By John Greenwood
The Mens Kent 065s travelled up to Coventry last weekend to play in the finals of the intercounty championships, this was the first time in several years that they had reached the finals rather than fighting a relegation battle. The team of Ken Randall, Ian Smith and Keith Hibberd arriving late on Friday evening were, however, in confident mood as they arrived at the Coventry & Warwickshire Squash Club early on the Saturday Morning for a 9am start!
Drawing Yorkshire in the quarter finals seemed a heady task but Keith Hibberd playing at three against an England International fought back from two love down in a 56-minute tough match to give us a winning start. Ken Randall then went on at one and despite producing an array of winning shots just could win a game to pressurise his opponent. A close 3/0 loss. Ian Smith was left to decide the outcome of the match and played superbly to secure a 3/1 win.
My goodness, Kent were in the semi-finals against Hampshire, a team full of current England internationals, so with few hours to recover and refuel 2.30pm arrived and Keith Hibberd started at three. Again a 50 minute plus match evolved with Keith’s dogged determination producing another win. Ken Randall now playing with more authority swept into one nil lead and had game points in the second only to lose that game 17/15, a very tight third and fourth just slipped away from him and again it was left to Ian to play the deciding game. Ian playing again with all his variety of carefully controlled drop shots pushed his opponent to the wire but sadly could not squeeze through with a win.
We moved on to the third/fourth play-off on Sunday morning. Keith feeling the effects of two momentous games the day before, was running on empty but despite a valiant effort he went down 3/0. Ken gaining accuracy with every game just did not have enough to tip the scales in our favour, Ian against a former World Champion blasted away a 2/0 lead as his opponent again struggled with two hard games the day before and sadly had to retire injured at that point, leaving Ian as the winner.
As a result, Kent finished fourth out of the eight counties in the finals, a credible result and so close challenging in the final!
Another chance next year.