MARK Hildred had to come from two games down to be crowned Boston Squash and Racketball Club’s club champion... his 23rd consecutive title.
He beat Chris Clements in a five-set thriller as the club’s season came to a climax.
The annual club championships are always a popular event, and a good crowd gathered for the finals, at which Rusty Wright was named most improved player of the season.
The racketball finals started the evening off.
In the over 45s competition, Bob Pearson played a very steady and effective game to defeat Stuart Dunlop 3-0, to become the first winner of this new event.
This was followed by the main racketball final, in which Jon Hull defeated Gary Fitzsimmons.
Jon won the first game comfortably 11-4, as Gary was probably feeling the effects of a very hard-fought semi-final victory on the Friday night against defending champion Ady Proctor.
Gary fought back in the next two, but Jon proved just too strong, winning out 11-8, 11-8 to record a 3-0 victory and his first racketball championship.
There was also an excellent final in the racketball over 45 plate competition, in which John Payne eventually overcame Mick Merrison 6-11, 11-1, 10-12,11-4, 11-5.
The main racketball plate competition was won by Gary Williamson, who triumphed over Dave Parsons 3-0.
The first squash final was the junior event, in which Jamie Adams overcame the very promising youngster Sam Booth 11-5,11-6, 11-1.
Both juniors have improved tremendously in the last year, and Sam put up a very creditable performance, with many years left to better his runner up position.
Next on court was the over 55s final, in which Bob Pearson swapped rackets to take on hot favourite Dave Stones in his first year of this particular category.
Despite fighting hard, Bob was not able to match his previous racketball success, and Dave ran out a comfortable winner 9-2, 9-4, 9-3.
It was then time for Dave’s second final of the evening against Mark Hildred, in the over 45s championship.
Dave put up an excellent performance with some impressive winners, but Mark remained in control of his game to run out a 9-6, 9-3, 9-5 winner to retain his title.
Mark then had to go straight on court to play a pumped up Ady Proctor in the over 35s final.
Mark won the first game 9-3, but Ady hit back playing some very effective and forceful squash to win the next game 9-2, before racing into a 7-2 lead in the third game.
An upset looked on the cards, but Mark dug in and gradually clawed his way back to win the third game 9-7, in what was a very long and closely-fought game.
That provided a spur for Mark to go on and win the fourth game 9-0, to retain the over 35s title.
In the meantime, the age group squash plates were being played, again with some very good competitive squash.
John Neal won the combined over 45/55s plate, defeating Paul Kavanagh by three games to one.
Fitzsimmons then recovered from his racketball final to defeat Sean Walsh by three games to one in the over 35s plate final.
The main plate final proved to be a really hard-fought and interesting encounter between the experienced Phil Wright and improving Patrick Hildred.
Phil proved too skillful in the first two games, racing into a two nil lead, but Patrick determinedly fought his way back onto level terms before winning the fifth game 9-6 to take the plate event.
The women’s final was a repeat of the final for the previous few years.
Tina Favell had played a couple of plate semi-finals, and certainly put in a good performance against the strong favourite Ruth Simpson.
However, in an enjoyable game, Ruth proved too strong - running out the winner by 9-4, 9-7, 9-3.
The main event, the men’s squash final, was a repeat of last year’s final as Mark Hildred met Chris Clements.
Chris’ performance in the first two games was exceptional, showing pace and variety.
Mark appeared to be showing the effects of two games just before the final.
Chris’ play was just too strong, as he won the first two games 9-2, 9-1, and looked set to end Hildred’s string of 22 consecutive club championships.
However, Mark was not going to give in easily, and managed to claw his way back, coming from behind to claim victory.
The club has reached two Lincolnshire Cup Finals, the mixed Kesteven Cup final and the County Over 35s Cup final, which are to be played at Metheringham later in the month and in early May.
The season then extends even further for the over 35s side, who have reached the national club championship semi-finals at Nottingham on June 9.