Browne stuns Franklin for national title
A changing of the guard took place at the Bermuda Squash Racquets Association last night as Noah Browne upstaged top seed Micah Franklin to claim a maiden MHB National Squash Championship title at the third attempt.
The No 2 seed came from behind to prevail 7-11, 11-4, 11-4, 6-11, 11-9 in a thriller that went the distance and kept the crowd on the edge of their seats as both players fought tooth and nail for every point.
Franklin, fresh from representing Bermuda at last month’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, was the favourite to win a third successive national title and fourth overall and rightfully so after beating Browne in the previous two finals.
But Browne would not be denied on this occasion as his tremendous athleticism and mental toughness ultimately shone through.
“It has always been my dream to win a national championship and I feel like I am on top of the world to finally get it,” Browne said.
Franklin withstood a late rally to take the first game and early control of the best-of-five contest. However, Browne came roaring back to win the next two games and place himself in the driver’s seat as Franklin began to unravel with a series of uncharacteristic errors.
Facing down the barrel of defeat, Franklin showed great resolve to win the fourth game and set up and fifth and deciding game with Browne left do some soul-searching.
“I went out in the fourth one thinking I’m going to have to do it now or I’m never going to do it,” Browne said.
“After I lost that I just said obviously I wanted the pressure and stress and did it to myself so I figured if there’s any time to make it happen it’s when it’s the most pressure and stress.”
Franklin seemed to be coasting towards victory after jumping out to a 5-1 lead in the deciding game. However, Browne is made of sterner stuff these days and after pulling himself together staged a remarkable fightback to seal the deal.
“It was about managing my mental state for the majority of it,” he said. “I was up and down everywhere but I kept telling myself: ‘You can do this, you deserve to do this and you have every right to win this’.
“So that was really the key; just keeping the motivation and believing even when my legs were tired and I was really struggling to keep telling myself ‘this is yours’.”
Rachel Barnes beat Laura Robinson 11-7, 4-11, 11-3, 11-5, in the women’s final.
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