European Masters, 30th Aug-2nd Sept, Wroclaw, Poland (by Malcolm Kerr)

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A small but dedicated touring party of Malcolm Kerr, Dallas Reid and Stuart Gates travelled to Wrocław (pron. Rroslaff), Poland to join over 530 competitors in the European Masters Squash Championships.

Hitting the ground on Tuesday 29th, Dallas and Malcolm from the UK and Stuart long-haul from HK, we headed straight to the Hasta La Vista to get checked-in and up to speed. 

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With an amazing 32 courts including 2 all-glass show-courts in a converted warehouse, H la V is the biggest squash facility in the World – you have to see it to believe it.

The warm-up games were a sign of things to come on-court.   Dallas managing a strategic draw in a friendly with a chap in the 70+ category and Malcolm already whinging about "tennis elbow" and resorting to court sprints...while squads of seriously fit looking Scandinavians in matching national kit went through their drills and training on adjacent courts.

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We would be glad that this event uses a "Monrad" draw system whereby all players keep playing matches, win or lose, until getting an ultimate finishing position.

So to the competition –

Dallas – playing in the 55+ category started strongly with his first match on Wednesday morning beating Frenchman Didier Pergue in 3, Stuart (45+) similarly came through strongly in his Qualifying match while MK (also 45+) had an easy game vs a local club player.   Great start for team HKFC!

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In round two Dallas struggled to contain invasion nightmares as he came up against the first in a series of German veterans in seasoned campaigner and 5th seed Felix Paal. Taking the second game 13-11 proved to be the (only) highlight for Dallas in a 1-3 clubbing. 

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Meanwhile Stuart had the pleasure of meeting Swede, Christian "the Woodchopper" Borgwaal, who hit the ball so hard that spectators gasped and children cried (and the court moved forward a couple of cm)...A brief encounter but Stuart scored several points and can say he lost to the eventual Champion, as the big guy went on to crush all in his path including the 1 and 2 seeds!

MK managed to win in 3 games against fairly tricky Finn Tommi Ryypo to progress to the 3rd round – last 16.

MK then came a cropper in R3 against current English 45+ champ, Jon Gliddon, finishing 16th after withdrawing from the playoffs to drink exclusively with his left arm (there was return of the tennis elbow).

Dallas proceeded to lose comfortably to two more Germans before finally beating one (who Dallas says "was really not very good") in a close final match to attain 47th place (out of 76ish).  

Stuart valiantly campaigned on through serious back pain (and possibly a wee hangover) playing a total of 6 matches to finish 48th (of 77ish).

Alongside the squash we did manage to get into the historic centre of the city on more than one occasion discovering that bars generally don't close while people are still in them.  The best of the bars were found too late on Friday night...   Closing prize-giving and party on the Saturday night was fun and very late.  Flights back...no quite as much fun.

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All in all a cracking tour.  Great venue, smooth organization, lovely people and we each managed to win (and lose) at least a couple of games each.

Word just in is that H la V is bidding to host the World Masters in 2020.......Don't miss it!

MK

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Phil Head and his team are available for lessons, both private and group, for all ages.  For more information please contact Phil on philhead@netvigator.com or on 9166 4931.

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