UK Armed Forces Inter-Services
UKAF INTER SERVICES ARMY MATCH REPORT – FEB 2018
The 2017 Championships was bitter sweet for the Army teams. Whilst excellent performances saw victory for the Ladies, the Men’s, Masters and U25s were disappointed to underperform in their matches. A concerted effort to both make up for last year and build upon previous success, saw a determined and focused group of players look to take advantage of home courts.
The squads came together the day before the Championships for an elite training squad. Maybe it was the presence of former world no.5 Alex Gough, or maybe it was the anticipation of a less-than-impressed President, but the players appeared to be focussed and up for the fight. And so it proved to be. The Army dominated the Men’s, Ladies and Masters events. A much improved U25s performance saw the Army push the RAF all the way, laying strong foundations for next year. It was largely a job well done, with room for improvement for 2019. In what is considered the blue riband event for military squash, three out four trophies will do … for now! Read on below to find out how the Championships unfolded …
After last year, there were players with something to prove and a team with a point to make.
The first day saw the Army take on the RAF. There are no easy matches when it comes to the Inter Services, however they were grateful for a gentle start to the Championships. The overall score was a convincing 5-0 to the Army, with the RAF showing little signs of mounting a challenge. WO2 Gareth Hall, Gnr Paul Jones and Bdr James Burke were convincing 3-1 winners, leaving the door open for Maj Rich Green and Capt Sam Miller to finish the job. Green beat former RAF Champion, Hallet, 3-1 and Miller beat an ‘in-form’ Warner 3-0, well and truly putting the RAF to the sword.
The Championships was almost wrapped up on the first day, with the Navy only just managing to scrape past the RAF. A spirited backlash from their earlier drubbing (despite losing no.1 Sqn Ldr Paul Warner) saw the RAF go down in a tight 3-2 battle.
The final day was to be a showdown between the Army and Navy for a second year in a row. Haunted by events of 12 months ago, the Army made a blistering start and were cautious not to underestimate their opposition. Maj Luke Dodington took a quick fire 2-0 lead, only to be hauled back to 2-2. Despite being reeled in, Dodington found an extra gear and raced through the final game to take a deserved 3-2 win. Gnr Paul Jones was next up at no.3. Expecting a stern test, it was wonderful to see him destroy his opponent in little over 20 minutes, putting the Army in to an early 2-0 lead. Capt Sam Miller took to the court at no.1, knowing that a win would seal victory. Regrettably Miller was to benefit from an injury to his opponent. Game over; the Army took an unassailable 3-0 lead. WO2 Gareth Hall and Bdr James Burke were unlucky to go down 3-1 respectively. Both showed signs that if push came to shove they had the game to dig deep. That said, the Navy were excellent in their execution and certainly saved face by ensuring a whitewash was avoided. So 3-2 to the Army, Champions once again!
The ladies event kicked off with the RAF beating the Navy 5-0. Then it was the Army’s turn who also went on to a comfortable 5-0 victory against the Navy. This set up a final on day two; Army vs RAF. The RAF were our biggest competition and fielded a strong team. SSgt Caroline Myatt got the Army off to a good start beating Fg Off Pelligrini. Then Sgt Anne-Marie Whitehead had a close game with SAC Eatough losing 3-1. Next it was the number ones, with Capt Rosie Hamilton beating Sqn Ldr Miller. Capt Kirsty Westwood then lost to SAC Corrigan which meant after four matches the score was tied at 2-2. The pressure was on as it was now down to number two seeds in the final deciding match. A huge crowd was there to support their service. It was a tough match in which LCpl Jennifer Spencer beat Flt Lt Bacon 3-1 to take victory for the Army team.
Revenge is a dish best served cold and the Army Masters took revenge this year in fine form. Having been narrowly defeated 3-2 at the hands of the RAF in 2017, the Army fielded possibly their strongest side in recent memory. Motivated by a coaching and mentoring session the day before, and bolstered at No 1 seed by WO2 Lenny Westover (usually ranked Men’s No 2), the team made short work of dismantling the Royal Navy on the first day by winning comprehensively 5-0 (without dropping a single game).
Historically the real test for the Army comes on the second day versus the RAF. Again, the Army weren’t taking any chances and fielded their strongest team consisting of WO2 Westover, Lt Col Ashman, WO1 Palmer, Capt Ford and Maj Croager, with WO2 Price in reserve. Fired up and wanting to exact revenge for last year’s loss, the Army dominated from start to finish, culminating in a 5-0 drubbing of the RAF. The Army Masters once again sit in the No 1 spot.