Mark Talbott continued his mastery over Ned Edwards last night in the final of the Chivas Regal Squash Classic.
Twice in their last four meetings, Talbott defeated Edwards by one point in the fifth set. Last night, Edwards did not even win a set.
Talbott, the No. 1 seed, defeated Edwards, the second seed, 17-15, 15-12, 15-14, in just under an hour to win his second straight title at the Capitol Hill Squash and Nautilus Club. It was the fifth straight time Talbott has beaten Edwards.
"We're just so close that a lot of it depends on who's feeling good on that particular day," Talbott said. "I try and not mess around too much in the front court because he has such good deep shots and power."
Tied at 9 in the first set, Edwards hit an easy forehand off the tin tell tale (a 17-inch strip of tin across the bottom of the front wall). It would not be the last time that the tin would undo Edwards.
After Talbott put away a forehand, Edwards hit a forehand beneath the tin, giving Talbott a 12-9 lead. A crisp forehand winner followed by a backhand drop shot enabled Edwards to reach 14-all. At that point, Talbott, as the first player to 14, utilized his right to call "set three," meaning that he wanted the match to be decided on a best three-of-five-points series.
Edwards won the first with a cross-court backhand putaway just out of Talbott's reach. Then Edwards faltered, hitting the tin with three straight shots, giving the set to Talbott, 17-15.
"On the real tight points, I like to go deep to his forehand," Talbott said. "He's got such brilliant shots with his backhand."
Edwards, relying more on finesse than in the first set, recovered from his malaise and went out to an 8-4 second-set lead on three Talbott errors and a beautiful reverse corner shot.
The next point was perhaps the best of the evening. After more than over 20 shots, Talbott dove for a drop shot, raced toward the back wall, ducked Edwards' forehand drive and hit a winner off the forehand side.
Frustrated, Edwards made four consecutive unforced errors, and Talbott led, 9-8. Ahead, 13-12, Talbott hit a backhand angle winner. On set point, Edwards, slammed a backhand off the tin.
Trailing, 9-6, in the third set, Edwards rallied for four straight points, the last a forehand nick that practically rolled along the floor. After Talbott hit a backhand off the tin, Edwards led, 13-11. Edwards hit the tin with a forehand and a backhand, then couldn't quite get to Talbott's tough angle shot.
After Talbott missed an overhead -- with the score tied at 14 -- Edwards served at match point. An exhausting exchange ended when Edwards hit a shot over the top line, giving Talbott the $3,000 first prize. Edwards earned $2,100 for second place.