LA Fitness’ squash teams have enjoyed a memorable first half of the season in the Hampshire Squash Leagues.
Of their three men’s teams, two are in serious contention for title honours as the second half of the season gets underway, while both its women’s teams are sitting pretty near the top of their divisions and in the frame for promotion.
Sponsored by Straker Simpkin of Salisbury and QA Stamps, the club are indeed enjoying a season to remember.
LA’s first team, with a powerful line-up of professional players and home grown talent, are third in the Premier Division having suffered pre-Christmas defeats against Abshot and defending champions Winchester.
But they remain a match for anyone in an exciting league which provides a regular feast of top class squash action in Salisbury.
In contrast, the club’s second team need a couple of wins to get them out of trouble. Having won promotion two years running, they are now in a highly competitive Division One and an unsettled team, due to injuries and first team commitments has not helped their cause.
But no one is dominating the table and with a number of clubs closely grouped on points, it won’t take much to propel them upwards.
A string of solid results mean LA’s men’s third team are in second place in Division Four, challenging leaders David Lloyd Southampton.
A penalty for playing two players in the wrong order cost them valuable points, but on current form, promotion is a distinct possibility with two teams going up.
Both of the club’s women’s teams have been inspirational this season.
The firsts, led by Bev Sawyer, last year’s Hampshire champion who is in contention for an England Over 35s place, are in second place, in close combat with Lee on Solent and Avenue.
Army player Chrissie Arrowsmith and Paulette Newman are both unbeaten.
The remaining three months of the season are sure to provide some excellent squash at LA Fitness as the title race is decided.
Their seconds are also in second place just behind Nuffield of Portsmouth and look to be in good shape for a promotion charge.
Julie Palmer and Fiona Downs top the averages with only one loss so far.
These are indeed exciting times for squash in Salisbury.
As well as the club’s teams doing well in the Hampshire Leagues, other players are excelling locally and nationally in a variety of competitions.
Last season Clive Ewins (Over 35s), Stuart Hardy (Over 50s) and Barry Featherstone (Over 60s) represented England in the Home Internationals.
The county’s top junior, James Ryan is nationally ranked and number one lady Bev Sawyer is close to an England cap this season.
First team players Simon White - the Wiltshire champion - and Jason Pike, both coach locally and are competing on the British Squash Professionals tour while head professional Paul Chaplin, along with associate coaches, continues to train hundreds of adults and children in the region.
For more details about playing squash in the area, contact LA Fitness on 01722 321808 or Stuart Hardy on 07515 758000.