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 29th time and 26 year old club champion Richard Keeble, who was not born when the first tournament was held, took the title for the first time and joined the select band of players who have completed the double of both club champion and club handicap champion. In the final Keeble, who was a beaten semi-finalist last year and who was playing off a handicap of -15, needed all his skill and athleticism to defy the handicapper and overcome the spirited challenge and twenty five point advantage of long serving club member Alistair Dunnett (+10) eventually coming out on top 13-15 15-14 15-11 15-14 after thirty four minutes of squash.

Three early points put Dunnett in control of the opening game before a run of eighteen consecutive winning points pulled Keeble back to 11-13 only for him to lose two of the next four points to give Dunnett the game 15-13. The second game started in a similar way with Keeble then taking twelve points in succession to reduce the arrears to 6-13 before Dunnett won an important fourteenth point to hold game ball at 14-6. Keeble knew he couldn’t afford to drop another point and he proceeded to reel off nine vital points in succession to take the game 15-14 and level the match.

In a third game which was remarkable for Keeble’s concentration he allowed his opponent just a single point as he won 30, twenty six of them in succession, to take the game 15-11. He started the fourth game in the same way as he finished the third, winning the first seven points, and although he was under a little pressure as he trailed 0-13 and 10-14 the final result was never really in doubt as the visibly tiring Dunnett eventually lost the game 14-15. Keeble thereby clinched his first title
and will become the twenty fourth player to have his name perpetually inscribed upon the winners’ board which is on display in the club house.

After Keeble received his winner’s trophy from club chairman Nick Amis he said: “ This was a tremendous match and Alastair pushed me all the way. I couldn’t afford to relax my concentration at all and tried to break the match down into little compartments as I had to score six points to his one. Luckily I was just able to do that and the handicap committee got the handicaps just right although one more point in Alistair’s favour would have made all the difference.”

In the semi final Keeble, who had a first round bye, had defeated last year’s champion Peter Foster (+4), after earlier victories over club second team captain Barry Starling (+8) who he just beat 15-12 in the fifth and the 2007 handicap champion, Ben Herrieven (-15) who he beat 3-1 in a hard hitting quarter-final. Dunnett defeated the 2004 runner-up John Pelton (+5) in the semi-final after beating Adam Sexton (0), the 2009 winner Henri Paul (-10) and then having a quarter-final walk-over when the 2008 champion, Alex Foster, fell off his skate board

The plate competition for first round losers was won by last year’s runner –up Martin Sanville (0) who just beat the former club veterans champion, Alan Harper (-5) 16-15 12-15 15-14 15-5 in another well contested match. In the semi final he beat Derek Mackey (+7) while Harper beat the 1985 and 2009 runner-up Martin Braybrook (+2).