A total of 83 juniors across Wiltshire descended onto Marlborough College on September 25th 2017 for the annual Junior Wiltshire County Closed. Chippenham was represented by Marcus Wales (U15) and Josh Bailey (U13).
The U13 for boys had the largest representation (24) of juniors across all age groups and Josh Bailey was amongst the thick of it. Albeit Josh had turned 11 just a few weeks before and therefore the youngest U13 entrant he came through the qualifying round unscathed. The final 16 qualified for the main round which meant Josh coming up against some very experienced player in the 1st round. After some closely fought games he came up just short to lose 0-2. Undeterred Josh entered the plate and with renewed energy came through the plate quarter final a comfortable 2-0. The semi-final was neck and neck with some good long rallies from both players. Josh narrowly winning 2-1. In the final Josh started to play more straight with some deceptive boasts thrown in, which his opponent found hard to counter. Josh eventually went onto win the final 2-0 with energy to spare and deservedly was crowned U13 plate winner in his first county closed.
For Marcus Wales this was his 3rd county closed and after winning the U15 title last year he was seeded 1. After relatively comfortable rounds early on he had his first tough match in the semi-final. His opponent was last year’s U13 champion who was very quick and strong and made Marcus work for his shots. Marcus eventually came through 2-0 winner to enter the final for the second year running. His opponent, James Rance, came through the early rounds and semi-final with relative ease and we all knew this would be a good final to watch. Both players had played each other before with note the Chippenham Grand Prix when Marcus just pipped James 11-10. Marcus was nervous in the first game and made some unforced errors, which were duly punished by James with some solid drop shots. James won the first game 11-7. The second game started like the first with both playing some delightful squash. Although Marcus was making less errors he couldn’t pull ahead as James was picking up every ball that Marcus threw at him. After some nail biting rallies Marcus did enough to win the second game 11-9. In the final game Marcus seem to be on fire and started to attack every shot with more vigour, variety and purpose. James was more on the back foot then and started to make more mistakes. Marcus sailed through the final game 11-1 to win 2-1 and was crowned U15 county champion for the 2nd time.
Well done to both Marcus and Josh!