Masters Division 2 Play-Off Final  (By Kien Ng)


Time waits on no man. As the HKFC Squash Section members age (there’s no denying it, members), they naturally slow down – the tennis elbow begins, knees and hips start to throb after matches and ample recovery time is needed post-match. Fear not, though, for the next stage in an ageing player’s squash-life is to join a Masters team and to represent the club in the burgeoning Masters Divisions. This season, the club had submitted two teams to play in Masters Division One, two teams to play in Masters Division Two, and two more teams to play in Masters Division Three.

For the Masters Division Two teams, both HKFC teams performed strongly, finishing second and third in the league and qualifying for the play-offs. The play-offs themselves went very well for both teams – with our M2A team (captained by William Fan) reaching the play-off final to compete against none other than our M2B team (captained by Guy Norman). During the regular season, each HKFC team had beaten the other once.  With the play-off title and bragging rights on the line, both teams were fired up for the play-off final held on the last night of April.

M2B were missing quite a number of their middle order (especially their mercurial captain, due to a stubborn elbow injury). So M2A had the advantage, on paper, with pretty much their full strength side in the line-up. The match pitted five players representing each team (ranked one to five in terms of ability), playing each other for the play-off final trophy, with three winners required for glory! 

First up were the number threes, Paul Ng (2A) vs Eli Bitan (2B).  Eli was fired up from the start and quickly settled into his stride.  Paul had trouble coping with the barrage of hard shots and dogged determination from Eli and succumbed 1-3. So it was a case of first blood to the M2B team. 

At number four, Lawrence Lee (2A) had recovered just in time from his elbow injury that had him sidelined for the latter half of the season and found himself up gainst M2B’s Richard Hood who had had an excellent season. Lawrence came off the blocks fast and furious and clearly took Richard by surprise.  Lawrence quickly won the opening two sets before Richard put up some stout defence in the third.  Lawrence was an experienced campaigner and did just enough to stay ahead and claimed a 3-0 win.  One point each for both teams and the tie delicately poised.

And so we moved to the match between TK Yeung (2A) and Nick Schultz (2B).  TK had already beaten Nick twice earlier in the season but Nick was determined to claim revenge. TK, though, was just too steady and thwarted Nick’s efforts with a 3-1 win.  2-1 to 2A, one more point needed out of the two remaining matches.

The battle between the number twos was clearly the match of the evening - the convenor for 2A, William Fan up against the ultra-fit Simon Ho (2B).   It was a match-up of contrasting styles, William the skilful master and Simon the determined retriever. The two met once earlier in the season, when William survived from 0-2 down to claim a great comeback 3-2 victory in a gruelling match.  This time, William had a better start and won the opening set.  But Simon was prepared for the long haul and claimed the next two sets to go up 2-1.  Both players fought tooth and nail in the fourth set.  It was point-for-point for much of the way but William scraped through to level the match at 2-2.  On to the decider and it was pretty much the same with neither player giving an inch.  Towards the latter stages of the fifth set, it was clear the superhuman court coverage William imposed on Simon was beginning to take its toll.  Simon laboured around the court for the final few points as William continued his array of high lobs, deft drops and beguiling cross-court shots. Both players gave everything they had and both had played their best match of the season!  Sadly, there had to be a result and it was William who prevailed with yet another 3-2 victory over Simon.  It was quite fitting for the team captain to bag the winning point for 2A and with it the play-off title for Masters 2.

The number ones match saw Joseph Kwok (2A) and Jono Barton (2B) facing off in the dead rubber.  Joseph had missed much of the season owing to a niggling hamstring injury and sadly had to retire at 2-1 when the problem again flared up. So Jono took the final point of the evening.

The tie was played in fine spirit by all players – and our congratulations to M2A with the Man-of-The-Match award going to William Fan! Hopefully next season, both teams can snatch the league title from the current winners.




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