BAKER DOMINATES TO RETAIN HIS TITLE
John Baker, the No.1 seed, retained his title on Friday evening when he won Cromer Squash Club's Over 35 tournament for the third time defeating first team captain, Martin Sanville, who was appearing in his first final, 9-5 9-1 9-7. Baker has been a stalwart of the club for over 30 years and since announcing himself as a talented teenager when he won the handicap tournament for the first time in 1984 he went on to win two more handicap tournaments, as well as the club championship four times between 1985 and 1990 before winning his first Over 35 title in 2004.
The prestigious Over 35 tournament which was held for the first time in 1985 is known as The Jeff Morris Memorial trophy and is held annually in memory of Jeff who died at the club earlier that year. The club was delighted that Jeff's son Jeff and daughter Debbie were among the large crowd that watched the final from the balcony and that after the match Debbie presented the prizes to the two finalists.
Baker, who Technical Director Barry Starling says still hits the ball cleaner and more correctly than any player in the club, went into the final as the clear favourite but it was Sanville who went into a 3-0 lead and after the serve changed hands several times eventually led 5-4. However, after regaining the serve Baker won four successive points to lead 8-5 before taking the game 9-5.
The second game was one way traffic. Baker opened up a 6-0 lead as his relentless pressure forced Sanville into making mistakes and he took the game 9-1 to lead 2-0. Sanville, however, put up a spirited performance in the third game. He led 6-3 and 7-4 but then, crucially, made an unforced error as an attempted back hand drop shot ended in the tin. Baker took his chance and lost only one more rally as he eased his way into an 8-7 lead and took the title on his first match ball.
In the semi-final Baker had defeated the tournament's oldest competitor, John Chandler 3-0 while Sanville, who has played in three handicap tournament finals winning in 2013, won 3-0 against Steve Booth. Booth, in fact, created the one major shock when he won his quarter final against the No.2 seed, and last year's beaten finalist Gary Spruce in four games.
After the match the Technical Director, who lost his first round match, said: "Johnny Baker gave an object lesson to those watching in how to approach a final. He concentrated on the basics, hitting the ball cleanly and driving to the back corners. Martin was always up against it and as a result of John's pressure he made too many unforced errors."
After receiving his trophy Baker said: "It is no secret that this tournament means a lot to me. If it hadn't been for Jeff I would never have joined the fire service almost 30 years ago. He encouraged me from the start and for that I will always be grateful. Next year will be the thirtieth anniversary and it would be great if I was able to make it three in a row."