Thursday 22nd February 2018
Students Dominate the T at Squash Individuals
It was a thrilling weekend at Oriam for the annual Scottish Student Sport Individual Squash Championships.
The men’s draw was the most competitive in years featuring many ex Scottish junior players and spearheaded by world number 269; Chris Leiper. Leiper (Queen Margaret University) was looking to carry on his fine form in the competition having lifted the trophy in the previous two years. The ladies draw featured six players including world number 130 Elspeth Young (Edinburgh Napier University) and former individual’s winner Carrie Hallam (University of Edinburgh).
The beginner’s championship was won by Scott Lewis (University of Stirling) who defeated Meryem Horasan and Kristin Busby (both University of Strathclyde) 3-0 and 3-1 respectively. Scott also entered the men’s plate draw and despite playing players of a higher standard to himself, he secured a hard fought 3-2 win, a fantastic achievement for a beginner.
Meryem and Kristin both featured in the ladies draw, however, the high standard of opponents was always a difficult task and they played out for 5/6th place with Meryem triumphing 3-1. The top two seeds, Elspeth Young and Carrie Hallam both comfortably eased through their semi finals leaving the third place playoff between Rebecca Baird (University of Glasgow) and Sarka Siruckova (University of Edinburgh). A very close encounter saw Rebecca edge Sarka and take the bronze medal. Unfortunately, due to a recurring hamstring injury, Elspeth was forced to retire from the ladies final resulting in Carrie reclaiming her title as Scotland’s best female student squash player.
The 20 player men’s draw was a mouthwatering prospect this year. The number 1 seed, Chris Leiper was the clear favourite and as expected dominated the tournament, winning comfortably without dropping a game. The fight for the silver and bronze medal was extremely competitive with any one of the seven remaining seeds in the quarter finals in with a shout.
The quarter finals were extremely close with some unbelievable squash on show. Chris Leiper (Queen Margaret University) continued his fine form with a solid win over Scottish squash scholar Tino Mackay Palacios (Heriot Watt University). Third seed and ex Scottish U19 champion Kyle Gribben (Edinburgh Napier University) was defeated by East league teammate and Heriot Watt University sports fresher of the year, James Taylor, in an extremely tight match finishing 3-1 with three games going to two clear points. Last year’s finalist Matt Stout (University of Strathclyde) narrowly escaped defeat vs Michael Jenkins (University of Aberdeen) with a 3-1 victory, again three games going to two clear points. Omar EL Bokl, the University of Glasgow’s only male entrant secured his semifinal spot with a hard fought 3-2 win over Edinburgh’s Ian Liang.
“It was a higher standard this year than previously seen, which looks positive for moving the sport forward.” Jim Hay, President of Scottish Squash
The semi finals featured Chris Leiper vs Omar El Bokl and Matt Stout vs James Taylor. Omar always faced an uphill task playing someone of Chris’ quality and despite a spirited performance he lost 3-0. The other semi final was arguably the match of the tournament which saw second seed Matt Stout surrender a 2-0 lead to James Taylor. James playing on his home court showed the crowds why he is currently the 3rd best junior in Scotland (under 19) and triumphed 3-2.
Sadly for James his exceptional run in the tournament had to come to an end. The final vs Chris Leiper saw him lose 11-2 11-2 11-7. A silver medal for the Heriot Watt fresher is still a fantastic achievement and he will no doubt be eyeing up the title in the future. The bronze medal match was again, a nail-biting affair. A University of Glasgow/University of Strathclyde derby saw Matt Stout edge Omar El Bokl in a tight 3-1 adding another medal to Matt’s collection. Another positive tournament for Omar too who improved on his 2017 5th place finish.
Scottish Student Sport were delighted that President of Scottish Squash (Jim Hay) was able to attend the event and present the athletes with their prizes. Jim thoroughly enjoyed the event, stating: “The event was very good and well-run by SS Squash Chair, Bruno Shaw. It was a higher standard this year than previously seen, which looks positive for moving the sport forward. Hopefully next year the numbers can be built upon and more female students, especially, will get involved”.
Once again the SS Individual Squash Championships delivered a very enjoyable tournament with players from institutions all over Scotland competing. Hopefully, this level of quality will inspire more people to play squash at their institution and there will be an even bigger turnout next year!BACK TO LIST