Maidstone Open 2004
10-12 June, Maidstone, Kent 

Beachill claims Maidstone title

WORLD No.2 Lee Beachill powered to the Francis Townsend and Hayward Maidstone Open title with a devastating display of quality squash to beat Kent’s Adrian Grant in the final.
The Yorkshireman won 11-7, 11-4, 11-3 as he totally dominated an opponent who was left drained by a marathon semi-final clash earlier in the day.

Grant, who is now ranked a career high 16 in the world, was on court for 82 minutes as he squeezed past Joey Barrington 9-11, 11-5, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9.

Barrington, son of squash legend Jonah, had roomed with Grant earlier in the week during an England training session.

But there was no love lost in a brutal encounter that went to the wire, with Grant’s greater experience finally telling in the fifth game.

Not surprisingly, Grant had little energy left when he faced Beachill, who was in supreme form. Despite undergoing a shoulder operation a week before the tournament, Beachill played stylish, immaculate squash throughout the weekend to delight the packed galleries at Maidstone Squash Club.

The Open was sponsored this year by insurance company Francis Townsend and Hayward, with The Pool and Spa Store as associate sponsors. With additional funding from Maidstone Borough Council, the format of the event was changed to include 16 local players in the first round draw and add three junior competitions.

Thus Beachill’s first opponent in the tournament was Maidstone No.2 Neil Baker, who equipped himself superbly in his first taste of squash at that level.

Baker cheekily struck several dazzling winners but Beachill comfortably weathered the storm to win in straight games.

Surrey’s Stacey Ross played brilliant squash to win the opening game against Beachill in the quarter-finals, but the effort took its toll as the Yorkshireman powered home 9-11, 11-1, 11-6, 11-9.

Sam Miller, from Hereford, beat Maidstone No.1 Colin Payne 13-11, 12-10, 11-5 to reach the semi-finals, where he ran into Beachill. Miller played solidly but the top seed swept home 11-4, 11-6, 11-7 in 32 minutes to set up his showdown with Grant.

Payne, the Kent senior captain and national over-40 champion, returned to the courts on finals day to take part in the doubles competition with tournament director Alan Thatcher.

They won their qualifying group but looked down and out in the final when they trailed 8-3 in the final game to Rodmersham pair Tom Woods and Steve Smith. However, an amazing recovery by the Maidstone pair saw them win eight points in a row to triumph 11-8, 7-11, 11-8.

The junior finals provided evidence of the success of Maidstone’s development policy, with some excellent squash in all three age-group competitions.

Children from 15 local schools took part, with Chris Berwick beating Cobdown’s Kevin Saunders to win the under-16 title, Marcus Kidner beating Maidstone team-mate Matt Fincham in the under-14 section, and Tom Chapman beating Emily Berwick in the under 12 final.

During the presentation ceremony, special awards were made to Maidstone’s Colin Payne and Candy Wilton, the England women’s over-35 captain, for their services to the game.


Photos from
Fritz Borchert