Cromer Lawn Tennis & Squash Club

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There was a packed balcony at Cromer Squash Club on Friday evening where a large and appreciative crowd enjoyed yet another in a long line of classic finals in the club’s annual handicap tournament.

The tournament was being held for the 27th time and the final featured two long serving veteran club members, neither of whom had previously won the tournament, but who had played each other numerous times and knew exactly how each other played and what to expect. After a long and gruelling match, which featured 34 minutes of excellent squash from both players, the younger Henri Paul (-8) overcame an eight point handicap to defeat 61 year old Martin Braybrook (0) 14-15, 15-11, 15-12, 15-8.

Both players had been involved in some hard matches on the way to the final and once again Paul’s determination and all action style proved to be decisive. Braybrook, whose only previous performance in the final ended in defeat way back in 1985, started off promisingly enough taking the opening game 15-14 after Paul had saved three game balls but Paul drew level after controlling much of the second game and taking the game 15-11.

The crucial game turned out to be the third. For much of the game the two players traded point for point but after Braybrook led 10-5 he was unable to close out the game as Paul won six consecutive points to go ahead 11-10 before taking the game 15-12. The younger man completely dominated the fourth game to win it 15-8 and become the twenty second player to have his name perpetually inscribed upon the winners’ board which is on display in the club house.

Braybrook was gracious in defeat saying: “I have got no complaints. Henri was the better player on the night and fully deserved his victory. The handicap committee got the handicaps about right although if I had received a couple more points it would have been interesting!”

In the semi final Paul had defeated the 2007 champion, Ben Herrieven (-15) 15-6 15-7 11-15 15-9 after earlier victories over Martin Sanville (2), Alec Burrows (-5)and Peter Foster (7) while Braybrook, who had a first round bye, scraped through in his semi-final against Sue Guest (12), winning 7-15 15-13 15-14 15-13 after previously beating James Dunnett (10) and John Pelton (6)

The plate competition for first round losers was won by Nick Dunnett (8) who defeated his younger brother James (10) 15-12 14-16 19-17 15-8. In what was almost a family affair their father, Alistair (9) lost to Nick in one semi-final while Adam Sexton (2) lost to James in the other.