Flood the courts!

Well, maybe not flood them but this is a precarious time for some of our courts in the region as clubs and, particularly leisure centres start to open and wonder how they’re going to make the most of what they’ve got to recoup their losses.

What we don’t want, is leisure centre managers eyeing up their empty squash courts and thinking they’d be a whole lot more profitable if they used them for socially distanced zumba or maybe an overflow for their gym as the kit is all too close together…

So it would be a good idea if we did make best use of the courts as they come available and maybe even call the leisure centres to ask when they’ll be open just to remind them there’s an enthusiastic bunch out here who want to get back on court.

Drills and solos and ‘sides’ may not be your thing but getting back on court ASAP is one way we can help keep them open. Maybe drills and solos could become your thing… it’s what the professionals do and it doesn’t seem to do them any harm…

For those who want/need to keep away then that’s fine too but for those of us itching to get back on court – now is your time to show up in numbers.

Lots of info on how to stay safe and ideas on what you can do on court on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/avoncountysquash/

Avon County Closed 2020

David Allman of Redland Green Club won the Avon County Closed 2019-20 in Sunday’s final, held at the Lansdown Tennis & Squash club in Bath. In a tightly contested final against the defending champion John Welton of Lansdown, the Avon County Junior head coach, Allman took the title with a 3-1 win, prevailing 8-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-7.

It was a challenging tournament for Allman, who came through successive five game battles in earlier rounds, including a typically resilient recovery from match ball down against Dean Boys.

On the women’s side, Natasha Burrett retained her title with a 3-0 victory against Abigail Freeman,winning 11-6,11-3, 11-6. Burrett came through a tough semi-final against Katie Lloyd, while on the other side of the draw Freeman enjoyed an impressive win over Pippa Green of Lansdown.

The tournament attracted a healthy entry of over 60 players, with competitions in several age categories alongside the main draws. John Welton managed the tournament with great efficiency, ably assisted by Finn McManus, and even managed to find the time to reach the final.

A full list of the winners in the various different categories is below, many congratulations to the new county champions!

Men’s Open; Winner – David Allman; Runner-up – John Welton

Women’s Open; Winner – Natasha Burrett; Runner-up – Abigail Freeman

Men’s over-35s; Winner – Richard Colman; Runner-up – Richard MacBryde

Women’s B Grade; Winner – Wendy Harrison; Runner-up – Quita Colston

Men’s over-45s; Winner – Mike Nicholls; Runner-up – Tim Jones

For more information on squash in Bristol and Bath, clubs in the local area and how you can get involved, check – http://www.avonsquash.co.uk

SquashSkills Set to Support Avon

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve reached an exciting sponsorship agreement with Bristol-based online squash coaching provider SquashSkills, that will both support the grassroots of the game and also aid the development of the county’s junior and senior squads.

The sponsorship agreement covers financial, promotional and coaching support for Avon County Squash, strengthening the foundations on which we can continue to develop and promote the game in our region.

This includes support for both coaches and players. Our junior and senior teams will be competing in new SquashSkills-branded kit this season, while the company will also be offering coaching workshops and technical advice to local coaches.

As a company offering online squash fitness and coaching sessions from some of the world’s most respected squash coaches and players, SquashSkills is the ideal partner to help Avon’s players perform at their very best.

With an extensive online library of coaching sessions from the likes of David Pearson and Peter Nicol, SquashSkills provides technical advice on all aspects of the game, from fitness, to the  forehand grip, to how to hit that elusive perfect length.

These little details can make all the difference in a tight game of course, so we’re looking forward to some great results for our junior and senior squads this season. SquashSkills’ founder and CEO Jethro Binns also welcomed the agreement.

“We’re delighted to be sponsoring Avon Squash for the forthcoming season. SquashSkills has always been a Bristol-based company and it’s nice to be able to support the local squash playing community. I played in the BAD Squash league for a number of seasons and know how hard everyone works behind the scenes to make it the success that it is,” he said.

“We’re excited to be involved this year and are looking to help improve the level of squash being played within the county. Our aim is to help our members be the best players they can be through the provision of online coaching from the game’s best athletes and coaches. We’ll be offering all Avon players discounted access to SquashSkills and providing support to coaches and juniors through the provision of kit and memberships.”

Junior Inter County Championships 2019/20

The inter-county championship is a highlight of the junior squash season, giving young players a taste of competitive action against some of the country’s best young players, and each of the Avon age-group teams was raring to go.

This season we entered three boys teams into the ICC championships, the first round of which took place on the weekend of 9-10 November at several different venues across Surrey.

The first round was divided into southern and northern divisions, with all the southern division ties taking place in Surrey. Hundreds of the best juniors in the south of the country battled it out to make it into the national finals, with only the top two sides in each group making it through to the finals, which this season will be played in Nottingham.

Our under 11 team travelled with their parents to Wimbledon Rackets Club and put on a fantastic show. The highlight of the day came as they pushed Hampshire – one of the top sides in the event – all the way, showing great ability, application and spirit.

A hugely exciting group of players is developing within our U11 age groups in both boys and girls. Unfortunately the boys came third in their group, so narrowly missed out on the finals weekend, but their performance certainly bodes well for the future, and I am hugely excited about their potential.

A lot of the boys have another year in the age group, and with many other players nipping at their heels, they know they need to keep working hard to keep their place in the team, so we are looking forward to another great performance at next year’s event.

Many congratulations to the players selected – Sam Browning, Theo Lamey, Emmanuel Cox, Oliver Duffet

Our under-15s meanwhile travelled to Ashtead, while our under 17s made their way to Dorking tennis and squash club, ready to take on teams from some of the biggest counties in England. Our teams were pitted against some of the real big hitters, yet the coaches (myself and local professional player Theis Houlberg) were hugely impressed with all of the players’ attitude and performance throughout the weekend.

The players learned a huge amount, not just in terms of squash, but also the importance of team spirit, goal setting and dealing with the pressure and stress of competition. Up against bigger counties, the Avon teams acquitted themselves very well, both coming out with a victory.

Unfortunately, both our under-15s and under-17s again finished in third position. However, both teams managed to leave with a victory, which is very creditable for a county of our size and resources, so I’m very proud of the teams and pleased with their performance. There’s certainly a lot of potential in Avon’s Junior teams, and we’re all going to work hard to turn it into success.

Congratulations to the following players for their selection –

Boys U15 – Oscar Lambert, Isaac Hall, Joshua Bailey, Thomas Williams, Ernie Clarke

Boys U17 – Pau Jimenez, Marcus Wales, Mckenzie Dutton, Tejas Ramanan, Joshua Watt

With each of our age-group teams playing at different venues it was a logistically challenging weekend, so many thanks are due to all the parents, grandparents and friends who helped out in ferrying everybody around and making sure our teams got to the right place at the right time. It couldn’t have happened without you.

Finally, I will be looking to arrange some ‘friendly’ county fixtures for our teams to give everyone a bit more competitive experience, while we also have plans for a fixture for our county girls. Sadly, we were just short of being able to field a girls team, but we have some exciting talent and we will ensure they get to represent Avon this season to help build for next.

Code of Conduct

he Avon Squash Committee has published a Code of Conduct for league players, as we look to improve standards of behaviour and encourage a simultaneously competitive and respectful atmosphere at league matches. While everybody enjoys a level of healthy competition, it’s important not to overstep the mark.

This means respecting the decisions of referees first and foremost, and getting on with the game once a decision has been made. While players are entitled to request an explanation of a decision from the referee, it’s essential to respect their authority and allow them to referee the game as they see fit, without constant interruption.

There are penalties for those who cross the line, so we’d like to encourage every league player to read through the attached document and make sure that their behaviour reaches the required standard. Referees are the lifeblood of the game, and without them there will be no league squash, so let’s give them the respect they deserve.

You can view the Code of Conduct here.

New coach for county juniors

We are pleased to announce that reigning Avon Squash champion John Welton has been appointed as our new County Junior Coach. An experienced coach and accomplished player, John is a familiar face in the local squash scene, and we know he’ll bring both energy and expertise to his new role.

John has spent several years working alongside Hadrian Stiff at Elite Squash, coaching promising young players and passing on his knowledge at several clubs across the county, including Redland Green, Workout Harbourside and Landsdown, and is looking forward to his new position.

“I’m hugely excited to take on the role of Avon Junior head coach and relishing the opportunity to work with a very talented group of young players within the county,” commented Welton.

“I have been working as a member of the county coaching team over the past 5 or 6 seasons so the move to head coach is a natural progression and I’m looking forward to bringing my ideas and coaching philosophy to the role.”

There’s a lot of talent out there in Avon’s thriving junior squash programmes, and we know that John is the right man to help our young players improve further. Having spent several years working with the county’s junior players, John has already identified a few major priorities.

“A huge goal of mine is to increase the number of junior teams we are able to enter in the inter-county championship events, particularly ensuring girls get a chance to represent the county which has sadly not happened over the last few seasons,” he said.

“The ICC is a huge part of player development as I well know from my own pathway as a squash player. The experience of being exposed to that high level and the social experience as a team has a big impact on a young squash player and I want as many of our juniors to experience this as possible.”

John is also closely involved in the UWE squash programme, which has produced many top professionals, so is the ideal man to push on those with big ambitions beyond junior squash. We know he’ll help to provide a positive, encouraging and fun environment for the next generation.

Welcome to Wendy and Will

The Avon Squash Committee continues to grow, and we’re pleased to announce two new appointments that will help us to develop the game in the region. Will Duffett joins as Schools Liaison Officer, while we also welcome Wendy Harrison to the Committee as Ladies League Secretary and Ladies Development Advocate.

As Schools Liaison Officer, one of Will’s priorities will be to heighten awareness of the game and encourage PE departments to get pupils playing squash, which is not always the case at the moment. Wendy will also have an important to play in encouraging more women to take up our great game, and we hope to see lots of new faces on court soon.

Calling All Referees!

The Avon County Junior Closed Tournament will take place at Redland Green Squash Club (BS6 7HF) on Sunday September 29 between 9.00-16.00, and we’re looking for qualified referees to officiate on the day.

It’s the county’s first squash tournament of the season, and with participation numbers rising across the region, we’re hoping for a good turn-out. Referees are of course essential to the smooth running of the event so any help would be greatly appreciated, whether it’s for the full day or a shorter time.

A number of experienced referees will be on site to officiate and offer guidance on interpretation, so alongside supporting junior squash it’s also a great opportunity to refine your refereeing skills in a competitive environment, ready for the upcoming league season.

If you can help, please get in touch with us via referees@avonsquash.co.uk. It would also be very helpful if you could let us know the times you will be available.

Karina Tyma New European Under-19 Squash Champion

Many congratulations to Karina Tyma, the new European Under-19 squash champion! Karina took the title in Prague with a three-game victory over Katie Malliff, after overcoming long-term rival and no.1 seed Elise Lazarus in the semi-final.

It was a landmark win, with Karina becoming Poland’s first ever individual European squash champion. While she was playing under the flag of her native land, Karina has been based in Bristol since 2006, and the city has played a major part in her squash education.

She was coached first by Hadrian Stiff of Elite Squash, based at Workout Harbourside in the centre of Bristol, and has since also worked with Richard Coleman and for the last two years Ian Thomas, who is based at Millfield School in Somerset. 

Over the last few years Karina’s game has really developed, pushed on by training with locally-based professional players at Workout Harbourside, including Joelle King and the El Shorbagy brothers, while she is also a member at Redland Green Club in the north of the city.

With high-quality facilities and a friendly but competitive group of squash professionals pushing each other on, Bristol is a great place for young players like Karina to develop their game.  “Bristol is a great place for any kind of squash player be it amateur or professional and great place for juniors, too,” she commented.

It’s great to see a local player rise so high, and we know that with her mindset Karina certainly won’t stop there. The next stop is Drexel University in Philadelphia on a full athletic scholarship, and beyond that who knows?

For more information on squash in Bristol, clubs in the local area and how you can get involved, check – www.avonsquash.co.uk