Cromer Lawn Tennis & Squash Club

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Richard Keeble is the new Cromer Squash Club champion. The 26 year old Assistant Tennis Coach showed that he is equally at home with a smaller racket in the confined spaces of an indoor squash court as he is on the wide open outdoor tennis court when he completed an outstanding week’s work by defeating Ben Herrieven 5-9 10-8 5-9 9-2 9-4 in a pulsating final on Friday evening. The five game thriller which was watched and enjoyed by a large and appreciative audience means that seven of the last eight finals have gone the distance over five games.

Keeble’s victory was the more remarkable since he only took up squash relatively recently but he showed that he is a natural sportsman equally at home with a tennis racket, a cricket bat or a fishing rod. The final started off at a frenetic pace which was only to be expected from two very fit young athletes who seemed able to cover the entire court with ease and who made very few unforced errors. Herrieven, who was seeded at No.2, went into the final as the favourite and when he opened up a 6-2 lead before taking the first game 9-5 this favouritism appeared justified and when he led 6-4 in the second the title looked to be his.

However, Keeble, the fourth seed, battled back and a run of five successive winning rallies gave him game ball at 8-6 and at the fourth attempt he drew level when he took the game 10-8. The third game followed a similar pattern to the first as Herrieven led 6-0 and 7-2 before taking the game 9-5 and once again the title looked to be his. Keeble, however, showed his battling qualities as he stormed through the fourth game 9-2 to draw level once again and then, after, trailing 1-4 in the decisive fifth game took the game without conceding a further point to clinch the prestigious championship for the first time.

Earlier in the semi-finals Keeble had ended the three year reign of No.1 seed and defending champion Steve Mutton, who had appeared in seven successive finals, by winning 3-2 and Herrieven, who also lost in last year’s final beat the 2008 runner up and No.3 seed Alex Foster also 3-2. The plate competition for those who were beaten in the first round was won by Kim Payne who beat Alec Burrows in an entertaining match.

Afterwards an obviously delighted Keeble said : “I never thought that I would win the title. To even reach the final after beating a club legend like Muttley who has won the title four times and been in every final since 2003 was simply awesome and although Ben is two years younger than me he has a lot more experience and is playing at No.1 for the club in the Norfolk Leagues. This rates equal to anything I have achieved in my other sports”