9:06 AM February 21, 2022
9:20 AM February 21, 2022
The balcony was packed with onlookers as Cromer Squash Club annual handicap tournament made its return.
The tournament, which was a victim of Covid last year, was being held for the 39th time.
Club champion Richard Keeble, who at 37 years old was not born when the first tournament was held, successfully regained the title which he had previously won in both 2011 and 2012.
In 2012, playing off a handicap of -15 he just edged out Henri Paul 15-13 in the fifth game of a five game thriller.
This year saw a repeat of that final as Keeble, again having to contend with a handicap of -15, was once more faced with the challenge of overcoming the hard-hitting style of Paul, who was playing off a handicap of -6 as opposed to -8 ten years earlier.
The long established handicapping system meant that Paul, who won the tournament in 2009, went into each game with a six point advantage.
Keeble was not to be denied his third handicap trophy as he won the match 15-11 15-11 9-15 15-10.
Keeble’s third title means he draws level with Steve Mutton who won three times between 1998 and 2006 but he still needs one more to equal the record of the reigning club veterans’ champion, John Baker who won four times between 1984 and 2016
After Keeble received his winner’s trophy he said: “This was a tremendous match and The Claw [Henri Paul] who is an experienced campaigner and more than 20 years older than me pushed me all the way.
“I couldn’t afford to relax my concentration at all and tried to break the match down into little compartments as I had to score four points to his three.
“Luckily I was just able to do that and the handicap committee got the handicaps just right although one or two more points in Henri’s favour could have made all the difference.”
*In their league match, Cromer Squash Club picked up another 16 point maximum this week, their fifth of the season.
The players continued in their quest to finish top of Division Two of the Norfolk SRA squash league by returning from Fleggburgh after beating the home club’s Broadland IV 16-2.