ARBUTHNOT LOBS AND DROPS HIS WAY TO HANDICAP TITLE
For more than thirty years the annual Handicap tournament has been the most eagerly awaited event in Cromer Squash Club’s calendar giving, as it does, every entrant an equal chance of winning and the opportunity to have their name engraved on the perpetual honours board which is on permanent display in the club house.
Over the years spectators have been treated to some close and exciting matches and have seen some excellent squash and this year was no exception as 63 year old Peter Arbuthnot, who was playing in the tournament for the first time defeated the reigning champion Martin Sanville, who had a two point advantage in each game, 15-9 15-10 15-12 in the final.
Arbuthnot, who became the 26th different player to win the tournament since it was first held in 1981, dominated the final, playing some superbly flighted lobs and accurate drop shots and the two opening games both followed a similar pattern with Arbuthnot soon eliminating the handicap. In both games he led 6-3 and then 12-6 and although Sanville picked up points along the way he was never able to put together a run of points on his serve which proved decisive.
The third game was much closer with Arbuthnot , who in the autumn reached the semi-finals of the club championships having defeated Sanville in the quarters, mixing up his game and playing some much harder shots and at 11-11 the game was evenly balanced. If Sanville, who was playing in his third final in five years, could have taken that game he could well have gone on to win as his older opponent was starting to tire but Arbuthnot won four of the next five points to take the game 15-12 and the championship in straight games.
Afterwards Sanville was gracious in defeat saying: “I was well and truly beaten by a better player. I think I only won three points on my serve in the whole match and that is never going to be enough against a player of Peter’s quality”. Arbuthnot was full of praise for the tournament and said:”The handicapping system was absolutely brilliant and I had four cracking matches. Fortunately I came out on top in each of them.”
In the semi final he had beaten the club’s leading lady player, Catherine Kerr (+4), 15-13,16-14,15-12 having previously had a real scare in the quarter finals where he saved six match balls against Technical Director, Barry Starling (+8) eventually coming out on top 5-15 9-15 17-15 15-13 15-12. Sanville won his quarter final against Matthew Jordan (+2) 15-12 15-13 15-12 and went on to beat the tournament’s oldest competitor, John Chandler (+2) 3-1 in the semi-final.
Starling summed up the week long tournament saying: “I don’t think there were quite as many spectators watching the final as in previous years but there have been some magnificent matches especially between players who would not normally play each other. Peter Arbuthnot had to show some tremendous levels of concentration throughout as he had to come from behind in all four of his matches but I still don’t know how he got through his quarter-final.”