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Tours / 12 June 2006

Stamford vs Porto, Portugal

Stamford Squash Club achieve 5-1 success against Portuguese

Although many squash clubs find their activities somewhat curtailed during the summer months, with many players opting for the fresh air activities of golf and tennis, Stamford Squash Club seem to be taking the opposite tack.

Having recently returned from a stimulating tour in Edinburgh they found themselves on the receiving end of a challenge from the Monte Aventino Squash Club from Porto, Portugal, currently touring in the UK.

The fixture against Monte Aventino S. C. was arranged by Carlose Correia, of the Peterborough District Squash League. Carlos met Monte Aventino’s No. 1 player and coach Paulo Pinto five years ago when playing in Porto, where Paulo runs his own squash school and since then Carlos has taken several squash teams over to play in Portugal.

The match was played on Friday 2nd June at the Stamford Squash Club courts. The teams, consisting of six players each, were played as follows:

Monte Aventino Squash Club, Porto:
1 Paulo Pinto, 2 Paulo Amorim, 3 Pedro Silva, 4 Francisco Lupi, 5 Luìs Carvalho, 6 Felipe Vitorino

Stamford Squash Club:
1 Alastair Gunn, 2 Glynn Williams, 3 Richard Barker, 4 Ian Burnham, 5 Martin Shippey, 6 Dave Spooner.

Dave Spooner and Felipe Vitorino were first to play, Dave very quickly taking the first game 9-4, and in spite of a very spirited and energetic defence from Felipe, took the next two games 9-3 and 9-3.

The next game, between Martin Shippey and Luìs Carvalho began in much the same way, with a score of 9-3 to Martin, but Luìs, taking better advantage of his speed and agility in the second game, took it 9-6. The third game looked as if it might also go to Luìs had Martin not slowed the pace right down. Lobs and drops produced the desired effect and he took the next two games 9-4, 9-3.

Two games played and two decisive wins to Stamford.

The third game, Ian Burnham against Francisco Lupi, proved itself to be the longest match of the six played. Ian, sensing the younger player’s stamina advantage, decided to play a game of alternating attack and defence. The first game was played with dazzling speed and ferocious drives from Ian, who backed off in the second, allowing Francisco to take an easy game. Ian, coming back in the third with more speed and powerful drives, again backed off in the fourth, giving another easy one to Francisco, and on to the gruelling and crucial fifth game. The final scoreline clearly illuminating Ian’s strategy; 9-7, 0-9, 9-3, 2-9, 9-7 and another win for Stamford.

Playing in the third position, Richard Barker and Pedro Silva exhibited squash playing at another level, this game being characterised by long stamina-sapping rallies, astonishing retrievals, clever reversals and heavily disguised drops and drives, but in the end Richard’s strength proved decisive, giving him a 9-4, 10-8, 9-0 win.

In the second position, Glyn Williams was drawn against Porto’s Paulo Amorim, in Glyn’s words “the craziest squash player Portugal could produce” After Glyn took the first game convincingly, Paulo pulled out an array of court dives to snatch the second 10-8. The third was also closely fought with Paulo, now bleeding as a result of grazes sustained during the dives, taking an early lead. However, Glyn managed to claw the points back and win 10-9. At this point Paulo retired from the match due to his ‘injuries’, giving a final result of 3-1 to Stamford.

So far, Stamford remained unbeaten, but there was one match remaining to be played, against top Portuguese coach Paulo Pinto, who is also nationally ranked. Could Stamford’s no. 1 Alastair Gunn hold the line against a player of such formidable standing?

The first game was played carefully, each player sounding the other out, looking for opportunities and weaknesses, of which there were few on either side. Alastair’s game, which combined superb anticipation with always-disguised and deadly accurate drives down the walls or cross-court, saw him through the first game with a 9-7 win.

Paulo came back in the second, relentlessly chasing everything down, returning everything with pace and precision, leaving nothing to chance and in the end just edging a 10-9 win. Having seen what worked, Paulo stuck to his guns, and continued to pick off point after point through the third and fourth exhausting games, the final scoreline of 9-7, 8-10, 2-9, 5-9 telling the tale of Alastair’s elegant and intelligent game being inexorably ground down by technical and tactical excellence.

At a brief award ceremony which took place at The Dolphin, the Monte Aventino Squash Club team showed themselves to be extremely polite, sportsmanlike and good natured representatives of their country. Cups and medals were awarded to both teams and it was agreed that a return match in Porto would be arranged soon.