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Comfort Inn Open 2010
12-17 Jan, North Vancouver, Canada, $20k

Photo: Robert Pacey for Squash Republic.com

17-Jan, Final:

Paul Marley reports

The kiwi flag was flying – literally - in the showcourt for the finals of the $20,000 2010 Comfort Inn Squash Championships, presented by Odlum Brown Limited. The match was played at the Evergreen Squash Club on Vancouver’s North Shore this afternoon.

Martin Knight & Campbell Grayson were the reason for the flag as they are New Zealand nationals. Curiously, they happen to be ranked #2 & #3 respectively in their country and they are separated by only one ranking point in the PSA rankings.

Part of the buildup of anticipation for this match was that these two players rampaged their way to the finals from the #5 & #6 seeded positions respectively. Seeds #1 through #4 lay strewn in their path as these two Kiwis made their way to the finals.

But it was truly Knight’s day as he seemed to be in control the entire match and gave no hint of letting up. Campbell fought mightily throughout but could never seem to find the answer to the puzzle that Knight presented this afternoon.

When one sees a 3-0 result, it is tempting to think that the match was a breeze - not. This match took 53 minutes and featured many long, tiring rallies as both players probed for weaknesses. On this day, Knight found more answers than Campbell and he was further aided by Campbell making the majority of the unforced errors.

Having said that, the first game was a 23 minute affair and one was left with the impression that perhaps Campbell was seeing how much gas Knight had in the tank after playing a much tougher, longer semi the evening before. So the loss of the first game didn’t seem too important particularly if a long match was in the forecast.

This line of thinking proved to be flawed as Knight took the second game in a breeze, 11-1 in 11 minutes.

At this point, things looked a little desperate for Campbell as, clearly, Knight was on his game and seemed determined to aggressively fight for a quick conclusion. Fourteen minutes isn’t the quickness Knight had in mind, perhaps, but effective it was as he concluded the game 11-5 and the match 3-0.

It was a massively effective tournament for both players, and they both should take enormous pride in their efforts, but the taste of victory for Knight, his third on the PSA tour, had to be very sweet.

From a squash fan’s point of view it was another fabulous week of PSA squash and we are only sorry that we have to wait another year before it happens again.

Comfort Inn Open 2010
12-17 Jan, North Vancouver, Canada, $20k
Round One
14 Jan
15 Jan
16 Jan
17 Jan
[1] Tarek Momen (Egy)
9-11, 11-4, 12-10, 11-8 (41m)
Matthew Karwalski (Usa)
[1] Tarek Momen
11-7; 11-7; 9-11; 11-2 (54m)
[7] Ryan Cuskelly
[1] Tarek Momen

13-11, 9-11, 11-9,
5-11, 11-9 (73m)

[5] Martin Knight

[5] Martin Knight

11/6, 11/1, 11/5 (53m)

[6] Campbell Grayson

[7] Ryan Cuskelly (Aus)
11-8, 11-4, 8-11, 11-6 (51m)
[Q] Andrew McDougall (Can)
[3] Tom Richards (Eng)
11-4, 11-2, 11-7 (26m)
Viktor Berg (Can)
[3] Tom Richards
11-9; 11-8; 11-8 (42m)
[5] Martin Knight
[5] Martin Knight (Nzl)
11-4, 11-7, 11-7 (27m)
[Q] Adil Maqbool (Pak)
[Q]  Laurence Delasaux (Eng)
11-7, 11-9, 11-4 in 46
[8] Arturo Salazar (Mex)
[8] Arturo Salazar
11-5; 12-10; 12-10 (60m)
[4] Rafael Alarcon
[8] Arturo Salazar

11-5, 11-8, 11-7 (34m)

[6] Campbell Grayson

[Q] Lewis Walters (Eng)
 11-5, 11-13, 13-11, 11-9 (53m)
[4] Rafael Alarcon (Bra)
Robin Clarke (Can)
7-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-9 (56m)
[6] Campbell Grayson (Nzl)
[6] Campbell Grayson
11-6; 5-11; 11-8; 11-7 (60m)
[2] Miguel Angel Rodriguez
Alan Clyne (Sco)
 11-13, 8-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-9 (73m)
[2] Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col)

13- Jan, Qualifying Finals:

Laurence Delasaux (ENG) bt Thomas Brinkman (CAN) 11-8, 11-8 11-6 (26m)
Lewis Walters (ENG) bt Justin Todd (CAN) 11-5, 11-8, 11-9 (23m)
Andrew McDougall (CAN) bt Remington Hall (CAN) 11-6, 11-4, 11-2 (22m)
Adil Maqbool (PAK) bt Chris Fuller (ENG) 11-7, 11-9, 11-7 (30m)

12 Jan, First Round:
Laurence Delasaux (ENG) def Sarfaraz Ahmed (CAN) 11-1, 11-2, 11-2 in 21 mins
Thomas Brinkman (CAN) def Luke Vaggers (CAN) 11-4, 11-8, 11-7 in 29 mins
Lewis Walters (ENG) def Grant Bergman (CAN) 11-1, 11-4, 11-2 in 20 mins
Justin Todd (CAN) def Adam Radziminski (CAN) 11-7, 11-5, 11-6 in 20 mins
Remington Hall (CAN) def Colin Ramasra (TRI) 11-8, 11-7, 7-11, 12-10 in 42 mins
Andrew McDougall (CAN) def Mackenzie Foster (CAN) 11-4, 11-3, 11-4 in 21 mins
Chris Fuller (ENG) def Matthew Balfour (CAN) 11-0, 11-4, 11-6 in 23 mins
Adil Maqbool (PAK) def Mark Ridgeway (CAN) 11-5, 11-5, 11-2 in 22 mins

16-Jan, Semis:

Paul Marley reports

Two Kiwis, Martin Knight & Campbell Grayson, made their way to the finals as a result of their semi final wins in the 2010 Comfort Inn Squash Championships, presented by Odlum Brown Limited. The matches are being played at the Evergreen Squash Club in North Vancouver.

In the first match, Grayson jumped out to a quick 5-1 lead in the first game which seemed to set the tone for the entire match. He seemed to find his game early and stayed consistent throughout the match while his talented opponent, Arturo Salazar, only showed his well known shot making and retrieving brilliance occasionally. Both men had identical 60 minute match times last night when they sent their respective higher ranked opponents to the sidelines. But Campbell seemed to be the fresher of the two and he booked his place in the final 34 minutes later.

Then we were treated to the five set 73 minute match of the day between #1 seed Tarek Momen and the other New Zealander in the semis, the # 5 seed, Martin Knight. This was a beauty. Both of them possess outstanding retrieving skills which were put to the test throughout the match. Momen seems to live and die by the drop particularly on the backhand from shoulder length or higher while Martin tenaciously pursues every ball with a view to putting relentless pressure on his opponent.

Both strategies were effective as they literally traded games. Knight won the first, third & fifth games. This was taken to an unusual level as they traded points in the fifth starting at 3-3 and continued through 8-8. It was at this point when they noticed a drop of sweat on the floor and they called for a towel. Humorously, they both got on the towel and performed a sort of “towel dance” to soak up the sweat and gain a few extra precious gasps of oxygen in the bargain. The break seemed to particularly benefit Knight as he was able to win two of the final three points at 9-8 to win the match 11-9.

So, Knight joins his countryman, Campbell Grayson, tomorrow in an all New Zealand final. Can you imagine the joy in KiwiLand today? Maybe a haka or two was performed in celebration similar to the one the two finalists performed for the Tournament Dinner attendees this evening. They received a huge roar of appreciation for their performance.

It must be unusual to see the first four seeds eliminated in a tournament and it must be equally unusual, in the same tournament, for the finalists to be from the same country. There must a lot at stake between these two wonderful young men and tomorrow’s match will be fun to watch.



Paul Marley reports

The quarter final round of the 2010 Comfort Inn Squash Championships, presented by Odlum Brown Limited, was concluded this evening at the Evergreen Squash Club in North Vancouver with three of the four top seeds being dismissed.

First to be swept was Rafael Alarcon who was seeded #4. He had the misfortune of drawing Arturo Salazar on a day when he played with all the flair and speed we remembered in his memorable semi final loss last year to Tarek Momen. Although Alarcon lost in three straight games he did not go easily as the 60 minute game time indicates. The veteran of 75 PSA tournaments played his heart out but on this day youth was served.

The second sweepee was Tom Richards who was seeded #3 and lost to Martin Knight in a match that showcased the athleticism required to play the game of squash at this level. It truly was a treat to watch these tremendously skilled, fit athletes ply their profession. There were no easy games but initially Richards seemed distracted by decisions that went against him early on and never seemed to shake off the ill effect. Martin stayed focused and was relentless on the attack to secure an impressive 3-0 victory.

The third, and final, seed to fall was Miguel Angel Rodriguez who was seeded #2 and lost to another Kiwi, Campbell Grayson, in the second match of the evening that lasted 60 minutes. This was a real cat and mouse affair with wonderful shots being traded all over the court sprinkled liberally with many drops and redrops that must have been exhausting over the course of the match. The nail in Rodriguez’ coffin may have been the three straight unforced errors he made during the later stages of the match that seemed to pave the way to victory for Grayson.

And to save the day for the seeds, the tournament’s number one seed, Tarek Momen  played an excellent match to beat Ryan Cuskelly 3-1. Momen seemed to be in control throughout the first two games but Cuskelly dug in and took the very competitive third game 11-9. But, just when one thought the match would become very interesting, Momen snatched the initiative back and cruised to an 11-2 fourth game and the match.

So it was a tough day for seeds but a great day for the Kiwis and the Mexican. Who will continue their magical run?

Tomorrow’s semis should be awesome!!!!

14-Jan, Round One:

Paul Marley reports

The first round of the main draw of the 2010 Comfort Inn Squash Championships, presented by Odlum Brown, was played this evening at the Evergreen Squash Club in North Vancouver with all seeds prevailing but there were some notable struggles.

Starting right at the top of the draw, the tournament’s number one seed, Tarek Momen (EGY), started out a little sluggishly letting his very worth opponent, Matthew Karwalski (AUS), dictate the pace and emerge with an 11-9 win in the first game. Then Momen seemed to increase the pace and turned the tables on the Aussie 11-9 in the second. Karwalski then built a very nice 5-2 lead in the 3rd only to see Momen claw his way back into the game, eventually winning 12-10.

The fourth game saw the two combatants tied 5-5 before Momen regained his form to win the match 3-1. The large crowd was hugely entertained by the retrieving skills of these two wonderful athletes.

The tournament’s second seed, Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL), had an even rougher ride from Alan Clyne (SCO). As an indication of things to come, the first game, won by Clyne, took 17 minutes as Clyne built a 10-4 lead only to see Rodriguez work his way back to 11-11 before succumbing 13-11.

The second game seesawed back and forth before Clyne won the second game to go ahead 2-0. If one listened hard enough you could hear the bagpipes warming up in the background as the pride of Inverness, Scotland appeared to be on the verge of a major upset. Clyne continued to play well as he built an 8-5 lead in the third only to have Rodriguez play some magnificent squash to even the game at 9-9 and eventually win 11-9 in 19 minutes. The fourth game was a quickie as Rodriguez won the game convincingly 11-4 as errors seemed to be creeping into Clyne’s game.

The fifth was a barnburner which took 16 minutes as Rodriguez, perhaps on the momentum gained in the fourth sprinted ahead 6-2 only to see Clyne work his way back to 9-9 helped in part by three consecutive errors by Rodriguez. Tension was in the air, or was that the faint sound of the bagpipes again, but Rodriguez was not to be denied as he won the concluding points to take the game 11-9 and the match 3-2 in 73 minutes. The crowd responded with an appreciative standing ovation.

A much anticipated match featured last year’s semi finalist, Arturo Salazar (MEX), and Laurence Delasaux (ENG), who went from qualifier to winner in last fall’s BC Open, also played in the Vancouver area. Salazar’s speed seemed to be the deciding factor in a very difficult match which resulted in a 3-0 win for the young Mexican in 46 minutes.

Rafael Alarcon (BRA), the tournament’s number three seed, also had his hands full with Lewis Walters (ENG). This was a classic battle of the young lion vs the experienced veteran with experience, sprinkled with some clever deception, winning out in the end as Alarcon won a hard fought match 3-1 despite the massive retrieving effort put forth by the talented Walters.

Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) appeared to overmatch the gritty Canadian, Andrew McDougall, but it took 51 minutes before Cuskelly could claim the 3-1 victory in 51 minutes.

Although no reports were received, Campbell Grayson (NZL) and Robin Clarke (CAN) had a hard fought match over 56 minutes resulting in a 3-1 win for Grayson.

The final two matches were won handily by Tom Richards (ENG) and Martin Knight (NZL) over Viktor Berg (CAN) and Adil Maqbool (PAK) respectively.

So, tomorrow should be very interesting as eight players from seven countries participate in the quarter final round. Sadly, no Canadians are among them.
13-Jan, Qualifying Finals:
Paul Marley reports

The qualifying rounds of the 2010 Comfort Inn Squash Championships, presented by Odlum Brown Limited, were concluded this evening at the Evergreen Squash Club in North Vancouver with the seeds prevailing with convincing 3-0 wins.

Much interest was focused on the young local high school student, Remington Hall, who had a wonderful upset win last night in the 1st round of the qualies. But fellow Canadian, Andrew McDougall, gave him a taste of what grad school was all about. Hall’s wonderful array of shots were no match for the much steadier, and experienced, McDougall who, along with wildcard selection, Viktor Berg, now carries Canada’s hopes in the main draw.

The other match of interest featured the 21 year old Khawaja Adil Maqbool (PAK), a veteran of forty-four PSA matches, and the 19 year old Chris Fuller (ENG) who was playing in only his fourth PSA match. Although the final result was 3-0 for Maqbool, Fuller displayed many of the talents that made him such a junior star in England and Maqbool had to work very hard for his victory. Maybe Fuller gave Maqbool a bit too much time to set up his devastating array of cross court nicks, from high on both the backhand and forehand.

The other two matches were most entertaining.

Laurence Delasaux (ENG) seemed to be a bit sluggish for the first half of each game although maybe the young Canadian, Thomas Brinkman (CAN), had something to do with that as he played exceptionally well. But Delasaux seemed to find the extra gear for the second half of each game and a 3-0 victory was his.

Lewis Walters (ENG) and Justin Todd (CAN) both dazzled the crowd with their retrieving abilities and shot making but Walters proved to be too strong and too deceptive in his 3-0 victory.

Bring on the main draw action tomorrow – we can hardly wait!!!!

12-Jan, Qualifying Round One:
"Remington gives close shave"
Paul Marley reports

It was Remington Hall evening at the opening round of qualifying play at the 2010 Comfort Inn Squash Championships, presented by Odlum Brown Limited, being held at the Evergreen Squash Club in North Vancouver.

The purpose of the qualifying rounds, which conclude Wednesday evening, is to determine which four qualifiers, in a sixteen player draw, will advance to the main draw joining the already determined twelve seeds.

All eight matches this evening pitted local Vancouver based top squash players against their more seasoned touring professional opponents and the results were predicable as seven of eight of our boys went down to defeat 3-0, fairly easily.

Remington Hall, a grade twelve student at Delta Secondary, was the lone exception as he faced Colin Ramasra from Trinidad, who made his second consecutive appearance tonight at the Evergreen Squash Club. Ramasra turned pro in 2007 and has maintained a consistent ranking in the 150ish range. He was the clear favorite as Hall’s PSA ranking is a more modest 418. But Hall was aggressive right from the start jumping out to an early 2-0 lead in games. Ramasra won the 3rd game and it appeared that physically he was starting to gain the upper hand. But the gritty Hall built a solid 10-7 lead in the fourth game only to see Ramasra claw his way back to 10-10 before Hall closed out the game and the match. A magnificent win for the youngster.

Hall has little time to savour this victory as he faces a very stiff task tomorrow night. He faces fellow Canadian Andrew McDougall who turned pro in 2006 and is ranked 124th in the world.

Play continues tomorrow at 6:00pm at the Evergreen Squash Club in North Vancouver.

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