Guernsey Press

Jersey win overall due to dominance in racketball

GUERNSEY were left celebrating the smaller victories in Saturday’s hotly-anticipated home squash and racketball inter-insular.

Guernsey's Natalie Birch against Beth Garton in the first-string rubber of the women's squash A match. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 31891120)

The Jersey team defended their title with an 18-12 victory and their firmer grasp of racketball proved the deciding factor – impressively, they won all 10 rubbers in the discipline.

But the squash results showed the hosts in a different light, with Guernsey sweeping the men’s B 5-0, celebrating a rare win in the veterans, and losing by tight 3-2 margins in the main men’s and women’s contests at Beau Sejour.

Equally, squash development officer Martin Watts was not the only one relishing the sense of occasion provided by the first home inter-insular since 2019.

‘For me, as development officer, it’s been five years since we saw that many people watching at Beau Sejour,’ he said.

The last crowd-puller of this magnitude came when Chris Simpson played an exhibition match, so there was plenty of excitement when the former professional was announced in the team.

What a shame then that Simpson went down injured just two days before and opted not to travel.

But Guernsey still put up a fight in the men’s A competition, with Sam Shields winning his duel before Henry Birch edged a thriller 3-2 in the final match of the day.

Guernsey also improved upon previous results in the women’s contest, where Lauren Ker and Natalie Birch (nee Dodd) beat their respective opponents.

The Guernsey men’s B team excelled by winning all five matches for the loss of just one set.

Meanwhile, Guernsey won veterans’ honours to reverse the outcome of recent years.

But the setback of losing every racketball match proved insurmountable.

‘It’s disappointing we lost, but it was a good event,’ Watts added.

‘There’s massive rivalry between Jersey and Guernsey, but these guys really appreciated it.

‘We were there to pick them up from the airport as well. That’s the Channel Islands for you, it wouldn’t happen in the UK.’

He added in reference to Simpson’s late withdrawal: ‘The fact that Chris nearly made it this year but had to pull out at the very, very last minute was disappointing – not just from our point of view, as I know Charlie [Griggs, Jersey No. 1] was looking forward to playing him and these guys were really looking forward to watching.’

Jersey squash club manager Tom Price credited multiple factors for his island’s dominance on the racketball side.

‘We put a lot of volunteering time and effort into it,’ he said, while also crediting having a strong local league, off-island aims, and a young group of players who specialise on the discipline.

He added: We knew we were coming to win.

‘We knew that the racketball’s where the split was – that’s the main thing.

‘We know we need to work on our squash B, and we’re slowly getting better in the squash A.’