Scotland’s Alan Clyne and Harry Leitch came their closest yet to winning a Commonwealth Games medal, missing out on the Bronze medal, by the tightest of margins, in two sets to England’s Daryl Selby and James Willstrop.
The Scots’ 11-9 11-7 defeat at the hands of the higher seeded pair came after a long, bruising battle. Rallies were long, punishing and physical. At one point Clyne has his visor smashed from the backswing from his opponent’s racket.The match had everything the packed, mainly Scottish crowd could have dreamt of...except victory for the home pair who desperately wanted to medal this time, having finished fourth in the Delhi Games four years ago.
“We came here for a medal,” said Leitch straight after. “We came fourth last time, we have put in four years of incredibly hard work and it’s absolutely gutting to finish fourth.We tried to play relatively exciting squash, we tried to play our game but we just fell short again.
“There were lots of long rallies and we tried to be as positive as we could but these guys kept the ball pretty tight. They know how to manipulate the court, but we hit some good shots and there was just a little slip here and there. We can be proud of the effort and we are certainly very thankful for the support we’ve had from Team Scotland and the general public.”
The Scots had established a two point lead on three occasions in the first half of the opening game but the momentum changed at 7-5. England closed the gap then stayed ahead to take the first game 11-9.
The margins were tighter still in the second game. The Scots came back from 3-5 down to 5-5 then went ahead 6-5. But two fine drop shots from the English in the next three points helped them reach 7-7 and after that they won the next four points.
“It’s hard to remember all the little points that occurred,” said Clyne. “There wasn’t much between the teams and in doubles there are such small margins that it can swing one way and another. Unfortunately on this occasion it swung towards them.”
The question on everybody’s mind is will the pair stay together for another go at a medal when the Games return to Australia in four years’ time. Of course it’s too early to say and the pair plan to sit down with coach Roger Flynn for a proper debrief.
What is certain is that the Glasgow Games gave squash its best opportunity ever to take centre stage in front of the Scottish public, who gave the home players an experience they will never forget.
“The overwhelming feeling right now is disappointment not to be able to get that medal in front of a fantastic crowd,” said Clyne. It’s been a great arena, a fantastic atmosphere, a great place to play and I don’t know if I will be able to play again in somewhere like this. I definitely won’t with this level of support.”
Photo Credit: Jeff Holmes