Orkney Squash Open 2019

Top seed Jamie Henderson came through a strong field last weekend to retain his Orkney Open title. There is a new name on the Ladies’ trophy after an impressive showing from Katriona Allen who plays for Edinburgh University.

In the 6 years the Open has been played the entry has got steadily stronger and the field this year was particularly good all the way through the 16 player senior event. Top seeding went to Henderson from Thurso and Martin Ross from Heriot Watt University, both ranked in Scotland’s top ten. Orkney’s top player, Adam Stanger shared the 3rd/4th seeding with Inverness’s Garry McKay, a previous Open winner. The other Orkney players all lost to seeded opposition in the opening round on Saturday morning, Andrew Reid having the best run from there with a particularly good 3-2 win over Shetland veteran Billy Mycock along the way.

By far the best match for the Kirkwall crowd, and indeed the best match of the whole tournament was the 3rd/4th playoff match which, true to form, was between the 3rd and 4th seeds. This match had everything – home interest, a visitor with lots of travelling support, total commitment from both players and a result decided by the smallest of margins. Stanger took the first 12/10, McKay the second 11/7 and when McKay then took the third 14/12 we wondered if it was all over for Stanger. Not so, Stanger took the 4th despite the upset of a racket change at 10/10, setting up a nail biting final game. Stanger threw everything into the game and steadily opened up a narrow lead to give himself three match points. But it was the kind of game where every point was strongly contested and despite Stanger’s increasingly desperate attempted winners McKay got it back to 10/10 after almost an hour on court. The last couple of rallies were as good as we saw all weekend and it was almost fitting that Stanger was beaten by an unplayable winner from one of the Kirkwall courts’ infamous nicks.

While the main final between the top seeds couldn’t match that contest for tension, the squash was of the highest standards. The speed of reaction of both players was mesmerising to watch, Henderson just managing to do more with the ball in those lightening rallies. His 3/0 win retained his title and underlined just why we bring the Open to Kirkwall every year – to showcase the best squash in Scotland right now.

As usual the Open was a mixed event, with Julia Horsburgh returning as last year’s Champion. However Katriona Allen was this year’s comfortable winner. She obviously has something or Orcadians called Andrew – along the way she beat three of them, Moar, Torbet and Reid.

The Junior Championship was a predominantly Orcadian affair, the outside challenge coming from last year’s runner up Chris Horsburgh from Perth and Nairn’s Zack Paton. But it was the local pair of Finlay Scott and Joe Cromarty who contested the final. Finlay is now beginning to make his mark on the Scottish junior scene and the benefits are showing as he ran out a comfortable 3/0 winner to retain his title.

Kirsty Brown presented the trophies on behalf of Scottish Sea Farms who provide valuable support to Kirkwall Squash Club throughout the season.

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