Birmingham Women’s 2nd leapfrogged Oxford University Women’s 1st in the Squash BUCS League this week after out-classing the visitors, 3 matches to 1. It was a dominant performance from the hosts, Birmingham, playing in the venue of the FISU World University Squash Championship.
The first match saw Oxford’s Laura Neill take on UoB’s Cassie Green. Green – struggling with illness – played valiantly, but unfortunately, lost the first two games 8-11 and 3-11. But Green, who refused to surrender, fought back and controlled most of the third game, until some well-placed shots brought Neill back into the contest. This crucial comeback allowed her to finally win, 7-11.
A riveting second match followed on the neighbouring court between Birmingham’s Anna Wood and Isabel Chalmers of Oxford. Wood, despite the relentless contestant in Chalmers, played heroically, winning all three of her games, 14-12, 11-8 and 11-2. The opening game, as evident from the score, was a close, well balanced game with Chalmers fighting back after a losing start. But Wood proved too difficult an adversary, with some top-quality cross-court shots helping her in all three of her victories.
Katie Shaoul of Birmingham bossed her games against Oxford’s Alethea Lee. Shaoul’s composure against a tough opponent was indisputable. Despite a nail-biting start, with the points alternating equally between the two, Shaoul remained calm and, with some impressive boasts, went on to win her opener 11-5. Lee remained a well-matched challenger, winning more points in this game than the first. However, Katie remained dominant throughout, winning the next two games 11-8 and 11-6.
A win for Birmingham in the next match would mean a team victory for the hosts against Oxford, and that’s exactly what Georgina Jackson Steele of UoB secured with a thrilling triplet of games. Oxford’s Katherine Kidd was certainly a worthy rival for Jackson Steele, giving her a run for her money in all three games. Georgina’s imposing back-hand was crucial in her 12-10, 11-9 and 11-7 victories.
A compelling victory for Birmingham this week has added to the excitement of next week’s fixture against Nottingham Women’s 2nd who, at the start of this week were top of the table. We wish them the best of luck going forward, with what I’m sure will be a positive season.