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Deja Vu in Debbie Fortune Estate Agents – Race of Champions 2019

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The 2019 show began; it started with a bang and ended with a whimper! This year Debbie Fortune Estate Agents are the sponsors for Chew Valley Squash Club’s series of 5 tournaments which includes the Super Series Final that will be held towards the end of the year.


And what a start to the Race of Champions! Series 1 was another successful event. There were 10 entrants to the Race of Champions with players traveling from other clubs from across the Avon County squash area and beyond.


And what a start to the Race of Champions! Series 1 was another successful event.


The format for Series 1 in 2019’s Debbie Fortune Estate Agents’ Race of Champions was slightly different in format to last year in order to give players more games and to make the tournament even more competitive. In the qualifying stage there were 2 groups of 5 with the 1st and second placed going into the main tournament semi-finals and 3rd place into the plate competition.


The first day of the tournament, the preliminary group stage, witnessed some amazing encounters, and probably some of the best squash of the whole tournament. Clearly starting the tournament with a bang!


In Group A Tom Spencer took on Ricardo Paredes. Tom has made significant improvements over the year and he caught Ricardo by surprise who had to raise the level in order to win; final score, 9/5 – 9/7 to Ricky. Tom then needed a big win if he had any chance of getting into the semi-finals so he gave it all he had against Steve Wakefield (Winner of both Series 1 & 4 in 2018). What a match it was! Tom had 3 set points but Steve managed to pull another victory out of the bag and seal the encounter 11/9 –10/8. However, the best drama was yet to come. Chew Squash’s own, Ricardo Paredes up against Corsham’s Steve Wakefield. No-one would have put money on the outcome of this game; the odds were heavily stacked in favour of Steve – winner of 2 of the 4 series in 2018 plus being the Runner Up in the Super Series Final in 2018 too. The result was a real turn up for the books. The first game was awesome with both players neck and neck. Ricky managed to nick it 10/9. What would game 2 bring? Well to everyone’s surprise Ricky dominated and ran out a 2-0 winner by taking the second game 9/1 – a really powerful performance which boded well for the finals! As if that wasn’t surprise enough, what would have been the biggest surprise almost came from the match between Sue Roberts and Ricardo Paredes. Sue had 2 match points in the 3rd set to taste victory but luckily for Ricardo, with a change of tactics, he managed to pull back and win 7/9 – 9/4 - 10/8.


In Group B there were also some thrilling encounters; Richard Nichol v Dan Spinney ended 9/6 – 9/7 for Rich but Dan made sure that he had to fight all the way. Another great battle again involved Dan Spinney but this time against Brian Pate. It was a match full of drama and exciting points with both players fighting hard to get not only the tournament win but also the club level rivalry and bragging rights! Dan managed to win in 3 sets, 9/5 – 5/9 – 9/4. Great match to watch!


So, after 20 matches the Group stages were completed with the Top 2 of each group moving straight into the Semi-Finals and the 3rd of each Group to play the Plate Final.


The first Semi-Final was Dan Spinney v Ricardo Paredes, with a final score of 3/9 - 3/9 - 5/9; a pretty routine win for Ricky. In the other Semi-Final, Richard Nichol faced Steve Wakefield in a thrilling encounter full of drama and nail-biting moments. Steve, once again, got the better of Rich and reached the Final after 5 long sets! 5/9 – 10/8 – 7/9 – 9/4 – 5/9.


The Plate Final was next up and it was between Andy Fountain, from Chew Valley Squash Club, and Iain Locke, from Keynsham. Both players with very similar game styles and looks made this Final very enjoyable to watch! The match could easily have gone either way but Andy put on a bit more pressure by accelerating the pace of the game and won 9/11 – 9/4 – 9/0 – 9/2.


The final of the Debbie Fortune Estate Agents’ Race of Champions 2019, Series 1 was played between Steve Wakefield (Corsham) v Ricardo Paredes (CVSC). Ricky had been on fire and beaten Steve in the group stages and so local hopes were high for a Chew Valley Squash Club Champion in the opening series of this years’ tournament. However, the defeat to Ricardo in the Group stage by 2 sets to love, had given Steve a wake-up call. Steve clearly went on court with a new game plan which he executed to perfection and he didn’t give Ricardo a chance to get into the game. In addition, Ricky had brain-freeze (his own words!), he seemed overawed and a bit like a rabbit caught in headlights. Not the final that the crowd wanted to watch; Steve totally outplayed Ricardo and won 9/1 – 9/1 – 9/3.


So, the winner of the Debbie Fortune Estate Agents’ Race of Champions 2019, Series 1 is Steve Wakefield and the Plate Winner – Andy Fountain.

This is déjà vu. Steve won Series 1 in 2018 only to go on to be beaten in the Super Series Final in an epic battle against John Thompson – will history repeat itself again; we’ll see!


The Debbie Fortune Estate Agents’ Race of Champions Series 2 will be played on the 26th and 27th April 2019.

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