Cromer Lawn Tennis & Squash Club

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John Baker is once again the veterans champion at Cromer Squash Club. In an absorbing and entertaining final on Friday evening the defending champion retained his title as he overcame the challenge of Gary Spruce 9-3 9-6 9-6 to add the Over 45 title to the Over 35 title which he won last month. Baker now has two veterans titles to add to his four Over 35 titles and four club championships not to mention the three handicap titles, the first of which he won more than 30 years ago.

Two years ago the two players met in the final of the Over 35 tournament, a tournament in which Spruce pushed Baker hard before eventually losing 3-1, but this year’s final was much more clear cut. Spruce started the match well, opening up a 3-0 lead in the first game but this was as good as it got as Baker reeled off a succession of winning shots to take the game 9-3. In the second game the challenger opened up another lead as he went 5-3 ahead but Baker is now a hugely experienced competitor and he regained the initiative to lead 8-5 before taking the game 9-6.

The third game followed a completely different pattern as it was Baker’s turn to open up a seemingly unassailable 6-0 lead only for Spruce to gradually claw his way back until he trailed by just one point at 6-7 before Baker took the next two points to take the game 9-6 and the match 3-0.

Technical Director Barry Starling, who actually took a game off Baker in the quarter final, said afterwards: “Johnny B was just too good for Gary. He has a wealth of experience and hits the ball so cleanly so it was no disgrace to lose to him. The way he is playing I think he has got a few more club titles in him yet “

In the semi-final Baker defeated the tournament’s oldest entrant and the man he beat in the final of last year’s tournament, John Chandler, in straight games while Spruce had an epic match against the club’s team captain and the man who beat him in the semi final of the recent Over 35 tournament, Martin Sanville. He saved match ball in the fourth game and came back from 0-6 down in the fifth to win 5-9 3-9 9-3 10-9 9-6, a performance which Starling described as “brilliant”.