Taylor Shows his Worth
Now the dust has settled following a frantic National League Final, Yawar Abbas reflects on a sweet victory ...
Yawar NL final
Nick Taylor had had a tough 18
months in National League. Playing at two and often at one, he had
faced the likes of Simon Parke, Ong Beng Hee and Stewart Boswell and
while he has not played badly against any of these illustrious
opponents, he was often losing in what was a winning team.
Since the change of merit order that saw James Willstrop move above
Nick at Christmas, I have witnessed a confident swagger return to
Nick’s play that only winning can bring and on Sunday he clinched what
most pundits saw as the crucial tie against Del Harris. This completed
a season that started on a three match losing streak, with a sweet
victory and stats of played 12, won 8. I was delighted that the
pressure game fell to him – and he delivered!
foundations of our success were built by the three Yorkshiremen, Beachill,
Berrett and Willstrop. Lee and James have jumped a level this season
and Marcus has continued to do what he has always done in point-a-rally
to nine scoring – win! I recently took part in a National League post
match discussion with players, subject ‘Point-a-rally to nine dream
team’. Marcus Berrett was a
priority signing for all present!
Preceding the final, Marcus had recently been on holiday for a week and
when I asked him how he felt about his match, he said in his usual self
depreciating manner – ‘should be okay’. Following further
interrogation, he admitted to ‘tucking up Granty yesterday’. That’s
beating world number 14, Adrian Grant – not bad for a number 4!
Lee Beachill is now a true
contender for the world number one slot and this season he has shown he
fears no one. Often having to play the deciding tie of the match, he
has lost only once in a campaign that has included wins over John
White, Nick Matthew, Adrian Grant and Anthony Ricketts. However, there
was no one more relieved when James Willstrop struck the match winning
shot against Adrian Grant, than Beachill himself! Not that he wouldn’t
have strained every sinew for the cause, but when you have become a
father for the first time only four days previously, your preparation
is not what it might be! As it was, the records will show another
victory for Beach in the meaningless dead rubber, to complete a fine
What can I say about James Willstrop!
He now possesses the physical attributes to match his awesome racket
skills and having taken the scalps of virtually all the top ten players
in the world – all that remains is for him to put together back to back
wins in the major PSA events and his rise up the senior ranks will be
complete. Needless to say, playing middle order in the National League
provided James with few problems, he lost only once all season and
provided great entertainment, whoever the opponent. Once Nick had won
in the final, I saw a steely eyed determination in James and the air of
a man who not be denied. He feels and looks at home on the big stage
and this was no exception. He still rolled out an array of attacking
shots that would be beyond most other players, even in an exhibition
match - and this was major showpiece final. I am not alone in
predicting James to move onwards and upwards – I just hope there’s room
for him and Beach in one team!
The final piece in our title winning team was a competitive female
player. Vanessa Atkinson
supplied us with the headlines in September and big wins over Natelie
Grinham and Linda Charman, but Madeline
Perry played more often. The Irish number one has progressed
steadily up the world rankings to a career high 16, and provides me
with a close season dilemma – do I retain a top ten women or sign
Madeline (the rules permit only one top 18 women per squad).
Mads had little chance in the final against the pace and power of Sarah
Fitz-Gerald, but even in defeat she showed athleticism and control
which bodes well for the future.
So another season over and I have finally seen a team of mine win
I would like to thank Taro Nabetani,
for invaluable assistance all season and Malcolm Willstrop, whose words of
wisdom helped all our players, all the ‘backroom staff’ at Pontefract
and Manchester – Mick Regan, Dave Ludlam especially and all the
squash enthusiasts who supported us this year.
Finally, I have to mention the two people who ‘really make it happen’ –
Jim Quigley - Head of Sport,
Manchester, and Mick Todd at
Pontefract Squash, without whom we wouldn’t have a team.
See you next year…
Contributor: Yawar Abbas
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