Cromer Lawn Tennis & Squash Club

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Four times former club champion, John Baker’s dream of winning Cromer Squash Club’s prestigious club championship for an unprecedented fifth time ended on Friday evening when one of the club’s newest members, eighteen year old student Ed Crookenden from Salthouse won what Technical Director Barry Starling described as a magnificent final full of fast, furious and fantastic shot selection 9-0 9-5 9-6.

Although the scoreline might suggest that the final was one sided it was far from that as the players became involved in numerous long and demanding rallies before Baker, who first won the title as a promising twenty year old player thirty years ago, understandably tired leaving the victorious Crookenden triumphant and, at eighteen years of age, the youngest ever club champion.

Although Baker lost the first game 9-0 he served no fewer than eight times but was not able to close a rally out as his young opponent retrieved every shot to take control, a control he never relinquished throughout the match. The second game continued in a similar vein as Crookenden led 4-0 and 8-2 before Baker’s experience and sheer determination enabled him to pull the score back to 5-8 only for the youngster to regain the serve and close the game out 9-6.

The third game was full of non stop action as Crookenden opened up a 6-1 lead but Baker fought back brilliantly to keep himself in contention at 4-6 and 6-7. By now the enthusiastic capacity crowd was willing the former champion on as they wanted a fourth game but at 7-6 Crookenden seized his chance winning the next two points to take the game 9-6 and the match 3-0

Starling said afterwards: “I must have watched at least thirty finals during my time at the club and, whilst it is difficult to make comparisons this was up there with the best ever. In his short time at the club Ed has shown himself to be passionate about the sport and I genuinely believe he is one of the most accomplished players we have had at Cromer for a long time.”

Baker, as one has come to expect, was gracious in defeat paying tribute to his opponent’s skill and athleticism while the new champion thanked everybody who had made him welcome during his time at the club.

The two beaten semi-finalists were at opposite ends of the age scale. Twelve year old Alex Van Blerk, who defeated team captain Martin Sanville 3-2 in the quarter finals lost 5-9 3-9 3-9 to Baker whilst in the other half of the draw veteran Peter Arbuthnot went down 1-9 3-9 4-9 to Crookenden.