Standard of competition pleases champion Watts

MARTIN WATTS had two big reasons to smile after a long week of Ogier Island Squash & Racketball Championships action.

The multiple champion successfully defended his men's squash title through a 3-0 victory over Janick Radford in Saturday’s Grade A final, where the set scores painted a picture of a much closer duel – 12-10, 11-9 and 11-7.

But as squash development officer, he also left pleased with the standard of competition, as exemplified by two semi-finals that went the full five-set distance.

Watts battled past young Patrick Josey 11-8, 11-8, 8-11, 8-11, 11-7 in his semi, while Radford beat Sam Shields 9-11, 11-3, 11-6, 5-11, 11-7.

‘It feels good to win, as it was not what I expected this year,’ the repeat champion said.

‘Janick was injured before Christmas, so he was coming back from injury, but it was a strong draw.

‘It was still a really close competition. Both of the semis went to five sets, so it shows how close the standard is now.

‘When I got to the final, I did not really expect to win this year.

‘There were a few people that could have won it – so it was interesting. But I got it this year.’

Janick Radford in action in his Island Squash Championship semi-final against Sam Shields. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 31701982)

The sets ran similarly close in the the Grade B final, where Matt Robin edged junior Leo Ware 13-11, 11-9 and 11-8.

The women’s championship has been pushed back until later this winter or early spring due to player inavailability, but in its absence Natalie Birch (nee Dodd) won Grade C.

Guernsey’s top female player defeated Andy Rigden 12-10, 11-4, 8-11, 11-7.

The racketball events featured a healthy draw of 16 players, split into A and B groups.

Grade A player Omar Kandili did not drop a set until the final, which he won 11-6, 11-5, 11-9 and 11-4 against Jack Tacon.

In the B Grade, young Ware beat Craig Le Cheminant 11-4, 11-7 and 11-7 to ensure he would end the weekend with at least one trophy.

Watts described the overall standard as ‘higher than I was expecting’ and is excited to be hosting the inter-insular on 11 March.

‘It’s great to have this event,’ he added.

‘It’s a week of competitive squash to prepare for the inter-insular that’s coming up in March.’

Given squash’s absence from the Island Games, that inter-insular and the following month’s European Team Championships Division Three in Gibraltar are the main focuses of 2023.

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