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ILEX Construction Charlottesville Open 2014
16-21 Sep, Virginia, Usa, $25k

21-Sep, Final:

[3] Alister Walker
(Bot) 3-1 [Q] Lucas Serme (Fra)
              6/11, 11/3, 16/14, 11/6 (82m)

Walker ends Serme run in Virginia final

Third seed Alister Walker ended the run of qualifier Lucas Serme in the final of the PSA $25k event in Virginia, coming from a game down to take the 10th PSA title of his career after an  82minute battle, which featured a lengthy stoppage after the Frenchman suffered a cut to the forehaed in the second game.

While Walker dropped just two games en route to the title, Serme's shortest match was his 67-minute first round win followed by three 80+ minute matches!

 

Richard Millman on the final:

In a tournament that has been the graveyard of seeded players, the final of yesterday's ILEX Construction Charlottesville Open at the McArthur Squash Center at the Boar's Head Hotel, pitted the player who had been most responsible for the demise of the seeded players against the one remaining survivor of the main draw seeds.

Lucas Serme from France came through qualifying before putting paid to the aspirations of Ryan Cuskelly, Chris Simpson and Tom Richards. Playing with a style reminiscent of the great Jansher Khan, his mixture of measured pace, quality width and length, absorbing the fiery attacks of his opponents until he found an opening to deliver his own biting counter attacks, was delivered with a panache that belied his youth and inexperience.

His opponent, Alister Walker from Botswana, on the other hand, is familiar with the dizzy heights of the world's top 20 and had arrived in the final at the expense of Peter Creed, Declan James and Karim Ali Fathi. In doing so he had looked neither confident not particularly dominant as he struggled to get comfortable on the McArthur Center's impressive grand stand all glass court.

Having said that, in his semi final match against Karim Ali Fathi, his trusty forehand drop volley started to function well - although a tendency to try and finish rallies at the first opportunity was still seeing the Botswanan tinning the ball in his desire to end points quickly.

From the very outset of the warm up in the final however, it was evident that Walker was up for this match. His tentative body language of the previous day was gone and a lightness of foot and ease of movement indicated his determination.

There was no apparent loss of capacity in his young opponent either, despite his heroic efforts of the previous five days. In his semi final against Tom Richards there had been just a moment when Serme had appeared to wobble physically, but as Richards struggled with his own demons, the Frenchman's brief vulnerability was quickly forgotten. Still the question remained could he deliver his patient, debilitating brand of inexorable Squash once again in the final?

Where observers might have been forgiven that the onus would be on the young pretender to decipher the dominant game of his more highly ranked and experienced opponent, in point of fact as the first game unfolded, it became clear that it was Alister who found himself struggling with conundrum of how to cope with Lucas's well executed game plan.

Playing with surgically precise width and length, Lucas built a barrage on the backhand side, frequently jailing his opponent in the backhand back corner, before delivering his by now familiar hornet's sting short attacks. Also in a departure from his game plan of the day before, he began to employ a back hand working boast to great effect, pressurizing Alister at the front of the court and moving up behind the Botswanan to intercept and out maneuver him.

Meanwhile Alister's attempts to rally with Lucas, though patient, were losing out to the Frenchman's dying length, causing Alister to throw up lose ball at the back or even to fail to return it.

The combination of the supreme width and length and the sudden working boast, seemed to have the number 3 seed non-plussed and the qualifier progressed steadily to take the first game 11-6. Was another giant killing episode on the cards?

Immediately the second game became a sharper, punchier affair. Walker clearly had recognized that allowing Serme to continue with his metronomic backhand width and length was a quick road to disaster and accordingly began to intercept with crisp volley's and half-volleys to stamp some authority on the game.

Lucas continued with the boast to some affect, but perhaps the frequency began to habituate Alister to it and it gradually began to gain less traction. However by no means had the young Frenchman relinquished his control of the match and Walker was still fighting to gain a foothold.

Suddenly at 2-0 one of the frequent pop-outs of this tournament led to a class between Alister's racquet and Lucas's nose.

There then followed a protracted blood break and the question arose - would the young Frenchman be able to maintain his focus and continue with his disciplined game plan?

After Lucas had been patched up, he returned to find a determined Walker and an unforced error followed by an injudicious decision to go short early, were followed by overuse of the boast and then a disastrous attempt at a double fake which resulted in Monsieur Serme completely missing the ball, suddenly resulted in Lucas finding himself with a 3-8 deficit.

Clearly the focus had gone during the blood break, while Alister had seized the opportunity to step up and volley.
The game finished with a crazy attempt at a three wall nick from the young Frenchman as he capitulated with irritation, Alister taking the game 11-3.

Was this the end of the giant killing run?

The third game was a classic. Both players found their form with Alister continuing with his early volleys and Lucas returning to his millimeter perfect width and length. The game did become slightly tinged with focus losing discussions with Mike Riley the referee and this may have detracted from concentration, especially in Lucas's case.

Such was the quality of the rally construction by both players that they were both in much better position when they were building the point. Each time the players gained an opening, there enthusiasm to capitalize resulted in them giving counter attack opportunities to the opponent.

Whoever attacked first lost the rally.

This continued incredibly to 14 all as both players dug deeply into their personal resources, vying for an edge - with nothing between them.

The drama made for a wonderful spectacle - worthy of the epic tales of yore.

At 15-14 to Alister a blistering rally ensued, with Alister ending a quality rally with a perfect length. The game lasted 28 minutes.

The fourth game started in even fashion, the players going point for point up 4-5.

However at this point Walker's sharp, penetrating volleys began to take their toll and on one pick -up at the front, Lucas seemed less than superhuman for the first time in the tournament.

This was followed by a string of great rallies from Alister where he held his young opponent's feet to the fire with strong disciplined pressure through his volleys.

At 9-5 Alister stepped away from his game plan and tried a cheap winner and tinned, thus threatening to bring Lucas back to the match at 6-9. But unfortunately Lucas immediately lost his focus on his game plan, once again trying a fancy fake instead of returning to his Jansher like game plan of his earlier successes. This loss of concentration led to a loss of balance and a stroke to Alistair to give him match ball at 10-6.

A brief break for the court to be wiped gave an artificial break to the flow of the match and the final rally was completed with a backhand attack from the Botswanan that caught the nick and was beyond the reach of the young Frenchman.

Kudos to Alister Walker, who overcame his struggling form earlier in the competition to turn in a masterful performance of maturity to win the title in four sets.

But great honor to Lucas Serme, who despite losing a fraction of his form - unsurprisingly after such mammoth efforts, is clearly a star to follow.

Charlottesville Open 2014
16-21 Sep, Virginia, Usa, $25k
Round One
18 Sep 
Quarters
19 Sep
Semis
20 Sep
Final
21 Sep
[1] Adrian Grant (Eng)
11/8, 13/11, 11/7
Chris Gordon (Usa)
[1] Adrian Grant
 11/5, 6/11, 8/11, 11/7, 11/2 (83m)
[Q] Lucas Serme

[Q] Lucas Serme

 5/11, 9/11, 14/12, 11/7, 11/8 (89m)

[4] Tom Richards 

[Q] Lucas Serme

 

6/11, 11/3, 16/14, 11/6 (82m)

 

[3] Alister Walker

10th PSA title for Ali

[6] Ryan Cuskelly (Aus)
6/11, 11/3, 11/6, 11/3 (67m)
[Q] Lucas Serme (Fra)
[8] Campbell Grayson (Nzl)
 11/6, 11/6, 16/14 48m
[Q] Todd Harrity (Usa)
[8] Campbell Grayson
11/8, 10/12, 11/5, 11/5 (65m)
[4] Tom Richards 
[4] Tom Richards (Eng)
11/5, 11/5, 11/9 (38m)
Joe Chapman (Bvi)
[Q] Peter Creed (Wal)
11/8, 15/13, 10/12, 11/9 (73m)
[3] Alister Walker (Bot)
[3] Alister Walker
  11/7, 14/12, 11/8 (38m)
[Q] Declan James
[3] Alister Walker

11/6, 11/5, 11/3 (36m)

[8] Karim Ali Fathi

[Q] Declan James (Eng)
5/11, 3/11, 11/6, 11/6, 15/13 (60m)
[5] Mazen Hesham (Egy)
Charles Sharpes (Eng)
11/8, 11/4, 12/10 (45m)
[8] Karim Ali Fathi (Egy)
[8] Karim Ali Fathi
11/8, 3/11, 7/11, 11/4, 11/7 (84m))
  [2] Chris Simpson
Shawn Delierre (Can)
 11/7, 9/11, 7/11, 11/4, 11/8 i(81m)
[2] Chris Simpson (Eng)
17-Sep, Qualifying Finals:

Lucas Serme (Fra) 3-0 Chris Hanson (Usa)                       11/5, 11/3, 11/5
Todd Harrity (Usa) 3-1 Lewis Walters (Eng)             11/7, 11/13, 11/4, 11/6
Declan James (Eng)  3-1 Arthur Gaskin (Irl)             11/8, 2/11, 11/4, 11/7
Peter Creed (Wal) 3-0 Shahjahan Khan (Pak)                  14/12, 11/3, 11/6
 
16-Sep, Qualifying Round One:

Lucas Serme (Fra) 3-0 Sunil Seth (Guy)                               11/4, 11/2, 11/8
Chris Hanson (Usa) 3-1 Sebastiaan Weenink (Ned)     11/1, 11/5, 13/15, 11/4
Lewis Walters (Eng) 3-0 Brian O'Hora (Irl)                        11/7, 11/7, 12/10
Todd Harrity (Usa) 3-0 Ahmad Alzabidi (Jor)                       11/8, 11/6, 11/8
Declan James (Eng) 3-1 Ramit Tandon (Ind)               8/11, 11/8, 11/9, 11/6
Arthur Gaskin (Irl) 3-1 Omar Sobhy (Usa)               10/12, 11/3, 13/11, 11/3
Shahjahan Khan (Pak) 3-2 Paul Coll (Nzl)         3/11, 7/11, 11/7, 11/7, 16/14
Peter Creed (Wal) 3-0 Oisin Logan (Irl)                               11/4, 11/4, 11/9


French qualifier Lucas Serme continued his tremendous run in Charlottesville, coming from two games down against fourth-seeded Englishman Tom Richards to create a third upset in a row.

In the final he'll meet Botswana's third seed Alister Walker, who beat Karim Ali Fathi in straight games.

Semis: Richard Millman reports from Charlottesville

Squash TV viewers and the crowd at the MacArthur Center at the Boar's Head Hotel in Charlottesville VA were treated to a mercurial display from one of our sport's rapidly emerging young talents this evening, in the first semi final of the ILEX Construction Open.

Tom Richards v Lucas Serme

Lucas Serme
, the Gallic giant killing machine, once again dug into his seemingly endless reserves to, at first weather, in the second instance ride, and finally command the storm that was the fourth seed, Tom Richards from England.

In the first game Richards came out of the gate like a drill sergeant, appearing to dominate the young Frenchman with almost military might. Those of us watching were to be forgiven for believing that Lucas's remarkable exploits in this event, having qualified and then dispatched consecutive seeds including the stalwart Adrian Grant in five hard games, had finally caught up with him. Indeed as the fourth seed peremptorily finished the first game 11/5, it seemed likely that that was the case, with Lucas slipping in a couple of unforced errors.

In the second game Richards won the first two points but it was evident that Serme's resolve had deepened as he extended the rallies. Richards was still dominant and bouncing around authoritatively. At 1-2 with Lucas serving Tom hit what was to be one of many sidewall pop-outs at the end of a patient, searching rally. The remainder of this game saw both players trying to implement a game plan but frequently making errors as a result of frustrations born of their own inability to carry through.

A 6-3 lead for the Frenchman was quickly converted to a 7-6 lead for the Englishman as Serme made a couple of errors and seemed to be distracted as he started a conversation with the referee for the first time in the tournament. He did settle down, but the damage was done and Tom had received enough encouragement to motivate him to bear down and push through.

Even so it wasn't plain sailing and a huge rally at 8-7 to Tom was won by Lucas. A cross court nick return took the Englishman to 8 but an immediate unforced error took the Frenchman ahead once more. Then another great point at 9 all ended first in a let and then in an error from Lucas giving Tom game ball which the Englishman converted with maturity. Noticeable however, was the change in demeanor in both players. No longer the drill sergeant the number four seed was more cautious now and, despite being 0/2 down, it was clear that the young Frenchman had no intention of capitulating.

The third game was a classic transition.

Right out of the gate Lucas was all business and stepped up the court. Playing sharp, deep and early he took two quick points. Immediately it was clear that rather than being the underdog struggling for survival, the Frenchman was taking the game to the Englishman, his uncanny ability to absorb pressure drawing Tom into trying to force the game to a point where he was beginning to over extend himself and leave himself exposed.

But Richards was still very aware that he was in a great position and at this point was still urgently looking to close the match out. As Tom chanced his arm to attack, the game became more open and as a consequence both winners and unforced errors increased from both players.

Tom then started suffering from his own internal demons as he became frustrated with his own inability to execute the plan that he clearly felt was his opportunity. As a result when he created openings, instead of building pressure he attempted to finish - thereby stacking pressure on himself and tinned balls when he had earned openings.

Lucas meanwhile was looking fatigued for the first time and it became a question of whether Lucas could hang on and Tom self destruct or Lucas fold and Tom drive home for victory.

It was a close run thing.

Lucas hung on, Tom took the ball in short perhaps a tad too early and Lucas produced a couple of first class disguise shots to get to game ball. With ice in the veins Tom hit the return in the nick.

Another of his now regular forehand pop-outs and Richards gave the game ball back to Serme.

At 12 all Richards feathered a drop into the top of the tin. Then Lucas hit his serve into the nick.
Game.

Indicative of things to come - Tom Richard's responded to the nick by tomahawking his racket into the nick where the Frenchman's ball had rolled.

In the fourth the pop-outs became a regular feature. The front court exchanges started going in Lucas's favor. At 8-5 to Serme, Richard's came off the court to complain about his opponent's hand appeals during the rally. Increasingly Tom's body language seemed to indicate his dissatisfaction with himself and his discipline.

In the end Tom capitulated with a backhand cross court volley nick attempt from an impossible position which seemed like a resignation in disgust.

Lucas was now firmly in the driving seat. His apparent need to 'hang on' in the third, a distant memory.

The fifth game was a triumph for the young Frenchman, his remarkable resolve and his game plan.

Tom started the fifth well with a return to his martial body language and command - taking the first two points. But as soon as he seemed to have a chance to establish himself he seemed unable to resist trying to force the issue and crucially made errors when he had the opening.

It was back and forth for the first half dozen points.

Richard's started taking the ball into the front from the back, resulting in extra work for himself as Lucas moved him to the back. But Lucas himself hit a couple of unexpected errors and suddenly Tom had a three point opening at 5-2. However once again, with the game at his mercy, Richard's tried to force it and gave a point back. He gathered himself again however and re-established a three point gap at 6-3.

Suddenly there was an uncomfortable atmosphere in the court as both players nervously tested each other. Then in very short order and with three unforced errors from Tom in quick succession, Lucas found himself at 8-6 up. An error from Lucas took it to 7-8 with Tom serving.

But yet again Tom took it in early, got an opening - and tinned it, his exasperation plain for all to see.

Match ball came for Lucas as a result of another unforced tin as Tom tried a floated, three-wall-nick boast from the back of the court.

Yet another tin was followed by another tomahawk throw of the racket from Richards - this time the full length of the court. Despite this bad display Richard's courteously put his arms round his opponent in full congratulations.

The racket slinging incident took nothing from the victory of this brilliant young Frenchman whose brand of steady absorption and deceptive counter attacking, reminiscent of the great Jansher Khan himself, is likely to become a regular feature of Squash TV and the PSA World tour. Allez!

Monsieur Serme, the giant killer, is on his way to becoming a giant himself!

Alister Walker v Karim Ali Fathi

Our second semi final had a similar foundation to the first.

In an epic confrontation with England's number two seed Chris Simpson, relative newcomer Karim Ali Fathi had acquitted himself with aplomb in the quarter finals, coming out the victor in a match of quality, where his tactical persistence and his technical excellence shone through.

His opponent, third seed Alister Walker from Botswana, conversely had done anything but shine in his quarter final against another of this tournament's seeming indomitable giant killers, Declan James from England. Alister had won 3-0, 'tis true, but had never looked comfortable in doing so and owed as much to his opponent's spent body as to his own form, for the victory.

Were we about to see yet another upset in this tournament that has rapidly become 'The graveyard of the seeds?' Certainly Karim Ali Fathi had shown that he has the where-with-all to successfully execute such a mission. However right from the off, it was clear that this evening's Ali Walker was a different specimen to the edition that was on display in the previous match.

Light on his feet, the first few rallies saw beautifully measured, medium paced balls from Walker, primarily allowing him to maintain position but also severely limiting Fathi's options. Fathi on the other hand appeared a little non-plussed, unsure of what to do with Walker's disciplined play.

Karim was able to stay with the game while the ball stayed straight, but, in his desperation to find a way of unlocking the prison cell that Alister was keeping in him, he started trying to play cross-court.

He got short shrift there as Alister's forehand drop-volley punished him with mechanical precision.

This was repeated a number of times - with the same conclusion.
Karim had some success with attacking flair, but at no stage did this fluster Alister who looked ominously composed and sharp. Unhurried and playing within his comfort zone, Walker calmly asphyxiated his opponent to take the first game 11/6 in 13 minutes.

In the second game Karim began with the same sort of crisp timing and penetrative depth that he used to such affect against Chris Simpson. However, where Chris was unable to turn and so Karim found openings, Alister returned these balls with unrelenting control.

Karim rallied briefly to get back to 5-7, but a labored movement to the front betrayed that he was perhaps not as able to compete as he had been the day before. Alister was absolutely solid and this persuaded Karim to risky attempts to force the game. Alister briskly took the last few points to take the game 11/5 in 12 minutes.

It was beginning to look as though the writing was on the wall.

In the third game the Egyptian allowed his frustration at the Botswanan's refusal to give him anything to turn inward on himself and with echoes of Tom Richards in the earlier match, started making unforced errors from his own openings as he desperately sought to get something from nothing.

A wave of attempted shot making flair from Karim resulted in a quick passage for Alister to an 8-2 lead. Karim's resolve finally evaporated and the newly re-energized Alister Walker took the final game 11/3.

Many congratulations to Karim on a first class tournament. His attacking style - sharp penetrating twisting turning length, with sudden devastating lobs and wonderful touch at the front are very attractive - as are his good manners and sportsmanship.

Alister Walker meanwhile moves on to face giant killer Lucas Serme in tomorrow's final.

One can't help be drawn toward the Frenchman, not only as the underdog who has fought his way through against the odds, but also for the wonderful brand of Squash he has brought with him. Shades of the best days of Jansher: soaking up pressure and then unleashing the hornet's sting. However it was a powerful Alister Walker we saw this evening, at ease with himself and his game.

Has Lucas got one more giant killing surprise? Or are we seeing the return of a dominant, controlled Alister Walker?

Don't miss it!
 

19-Sep, Quarters:

Serme and Fathi take out top seeds in Virginia

It was an evening of upsets in Charlottesville as the top two seeds were both beaten in the quarter-finals.

Fourth seed Tom Richards survived an hour-plus battle with Campbell Grayson, but the predicted all-English semi-final was scuppered by France's Lucas Serme as the the qualifier came from 2-1 down to topple top seed Adrian Grant in 83 minutes for one of his best-ever wins.

Karim Ali Fathi then took one minute longer to overcome second seed Chris Simpson, setting up a semi-final with Alister Walker, the third seed who ended the run of qualifier Declan James in three close games.


 

Draw & Results


WATCH LIVE

Richard Millman In Charlottesville

Chris Simpson versus Karim Ali Fathi

Second seed Chris Simpson faced precocious talent and qualifier Karim Ali Fathi in the penultimate match of last night's quarterfinals at the ILEX Construction Charlottesville Open in Charlottesville Virginia at the prestigious Boar's Head Hotel Complex.

Simpson had survived a brutal encounter with Canadian Sean Delierre the previous day while Ali Fathi had won 3-0 in some style against Charles Sharpes from England.

Simpson is a seasoned professional and at the beginning of the first game, controlled his pace and accuracy with a calmness that allowed him to gain a forward position on the court, despite some fireworks from his young Egyptian opponent. However as the game progressed, Karim found some explosive and penetrating accuracy that penalized the Englishman's movement and, following one or two less accurate returns from those attacks, Ali Fathi took the first game.

In the second, Simpson once again developed a controlled medium pace game plan, taking Karim into the back corners and frustrating the Egyptian. As the frustration grew Simpson absorbed Fathi's attempts to force the pace and thus stymied, Karim seemed confused and proceeded to self destruct, Simpson winning the game 11/3.

Despite the meltdown Karim came back with determination in the third and with addition of a beautifully controlled counter attacking lob in response to Chris Simpson's drop volleys he started to develop a game plan that mixed sharp deep cross courts, the lob from the front and more selective and reasoned short straight attacks.

This was very effective and Simpson's movement twisting to the back corner on both sides started to look shaky resulting in a number of attempted straight lengths catching the sidewalls and giving Karim easy openings.

Still it was neck and neck and Chris continued to get in front at this point and was himself able to play tight short attacks that Karim found difficult to retrieve.

Simpson survived this particular storm and took the game 11/7.

However those twisting movements were taking their toll and the collapse of the second game was now a distant memory. Ali Fathi pursued his plan of sharp sudden cross court attacks and the width of these, that had previously sometimes strayed and given Simpson his drop volley chance, was now much more precise.

Chris's movement was more and more labored and in a game of inches, being moments late is enough to swing the balance of play toward the sharper man. Chris did throw up a few good lobs himself and tried to go back to his successful absorption tactics of the second and third, but this only served to temporarily stave off Karim, who sensed his opportunity and was relentless now. He took the game 11/4.

The fifth was well contested as one might expect with a seasoned pro not wanting to relinquish his hold and a young pretender almost not believing his chance has come. The first few rallies were nip and tuck with Simpson re-establishing his length and a few nervous unforced errors from Al Fathi. But as time passed, Karim remembered the success that his tactics had brought him - and Chris's body simply couldn't deliver what his mind told he needed to do.

Comfortably the best match of the evening, a wonderful win for Karim Ali Fathi 11/7 in the fifth. He now moves on, with two big scalps under his belt, to a semi final encounter with third seed Alister Walker.

Alister Walker versus Declan James​

In the final quarter final match of the evening, Declan James from England, another qualifier fresh from giant killing the night before, met third seed Alister Walker from Botswana who had progressed at the expense of Welshman Peter Creed in a four setter the night before.

This one never managed to fully engage in all out war.

From the outset Declan seemed to be suffering the effects of his strenuous outing the day before. Having said that, he managed to stay in touch and Alister seemed to find it hard to deliver the coupe de grace that seemingly would have finished Declan, in his diminished state. As a result we were treated to a strange parody of a match where few rallies extended to a duration of any consequence and unforced errors and winners abounded.

In a building that was almost empty by this stage, it was always going to be difficult to light a fire and it seemed that the competition became a question of Declan not being physically able to do what needed to be done and Alister not being able to motivate himself to the work that he knew would finish Declan off.

After the Walker took the first 11/7, the second went the full distance as James, realizing that Walker wasn't going for the jugular, decide to see if he could get himself off of life support and make a bit of a comeback. There were a few moments of cut and thrust with a lot of jousting at the front of the court, before Alister did enough to clinch the game 14/12.

The third began in similar fashion, before it became clear that this was a bridge too far for Declan and Alister finally managed to muster enough resolve to put the match to bed 11/8.

Walker will need to dig deeper in the semi final if he is to progress. His opponent Karim Al Fathi is a man on a mission and is increasingly finding his form. However Alister Walker is a seasoned pro and with the other top seeds out, perhaps he will be propelled to greater efforts by this opportunity.
 

18-Sep, Round One:
Serme and James surprise
as locals bow out in Charlottesville

The first round of the PSA $25k event at the Boar's Head sports complex in Charlottesville saw two qualifiers progress as both USA players lost out.

France's Lucas Serme came from a game down to beat Ryan Cuskelly, while Declan James was two down before starting his comeback against Mazen Hesham.

Serme now meets top seed Arian Grant, who ended the hopes of USA #1 Chris Gordon, while James faces third seed Alister Walker.

In the other quarter-finals Tom Richards meets Campbell Grayson - who beat USA's Todd Harrity - and second seed Chris Simpson, who survived a long five-setter against Shawn Delierre, faces Karim Ali Fathi.
 


WATCH LIVE


Grayson 3-0 Harrity

Round One Reports

Tom Richards 3-0 Joe Chapman  
           11/5, 11/5, 11/9 (38m)


Some long opening rallies, but Richards always looking in control playing from in front of his opponent throughout the first two games.

The third saw Chapman's length improve and as a result he obtained a better share of the middle - creating some nice volley drop opportunities. It wasn't quite enough to take the game though as Richards came through 11-9.
 
Karim Ali Fathi 3-1 Charles Sharpes
           11/8, 11/4, 12/10 (45m)

 
Fathi came out flying and Sharpes struggled to cope with the shots going in short and early, often from the back of the court. The third was different though with Sharpes picking up a lot more and as a result Fathi started to make a few attacking errors. Sharpes took a 10-7 lead and the match definitely looked to be turning in the Englishman's favor.

But a couple of well played rallies from Fathi, and a borderline 'no let' call against Sharpes allowed Fathi to come back to 10 all, and then another tight 'no let' for Sharpes, followed by a conduct stroke meant the match came to a controversial end, 12-10 in Fathi's favoru.

Chris Simpson 3-2 Shawn Delierre
           11/7, 9/11, 7/11, 11/4, 11/8 (81m)


In a nail-biting first-round match, number 2 seed Chris Simpson squared off against Shawn Delierre. Simpson took the first comfortably, finding his length from the beginning. Delierre found himself 6-2 down in the second but managed to reel off a series of excellent shots to take the second game 11-9.

 Delierre's winning streak continued through the third frame, which he took 11-7. Not to be outdone, Simpson rallied to force a fifth game by an 11-4 margin, with Delierre beginning to look fatigued. In the fifth and final game Simpson jumped out to a commanding 7-2 lead before Delierre battled back to knot the score at 8-8.

Following two no-let decisions, Simpson found himself with match ball and took full advantage, delivering the knock-out shot to take the match 11-8.

Alister Walker 3-1 Peter Creed
             11/8, 15/13, 10/12, 11/9 (73m)

A tight match from start to finish with really nothing to choose between the two players other than composure in the closing rallies.

The Botswanan was able to use his greater experience to end well and win the last three points in a row in the 1st, 2nd and 4th games, and take the match overall 3-1.

It was a good performance from Creed though, with a lot of positives for him to take on to the Nash Cup next week in London, Canada. Walker advances to play the winner of James and Hesham tomorrow at 8.00pm.

Adrian Grant 3-0 Chris Gordon
          11/8, 13/11, 11/7

A commanding performance from tournament #1 seed Adrian Grant. Gordon defended well, but Grant was in firm control and had the American moving into the four corners of the court from start to finish.

Gordon's best stretch came in the second game when 10-7 down he reeled off a 3 rally winning streak to level at 10-10, but Grant came through 13-11 and with a 2-0 lead he never looked like losing.

Lucas Serme 3-1 Ryan Cuskelly
          6/11, 11/3, 11/6, 11/3 (67m)


Lucas Serme came though in our penultimate match of the evening, causing our first upset of the tournament. Cuskelly started the better of the two racing to a 6-1 lead in the 1st game, and taking it 11-6. But from then on it was fairly one way traffic with Serme controlling the 'T', fading the ball better than his opponent into the front and winning almost all of the short court exchanges.

Frustration got the better of Cuskelly several times during the match and Serme took full advantage winning 7 points running in the 3rd, and another 7 in a row in the 4th. Serme looked good for his win and will be looking forward to his match against #1 seed Adrian Grant tomorrow.

Declan James 3-2 Mazen Hesham
           5/11, 3/11, 11/6, 11/6, 15/13 (60m)


The last match of the evening proved to be the most entertaining with the shot selection and theatrics of Hesham providing plenty of entertainment for those that stayed late to watch. For the first two games Hesham was simply unplayable reeling off winner after winner, to take them 11/5, 11/3 in no time at all.

All credit to James for remaining unfazed by the onslaught, and when Hesham opened up with 3 errors at the start of the third, the tide changed completely. The third and fourth were equally one sided but with James taking them both, by capitalizing on short length and loose width from his opponent to hit plenty of top quality winners of his own.

The 5th was a real see-saw battle with some tough calls for the ref Mike Riley coming into play as the tension dialed up several notches. Both players had chances to take the match in the closing tie break, but James came through 15-13 to set up a well deserved second round encounter with Alister Walker.
 

2013 Event

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