KNUTSFORD Squash Club are on a roll.

A new coach has settled in, facilities have gone up a level and membership is enjoying a growth spurt.

Last year was a hugely significant one.

The large investment by the club on two new glass-backed courts is starting to pay dividends as the courts are acknowledged by many as two of the finest in the north west and are testament to the lofty ambitions at Mereheath Lane.

Knutsford also benefited from the appointment of a new coach in the form of Jules Abbas-Silvera, who has implemented regular coaching sessions for all age groups.

Twenty juniors are regularly attending his structured sessions, while coaching is also available for adults and is well-attended by a large range of adult players of varying abilities.

The closure of nearby Alderley Park Squash Club in 2019 created an opportunity for Knutsford and a number of new members have joined the club as a result, bolstering playing numbers and enabling the formation of a women's team and seven men’s teams for the 2019-2020 season.

North West Counties squash action is back underway after a festive break, with all eight Knutsford teams having fixtures.

Frustratingly for the women's first team, City of Manchester Seconds couldn’t field a team and Knutsford were duly awarded a 19-0 walkover victory.

Knutsford are currently in second place in Cheshire Ladies Division Two with promotion high on their minds.

Since their formation at the start of the season, they have won nine and lost only one match.

They take the half-season accolade for most successful team by quite a stretch.

For the men, strength and depth across all teams was significantly boosted by the presence of the club’s Bristol University contingent – George Keeble, James Woods and Tom Woods – who were still home for their Christmas holidays.

This meant Knutsford were able to field arguably their strongest ever first and second teams.

For the firsts, away at Brooklands, strong wins for the aforementioned players at strings 1, 2 and 4 ensured a third victory of the season by the scoreline 16-9.

With it, they are lifted off the foot of Division Two East.

Survival in this extremely tough division is a major priority for the club in 2020.

The second team gained a straightforward full points victory in Division Three South East away to bottom-placed Brooklands Thirds, with Simon Langley, Charles Keeble, Simon Morrison, Graham Woods and Ewen Macdonald all despatching their opponents without conceding a single game between them, for a 20-0 victory.

The seconds are in the hunt for promotion to Division Two next season, only a handful of points behind Tollgate.

The thirds, also in Division Three South East, faced a home tie against a strong Bowdon Fourths.

Four out of the five matches went to five games, with Pete Ceuppens and John Burke emerging victorious for the home side.

Dave Waring (#1), Mark Strefford (#2) and Greg Marshall (#5) were all unlucky to go down 3-2 in the narrowest of defeats.

A 17-12 victory resulted for Bowdon on the night, which could have easily gone the other way had match balls been successfully converted.

The thirds remain mid-table at the halfway point in the season.

The fourths, playing in Division Four South East, lost 17-8 at Stockport, with Dave O’Brien (#3) and John Ward (#5) pulling out decent wins and Simon Hopkinson (#4) going down 3-2.

The final scoreline doesn’t reflect how close this match was – victory for Stockport was by the margin of a single game.

The fifths travelled to their equivalents at Bowdon, losing 20-5.

Ian Hopkin (#3) and Matt Roberts (#5) both got two games in their matches.

Currently sitting at 12th in their division, the fifths will need a good second half to ensure safety.

Similarly the sixths struggled at home to Bollington Thirds, with Jessie Clutterbrook getting a solitary consolation game in their 21-1 defeat.

The seventh team took on Stockport Seconds in Division Five Central with Pete Webborn emerging as the only victor, playing at first string.

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