s it, another one who will never forgive me! Oh, well, join the queue, dear….

Little to say about the first match on court 1. Derek Ryan was playing Chris Gordon, a young and extremely determined American player, but today, Ryan was just the boss. He had his opponent on a string, and made him visit the four corners of the court, putting him under pressure with great lengths and attacking short drives, forcing his opponent to hit the tin too many times. In the 1st game for example, Chris made 9 direct mistakes, meaning that Derek only had to score 6 points on his own….

We had a few beautiful rallies, in particular in the second set at game ball 14/8, where these two gave us a festival in front of the court; drop shot here, drop shot there, run to the back, come back in the front; unfortunately to end up with another ball in the tin from Gordon.

Chris Gordon went on fighting with all his heart, and all of his legs for that matter, but today, he was just dominated in every dempartment of the game, and his determination didn’t suffice. He goes out 15/7, 15/8, 15/8 in 29 minutes, the last game having lasted more than half of the whole match.

The tall Irish Ryan will now face the redoubtable Peter Genever.

It won’t do, Andy, it won’t do! This evening, Andy Whipp was meeting Jesse Englebrecht, the new Iroquois on the block! Whipp pretty much goes for every shot, so he normally provides a pretty good show, wins some, loses some. But today, he lost just too much!

Jesse played a very different game from his previous match. In this one, he basically hit as hard as Andy did, forgot the drop shots, and just hit, hit, and placed, placed. It worked very well. The rallies were short (the 1st game went to 17/14, but only lasted 8 minutes, the 2nd 15/13, 7minutes 30, and the last 15/10 in 8 minutes).

No, not a real contest for Englebrecht in this one, and I’m personally sorry to see the charming Whipp going… It’s my right, isn’t it????

Reading this again, I realise that it could be read differently. Hummmm. Let me rephrase this then.

Short match, good match.

Ah, that’s better.

“I was just too tired”, explained Ashley Flathers. "Playing two matches in one day is just too much. The court is also very hot also, which doesn’t help. I lost the 1st game, which was crucial. Stacey has a very steady game, basic but effective, and he calculates very well his shots.”

It pretty well summarised what happened on court today. Stacey Ross was dictating every rally, picking up the pace, slowing it down, keeping his opponent in the back of the court, giving very few occasions to play his own game, at his own rhythm.

As Flathers mentioned, the 1st game was very close to start with, 3/3, 9/9, 10/10, but Ross was playing excellent lengths, although Flathers was attacking hard. At 11/13, Ashley serving, Stacey retrieved brilliantly, in particular a drop shot to the left front corner from the opposite end of the court, and got game point on a perfect length attacking backhand drive. 15/11 in the 1st.

For the next two sets, Ashley was always a step behind. Yes, he stuck to the score, but Stacey was never under threat, as his opponent couldn’t vary his game enough to cause him any real problem today. 3 sets in 47 minutes.

So, at the end of the 2nd round, Stacey Ross had played 2 matches of 47 minutes each (funny really). One hour and 40 minutes. Not bad.

Who was going to be his next opponent? Adrian Grant, in a  rematch of last week's semi-final at Esporta Croydon where Adrian won 3/1 in a very watchable match indeed.

Stephen Meads vs Alister Walker. 1hour 36 minutes. And a lot of aggravation from both players.

So many lets, SO MANY LETS! I counted just for the 2nd and the 4th game: 66 lets asked (some strokes, some lets, some no lets awarded). So for this one, no game by game comment, just a general feeling of the match.

Too much testosterone on the court this evening!

It’s OK to be young, and to want to win at all cost. It’s OK to be aware of the experience of your opponent. But aggressiveness and physical contact is not the solution.

Stephen Meads is famous for having a problem getting out of the way on his backhand. Honestly, I don’t think he does it on purpose. So, playing him, you have 2 solutions; you go round him, or you look for battle, and run into him, causing the game to stop every other shot. Well, I’m sure you guessed which solution young Alister Walker chose.

If he had played his own game, I’m pretty sure he had all the weapons to beat Meads, but with that much testosterone floating around, he went for excessive physical contact. If you ever saw “the Grinding Machine” Meads, you know he is not someone who will accept being pushed around without reacting. And then, at 8/8 in the last game, Walker played a “dangerous game”, by deliberately running into his opponent at full speed, pushing Stephen to the ground and almost into the front left corner. The 2 players nearly came to blows, and the Referee warned Alister Walker that if he played like that again, he was out of the court.

Not what I like to see on a squash court.

To make it worse, the crowd had decided very early that Alister Walker was the “good guy”, and Steve the “bad guy”, and was clapping everything, even lets and bad shots.

I don’t like that. To start with, I don’t generally support any player openly (OK, OK, Thierry Lincou is THE exception [and maybe James?, Ed]), on top of that, I don’t know them really well. I saw Alister playing several times, and I do like his game, flamboyant and precise. I know Steve a bit more, and I appreciate the fact that he is still extremely fit for an over 30 player.

As everybody was screaming and supporting “the good guy”, my natural French hatred for injustice took over, and I started to make my voice heard for “the bad guy”. And I was the only voice to be heard, trust me on this one. But don’t misunderstand me here, they were both to blame. Both of them!

I don’t like boxing because I can’t stand aggressiveness. I don’t like bad behaviour and arguing constantly with the referee. I don’t like partial crowds.

I was in the wrong place, then, wasn’t I?????

Bad, bad, bad.

Anyway, Stephen eventually won 12/15, 15/9, 15/8, 15/13 in 96 minutes.

In one day, the 34 year old played 161 minutes of squash, nearly 3 hours. I don’t think that he will have the physical resources to play Marcus Berrett. Well, another player I haven’t seen play yet… Or ever, for that matter…ever! I love discovering players I don’t know…


the Ilkley Club



Second round
(Fri evening):

   [2] Azlan Iskandar
15/7, 15/10, 15/12 (36m)
Peter Hughes

   Jesse Engelbrecht
17/14, 15/13, 15/10 (45m)
Andy Whipp

   Derek Ryan
15/7, 15/8, 15/8 (28m)
Chris Gordon

[3/4] Peter Genever
15/11, 7/15, 15/1, 15/13 (38m)
Alex Stait

   [3/4] Marcus Berrett
15/8, 15/3, 15/6 (30m)
Andrew Learoyd

   Steve Meads
15/12, 9/15, 15/8, 15/13 (96m)
Ali Walker

   Stacey Ross
15/11, 15/10, 15/11 (47m)
Ashley Flathers

   [1] Adrian Grant
15/13, 12/15, 15/7, 15/12 (41m)
Peter Billson


Geoff works ...

... while the other refs take a break



Fri 2nd Apr, Round One:
Well, I’ve been around a few tournaments, and I have to say, I’m more than impressed by Ben Rickaby’s organisation!

First of all, and this by itself should impress you (it sure will the people who know me well), I DIDN’T GET LOST ONCE.

The directions were clear, simple, and the only moment I was a bit dubious, a poster “BSPA Tournament ILKEY” showed me the way to enlightenment.

Then, at the entrance, 2 lovely ladies were welcoming the players, giving them beautiful black shirts. Several rooms have been reserved for players and officials only, posters are clearly placed all around the club, and I have a huge press room all by myself, warm, with a phone line, plugs, and a lovely man to put it all together.

I feel spoiled really. As soon as I had my first cup of tea, Ben showed me around, handed me a schedule for the day, on 4 courts, and an updated draw, as we had 2 more withdrawals, John Rooney (Irish and runner-up of BSPA Wimbledon 2 weeks ago) and Mohamed El Said (who I don’t know at all I’m afraid).

I could get used to this! A dream organisation. It’s just like being in a big PSA event! I had the feeling that Linda Davie (Tournament Referee at Canary Wharf Classic and so many events) was going to appear at any moment!

As it took me nearly 5 hours to arrive here (and the traffic was good!), I missed much of the 1st round. But I did get to see 3 good matches:

  Jesse Englebrecht bt [5/8] Paul Lord  15/7,8/15,15/9,15/6
  Stacey Ross bt Jason Barry  15/7, 15/10, 15/7
  Stephen Meads bt Jethro Binns  13/15, 15/5, 15/7, 15/8


What is amazing in life, and in squash in particular, when you think you know something, you realise you don’t! For example, I don’t know ANYTHING about Paul Lord or Jesse Engelbrecht, apart from the fact that Jesse comes from Zimbabwe and that Paul Lord is from Cheshire, and is Mr Sabre Sports Goods. Pretty thin, eh? I’ll try and learn more tonight. No, I mean this evening. Oh, for the second round!

Like pretty much all the players over 30, Paul Lord possesses wonderful defence shots (in particular cross court lobs), but he also hits the ball very hard, and delays his shots pretty well. Add to that a good retrieval ability, and a very good fitness, and you have a pretty good picture of what this player is able to.

Now, Jesse Englebrecht has to change hairdresser. What is it with men at the moment! Do we have a shortage in hairdressers or what! Either they leave their hair so long that they are actually walking all over it, or they look like Iroquois, you know, with that bit in the middle… Come on guys, you must realise that it’s a remedy against love…

Despite that out of fashion appearance, he has a pretty wonderful drop shot. I don’t know how he does it (hey, I’m French, what do I know about squash anyway?), but when he plays a drop shot, the ball seems to slow down between the moment it touches the wall and the moment it reaches the floor.


By the way, while I’m writing this (as the Press Room is also the Stretching Room) I have Peter Genever singing along with his walkman…

No comment.

Back to Lord and Englebrecht. The first game went quite easily to Jesse, 15/6. In the second, he made quite a few mistakes, and never seemed really in the game, although he made some pretty good retrieving. Maybe a lack of concentration. So, one all.

As the rallies were very long, and the pace quite high, Paul Lord’s shots started to be less precise, which was giving his opponent just enough space to adjust his beautiful drop shots. Lord was still retrieving, still running, but you could feel that he was struggling more and more, and his opponent could smell blood, if you pardon the expression. Englebrecht took the 3rd game 15/9, and the 4th, 15/6.

So I was going to see the Iroquois again. Would he have cut his hair? Find out later…

I was in my element when the next match started: Stacey Ross, who plays for Lakeside (Wimbledon) and Jason Barry, pro at my club, Wimbledon Racquets and Fitness Club, in the Surrey League.

I know the game these two players produce. Barry is fit as a fiddle, can run 'till the sun comes down, but whose natural game doesn’t include the drop shot. Ross, on the contrary, lives for drop shots. So, I knew what to expect, and I was not disappointed!

The rallies were long, they were both hitting the ball very hard, looking for the right width, the right length, but Stacey was more or less planted on the T, and was directing from there, forcing Jason to run around. Ross was never under threat, even though Barry played a very good match, a lot of beautiful retrieving, and very few mistakes. But Stacey Ross had the game to upset him, and placed the ball with precision all around the court, keeping him in the back only to kill him with those lethal drop shots.

The score was like the match, straightforward: 15/7, 15/10, 15/7 in 47 minutes. No arguments, very few lets (I counted 5 in the whole match). In short, a very good warm up for Stacey, who meets Ashley Flathers in the 2nd round.


After his defeat last week against Stacey Ross in the Quarter finals of the BSPA Esporta Croydon, I was wondering how Stephen Meads, who is not a Spring Chicken anymore (I’m allowed to say it, I’m nearly 10 years older that he is!), was going to handle a young, fit (and cute…) newcomer, Jethro Binns, 19, from South Wales, who, just like me, had to drive 4.30 hours to come here today.

“Come on, you’re lazy! You can get that if you try!”

Stephen’s appeal to himself is a perfect summary of the game. He tried, and tried, and tried again. And he did get it.

The game started well for Meads, who went up 5/1, but the young player was not going to let anybody dictate to him. 7/8. 11/11. 13/13. A few lets in between, but nothing contentious. Both players were getting on with the game, barking to frighten the opponent. Well, sorry guys, but typical blokes. Not much bite, just bark! No problems there at all!

"What do I have to do to get the point in the left corner" complained Jethro. "Try and get a nick next time" retorted the referee. And he did. 15/13, 1st game to Binns.

If I tell you that Steve won the next three games 15/7, 15/8, 15/5, you may think that it was a walk in the park. Well, with a lot of snow, and ice, and plenty of ups and downs, as the match lasted 1 hour and 5 minutes for only 4 games!

Steve was hitting the ball very hard, playing beautiful shaving drives, but he won the advantage several times by surprising his opponent with great forehand boasts, a few volley kills, and some remarkable cross court lobs.

The biggest problem for young Jethro is … himself! He is his own worst enemy. He talks himself in believing that he plays badly. Yes, when a player in under pressure, he very often puts the ball in the tin, but that doesn’t mean that he is playing badly, just that the opponent is putting a lot of pressure on him. But the young Welshman was talking himself into believing that he was the worst player of all time. Shame. Meads didn’t need to defeat him, Binns defeated himself.

But Heart, they both had. Just five of us stayed to watch the match. It was nearly 4pm, everybody else had gone to eat and rest for the next round. But believe me, those two great athletes couldn’t have been more motivated if they had been playing the Final of the British Open. Great game, guys.

"I’m 19, that’s all my problem, and the reason why I’m playing these BSPA tournaments is to learn," said Binns.  "I was in every rally, you know, but I hit the top of the tin so many times, and he didn’t."

No, Steve Meads didn’t, because of years and years of experience, and also an impeccable fitness that allows him to trust his technique and play his own game, a game of strength and patience.

The next round for Meads could be interesting. He is meeting Alister Walker, whom I saw playing John White in the 1st round of the Nationals. And he made his presence obvious, both to White and the referee. Watch out, Steve, a serious contender, that Walker…


Fram's very own desk-builder!


The welcoming committee
grabs a bite to eat

































Meads looking confidently cool ...





 Also see: BSPA site


One of the terms of the Lottery Grant awarded to Ilkley Squash Club five years ago was to develop racket sports in the community, in particular tennis and squash.

Well, mission accomplished!

This week in Ilkley, all the racket sports are been celebrated, and the spectators may have problems choosing: squash tournament, the junior and ladies England table tennis coach down over the weekend performing in exhibition matches with other England players and several exhibition matches of racket ball being played when squash is not on. The purpose of it all is to encourage the juniors to discover and participate to those sports. And of course, the club also provides many tennis courts, so racquet away, everyone!

I will be discovering the Club, whose assistant squash coaching Ben Rickaby is in charge of the BSPA event. “We have a good squash pedigree at the club, with a high level of junior participation, with several of them County standard and above.”

I asked him why the club decided to organise their first (hopefully of many) BSPA event:

“Ilkley did have a National League side a number of years ago, and a premier league side in the strong Yorkshire league, but in the recent years, the standard has dropped, and we are lacking top level squash, hence the reason for hosting a BSPA tournament!”

Ben was British Student Champion in 2000, represented Great Britain in the World Student Games in 2000 in Pilsen. He is currently working as Assistant Leisure manager, and assistant squash coach in Ilkley. But I also heard that he is to start a new job in Abu Dhabi (near Dubai) on the 8th April, working in Sports Development.

Different kind of weather should be expected, dear Ben! You lucky thing….

PS. About that Ilkley Moor-abaraata-folk song. Never heard it! I did go and read the lyrics. Is that English? My Lord, couldn’t understand a word! But I’m sure I’ll find a lovely Yorkshire man to explain it to me…..


Ilkla Moor Baht 'at
the words ...
(say it with a Yorkshire accent)




Well, James Willstrop, world number 13, is out! He had a tough week in Canary Wharf, and I remember his coach mentioning after his victory in the final that James was suffering from a bad cold.

If James Willstrop is not going, life is not worth living!

A lucky Adrian Grant, ranked World 17, from Catford, Kent, finds himself top dog, again! For those who have been following the BSPA Esporta Croydon last weekend, you may remember that I made a report called: Where are they all gone!

Thank God for us, Azlan Iskander, world number 29, will attend and replace Willstrop (as if ANYBODY could…), becoming seed 2. Another withdrawal is Tim Vail, who is suffering from a back injury. Shame, I was looking forward to see Tim again (met him at the Inter Counties Finals, good man he is).

Funny actually, as Azlan was meant to play last week in Esporta, and had to retire, then tried to get back in, and couldn’t. At least, this week, he gets to play and at the same time, saves the day!

So, bad news, because one of the most brilliant players on the World scene is out, but then again, it could have been a bit unbalanced (no offence to anyone…). Now, the matches could be much much closer, and I’m looking forward to seeing Azlan in action, as I only saw him training, when I went to Chingford to interview Neil Harvey.

And guess what! Sir Mckenzie, proud editor of the Squash Player, has provided your servant with a beautiful digital camera. Let me tell you that I’m going to use it!

You’ve been warned….

PS: Ilkley Moor is famous as the setting of the folk song "On Ilkla Moor Baht'at" - widely recognised throughout the world as Yorkshire's county "anthem". [I guarantee Framboise won't understand a word, Ed.]






The following text and photographs appear by courtesy of and
may not be copied elsewhere without the express permission of the copyright owner.
For further information about Ilkley and the surrounding area, please visit 


About Ilkley
Ilkley is a very pleasant spa town situated in lower Wharfedale at the southern edge of the Yorkshire Dales. Although within easy reach of the cities of Leeds and Bradford in nearby Bronte Country, Ilkley is surrounded by fine unspoiled scenery, with Ilkley Moor and the famous Cow and Calf rocks positioned just above the town.

Also on the moor is the famous whitewashed building known as White Wells - which houses a bath at a site which (reputedly) dates from Roman times. [N.B. Ilkley was an important outpost during the Roman occupation, when it was known as "Olicana".]

Other attractions include the Victorian bath house in the town itself, and the recently refurbished Ilkley Pool and Lido, one of the country's last remaining outdoor public swimming pools. [N.B. Owing to the generally inclement nature of the British weather, this particular attraction is usually open in the summer months only !]

Regular events in the town include the Ilkley Literature Festival and the Ilkley Music Festival.

Just to the north of Ilkley lies Bolton Abbey in the Duke of Devonshire's extensive country estate, and the beautiful Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Ilkley is also the starting point of the Dales Way long distance footpath, which passes by Bolton Abbey and up through Wharfedale en route to Bowness on Windermere in the English Lake District.

Ilkley was featured in the 2003 film calendar girls starring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters, with many locations in the Yorkshire Dales and Hollywood.

by Frazer Irwin
Gateway to the Yorkshire Dales

Ilkley, Verbia of the Romans and Ylcanley of Saxon time. For over four thousand years the area has been populated by various tribes. None more so than the Victorians and present crew! Rombalds Moor of which Ilkley Moor is but a small part, covers an area from Hawkesworth in the east to Skipton in the West, with Dales of Wharfe and Aire being North and South respectively.

The Town has been in existence only a comparatively short time. In 1800 was nought but a mucky little hole with a beck running through it. A scattering of farms and thatched cottages, a population of around three hundred ( give or take the odd dying wretch ) and not much else apart from a cold spring high on the Moor. A few years earlier, the then Squire Myddleton, built what was to become the Country's first Cold Water Spa. So it was these small buildings became the Foundation of Modern Ilkley. Over a passage of time the 'Well' or 'Bath' house became known as White Wells.

The taking of 'spring' water which brought about such change to Wharfedale and it's effects on the local countryside were astronomical. Hamer Stansfeld ( Lord Mayor of Leeds ) put Ilkley and Wheatley on the map! One might say he turned "water into wine" or as they say in yorkshire "Water into brass". Large Hydropathic establishments grew from the virgin earth, such was the demand for this remarkable substance. The first of many mill owners, industrialists and their families moved to the countryside for fresh air without fumes. Not only had Ilkley become a fashionable watering hole, it was now a commuter town.

Modern Ilkley is a commuter town with an ever growing population. The town boasts a thriving business community with over two hundred outlets and excellent shopping facilities within easy reach of bus, car, rail or nearby Leeds/Bradford airport. Ilkley also boasts many clubs, groups, activities and hosts exhibitions and festivals which have gained the town international acclaim. Quality hotels make the town a popular venue for holidays, conferences, country pursuits or just dining at one of the town’s many eating houses.

Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor
Rombalds (Ilkley) Moor is one of the foremost sites in Europe for carved rocks. The most famous of these is the intriguing Swastika Stone, but there are hundreds of others bearing simple "cup and ring" marks or more complex patterns of connecting circles and lines. The carvings are thought to date from the Early Bronze Age, around 1800 BC. Their purpose remains a mystery. It is certainly curious that identical carvings can be found at remote sites throughout Northern Europe; for example, another Swastika stone can be seen at Tossene north of Gothenberg in Sweden. Some authorities have used this as evidence of ornamentation of rocks by migrating Nordic peoples, but others attribute them to religious practices or even to crude representations of planetary movement !

Roman Ilkley
After the Roman invasion during the first century AD a ring of forts were constructed across the North of England in order to control the area occupied by the Brigantes under their formidable Queen, Cartimandua. Ilkley (Olicana) occupied a strategic point on the crossing of the Wharfe by two roads, one from York to Ribchester and the other from Manchester to Aldborough near Boroughbridge, so it was a logical choice for the construction of a fort. The first fort was founded by Agricola about 80 AD and was largely constructed of wood.

This was later abandoned but following a revolt by the Brigantes a second fort was erected on the same site around 161 AD. The fort only survived for 30 years, probably being burnt down by tribes of marauding Scots, and was replaced by a stone fort which survived until the end of the Roman period. The Romans finally abandoned the fort in the late 4th or early 5th century but left behind a substantial civil settlement, the vicus, which formed the nucleus of the Anglo-Saxon village that followed.

White Wells
The old White Wells building on the moor side seems to encapsulate the spirit of Ilkley, and this is entirely appropriate. Not only does it represent a picturesque landmark, it marks the site of the first bath-house and the foundation of Ilkley as a spa town. The bath-house was built around 1690 close to the spring which supplied the town brook.

The buildings were restored and enlarged in 1780 thanks to the "munificence" of William Middleton. There were two baths, the present one, a "Roman" style plunge bath which held 1150 gallons of almost ice-cold water (40oF) into which the intrepid bather would descend in order to experience the manifold benefits of cold water immersion, and a second lower room where a bath, shower or douche of equally cold water could be taken. Many people would visit the Wells to drink the water which issued from the hillside into a drinking fountain at the rear of the building.

The water was frequently analysed but found to contain no dissolved minerals, so it was promoted because of its softness and purity which "makes it more efficacious by passing sooner to the utmost and finest limits of the circulation than any water known"!



The above text and photographs appear by courtesy of and
may not be copied elsewhere without the express permission of the copyright owner.
For further information about Ilkley and the surrounding area, please visit