Devon on the brink of a place in the top flight
DEVON are gunning for a place in squash's top flight at the Division One play-offs – and this time they hope to get up and stay up.
The team, skippered by former Newton Abbot captain Jonathan Gliddon, is in the play-offs for the third time in five years.
Standing between Devon and the Premier Division are Essex, Gwent and Hampshire. The showdown is in Southampton over the weekend of March 16-17.
Premier squash at county level is an unforgiving business, as Devon know only too well. Getting up is an achievement – staying up is altogether more difficult.
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"Promotion into the Premier Division would be a fantastic achievement but one that is very achievable and we are hopeful of success," said Gliddon.
"The Premier Division comprises the top eight counties in the UK and is mostly full of teams with full-time professionals playing, so it is a very high standard.
"We have managed to gain promotion into this division twice in the last five years, but sadly been relegated straight away.
"With a stronger squad than we've ever had, we hope to get up and stay up this time."
The team Gliddon captains consists of Dave Palmer (Torquay), Mike Harris (Crediton), Lyell Fuller (unattached), Gliddon (Ford Stamford) and Ben Rodgers (Fort Stamford).
Harris, 23, is a full-time professional from Exeter and is ranked 138th in the world.
Palmer, 27, used to be the professional at Torquay SC, where he still plays at number one in their Devon League team. He is now the full-time squash and tennis coach at Trinity School in Teignmouth.
Snell, 25, is a former pro on the Professional Squash Association tour and was once ranked 85 in the world. He plays for Devon & Exeter SC.
Fuller, at 17 the youngest member of the team, comes from Exeter but is currently studying at Wycliffe College in Gloucestershire which is a squash school of excellence.
Lyell is in the England junior team and recently beat the England number one U19 junior in the British Nationals Men's event in Manchester.
Gliddon at 41 is the senior figure in the side in every sense. He first represented England at U16 level and is now still going strong on the international scene in the England O35s.
Earlier this month he reached the quarter-finals of the British Nationals O40s' competition in Manchester and is hoping to be selected for the England O40's this year.
Gliddon has played for Devon for the last 26 years and will be 42 during the play-offs, making him the third oldest player to ever play for Devon!
Rodgers, who is 21, is originally from Exeter but currently studying in Plymouth to be an actor.
Devon hope their success reaching the play-offs will encourage some new kit sponsors to come forward.
Gliddon is looking for match shirt and tracksuit sponsors willing to make a two-year commitment to the team. Contact him on 07557 447137 or at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
NEWTON ABBOT men's first team strengthened their grip on the Division One title of the Devon league with a comprehensive 5-0 (20-2) thrashing of D&E 5 in a home match this week.
With top string Lee Curtis absent, Tom Haysom moved up to the top spot and Curtis Corby completed the line-up at five. Neither let their promotion affect them, each winning 3-0. Both Dave Brown and Nigel Bell won by the same score. John Sharpe won in five.
The gap at the top of Division One is now 35 points with three matches remaining as nearest rivals Exeter Golf and Country Club 2 lost 3-2 (14-9).
The Second team were also at home this week and won an exciting tussle 3-2 which was not decided until the final rubber.
The visitors were also from Exeter Golf and Country Club, this time their thirds.
Rob Muddiman put Newton Abbot ahead with a 3-1 win but in a fractious fourth string match, Martin Hember lost by the same score.
The pattern was repeated for the next two matches, as were the scores, with Jim Watson edging Newton ahead only for Dan Gough to lose by the same score, despite a battling 14/16 fourth.
Back for his regular team, Curtis Corby raced to a 2-0 lead only for the Exeter man to draw level. With the result depending on the final game, Corby toughed it out, winning 15/12 to give his side a hard earned win.
In the same division, the Fifths travelled to Tiverton and lost 5-0 (20-5). The points Newton Abbot earned came from 2-3 defeats to Kevin Smart and Clive Elmore ,with Jason Williams going down in four. Both Darren Mutton and Adam Smart returned empty handed.
With the promotion teams all but settled in Division Three, just the position of winners and runners up is left to be decided. Currently Kingsbridge lead Newton Abbot 4ths by three points.
Newton Abbot travelled to Crediton for a potentially tricky fixture and were pleased to return with a 4-1 (18-8) win.
Ian Davies was the only casualty on the night, losing 3-1in a tight fifth string match but a fine 3-0 win by Nick Whalley drew the visitors level. Newton then forged ahead to victory with wins from Rob Salmon, Matt Whalley and Steve Lewis. The title could well be decided by the next fixture as Newton Abbot play host to rivals Kingsbridge.
Claire Simmonds, Rose Wood and Vicki Evans, making her team debut, gave Newton Abbot Ladies seconds a 4-1 home win over Exeter University. Karen Windeatt suffered the only defeat for Newton, with the fifth string being awarded to the home side as the Students travelled with just four players.
The week's squash was completed with a fine 3-2 win for Newton Abbot Ladies racketball team, over Plymouth's Fort Stamford. The three wins came from Sue Hember, Jane Parmenter and Sally Mutton with the visitors gaining success over Rose Wood and Kathy Bissell.