Isle of Man Squash Rackets Association sent a team to Gibraltar to enter the European Squash Championships recently.

The team consisted of Nathan Mead, Oscar Hill, Patrick Fitzpatrick, Malcolm Levy, Harvey Douglas and manager Les Callow.

There were 15 men’s and 11 women’s teams from all over Europe taking part in the competition.

In the men’s event, the sides were split into four pools to play a round robin for the first two days with the top two in each group progressing to the quarter-finals. The Isle of Man was grouped with Greece, Luxembourg and Slovakia.

The Manx team got off to a great start on the first day by beating Greece 3-1. Douglas, who was still a junior the day before the competition started, was the only loser but showed that he is a rising star in the island squad.

Next the Isle of Man came up against a very strong team from Slovakia. Mead proved his prowess by beating the Slovakian number one, while Hill at number two narrowly lost out in the fifth set by three points and, although Fitzpatrick and Levy played well, the islanders lost 3-1.

The following day, the Isle of Man team faced Luxembourg. Again Mead won while both Levy and Fitzpatrick played great squash but were beaten in two very close matches.

The Manx team lost 3-1 to Luxembourg and finished third in their group, which meant that the team could then only play for ninth to 12th place in the overall standings.

In the play-offs the team first met Croatia but luck was not on their side. Despite playing great squash, Mead lost a thrilling match 16-14 in the fifth set.

Fitzpatrick and Levy also took their opponents to five sets only to lose by a couple of points. The overall result was 3-1 to Croatia.

Thus on the last morning, the Isle of Man played Greece again for 11th and 12th place. Although the team had beaten Greece in the round robin match, this time they were without number two player Hill who had to return home because of work commitments.

Douglas got the chance to represent his country for only the second time at senior level. He played strongly but his more experienced opponent won a very close match 3-0.

Tired legs after playing four matches in two days proved the deciding factor in the other matches, with Mead being the only winner for the Isle of Man. At 21 years old, he will certainly be a force to be reckoned with as he starts his professional career.

The Isle of Man team finished a very creditable 12th ahead of other small nations like Gibraltar and Guernsey.

The island team would like to thank Isle of Man Squash Rackets Association, the Isle of Man Sports Council for their support and Global Monetary Solutions for its sponsorship of the playing shirts.