ACORN SIGNS PUT WRITING ON THE WALL
The summer saw North Squash in reflective mood, as many mourned the passing of the long-serving and much-loved Treasurer of HISA, Chris Sedgwick. Chris is a huge loss to the Squash community, and is certainly a hard act to follow.
But capable North President Dave Clem has the reins and is leading the sport well. As the first weeks of the 2015-16 North Squash season culminate in major court refurbishment work at the Inverness Club, an optimistic mood is tangible. From a mass-entry ‘Shoot-Out’ event attracting players from all over the region, to the successful Highland Masters’ Championship – sponsored by Loch Ness Brewery – the season has really begun “with warm balls and a good swing of the racket,” as Forres’ Dave Taylor put it.
A highlight so far has been the Welsh Junior Open triumph of Scots Under-15 internationalist Alasdair Prott of Balloch. As he goes from strength to strength, one sign that he is outgrowing the Scottish domestic scene is that he is now reaching the top Division on the Regional Open circuit. Juniors play ‘Graded’ or ‘Monrad’ competitions, where matches are at a level fitting current form, irrespective of age or gender. So the sky really is the limit for talented Juniors. Alasdair is now regularly playing – and beating – folk considerably older than himself, as he continues his rise up the European rankings.
Another great success was that ‘Shoot-Out’ event in which Alasdair Prott (again), Elgin’s Sean Smith and John Raine, the irrepressible Andy MacLennan, as well as Alex Blake and Mark Kynoch of Inverness shone. The festival atmosphere celebrated the £10K Big Lottery Fund grant to develop the sport in the north; and launched the new HISA/ PDG Helicopters League season. Although the entries are already coming in for the HISA Championships, to be held at Thurso on November 15th, it is the Moray Firth League, played every Thursday, which galvanises the serious ‘Squashies.’
At the time of writing, Acorn Signs head up the top Division, but there is much squash still to come in what promises to be another highly competitive tussle. Garry McKay of Nairn A has started the season in typically strong form. In Division 1, while Pick Everard look the top Inverness outfit, it is the Moray sides from Forres, Gordonstoun and Elgin which are looking impressive, with veterans like Billy Montgomery proving their continuing quality. Tastebuds have begun the season superbly in Division 2, with Ross Linn looking among the best players in the Division. With new sponsors on board; talented new players involved from the MoD at Kinloss; new fixtures and results software (SportyHQ, where all players and all teams have their own page); a new Regional Junior Squad led by John Georgeson of Gordonstoun; and a series of regular weekend events to build on the good co-operation between clubs, things are looking good for Squash just now.