After nearly 40 years of service at Sedgefield Squash Club, long serving members Margaret and Alan Hayhurst are retiring from their long and supportive duties, that ensured the facilities were in safe and pristine condition for the regular and new attending members at the local sports facility. Originally, Alan had played an important role in the construction of the Squash Club in the mid 70’s.
At our recent presentation night, the club rewarded them with several retirement gifts, while Margaret performed a sentimental speech that will long be remembered by all members that attended. The club thanks them for all their help and hard work, and wish them well in their retirement.
The annual club championships concluded with a very well attended finals night on 15 April. Those attending witnessed some thrilling matches which drew the official season to a close. The Club championship was won for the 3rd time by Chris Gillespie, who beat Rob Pearce 3-0. The scoreline did not reflect what was an intensely fought game with both players having to dig deep to win points and establish any advantage. The ladies competition was won by Marie Priest for the first time, and the junior championship was retained by Oliver Walls. In the other junior competitions, Jess Weatherspoon grabbed a hat trick of wins, securing the U13, U15 and Girls trophies
The full roll of honour read as follows:
Club Closed Chris Gillespie Rob Pearce
Ladies Closed Marie Priest Amanda Hetherington
Junior Closed Oliver Walls George Peden
Mens Plate Simon Hill Steve Welton
Over 40’s Nigel Musgrave Chris Bunting
Over 50’s Jeff Sinclair Steve Welton
Over 60’s Rob Emery Chris Brooke
Junior Plate Robert Forrest Richard Flanagan
Junior Racketball Jack Stephenson David Worthington
Girls Jess Weatherspoon Chloe Hill
Girls Plate Georgia Smith Lauren Prynn
Under 15s Jess Weatherspoon Jack Stephenson
U15s Plate Chloe Hill Richard Flanagan
Under 13s Jess Weatherspoon Robert Peacock
U13s Plate Jenny Walker Michael Peacock
Under 11s Alexander Young Matteo Rutherford
U11s Plate Tom Gilbert Robyn Taylor
At presentation evening, held at the Parish Hall on, the following additional awards were presented
Mens Player of the Year James Knowlson
Ladies Player of the Year Marie Priest
Junior of the Year George Peden
Member of the Year Neil Bunney
Last month we reported on an up-and-coming junior. This month we jump to the other end of the playing age spectrum, with the fantastic news that Sedgefield’s Chris Gillespie has been appointed to captain England’s Over 35’s squash team - a great honour. Chris will captain England for the forthcoming Home Nations fixtures in May against Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Chris has been an active participant on the over 35’s circuit over the last season, playing 7 out of 8 tournaments, and winning the Southern regional competition in January. No mean feat for somebody who has to fit his squash around his “day job” of being a long-haul airline pilot!
This will be the second year that Sedgefield has had a representative in the Home Nations series, with Matt Marshall representing his country last season. We wish Chris all the best and will report on the competition at the end of May.
On the domestic front, Sedgefield’s 2nd team have been confirmed as Division 3 champions in the Durham and Cleveland leagues, with 1 game to play, and are unbeaten at the time of writing. Sadly, the 3rd team have helped Sedgefield act as “bookends” for the division, and are relegated, finishing bottom of that division. We will report further on the final team standings next month, but offer hearty congratulations to the 2nds and fingers crossed that their unbeaten record remains after the final game.
Chris Gillespie in action at the British National Championships in February
Budding local squash star, Jessica Weatherspoon, graduates this month from the Girls under 11 age category as reigning County and Regional U11 champion, and with an official ranking of 3rd in the country.
Jess, who plays at Sedgefield Squash Club and attends Sedgefield Primary School, started playing at the age of 6 at the club’s Saturday morning junior sessions. Having got a taste for the game through coaching and internal club competitions, she entered her first County Closed competition at the age of 7, in the U9’s mixed category. Despite having to play against a large number of boys, her spirited approach to the game was acknowledged by those watching. The next year she was able to compete in the U11 Girls competition, again not being daunted playing against older girls. In 2014, at the age of just 9, she became the County Closed champion in this age category and started regularly entering national competitions. Last year, Jess retained her U11 County title in addition to winning the Girls U13 title, and in what she describes as her squash highlight to date, won the NE & Yorkshire Regional U11 title in November. This, along with her competition successes saw her achieve her current ranking of 3rd in the Country. These achievements have also led to a sponsorship from racket manufacturer, Harrow.
Jess has represented both her County and the Region. In addition to playing for Sedgefield’s junior club teams, she recently made her debut for the club’s ladies team in the Durham & Cleveland County leagues. Jess now moves on to the U13 category, in which she has already played a number of competitions at this age group, and we are sure that as she develops there will be much more silverware to come. Watch this space!
The annual handicap competition was held over December and January, with a large number of members competing across the whole ability spectrum. Once again, the organisers had their work cut out assigning handicaps to ensure that all matches were as closely contested as possible, and it is fair to say that they did well this year, with the final being contested by 2 non-team players for the first time in over 10 years; Chris Stephenson and Shaun Bottomley. With Shaun conceding only 2 points to Chris, it was always going to be a tight game, and the players did not disappoint. Shaun took the first game, and found himself at match point in a closely fought second game at 14-14. However, the pressure told as Shaun served out to hand Chris the second game, and draw level. In the final deciding game, Chris developed an initial lead but Shaun rallied towards the end, setting up a close finish, before another serving error handed Chris the match. An enjoyable game was appreciated by the spectators.
Well done to both players.
Work commenced on refurbishing the entrance and changing rooms in December, and is now complete, providing the club with vastly improved male and female changing facilities, and also allowing disabled access to the club. This work was made possible through funding received from the Terrace Hill fund allocated by the Town Council,and from County Councillor John Robinson, and the club would like to take the opportunity to say a big thank you for the support received which allows the club to be an asset to the community
At the halfway point of the Durham and Cleveland squash season, the outlook for the rest of the season looks positive for Sedgefield’s teams. The 1st team have had a great start, winning 6 of 8 matches in the 1st Division. The team currently lies 5th in the division, although are only separated from 2nd place by 9 points, which can quickly be recovered if a they have a strong second half of the season. Home matches have once again seen a packed balcony in order to see the County’s best players in action.
In Division 3, the 2nd team have led the division for most of the season, and at the halfway point lie in second place albeit with a game in hand. By contrast, the 3rd team, who have lost some key players to injury, lie at the foot of the same division. It will be a big ask to avoid relegation but the team has had some close performances so a “great escape” cannot be ruled out!
The 4th team have put in solid performances in Division 5, lying 5th out of 10, and have again introduced some new players to team squash this season.
The Ladies 1st team have had a remarkable turnaround from last season, and are in 2nd place in Ladies Division 1. Whilst the Ladies 2nd team sit at the foot of division 2, although once again, Sedgefield are the only club who have been able to field 2 ladies teams.