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Busy March culminates with Flores and Moreno winning squash’s GibYellow Nationals

A jam-packed March schedule for the Gibraltar Squash Association saw the Europa Sports Park courts utilised for both local and international events. The month started with a training camp run by elite players to improve the standards of players from across Europe and North America, including eight of Gibraltar’s. The camp was run by elite level coaches, with ex world number one, James Willstrop, giving a masterclass. All the students had the opportunity to play a game against Willstrop, and he proved why he remains such an important player on the tour by convincingly beating all challengers!
The training session was followed by the club League Cup, where teams were pitched against each other to determine whether Premier League champions, Zmar AV, could continue their impressive form this year, or whether another team could take top spot. True to previous form, Zmar AV progressed to the final where they faced last year’s champions, Safety Solutions. Steven Shacaluga and Chris Dunckley gave Safety Solutions a good lead winning the first two of the five matches, but Mike Da Silva and Alex Ellwood managed to level the match with solid victories. The match was decided in a nail-biting final between Rob Hamilton (Zmar AV) and Liam Roche (Safety Solutions). Roche took the first two games 14-12, 11-9 but Hamilton fought back to win the next two games 14-12, 11-8. The league cup was to be decided in the final game of the final match. The game swung between the two players with Roche inching ahead, but a strong comeback in the latter part of the game from Hamilton won the game, the match and the league cup for Zmar AV.
The team League Cup was followed by the individual GibYellow Nationals, with players battling to win the title of top Gibraltarian player. In the Men’s division, world veterans champion, Ivan Flores, looked to defend his crown, whilst Leanne Moreno also looked to retain the title that she took for the first time last year.
The first final was for the Vintage category for players over 55. Rob Hamilton beat Denis Clinton in a dominant performance to take the crown 11-6, 11-2, 11-4. This was followed by the over 45 Veterans category, where Steven Shacaluga faced Justin Chipolina. Shacaluga started strongly in the first game, winning convincingly 11-3. Whilst Chipolina improved for the next two games, it was insufficient to stop Shacaluga claiming the Veteran crown 11-3, 11-6, 11-5.
The Heather Duez Women’s trophy saw an excellent battle between title holder, Leanne Moreno, and Hayley Duez. Moreno took the first game in a closely fought battle 11-8, but Duez came back in the second to draw the game level. Moreno responded well to the comeback and produced a strong result in the third game winning 11-4, but Duez again managed to level up with an excellent game winning 11-6. The Women’s title was decided in the final game by a strong performance from Moreno, taking the game 11-6.
The Glen Pearce Men’s trophy saw a repeat of last year’s final with title holder Ivan Flores taking on Christian Navas. A highly entertaining game of squash in which both players showed exceptional stamina, accuracy and anticipation gave the watching crowd plenty to cheer! A tight first game went to a tie break with Flores inching Navas out 13-11. Flores continued to apply the pressure on Navas with a very strong second game, taking the second 11-4. Navas improved in the third but was unable to deny Flores the title, Flores winning 13-11, 11-4, 11-8. - C.D.

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