The University of Nottingham's return to the all-glass court at David Ross Sports Village for Premier Squash League action saw an evening of high quality squash and matches that went right down to the wire. Shortly after the large crowd had filled their seats at courtside on Tuesday night (22 November), proceedings got underway with both teams announced onto court as we welcomed visitors Alba Storm. The evening's teams included a rematch from last years PSL Cup fixture with Commonwealth Gold Medallist Declan James facing Greg Lobban, whilst Millie Tomlinson returned to the Nottingham side for a home match after a few years away. Here is how both teams matched up on the evening:
Line ups: University of Nottingham vs Alba Storm
Declan James (HWR 15) vs Greg Lobban (WR 25)
Millie Tomlinson (HWR 20) vs Donna Lobban
Owain Taylor (WR 124) vs Rory Stewart (WR 54)
Faiza Zafar (HWR 78) vs Alison Thomson (HWR 65)
It would be University of Nottingham alumni and current university assistant coach Owain Taylor who would take to the court first to face Rory Stewart. Taking world rankings into consideration Owain entered the match as an underdog but his effort and performance on the night made sure his opponent would be in a hard fought contest. Ultimately though Stewart would take the first two games with the second going down to the final point. Things may have unfolded differently for Owain if the point and second set would've gone his way, but unfortunately it fell to the Alba Storm player who would close out the first match of the night for the visitors by a 3-0 (5-11, 10-11, 6-11) scoreline. After the match Owain told us that; "I felt I played pretty well, just unfortunate to come out on the losing end. The atmoshpere was brilliant tonight though."
Next onto court attempting to level the contest for the University of Nottingham would be current sports scholar Faiza Zafar. Before the match Faiza told us that "big challenges require big efforts" and that she was ready to give it her all. Making good on her word Faiza continually asked questions of opponent Alison Thomson, ensuring that every game would be hard won. However, once again the deciding moments and pivotal points of the match would fall to Alba Storm as Thomson matched her team mates performance with a 3-0 win to put Storm in a commanding position. The scores of 7-11, 8-11, 10-11 highlight Faiza's effort throughout and Zafar continued to fight until the last point, demonstrated by the final game being decided by yet another deciding final point.
Attempting to keep our Nottingham team in the third match of the night would be Millie Tomlinson. Tomlinson is bouncing back from an injury and climbing the world rankings rapidly, hoping to take her game to new heights, whilst also returning to our PSL team this year. Facing Donna Lobban, Tomlinson would get the first game on the board for Nottingham with an 11-8 first game win to buoy the spirits of the large home crowd. The second game would see Lobban fight back, but Tomlinson would continue her great squash pushing the game to yet another deciding point. As would be the theme of the night though, it would go the way of Alba Storm providing Lobban with a foothold and momentum in the match. This would propel the visitor to a 3-11 third game win, but as with Taylor and Zafar, Tomlinson would not accept defeat. The fourth game saw Millie regroup and find her form from earlier in the match to wrestle some momentum back and position the scores at 10-10 once again. This time fortune would favour our Nottingham player who pushed the match into a fifth and deciding game. Unfortunately the final game would prove one too far for Tomlinson, as Storm's Lobban would get herself ahead and manage to close out the contest (11-8, 10-11, 3-11, 11-10, 4-11) and seal the victory for Alba Storm.
The final match of the night would see Nottingham's Declan James take on Storm's Greg Lobban. This would be Declan James' first PSL fixture for Nottingham since winning Commonwealth Doubles Gold with University of Nottingham squash's assistant coach James Willstrop. The match-up would also be a rematch from last season's PSL Cup fixture between the two at Nottingham Squash and Rackets Club that would see a 3-1 victory for Lobban. Both players would go shot-for-shot throughout the match and would take a close game each, 9-11 to Lobban and then 11-8 to James, into the third game of what was becoming a classic to end the night. Neither player would give an inch and points were thoroughly well earned by both, and ultimately the pattern of the opening two games continued with Lobban winning the third game 8-11 before James denied him the match winning the fourth 11-9, and as such the match headed into a riveting deciding game. The large crowd at courtside were certainly enjoying the level of squash on display and could not pick a winner between the two right until the very end. With the way the evening had gone, it was inevitable that the razor-thin difference between the two would be a game and match deciding final point, and almost written that the final shot would fall to Lobban, cementing a 3-2 (9-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-9, 10-11) win and 4-0 victory for Alba Storm.
Final score: University of Nottingham 0 - 4 Alba Storm
- Declan James lost to Greg Lobban 2-3 (9-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-9, 10-11)
- Millie Tomlinson lost to Donna Lobban 2-3 (11-8, 10-11, 3-11, 11-10, 4-11)
- Owain Taylor lost to Rory Stewart 0-3 (5-11, 10-11, 6-11)
- Faiza Zafar lost to Alison Thomson 0-3 (7-11, 8-11, 10-11)
If you missed any of the action you can watch all the of action on our YouTube here. Despite the overall scoreline, the final contest was a great representation of the evening and fixture as a whole with excellent squash being played by all players, with the deciding moments deservedly in the end going the way of visitors and victors Alba Storm. Congratulations to all eight of the evening's players on some brilliant performances and a fantastic evening of high-level sporting competition. The result sees Nottingham fall to 4th in the PSL standings behind our next opponents St. George's.
You can ensure you don't miss a second of our next Premier Squash League fixture by securing your ticket for our December 20 fixture against St. George's at Nottingham Squash and Rackets Club here.
You can find out more about the Premier Squash League at the University of Nottingham by visiting our dedicated PSL page. You can also find out about the performance squash programme at the University of Nottingham here.
Posted on Thursday 24th November 2022