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Berkshire Open 2010
06-11 Apr, Williamstown, MA, Usa, $25k
20-Apr, Final:
Boswell bags Berkshire crown ...
David Johnson reports, photos from Seth Packard

A packed house was treated to a wonderful display of squash and sportsmanship this afternoon in the finals of the 2010 True North Berkshire Open, as the tourney’s top two seeds, Alister Walker and Stewart Boswell, squared off to decide the title. Neither had been seriously threatened on their way to the final, and for those following the tournament carefully, this match-up had been anticipated since day one of the tournament. They were not to be disappointed.

The contrast in styles was readily apparent from the first point on, as the fluid, graceful, lithe movement of Alister matched up evenly against the tall, lanky, angularity of Stewart: one player darting, stretching and dodging around the court; and the other, holding the T at all costs—stretching or volleying to cut the ball off—only going to the back wall when Alister’s rails were as tight as wallpaper (and they often were!) or if his cross court angle carried the ball just out of reach.

And, the stroking? Superb for both—but quite different. Alister’s supple wrist—his hand as loose as can be and still hold the racquet (just with his fingers!), cradling and carving the ball like an artist with his brush. And, Stewart—a strong grip, wielding the racquet with the precision of a surgeon guiding his scalpel—the racquet head a pendulum swinging identically through its path time-after-time..

Game one to Stewart in overtime, 12-10. The play was back and forth; an early 5-2 Boswell lead disappeared quickly to 5-5 and from that point, the two traded back and forth points all the way to 12-10. Game two was all Alister, with his movement now up-tempo and his touch producing lovely, soft straight-drops and tantalizing lobs way up there! It seemed as if he had found the answer to Stewart’s position ball and precise ball control; the twisting and turning taking its toll of Boswell’s ability to recover his balance quickly enough to move for the next ball. An 11-2 wipe-out—in just a matter of minutes!—looked to have turned the tide in Walker’s favor.

But, then?

Two relatively routine games—and the title!—to Boswell, 11-7, 11-4. What was the difference? A subtle one of tempo and control to be sure. Perhaps just a slight tinge of fatigue for Walker; and, for certain crisp, beautifully weighted hitting down the rails for Boswell—nearly every ball to perfect length or width. Each point following a similar script: Boswell gradually pushing Walker farther and farther out of position until a well-executed straight drop or drive would put the finishing touch on the point. A chess master closing carefully and calculatingly for mate by playing to a succession of checks.

Warm and generous applause greeted both players as they emerged from the court post-handshake, followed by: recognition of the Head Referee, Brad Burke; the introduction of the True North Vice-President Rob Abel and his appropriate sponsor remarks and thanks to Tournament Director Zafi Levy; trophy and check presentations; and, heartfelt thanks and articulate observations from each player.

The bottom line: Stewart Boswell over Alister Walker, 12-10, 2-11, 11-7, 11-4 in 62 minutes, for the 2010 True North Berkshire Open title.

Berkshire Open 2010
06-11 Apr, Williamstown, MA, Usa, $25k
Round One
08 Apr, from 13.00
09 Apr
10 Apr
11 Apr
[1] Alister Walker (Eng)
11-7, 11-5, 11-5 (39m)
Ryan Thompson (Nam)
[1] Alister Walker
6/11, 11/8, 11/6, 11/6 (50m)
[6] Gilly Lane
[1] Alister Walker

12-10, 11-7, 11-2 (40m)

[4] Joey Barrington

[1] Alister Walker

12-10, 2-11, 11-7, 11-4 (62)

[2] Stewart Boswell

[6] Gilly Lane (Usa)
11-9, 11-4, 11-9 (44m)
[Q] Tom Pashley (Eng)
[4] Joey Barrington (Eng)
11-4, 11-6, 11-9
Scott Arnold (Aus)
[4] Joey Barrington
11-7, 11-13, 11-6, 11-7 (81m)
[7] Robbie Temple
[7] Robbie Temple (Eng)
8-11 12-10 9-11 11-7 11-6 (73m)
[Q] Bradley Hindle (Mlt)
[Q] Shawn Delierre (Can)
3/1 (55m)
[8] Jan Koukal (Cze)
[Q] Shawn Delierre
9-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-8 (79m)
[3] Miguel Angel Rodriguez
[Q] Shawn Delierre

11-8, 11-6, 11-4 (25m)

[2] Stewart Boswell

[Q] Olivier Pett (Eng)
11-8, 11-8, 11-6 (38m)
[3] Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col)
Zac Alexander (Aus)
11-9, 11-7, 11-5 (46m)
[5] Julien Balbo (Fra)
[5] Julien Balbo
11/2, 11/6, 11/7 (30m)
[2] Stewart Boswell
David Phillips (Can)
11-6, 11-6 rtd (16m)
[2] Stewart Boswell (Aus)

07-Apr, Qualifying Finals:

Bradley Hindle bt Tyler Hamilton           11-5, 11-8, 11-5 (35m)
Tom Pashley bt Lewis Walters               4-11, 11-4, 11-6, 5-11, 11-8 (75m)
Olivier Pett bt James Snell                    11-7, 10-12, 11-6, 11-3 (55m)
Shawn Delierre bt Wade Johnstone        11-6, 11-5, 7-11, 9-11, 11-7 (58m)

06-Apr, Qualifying Round One:

Bradley Hindle bt Fred Reid                11-9 11-3 11-9
Tyler Hamilton bt Paul Mathieson        11-5 11-5 12-10

Tom Pashley bt Joseph Ehalen           11-3 11-3 11-5
Lewis Walters bt Graham Bassett       12-14 11-5 11-5 9-11 11-5

Olivier Pett bt Matt Serediak               11-9 11-4 11-5
James Snell bt Luke Forster               11-8 11-2 11-6

Shawn Delierre bt Neil Hitchens         9-11 11-7 11-9 11-9
Wade Johnstone bt Josh Cardwell      6-11 11-6 11-9 11-7

  2005 Event    2006 Event    2007 Event     2009 Event

19-Apr, Semis:
Top seeds make Berkshire final ...
David Johnson reports, photos from Seth Packard

The first game proved to be the decider as top seed Alister Walker met fourth seed Joey Barrington in the first semi-final encounter in the 2010 True North Berkshire Open.

Alister nursed a small lead to game ball at 10-8 only to have Joey tie it up at 10-10, but two short rallies later, Alister had hit one ball to great length and played another short that left Joey standing flat-footed.

It was all the momentum Alister needed, and coupled with what seemed to be a tweaked hamstring of Joey’s right leg, the match got away from him quickly.

The second semi paired number two seed, Stewart Boswell, against qualifier Shawn Delierre, but Shawn could not produce another magical upset, or maybe it was just that Stewart was too precise and too consistent in imposing his style on the match-up.

Stewart established his tactically sound strategy from the get-go and then executed to perfection, pinning Sean deep in the corners and then moving him up front with tight-to-the-wall drops. Left with too few opportunities to get clean swings at balls and no license from Head Referee, Brad Burke, to indulge in his tactically-based let calling, Sean fell meekly in 25 minutes.

When asked if not be challenged in route to the finals might be a problem in terms of sharpness and match toughness, Stewart commented:

“It’s been great for my legs and my health to have had a relatively easy path to the finals, but I’ll have to be ready to step it up big-time in the next round against an opponent  who soundly trounced me the last time we played.”

09-Apr, Quarters:
Delierre sails into semis ...
David Johnson reports, photos from Seth Packard

AIn a match-up of similar styles and tempo of play, the veteran of this English duo, Joey Barrington, wore down his younger-by-seven years opponent, Robbie Temple. After an hour of squash the lads had only split the first two games—11-7 to Joey and then 13-11 to Robbie—and with little to choose between them in terms of style and tempo, it looked to be a long evening of hard hitting and amazing court coverage.

Fitness never became an issue, but court position and accuracy were, as Robbie let slide his ability to maintain focus and discipline in sustaining a quality level of play, dropping the final two stanzas: 11-6, 11-7. Match time: 81 minutes.

The second game was crucial, but I stepped up my play in the third and fourth – I volleyed a lot more. It was a brutal match, around an hour and forty minutes, and Robbie is a great opponent; he’s got a great game and a great future. I was very happy to make it through to the semis.

 I felt a little uncomfortable out there on the court – we had some tough conditions with both the court and the ball that required some adjustment. I tried to play safe by hitting length and avoiding tins, but I don’t think I did a very good job. Joey was able to handle the conditions and the pressure better.

Shawn Delierre continued his upset run in the 2010 Berkshire Open this evening by upending world ranked #30, Miguel Angel Rodriquez, who was seeded #3 in this year’s event. The word “let” took over a significant portion of the play and clearly affected the rhythm and tempo of the Columbian, who had won the first game 11-9, and was controlling play with creative combos of mis-directs and nimble-footed quickness.

Then, surprisingly, he lost his momentum and the next three games: 12-10, 11-8, 11-8. A fourth game lead of 5-0 seemed to put Rodriquez back in his confident, deceptive first-game mode, but Shawn refused to yield—and refused to be fooled!—and with error-free positional play earned his way back into the match with a 10 point run which took the heart out of Rodriquez’s retrieving. It was 79 minutes, but that included a significant portion of verbal play, which unfortunately, detracted the gallery from appreciating the true quality of Shawn’s play.

I am very happy to have taken the win today. After the second game, there was a point where I felt like I couldn’t pull it out, but I stayed in the game and looked for weaknesses. I was able to take advantage of some of his lows, and I rode that wave back into the match for the win.

I had a very tough time today – there were so many lets called, and the play stopped so often. Physically I felt fine for the entire match, but it was very difficult to deal with that kind of game.

A packed house was thrilled to see American-born, former UPenn star, Gilly Lane take the first game at 6 from world-ranked #14 Alister Walker and then go to 8-8 in the second game before Alister squeezed another level of length, court-position and touch out of his built-for-squash physique to turn the match in his favor, winning going away: 11-8, 11-6, 11-6 in a well-played and entertaining 50 minute match.

Gilly has been on a great run as he charges up the ranking list and this tournament result will surely improve his confidence to play with the best and his already career-high world standing of #52. As for Alister, he delivered a breathtaking level of talent and athleticism that demonstrated why he is clearly a player-to-watch on the world stage.

I had never played Gilly before, so he was a bit of an unknown for me. He came out strong, attacking a lot in the first two games, but after that first part I was able to take control and finish the job.

Alister’s very good on the volley and he has strong side-to-side movement, and I tried hard to get the ball around him and get in front. Towards the end he managed to slow down the pace – I think part of it was that he just has more experience at this level.

For the second evening in a row, Stewart Boswell closed out play at the 2010 True North Berkshire Open with a commanding display of precision stroking and beautifully weighted length, this time against world-ranked #55 Julien Balbo: 11-2, 11-6, 11-7 in a routine 30 minute match.

He remained almost totally error-free—at least when it counted—kept Julien pinned to the back wall and reminded all in attendance why he was once the #4 player in the world. Yet to be tested here on the glass walled court, he will clearly be well-rested for tomorrow evening’s semi-final encounter against upset-minded Shawn Delierre.

The ball played so fast, and I got some lucky breaks in the first part of the match, and this helped me to build some momentum that carried me right through to the finish.

This is the second time I played Stewart; he beat me last time as well. I know we started late tonight, but that issue was the same for both of us. He was just too strong for me.


08-Apr, Round One:
Delierre joins seeds in quarters
David Johnson reports:

A packed gallery of fans were ready to lend all their energy to their adopted hometown hero Ryan Thompson’s effort to upend theTrue North Berkshire Open’s top seed, Alister Walker, but alas—despite an amazingly high level of play—Walker proved why he is one of the very best players in the world. Ryan has spent the year with the Williams College Men’s and Women’s Teams and has earned the affection and gratitude of the squash community here for his commitment to their collective improvement and his willingness to spend hours on court with them—anytime. The crowd was appreciative of Ryan’s efforts on court and equally impressed with the effortless grace and racquet work of Walker . Match score was 11-7, 11-5, 11-5 in 39 minutes.

Gilly Lane, continuing to ride the wave of improving play and results in his young career, made rather routine work of his English opponent, Tom Pashley, in a 44 minute first-rounder here at the True North Berkshire Open: 11-9, 11-4, 11-9. His control of the court and the weight of his stroking proved too much for Pashley, who was no doubt feeling the effects of two previous rounds of qualifying.

On the surface, the score indicates a lopsided result. In actuality, the play was considerably closer, highlighted by long rallies to length and sold, defensive retrieving from both players. But, perhaps showing his greater level of experience, Joey Barrington won all of the long rallies and all of the key points in route to a much-closer-than-the-score indicates three nil victory over Scott Arnold: 11-4, 11-6, 11-9. The course of play can be best summarized by the final two points from 9-9 in the third: a debatable stroke called against Arnold to give Barrington a match point and then a framed winner from the back ball that crawled—in agonizing slow motion—just over the tin to end the match.

Robbie Temple, always a crowd favorite but sometimes his own worst enemy, had to battle himself and an amazingly tough and determined Bradley Hindle in an afternoon match here at the True North Berkshire Open. Down 2-1 in games, Robbie had to pull his emotions together and cut down on his errors to finally pull away from a tiring Hindle, who no doubt was the feeling the effects of two rounds of qualifying by the time he arrived at the fifth and final. Score: 8-11 12-10 9-11 11-7 11-6 Match length: 73 minutes.

Shawn Delierre, who had already battled through two rounds of qualifying, continued his strong play with a first round upset of Jan Koukal, world ranked #63. Shawn’s whirlwind style and testy temperament, which at one time had put him at #40 in the world, proved too much for the less-energized, Czech-born Koukal who went down in a close four-game struggle, 11-6 in the fourth in a 55 minute all-court battle.

Olivier Pett hung in there against one of the more talented racquet-wizards on tour, Miguel Angel Rodriquez, but in the end, the Columbian had too many shots and too much quickness up front as he recorded a straight game victory: 11-8, 11-8, 11-6. Rodriquez is wonderfully creative and very tough to read, with an endless array of holds, feints and misdirects, which forced Pett either into positions he could not recover from or into errors from trying for too good a shot. Match time: 38 minutes.

Julien Balbo was too consistent and too strong for his opponent, Zac Alexander, in the first match of the True North Berkshire Open this afternoon, winning in a rather routine three games: 11-9, 11-7, 11-5. Zac was equally as athletic as his older, more experienced opponent, but unforced errors and inability to survive the battle of court position proved his undoing in this 46 minute encounter.

The final pairing of the first round got off to a great start, and with the first game score knotted at 4-4, it looked to be a great match-up. But, unfortunately, David Phillips was forced to retire with an ankle injury which he had been nursing along for the past two weeks in the hope that it could be ready this evening. It was not to be, and after a perfunctory showing in the second game, he shook Stewart Boswell's  hand to a warm reception from the crowd to end a great evening of squash. Officially, the final score was 11-6, 11-6, retired in 16 minutes.

07-Apr-10, Qualifying Finals:
Fantastic night of squash at the
2010 Berkshire Squash Open

Zafi Levy reports:

As the McWil crew finished building the glass court a day early than expected all four qualifying finals were be played all glass court at Chandler Gym.

The first match of the night between Lewis Walters and Tom Pashley provided an hour and a half of solid squash. Pashley looked strong throughout the night despite excellent the performance of Walters.

Olivier Pett played fantastic squash to beat James Snell. Pett, ranked 190 in the world often played a top 100 standard to dominate the T throughout the match.

Bradley Hindle defeated Tyler Hamilton in three games. Hamilton, one of the top young Canadians could not adjust to Hindle’s tight game. Hindle is in top form and will be hard to beat.

Shawn Delierre won both his qualifying matches in close five games. Tonight, Shawn beat a strong Wade Johnston in the match of the night. Shawn gave up a two game lead only to secure the win in a close fifth game. Shawn, forced out of action play for more than six months due to a leg injury, is looking to extend his run at the Berkshire Squash Open when he takes on Jan Koukal tomorrow night.

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