Rackets

Full report on Second Leg at Queen's

11 Nov 2008

Dudley MacDonald writes


James Stout beat the holder Harry Foster, 15/12, 15/6, to become the first professional to win the World Rackets Championship since Neil Smith in 1999. Having won the first leg by four games to one [15/10, 15/12, 12/15, 15/9,15/12 ]he took the two games he needed in just under an hours play. The rackets in the first game, which lasted just under 40 minutes, was of the highest standard, both players retrieving splendidly and returning serve so well that after 10 hands each the score had only reached eight all. Over the course of the two games Stout served 10 aces to Fosters 9. It was a notable feature of the match that there were no long runs of serve until Stout�s penultimate turn in the box in the second game, and on only one occasion each, did either Stout or Foster serve two consecutive aces.

Harry won the spin but was put straight out, �James then served an ace which must have settled any pre match tension, although his composure throughout the match was such that it seemed doubtful that he was suffering from nerves. Foster got back in at 0/2 and went to 3/2. The scores went back and forth with Harry just keeping in front until he reached 8/5, having kept Stout pointless for 4 hands. The rallies were long and punishing and although perhaps there was too much play round the walls for the purist, the retrieving by both players was superb, although it should be noted that whenever either player took the opportunity to hit the ball straight down the wall on either flank he invariably won the point. At this stage it seemed that the Champion might be going to make his experience count. Stout has much less exposure at the senior level, after winning his second Foster Cup in 2001 went onto the professional squash circuit in North America only winning his� first rackets tournament, the Western Open, in 2006.

Stout in his turn had the best of the next exchanges going to an 11/8 lead in three hands. The rallies continued to be demanding both players retrieving heroically. Harry reached 10/11 with 2 service aces but James now looked to have more in reserve and put Harry out with lovely semi drop return of serve. He went to 12/10, then 13/11, 14/11 before taking the game with an ace. James was always in charge of what proved to be the last game taking a 3/0 then 4/0 lead before Harry got back to 3/4. Stout then went to 7/3, Foster back in served 2 aces to reach 5/7. Stout now made the longest service run of the match going to 14/7 in one hand. Although the defending Champion saved the first match point and won one more point Stout made no mistakes with his second Championship point to become the youngest World Champion since James Male 20 years earlier.


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