Noah Browne holds off spirited Micah Franklin to successfully retain crown
Noah Browne overcame a courageous fightback by Micah Franklin to retain his National Squash Championships title at the Bermuda Squash Racquets Association last night.
The No 1 seed was forced to dig deep before finally seeing off No 2 seed Franklin 11-9, 11-7, 10-12, 10-12, 11-5 in a thrilling Men’s Open final that went the distance to clinch a third successive title.
Both players gave it everything they had as they battled hard for every point and entertained the crowd with some thrilling rallies that dragged as they tried to establish dominance on Court No 2.
Browne won the opening two games to seize early control.
However, Franklin rallied and won the next two games to extend the match to a fifth and deciding game, where Brown’s mental toughness and fitness ultimately proved pivotal.“I was really hoping it wasn’t going to go the distance,” Browne said. “Micah showed just how strong a competitor he is.“He’s got so much heart. He never stops and he played really amazing the next couple of games and tested me and made it as hard as it could’ve been.
“I was really happy to kind of survive that and get through it, so I’m super pleased with it. It was a great match.”
Browne saved his best for last as he reeled off five straight points to take a commanding 6-2 lead in the fifth and deciding game as Franklin simply ran out of steam.
“I just tried to do my thing,” Browne added. “I got out there and locked in and that did enough for me.”
Browne lost his cool at times after a few officiating calls went against him with the game hanging in the balance.
“Some of those are tactical disagreements,” he said. “But I try and fuse that energy of the disagreement, that sort of anger it gives me, and channel that into something productive in the next point and I’m usually able to do it.
“I was OK with it. I let myself have a little emotional reaction every now and then just to sort of keep pushing the energy in my direction.”
Browne conceded he had some concerns after Franklin levelled the match two games apiece.
“I was a little bit afraid of that,” he added. “But I felt like I had put the work in to his legs and I was going to be able to tough it out in that fifth one. I felt surprisingly OK in the body at that time.
“It was a little bit nerve-racking but it’s about staying mentally strong. I believed that I could do it and that kept me going in that fifth one.”
Meanwhile, a changing of the guard took place in the Women’s Open final as No 3 seed Emma Keane upset two-times defending champion and No 1 seed Rachel Barnes.
The 25-year-old prevailed 11-8, 7-11, 11-7, 11-3 to clinch a maiden title at the first attempt.
“It’s surreal and I’m so grateful to be back here playing and to have such a great crowd,” Keane said. “I could not have asked for a better set up for it.”
The City University of London student seized early momentum after winning the opening game reasonably comfortably.
“The first game I wasn’t really thinking too much,” she added. “I was trying to ease into it and get the length in, get a feel for the court.
“We went back and forth on points so that took awhile and I was quite lucky to get that first one that gave me a little bit of momentum.”
The momentum shifted in the second game which Barnes won to even the match at a game apiece.
“Rachel is such a great player that even if you are two games up you cannot take your foot off the pedal because she will fight back, which she did in the second game,” Keane added.
Keane regained the lead for good after winning the third game and then turned it up a notch to seal the deal more emphatically in the fourth, where she conceded only three points.
“Third game I had a bit of a reset,” she said. “I was just working point to point and just focused on the next one.
“I felt better going in to the fourth one. Usually if you’re 2-1 or 2-0 down you come out swinging with everything you have, which Rachel definitely did.
“I just kind of had to keep my head, keep my focus and again play the game that I set out to play.”
Noah Browne bt Micah Franklin 11-9, 11-7, 10-12, 10-12, 11-5
Men’s Open Plate
Armin De Weerdt bt Nick Leach 11-7, 11-4, 11-3
Men’s Classic Plate
Anthony Fellowes bt Stephen Smith 2-11, 11-7, 11-7, 4-11, 11-4
Emma Keane bt Rachel Barnes 11-8, 7-11, 11-7, 11-3
John Fletcher bt Thomas Sherratt 11-8, 11-3, 11-7
Men’s Over-45 Classic Plate
Rhys Puddy bt Robert Simpson 12-10, 11-9, 13-11
Men’s Over-45 Plate
Greg Fitzgerald bt Brian Rosorea 11-6, 11-7, 11-6
Shannon Mann bt Suzanne Rose 16-14, 11-3, 11-7
Women’s Over-40 Plate
Jennifer Bielby bt Asa Zuill 11-6, 11-7, 11-9
Eugene Bothello bt Jan Brewer 9-11, 11-7, 13-11, 4-11, 11-9
Men’s Over-55 Plate
Tony Riker bt John Stout 11-4, 11-4, 11-1
Men’s Over-55 Classic Plate
Jeffrey Ingelman bt Edwin Wickham 11-9, 3-11, 11-6, 11-7
Suzanne Rose bt Jennifer Bielby 11-5, 11-0, 11-5
Women’s B Plate
Renée Parker bt Asa Zuill 11-8, 8-11, 11-6, 11-5
Elijah Simmons bt Jeffrey Ingelman 11-5, 11-7, 11-5
Men’s B Plate
Jamie Ball bt Brett Murray 11-6, 11-5, 11-8
Men’s B Bronze Plate
Nick Southern bt Sam Dallas 11-13, 13-11, 11-2, 11-6