Birch crowned 2021 Coffs Harbour Squash Champion

Keelan Birch won the 2021 open in a see-saw five setter against Mark Kirstein.


COFFS Harbour Squash Club held their annual Club Championships last Sunday with Keelan Birch from Woolgoolga crowned champion after defeating Mark Kirstein in a see-saw five setter battle.

Kirstein took the first game with precision drives that had Birch scrambling into the back corners and attacking with volley drops.

Birch weathered the storm and took control in the second game, extending the rallies and forcing his opponent to lunge into all four corners.

With the match all square at two games all, Birch won the fifth 11-9 in a thrilling five setter as coach Peter Saxby explained.

“Congratulations to Keelan Birch, winning his first Open Championship in a seesawing battle with Mark Kirstein in a thrilling five games which lasted 40 minutes and kept onlookers thoroughly entertained.

“It was a fitting match to finish the championships with some typical grinding rallies and amazing recoveries and court coverage.

“Whether you were young or a senior, players enjoyed all being back on court in these unusual times, showing their support for squash and enjoyment of putting in their best efforts,” said Saxby.

Keelan grew up playing squash as a junior at Coffs Harbour Squash Club and reminisced about winning the junior open nine years ago as he paid tribute to the next generation.

“I’m really pleased to be able to win today, a great battle with Mark.

“Great to see so many juniors on court and I remember winning the juniors here in 2012, good to see the juniors improve and who knows what they can achieve and enjoy,” said Keelan.

The Walmsley brothers, Lachlan and Joshua, were among the winners with Lachlan taking the Men’s B Grade and Joshua winning the C Grade Championship.

In the Women’s C Grade Jacqui Gardner worked consistently to win a close challenge from Lorraine Woodall.

In the Junior Divisions, new players registered some very impressive results, highlighting improvements with some great efforts in matches throughout the day.

Sebastian Williams and Eden Poulava caught the attention of plenty of seniors with their developing game.

“Not to be outdone, the finals saw our youngest competitor, Bodhi Wratten, 7 years, win the Junior C Grade in four great games against Ayla Brain to claim his first championship.

“Both players played some very impressive placements which seniors marveled at, and what they can expect more of in the future.

“In the Junior B Grade division, Wyatt Brain had a tough match with Dylan Wigley before he claimed first place, winning in a tight three games,” concluded Saxby.


Open – Keelan Birch def Mark Kirstein 6-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-5, 11-9 (40m)

A Grade – Will Geddes

B Grade – Lachlan Walmsley def Barry Ford 11-2, 11-3, 11-6

C Grade – Joshua Walmsley def Lindsay McConachy, 11-4, 11-4, 11-3

Women A Grade – Jemma Wratten

Women’s C Grade – Jacqui Gardner def Lorraine Woodall 11-7, 11-7, 11-6

Junior A Grade – Lachlan Walmsley def Sebastian Williams 11-6, 11-3, 11-5

Junior B Grade – Wyatt Brain def Dylan Wigley 11-8, 11-9, 11-3

Junior C Grade – Bodhi Wratten def Ayla Brain 11-1, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7

Club Awards:

Encouragement Award: Eden Poulava

Most Improved: Sebastian Williams

Club Patron: Barry Ford

Junior Player of Year: Lachlan Walmsley

Senior Player of Year: Keelan Birch.




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