Army Squash Tour Gibraltar 26th June - 2nd July 2017
The Army Squash Team has been touring Gibraltar for over 15 years, using it has the foundation for the start of training for the next sea- son. It is predominantly aimed at the Development Team (mainly Under 25s) and the Ladies Team, how- ever with the removal of Geneva from the squash calendar, the Masters have taken the opportunity to tour as well.
The Gibraltar Squash Club once again hosted a first class tournament, running an amateur event alongside the Professional Squash Association tournament. For the Army team it is an honour to play alongside professional players and a great education. Players not only get the opportunity to see squash played at the very highest level, but also interact with the players and ‘quiz’ them about training sessions, skills and on court fitness drills.
This event has always provided great training, coaching and match play to the team and this year was no exception. ASRA has recently updated its strategy and produced a charter aimed at further developing squash across the Army and ‘professionalise’ team preparation for the main event of the season, the Armed Forces Inter Services. To ensure we maximise this opportunity, we employed a professional coach this year to direct training, provide coaching and match analysis and advice – this proved to be invaluable for the Development team where the younger, inexperienced players tangibly improved over the week. Overall the coaching and training met all of our aims and was an enormous success – great value for money.
The team’s match results were alsoimpressive; overall results met or exceeded expectations and all are worthy of note and are detailed in this re-port - however there are a couple ofstandout performances that I feel Imust specifically mention. First, theLadies team Captain, Maj Elaine Radcliffe (pictured top left). Not only hasshe taken on the management of theLadies team (including grass rootstraining sessions) but she has also developed her own game from being on the fringes of the La- dies team to now being ranked No2 this season. It is therefore no surprise that she won this year’s Gibraltar Open Ladies Championships, beating the best of the local players along the way as well as her close rival in Army Squash Lt Col Yvette Ashman in the final – a fantastic achievement.
Secondly, WO2 Lenny Westover. At the age of 39 he is playing some of the best squash of his career as well as maintaining an impressive fitness level that players half his age would be proud of. The combination of both proved to be too much for his opponents and he quickly moved into the final of the Amateur Open, beating world-ranked Jeremy Harris along the way. Lenny played simply superb squash to beat a talented and hungry young squash professional in a thrilling 3-2 victory that saw the match go first one way and then the other. In the 5th and final game Lenny looked out on his feet, tired and 8-5 down. At this point he found some extra reserves to surprise his opponent and the watching crowd to come back and take the final game 15-13.
Finally I would like to thank the Army Sports Control Board and the Army Sports Lottery for their continued support, without which we would not be able to take advantage of superb training opportunities such as this. Army Squash continues to go from strength to strength, both the Army Ladies and Army Under 25 (Development) teams won the UK Armed Forces Inter Services Championships this year – testament to the training strategy and the commitment to the teams from Army Squash and the players.