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Kent Open 2011
24-29 May, Maidstone, England, $10k

Photo Gallery
Pictures by KIM ROBERTS

Leo Au, the Hong Kong qualifier who powered his way through the draw to reach the semi-finals, was awarded the Wonga Mzimba Sportsmanship Shield in memory of a Mote Squash Club member who died on court during Club Night three weeks ago.


Welcome to the final of the PSA Kent Open, featuring the top two seeds, Chris Ryder and Max Lee.

We are pleased to welcome our young guests who played in the Kent v SE Region Junior Challenge this afternoon.

We hope they enjoy watching the final and learn something about the demands and requirements of moving from junior into senior squash.

The club has been full of school children all week as we have hosted a number of Mini Squash Festivals and the interaction between the youngsters and the professionals has been a joy to watch.

The Kent Open is now established as a major fixture on the PSA World Tour and we are already making plans to develop the tournament next year.

We have enjoyed a week of hugely entertaining professional squash and we look forward to welcoming all players and spectators back to The Mote next year.

[1] Chris Ryder (Eng) beat [2] Max Lee (Hkg)
        11-9, 16-18, 11-9, 8-11, 11-4 (121m)

Ryder wins Mote marathon

Top seed Chris Ryder overcame Max Lee in a marathon final to win the Kent Open title yesterday.

The world No.38 from Leamington Spa won 11-9, 16-18, 11-9, 8-11, 11-4 in a brutal battle lasting 121 minutes.

The second game alone lasted 34 minutes before Lee clinched it 18-16 to level the match at one game all after almost an hour's play.

Ryder was ahead all the way through the opening game and held game ball at 10-8 in the second before Lee launched a phenomenal comeback. Ryder held six game balls but Lee responded positively each time to delight the packed gallery at The Mote Squash Club as he clinched the tiebreak.

Lee led 4-2 in the third game and the crowd sensed a surprise was on the cards. But Ryder's solid technique and fitness helped him to draw level at 6-6 and he finished strongly to close out the game 11-9.

The fourth game followed a similar pattern, but in reverse. Ryder led 4-2 and then 8-7, when Lee left the court for treatment on a cut knee.

When he returned after a nine-minute break he won four points in a row to win the game.

Lee was unsettled by a "No Let" call early in the fifth game when he felt he should have been awarded a stroke. His concentration lapsed and Ryder raced through the game to reach match ball at 10-2. Lee responded with two points but then tinned a tired-looking drive to give Ryder the title.

This was Ryder's second title at the club, having won the inaugural Mote Classic two years ago before the tournament was upgraded to a PSA World Tour event.

"I am happy with the win overall. I thought my opponent played very well, as he has done all week.

"It was an even squash standard between the two of us, and I felt that my fitness pulled me through in the end. I enjoyed playing some nice drops from the back of the court but they didnít seem to work so well at the front at times. Maybe they were the ones when I had too much time.

"During the long tiebreak I had to tell myself to start again and picture it as 1-1 again. I had to come out with more aggression and concentrate on getting that game ball.

"The match lasted more than two hours and at times it was brutal. Physically I felt good all the way through although my left leg was hurting at times. When Max had to go off to treat his knee that seemed to help it calm down, so Iím pleased about that.

"Some of the decisions were hard to understand. I think the referee should have given a few more No Lets because at times I felt my backhand volley drops were winners. There were some bad calls and I think I got the majority of them!

"I love playing here at The Mote and still havenít lost here yet. The courts play well and the players all appreciate the way they are looked after here by so many of the members.

"Itís great to hear that the tournament may be growing next year. I look forward to coming back, as I am sure all the players do.

"I have enjoyed every day of the tournament.

"I have played well all week but Chris is a very strong player. I started slowly but felt I played well in the middle of the match.

"I have been working here in England with Peter Genever and he keeps telling me that the important thing is the quality of my shots.

"Chris is a very strong and experienced player and I knew it was going to be a tough match.

"That was the longest match I have played in PSA competition and it was very hard at times.

Kent Open 2011
24-29 May, Maidstone, England, $10k
Round One
26 May 
27 May
28 May
29 May
[3] Max Lee (Hkg)
12-10, 12-10, 11-9 (56m)
[Q] Chris Fuller (Eng)
[3] Max Lee
11-7, 11-2, 11-9 (36m)
Ben Ford
[3] Max Lee

12-10, 11-3, 6-11, 11-3 (62m)

Joel Hinds

[3] Max Lee

 11-9, 16-18, 11-9, 8-11, 11-4 (121m)

[2] Chris Ryder

Fabien Verseille (Fra)
1-9, 11-9, 6-11, 11-6 (53m)
Ben Ford (Eng)
Olivier Pett (Eng)
12-14, 11-7, 9-11, 12-10, 11-7 (78m)
[Q] Ben Coleman (Eng)
Olivier Pett
11-8, 11-13, 12-10, 8-11, 11-7 (76m)
Joel Hinds
James Snell (Eng)
13-11, 11-6, 11-8 (35m)
Joel Hinds (Eng)
[4] Henrik Mustonen (Fin)
14-12, 11-8, 11-4 (34m)
[Q] Leo Au (Hkg)
[Q] Leo Au
12-10, 9-11, 11-4, 12-10 (70m)
Dick Lau
[Q] Leo Au

8-11, 11-3, 11-5, 10-12, 11-3 (65m)

[2] Chris Ryder

Dick Lau (Hkg)
11-9, 11-1, 11-8 (35m)
[LL] Phil Nightingale
Eddie Charlton (Eng)
 11-9, 11-9, 12-10 (53m)
[Q] Yasir Butt (Pak)
Eddie Charlton
13-11, 11-3, 11-2 (52m)
[2] Chris Ryder
Chris Truswell (Eng)
7-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-3 (49m)
[2] Chris Ryder (Eng)

25-May, Qualifying Finals:

Ben Coleman
(Eng) bt Aqib Hanif (Pak)              11-9, 11-2, 11-6 (42m)
Leo Au (Hkg) bt Robbie Downer (Eng)       11-5, 11-13, 11-1, 11-8 (51m)
Chris Fuller (Eng) bt Phil Nightingale (Eng)        11-6, 12-10, 11-5 (52m)
Yasir Butt (Pak) bt Alex Ingham (Eng)                 11-2, 11-9, 11-6 (30m)

24-May, Qualifying Round One:
Ben Coleman (Eng) bt Adil Magbool (Pak)          11-7, 11-6, 11-5 (32m)
Aqib Hanif (Pak) bt Rory Pennell (Eng)              11-8, 9-11, 11-3, 11-9 (54m)
Robert Downer (Eng) bt Richard Birks (Eng)      11-1, 8-11, 11-5, 11-5 (45m)
Leo Au (Hkg) bt Jamie Mathews (Eng)                11-5, 11-3, 11-5 (23
Chris Fuller (Eng) bt Neil Hitchens (Eng) v          6-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-5 (62m)
Phil Nightingale (Eng) bt Jonny Powell (Eng)      11-4, 11-9, 11-3 (20m)
Alex Ingham (Eng) bt Neil Baker (Eng)              11-5, 11-6, 11-2 (34m)
Yasir Butt (Pak) bt Andrew Birks (Eng)               7-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-8 (49m)

Photo Gallery
Pictures by KIM ROBERTS


The racketball Radar Gun shoot-out produced another top speed with Ant Garrett smashing the ball at 138mph to claim the world record. Well done Ant!!

Robbie Downer made a valiant effort to beat John Whiteís 172mph record for squash but peaked today at 167 mph and could not match or better his amazing 171mph recorded earlier this week.

key sponsor
Jonny Powell said:

"I am paying an extra five grand into the tournament next year, and I'm taking it lying down!!!


England and Hong Kong shared the spoils in the semi-finals of the Kent Open as top seeds Chris Ryder and Max Lee won their respective matches to advance to the final at The Mote Squash Club in Maidstone, Kent.

Lee beat Joel Hinds in the first semi-final before top seed Chris Ryder finally put paid to the amazing giant-killing run of little Leo Au, the 5ft 2in world No.117 who has lit up this PSA Challenger 10 World Series tournament with his astonishing racket skills .


Max Lee (Hkg) bt Joel Hinds (Eng)
                 12-10, 11-3, 6-11, 11-3 (62 m)
Chris Ryder (Eng) bt Leo Au (Hkg) 
                 8-11, 11-3, 11-5, 10-12, 11-3 (65m)

Max Lee booked his place in the Kent Open final with a top-quality display to beat Joel Hinds 3-1.

The world No.66 from Hong Kong dominated for long periods of the match with a disciplined game plan. His straight volleys, tight drops and gut-ripping boasts offered suggestions that this talented young man can climb a lot higher in the world rankings.

As the match progressed, he became more adventurous with some crosscourt volley kills rolling out of the nick.

Hinds lost the first game on a tiebreak after holding an 8-2 lead, not something you see very often in PAR to 11 scoring. Lee made a number of uncharacteristic mistakes at the start of the match and Hinds must have felt this was to be his day. But once Lee tightened up he dominated the middle of the court and pounced on anything loose.

Having won the tiebreak, he powered through the second game 11-3. Hinds must have wondered what hit him.

But in the third game the former British Under-23 champion stepped up the pace and seemed to find some success with cross courts that forced his opponent to twist and turn.

He won it 11-6 but Lee regained control in the fourth game. Hinds led 3-2 but failed to win another point as Lee forced him from corner to corner.

Now operating in an effortless comfort zone, Lee rolled in some outstanding boasts and crosscourt volley winners to show that, hiding beneath that disciplined front, lies an extravagant wealth of shots waiting to be unleashed on a more regular basis.

Quality stuff. And a great way to entertain another packed gallery at The Mote.

I played really well and I needed to, otherwise I wouldnít have won. The first game was critical; Joel started really quickly and wasnít letting me play my game.

I tried to slow it down and play to my strengths. I tried to keep it tight and in the corners as Joel has such a big reach. I started a lot better in the second, my shots were feeling much more comfortable and I got a good lead.

He stepped up in the third and didnít let me finish in three. I started to feel a little tired in the third. Once I lost the third I was telling myself to think positive and play the way I did to win the first. I came back well in the fourth and built another good lead. This was the first time I had played Joel and I enjoyed the match.

I look forward to the final tomorrow. I hope to play Leo. We are normally quite equal so it will be interesting, if that is the final.

Top seed Chris Ryder overcame a spirited challenge from Hong Kong qualifier Leo Au to reach the final of the Kent Open.

Before a packed gallery at The Mote Squash Club, Ryder finally showed why he is the higher ranked player, dominating the fith game to clinch victory in 65 minutes of compelling squash.

Au attacked throughout the match and made Ryder work hard for his victory. The 21-year-old from Hong Kong won the opening game and fought back solidly in the fourth as Ryder appeared to be moving imperiously to his allotted place in the final. Au won the fourth game on a tie break but Ryder recovered his composure, control and trademark quality length to close out the fifth 11-3.

Au played superbly and it was a massive examination of Ryder's senior ranking. But the Englishman rose to the challenge and his dominance of the fifth game showed just what a class act he is. Tomorrow he faces another Hong Kong opponent in what should be an absorbing and entertaining final.

Iím a little bit frustrated that I didnít play better to win in 4, but happy that I managed to close it out in the 5th. I felt in control towards the end of the fourth but Leo decided to go for his shots and they all seemed to come off. I seemed to take the role of the steady player and trying not to make any mistakes.

It will be tough against Max tomorrow he is playing well and hitting the ball cleanly. Heís a very open and attacking player, so itís going to be a tough battle.

I played quite well today, as I have done throughout the whole tournament. I am very satisfied with my performance. Chris was just too good today.

I didnít expect to get this far in the tournament, having come through qualifying. It should really help my ranking.


Ted Jeal restored the faith in the racketball community purists as he beat Henrik Mustonen in the final. But it was a close thing. Ted won the first game on a tiebreak 12-10 after trailing 8-4.

Henrik hit back to win the second 11-9 but Ted finished strongly to win the third 11-6 after trailing 5-4.

Henrik enjoyed the experience; Ted enjoyed the victory! Another trophy for Kent!

27-May, Quarters:
It's England v Hong Kong in Kent Semis

The Kent Open semi-finals feature two battles between England and Hong Kong after a night of thrilling squash in the quarter-finals at The Mote Squash Club in Maidstone, Kent.

No.3 seed Max Lee ended local involvement in this PSA Challenger 10 world tour event as he battered Kent professional Ben Ford in straight games, winning 11-7, 11-2, 11-9 in 36 minutes.

The 35-year-old Ford admitted that he made too many mistakes as he struggled to devise an effective strategy against a super-fit opponent who was 12 years his junior.

Lee meets Joel Hinds in the semi-finals after the former British Under-23 champion beat fellow Englishman Ollie Pett in the longest and most entertaining match of the night.

Both players were committed to full-on attacking squash throughout the match and the 22-year-old Pett, from Sussex, was on the verge of causing a major upset as he led 4-1 in the fifth game.

But Pettís flamboyant style, which had produced so many spectacular shots, suddenly dried up and the winners that flowed from his racket turned into errors. Hinds tightened up and gained control to win eight points in a row.

Pett rallied briefly but the gap was too wide to bridge and the number four seed closed out the match after 76 minutes, winning 11-8, 11-13, 12-10, 8-11, 11-7 in front of a packed and enthusiastic gallery at The Mote.

In another all-English battle, top seed Chris Ryder overcame Nottingham-based Eddie Charlton in straight games, winning 13-11, 11-3, 11-2 in 52 minutes of gruelling combat.

Charlton led for most of the opening game but the 30-year-old Ryder, from Leamington Spa, won the tiebreak and then dominated the next two games to book his place in the last four against Hong Kong qualifier Leo Au.

The 5ft 2in Au continued his giant-killing run by beating compatriot Dick Lau 12-10, 9-11, 11-4, 12-10 in 70 minutes of dynamic, intelligent squash. Once again the world No.117 Auís superb touch was the decisive factor as he chopped in a succession of winning drop shots to overcome an opponent 35 places above him in the world rankings.

As the evening closed,and the packed gallery melted away, the UK Racketball team moved in to set things up for a huge day of racketball before the two PSA semi-finals at 5pm and 6pm.

Photo Gallery
Pictures by KIM ROBERTS


Max Lee (Hong Kong) beat Ben Ford (England)
             11-7, 11-2, 11-9 (36 mins)

Due to my opponentís strength and my poor performance, I didnít play well today. I knew what I had to do but still knew it was going to be tough.

Thanks to Alan for organizing a great tournament and good luck to Max in the next round.

This was the first time we had played; I knew he was very experienced so knew it wasnít going to be easy. In the first game I started well, I kept the ball tight and made very few errors.

Ben made a lot of mistakes in the second so this allowed me to push forward and win the game. I started well in the third but Ben came back and went into the lead. I fought well and managed to just take it.

Leo Au (Hong Kong) beat Dick Lau (Hong Kong)
            12-10, 9-11, 11-4, 12-10 (70 mins)

I am very happy with that result and I really enjoyed the match. We know each other too well; we know each others every move. I had to play a basic game and keep the mistakes low. I felt some of the decisions were a bit harsh against Dick.

Looking forward to tomorrow, hopefully it will be another good match.

My performance was ok; I felt I gave it 100%. Today I think the thing that let me down was my concentration, it wasnít as good as Leoís today. I feel as If sometimes I am too casual. As I have said before I havenít been playing that many tournaments, but I am pleased with my speed and the way my body feels. I never lost confidence I felt if it had gone to the 5th I would have had the fitness and style of game to win.

I got used to the refs decisions. This is the sport I play and love, so I accept the decisions they make.

Joel Hinds (England) beat Ollie Pett (England)
             11-8, 11-13, 12-10, 8-11, 11-7 (76 mins)

It was a very tough, long match. He was playing well and was attacking any time he could. There were patches where there were dips in concentration from both of us. From 4-1 down in the fifth, I was starting to get a bit twitchy and I just decided I wasnít going to make any more mistakes.

Iíll be up for it tomorrow playing Max. I know it will be tough but I am looking forward to it.

It went well and was pleased with the way I played. It was really patchy; there were phases of good then phases of bad. It was a good game played in good spirit (as it always is with Joel.) To be honest, I am gutted.

At 4-1 up in the 5th my head went. I think it was because of the lack of matches and I think it caught up with me.

Chris Ryder (England) beat Eddie Charlton (England)
               13-11, 11-3, 11-2 (52 mins)

I am bitterly disappointed with that. I genuinely thought I had a good chance. I had been playing well and I went on knowing what I had to do. The first game was crucial. It gave Chris the momentum. I had a really bad start in the second. Chris was dropping the ball every 2 or 3 shots and credit to him, he didnít miss many. Physically, I didnít feel that tired. I didnít apply myself mentally. The concentration was the key thing today and it let me down. I will take a lot with me from this match.

The referees were very inconsistent. It didnít in anyway determine the outcome of the match; we had equally as bad decisions. I think we both let it affect us.

Yes, I felt I played really well, especially looking at the 2nd and 3rd. I am really happy with the 3 0 score line, I think it is a bit flattering as it doesnít fully some up the game. The first was very important if it had gone the other way the match would have been a lot different. We played at the weekend and it was very similar first and second game. I was expecting the third to be a lot tougher.

Thereís always room for improvement but overall I am very pleased with that. Eddieís improving really quickly.

Iíve never played Leo before. I have been watching him this week. He looks very neat and organized, he moves very well and he has no obvious weakness.


26-May, Round One:
Au and Ford in Kent upsets ...

Youngster Leo Au and veteran Ben Ford pulled off shock victories in the first round of the Kent Open.

Au, the 21-year-old world No.117 from Hong Kong, beat the number three seed Henrik Mustonen in straight games in this PSA Challenger 10 tournament at The Mote Squash Club in Maidstone, Kent.

That surprise result was soon followed by another as Ford, the 35-year-old wild card from nearby Bexley, ranked 150 in the world, overcame Frenchman Fabien Verseille, ranked 51 places higher.

Ford's superb touch at the front of the court provided the decisive factor as he took advantage of any loose shots from his opponent.

After Ford had won the opening two games by the same 11-9 margin, Verseille dominated the third but he was surprised as Ford hit back to finish strongly in the fourth, winning the final five points from 6-6 to clinch a quarter-final slot against number two seed Max Lee, one of three Hong Kong players in the competition.

Lee overcame Chris Fuller 12-10, 12-10, 11-9 in a desperately close match despite the 20-year-old Englishman opening up substantial leads in each game.

Lee's compatriot Au played superbly to beat Finnish number two Mustonen, the world number 60 from Finland. Au won the opening game 14-12 after a dramatic tiebreak sequence and this boosted his confidence as he grew stronger in each of the next two games, clinching victory in 35 minutes of high-quality squash.

Au's opponent in the quarter-finals is a third Hong Kong representative, world No.82 Dick Lau, who ended the involvement of the qualifying competition's lucky loser Phil Nightingale, who was awarded a place in the main draw following the surprise withdrawal of top seed Joey Barrington.

Top seed Chris Ryder beat regular training partner Chris Truswell and meets fellow Englishman Eddie Charlton, who played superbly to beat Pakistan's former world No.40 Yasir Butt.

Four young Englishmen provided two outstanding matches, with world No.119 Olivier Pett surviving two match balls against 20-year-old qualifier Ben Coleman before winning the longest match of the night in 78 minutes in five games of outstanding squash.

In the quarter-finals he meets former British Under-23 champion Joel Hinds, the world No.74 who beat James Snell in straight games.

Photo Gallery
Pictures by KIM ROBERTS

talk to the Players ...

Chris Ryder (Eng) bt Chris Truswell (Eng)
               7-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-3 (49 mins)

I train with Chris a lot as we both play at the same club. Heís never played that well against me before. He was very relaxed and positive. He hit some great volley drops which seemed to roll every time. Being the 1st game of the tournament and being the top seed I started a bit nervy. 9-9 in the second was a crucial point, I had a plan and luckily it worked otherwise it would have been tough from 2-0 down.

Played Eddie at the weekend and won but it was very tough. Iíll have to be on top of my game otherwise he has a good chance.

I am very pleased with the way that went and am pleased with the way I played. He played at a higher pace and was more accurate in the end.

Eddie Charlton (Eng) bt Yasir Butt (Pak)
                11-9, 11-9, 12-10 (53 mins)

It was a very patchy match. I felt in stages I was playing well and attacking him but at other times I was playing a negative game. It is hard playing someone who is very accurate at attacking. I have been playing really well recently. This tournament has come right in the middle of my summer training so itís not perfect timing.

Really looking forward to playing Chris tomorrow. The pressure will be on him so I can go out and enjoy myself.

I was feeling very confident today. I played really well most of the time. I made a few too many unforced errors at crucial times. He deserved to win and I wish him the best of luck in the rest of the tournament.

Leo Au (Hkg) beat Henrik Mustonen (Fin)
                         14-12, 11-8, 11-4 (35 mins)

I played really well and am very pleased with what was a surprise result, seeing the big difference in rankings. All of my shots seemed to go in and everything was paying off. Tomorrow I will just go out and enjoy myself.

This was my first match since the Europeans. The first game was very important and it could have gone either way. If I had won it would have given me the confidence to go on and win. However, it went the other way and gave Leo the confidence to play his game.

Dick Lau (Hkg) beat Phil Nightingale (Eng)
                  11-9, 11-1, 11-8

I played pretty well. This was my first game back from eight weeks of training. Obviously, playing Phil is never easy, mainly because of his size. The courts here at The Mote suit my game.

I am looking forward to playing Leo tomorrow. We train a lot with each other (and are sharing a room this week); however, we have never played a serious competitive match.

Joel Hinds (Eng) beat James Snell (Eng)
             13-11, 11-6, 11-8 (35 mins)

I am pleased with that match, it went well. I built good leads in all of the games but each time he came back. But I just managed to close each one out and am pleased with a 3-0.

Not sure who I am playing yet tomorrow, I have played them both before. It will be tough but I am looking forward to it.

It was very close in the first game but Joel played well and made fewer mistakes.

This is a great tournament and we need more events like this. Itís hard to get the sponsorship but it would be nice to see some kind of English series to help the players at this level.

Olivier Pett (Eng) beat Ben Coleman (Eng)
             12-14, 11-7, 9-11, 12-10, 11-7 (78 mins)

Tough. Iíve just come returned from 3 weeks out with a shoulder injury, and this was my 1st match back. I lost my concentration a few times during the match, which allowed Ben in. Ben played brilliantly today and put me under a lot of pressure.

Tomorrow will be another very tough match against Joel. Hopefully by getting that first game out of the way I will be able to stay fully switched on tomorrow.

Ben Ford (Eng) beat Fabien Verseille (Fra)
               11-9, 11-9, 6-11, 11-6

I played well in the first and fourth. I lost control of the ball in the second and third (it felt like i was using someone elses racket.) After the first few points he'd made a few mistakes, so I just had to be patient and wait for him to make the errors. I noticed he also wasn't moving great which gave me encouragement.

Whoever I play tomorrow it will be tough.

I was a bit slow to start with in the first two games and let Ben build a big lead each time. He hits the ball beautifully at the front of the court and finished the rallies very well when he had the chance. I was a lot better in the third game but I made too many mistakes in the fourth and let Ben back in.

The courts here are very good. They are very similar to my own club back in France. They play very well and the crowd here is fantastic. The radar gun was a lot of fun.

Max Lee (Hkg) beat Chris Fuller (Eng)
                        12-10, 12-10, 11-9 (56 mins)

I was struggling to get my length right for a lot of the match and had to lift the ball higher to get it to the back of the court. I wasnít comfortable with my drop shots at times but once I got the ball deeper I was able to move forward and get in front. That made the big difference.

I think I have prepared well for the tournament, getting here early and getting used to the way the ball moves here. It is very different back in Asia with the ball moving a lot faster. I have not played Ben before and I am looking forward to it.

Three very close, tight games and in the end it was down to the quality of Maxís shots that made the difference. I was ahead in every game and felt I was playing well but he got stronger in every game. At times he had me running around a lot.

I have enjoyed the tournament very much. Itís very well organized, this a great club and I look forward to coming back next year and doing a bit better.


25-May, Qualifying Finals:
Five through to Mote Main Draw

Ben Coleman (Eng) bt Aqib Hanif (Pak)
           11-9, 11-2, 11-6 (42 mins)

Ben Coleman was the first into the main draw with an efficient, straight-games victory over Aqib Hanif from Pakistan. Ben looks in fine form and is keen to do well tomorrow.

The first game was very physical as both players worked their way into the match. Coleman dominated the second to win 11-2 and he stayed in front in the third.

"I was unsure what to expect as I have never seen Aqib play and this resulted in a scrappy first game. I adjusted to his style and felt I stepped to win the first game. You always have the feeling that you can win, but you have to make sure you stay focused and donít become too casual.

"It was a tough match and I thoroughly enjoyed playing Aqib. This was helped by the really good atmosphere at Mote Squash Club.
I have started my summer training so I feel there is no pressure on me, meaning that I can just enjoy my squash. Whoever I play tomorrow, I feel that if I play my best I am confident I can do well."

"I feel I played well during the match, with little unforced errors. My opponent played a very good game, and he deserved to win. My experience has been a very different one, with the different courts and referee system over here. Overall I have had a very good experience, and feel my opponent deserve to win."

Leo Au (Hkg) bt Robbie Downer (Eng)
            11-5, 11-13, 11-1, 11-8 (51 mins)

Leo looked solid to win the opening game and was one point away from taking a two-game advantage as held game ball in the second.

From 10-7 down Robbie clawed his way back to draw level with an overhead volley kill. He moved ahead in the tiebreak with a crosscourt drop into the front right nick and finished in style with a flat nick from an overhead straight volley kill.

That effort clearly took its toll and Downer looked very tired as Au powered through the third game 11-1. The fourth was a titanic battle with Downer fighting to stay in the game but Au finally squeezed home to book his place in the main draw.

"I think I played satisfactory today. The 2nd game was hard and I felt I lost my concentration in the middle. I enjoyed playing Rob. He was a smooth player with a tricky backhand.

"I like the courts here they play really well. This is my 1st time in Maidstone and I am really enjoying it. I am really looking forward to the next round and just hope to go out and enjoy myself."

"I played better than I expected to in certain patches. Afterwards I felt that if I had had a stronger mental concentration at vital times the match might have swung in my direction.

"I was nervous in the 1st game because I was unsure what to expect. At 10-7 down in the 2nd I went for my shots and it paid off. I felt I shouldíve won the 4th. I learnt a lot from that match and look forward to playing him again after a good summers training.

"I was looked after very well by the Mote."

Chris Fuller (Eng) bt Phil Nightingale (Eng)
             11-6, 12-10, 11-5 (52 mins)

Chris Fuller produced his second high-quality performance in a row to overcome the tall Phil Nightingale. Fuller won in straight games, but it was a physically punishing contest lasting almost an hour.

Fuller moved ahead from 5-5 to finish strongly in the first game but the second was neck and neck all the way through until Fuller clinched the tiebreak 12-10.

He attacked from the start of the third and opened up a 6-0 lead before Nightingale responded, but his effort was too late to prevent his opponent from closing out the match in style.

"I felt pretty good during the match, played ok and am happy I got through it. He was awkward to play because he is so big and this wasnít helped by the hot and bouncy court which meant the ball was very loose.

"Itís a really nice cub with a really good atmosphere. I was told good things and it has lived up to expectations. The tournament has run smoothly. Itís an added bonus that there is a cricket pitch outside and have enjoyed watching the juniors play.

"There are some slots in the main draw that look good but anything tomorrow will be a bonus."

I feel very happy with my performance today, and my training is beginning to show. I feel that I played well in patched, but I could have played better overall. My opponent played a very tight game, making it harder for me to play the best shots possible. I am pleased with the way the game went overall.

"However I have been chosen for the lucky losers place in the main draw, which allows me to continue through the competition. I fell this second chance will allow me to prove I deserve a place in the main draw.

"I would like to thank my coach, Pete, for all the hard work he has put in, and many thanks to Simon Scott from Harrow for his support towards this tournament."

Yasir Butt (Pak) bt Alex Ingham (Eng)
             11-2, 11-9, 11-6 (30 mins)

Yasir Butt looked impressive once again as he overpowered Alex Ingham in straight games. Ingham was completely out of it in the first game but responded solidly in the second before Butt clinched it 11-9.

The Pakistani was in control throughout the third and Ingham could not keep up with Buttís power, pace and precision drops.

"I was pretty confident before I went on. I was very focused throughout, played well and hit some good shots. Alex played very well, but it turned out to be my day.

"I am playing Eddie tomorrow and Iím confident. I have never played him before but it will be a good experience and I hope for the best."

"I started slowly in the first, not getting very good length. In the second game my length improved and I started to get in to it much better. It was a good experience. He was very quick and had good hands. I had to be accurate otherwise he punished me."

Day Two Roundup

Top seed Joey Barringtonís late withdrawal from the Kent Open was good news for qualifier Phil Nightingale, who was awarded a Lucky Loserís place in the first round of this PSA Challenger 10 tournament.

World No.36 Barrington was forced to pull out with a hamstring injury midway through the qualifying competition at The Mote Squash Club in Maidstone, Kent. But the 6ft 4in Surrey player Nightingale gained a reprieve after losing in straight games to Chris Fuller in the qualifying finals.

Nightingaleís reward is a first round match with Dick Lau, from Hong Kong, while Fuller faces a much tougher examination against the new No.2 seed, Max Lee, also from Hong Kong.

A third Hong Kong player, Leo Au, overcame Hampshireís big hitter Robbie Downer to book his place in the first round draw against No.3 seed Henrik Mustonen from Finland.

Earlier in the day Downer had come desperately close to beating John Whiteís world record ball speed of 172mph.

Watched by a cheering crowd of school children taking part in the Kent Junior Squash Festival, Downer achieved an amazing 171mph with his powerful forehand, but he was unable to out-hit the patient and controlled Au later in the day.

Chris Ryder, the new top seed, faces fellow Englishman Chris Truswell.


Top seed Barrington out

Top seed Joey Barrington has withdrawn on the eve of the PSA Kent Open, forcing a partial redraw for this PSA Challenger 15 tournament.

The PSA notified the tournament that Barrington was suffering from a hamstring injury barely two hours before the qualifying finals began.

His absence means that a lucky loser will join the four qualifiers in gaining a place in the first round draw.

24-May, Qualifying Round One:
By ALAN THATCHER, quotes from roving reporter James Evans

Four fantastic qualifying finals are in prospect in the Kent Open with four places in the main draw on offer to the winners.

Five English players won through to the finals, with two from Pakistan and one from Hong Kong after an opening night of exceptional squash.

In the longest match of the night, Chris Fuller achieved an excellent victory over the higher-ranked Neil Hitchens, triumphing 6-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-5 in 62 minutes.

Fuller meets the tall Surrey player Phil Nightingale, who overcame gallant Mote member Jonny Powell who, after squandering a good start in the first game - "the first four points went well then it went downhill after that!" - came desperately close to achieving his goal of pinching game in a very close second. Nightingaleís superior fitness told as he squeezed home 11-9, but Powell drew warm applause from a packed gallery for some outstanding winners.

"I felt it was hard to control the match today as the court was very hot and bouncy, which made it hard to get a good drop in. I managed to keep getting the ball back, which ended up frustrating him.

"I've never played Phil before, so it will be a new experience. Am looking forward to having to run circles round him to get to the ball. If I play well I am confident I can win."

Ben Coleman played superbly to overcome Adil Maqbool 3-1 and he faces another Pakistani, Aqib Hanif, in the qualifying finals. Hanif won a very tight match against Rory Pennell in 54 minutes, with disappointed to hit a succession of tins from winning positions.

"I felt I played solid today and kept it tidy. I did nothing too complicated. I know he is a good shot maker so I kept him at the back and took the opportunity when it was there and made sure I didn't let him volley.

"I don't know a lot about Aqib but know he is also a good shot maker. If I can keep it tidy, with a good length, I am confident I can do well."

Leo Au from Hong Kong was too fast and accurate for Jamie Mathews and eased home in straight games. He is sure to be extended in a contest of contrasting styles by the hard-hitting Robbie Downer, who triumphed against Richard Birks in the match between the two tournament reserves who stepped in after the withdrawals of Wael Farag and James Evans.

Downer blitzed his way through the opening game 11-1 but Birks worked his way back into the match with some intelligent squash in the second game. It was a tight battle from then on, but Downer won the third and fourth games by an 11-5 margin to boo his place in the finals.

"I played a simple first game, felt comfortable and made sure there were no errors. Richard came out strong in the second and took me a bit by surprise; he hit better length and stood a lot further up the court.
"The third and fourth games were close up until about 5-5 and then I managed to attack and get in front of him. I am very pleased with way I played. It was a hard and fun match!

"I have never seen Leo play. From what I hear he is a steady player. It is a definite step up in level but if I play my best I think I have a good chance.

"I was really pleased that I got a late call up as I am trying to get games like these which are a high level."

Yasir Butt of Pakistan followed his weekend triumph in Lahore by beating Richardís brother Andrew Birks, responding strongly after losing the opening game. Birks plays a game with deft touch and superb use of the lob, but ultimately Buttís drops were tighter and his shot placement was more accurate. However, the Birks brothers look sure to make in impact on this game with their measured style of play.

"I am really pleased with the way I played in that match. Andrew played really well in the first game, but I was able to get back in it in the last three games by being more focused.

"After a couple of years away from the UK I am very pleased to be back and am playing the best I have in a long time."

Buttís opponent in the qualifying finals will be Alex Ingham, who overcame the Kent county captain Neil Baker in straight games, but the improving Baker worked hard to keep his opponent on court for 34 minutes.

Alan's Kent Open Blog

After Simon Scott and I continued our unbeaten doubles run last night against Jonny Powell and Ryan Duke (and Ryan and the nimble club chairman Dave Verga), it was time to get back on the radar gun.

Jonny clocked 154mph, Yasir Buttt 151mph, Aqib Hanif 137mph and Mark Swann (one of our courtesy drivers) a very creditable 127mph for a bloke with a swing that's currently undergoing considerable reconstruction.
Then, along came Simon to show everyone how it's done. And clocked a personal best 163mph! Wow!

More Blog
full blog coming tomorrow


After Simon Scott and I continued our unbeaten doubles run last night against Jonny Powell and Ryan Duke (and Ryan and the nimble club chairman Dave Verga), it was time to get back on the radar gun.

Jonny clocked 154mph, Yasir Buttt 151mph, Aqib Hanif 137mph and Mark Swann (one of our courtesy drivers) a very creditable 127mph for a bloke with a swing that's currently undergoing considerable reconstruction.
Then, along came Simon to show everyone how it's done. And clocked a personal best 163mph! Wow!

Tuesday Update:


Drama last night as Egyptian Wael Farag pulled out of the tournament because of a knee injury.

Chris Truswell, the highest-ranked player in the qualifying competition, was moved up to the main draw and he meets No.2 seed Chris Ryder in Thursday's first round.

After much phoning around, trying to contact available reserves, the slot in the qualifying competition went to Richard Birks, from Telford. As luck would have it, his brother Andrew was already in the competition, drawn against Pakistan's Yasir Butt, and Richard was travelling down to cheer him on.

By a twist of fate, Richard meets fellow replacement Robbie Downer, who came in yesterday to replace the host club's British Under-15 champion James Evans, who injured his ankle at the weekend. Ben Coleman, the fifth-ranked qualifier, was moved up to the vacant number one slot to meet Pakistan's Adil Maqbool.

Phew! With all the admin out of the way, it's time to check the courts and bask in the warm glow of the fantastic new lighting provided by Cygnia Maintenance from Broadstairs (www.cygniamaintenance.com ). Thanks to Fraser Burns from Cygnia for all his help.


Sad news for The Mote as British Under-15 champion James Evans was forced to withdraw from the PSA Kent Open qualifying competition with a badly swollen ankle.

He was injured playing Mote stalwart Paul Newvell on Friday and spent the weekend on crutches. (After another Mote junior, Ryan Duke, went to hospital a few weeks ago after playing Newvy, the club are warning all juniors to avoid playing him!!)

James's place in the qualifying draw was taken by Robbie Downer, from Portsmouth, who was drawn against Ben Coleman.

The Mote's Jonny Powell, a co-sponsor and one-man fun palace (see last year's blog) was drawn against former Biggin Hill player Phil Nightingale, a regular visitor to the Mote during the Harrow Grand Prix Series.

Kent county captain Neil Baker, from Rodmersham, faces a tough battle against Alex Ingham, top qualifying seed Chris Truswell meets Adil Maqbool from Pakistan, and no.2 seed Yasir Butt, also from Pakistan, plays Andrew Birks.

Play starts at 5pm and admission is free at The Mote all week.

Gardening Duties

Busy start to the day as The Mote gardening team (Dave Ealham and me) dug up some weeds and tidied up the outside of the club. By the time we had finished, it was like a never-ending Forth Bridge job as high winds blew hundreds of leaves across the car park from the tall poplars behind the cricket pavilion. (Google the Ealham name to check his family's Kent cricketing connections).

Sadly, the trees have a preservation order on them from the local council. A few years ago a quick call to a mate of mine in the Royal Engineers based in Maidstone and they might have suffered a mysterious overnight disappearance... but that's Classified Information.

Speedy Simon

It was good to see one of our main sponsors, Simon Scott from Harrow, at the draw. We tested out the radar gun and Simon beat all-comers (as always) with a whack of 155mph.

The Mote is actually the best-selling club of Harrow products in the country.

Bar manager and club treasurer Joe Wheatley had won a prize to go on court with squash legend Jonathon power later in the year but unfortunately he will be abroad on duty with the England Roller Hockey squad (he is one of the national coaches).

That means we get to raffle the prize .... anybody want to make a bid (starting at five grand towards next year's Kent Open).

Sportsmanship Award

As well as prize money and ranking points, the players will also be competing for a special £100 Sportsmanship Award and a plaque in memory of Wonga Mzimba, a popular Mote member who suffered a heart attack on court recently.

The award was put by co-sponsor Paul Wakeling, who was the first member to put his hand in his pocket after last year's tournament.

The Mote members have rallied round in brilliant fashion to raise sponsorship money in recent months, with Paul Newvell, Dave Barnett and Navine Kumtawala organising some fantastic round-robin events.


Right, that's the serious work done. I'm off to play some doubles with Mr Scott, still busy preserving our worldwide unbeaten record. (We choose our opponents very carefully!).



Joey Barrington, son of squash legend Jonah, is top seed in the forthcoming Kent Open.

The world No.36 from Somerset heads a strong international field as the PSA World Tour event returns to The Mote Squash Club in Maidstone from May 24-29.

Chris Ryder, the world No.38 from Leamington, who won the Mote Classic two years ago before the event became a world-ranking tournament, is seeded to meet Barrington in the final.

Rising squash powerhouse Hong Kong provides two of the leading seeds, Max Lee and Dick Lau at three and six, with Finland's Henrik Mustonen at four.

Fabien Verseille from France is seeded eight, followed by talented Egyptian Wael Farag, who will be making a popular return to The Mote.

He faces a tough draw against No.2 seed Ryder in the first round on May 26.

The tournament also gives an opportunity for young English professionals to earn valuable ranking points and prize money, with world student champion Joel Hinds seeded at five.

Mote fans are also looking forward to seeing Eddie Charlton at the club for the first time, with fellow Englishman Ollie Pett and James Snell in the first round draw.

The Mote's British Under-15 champion James Evans joins clubmate Jonny Powell and Rodmersham's Neil Baker in the qualifying competition which runs from May 24-25.

Kent veteran Ben Ford, from Bexley, has been awarded the wild card and he faces young Frenchman Verseille in the opening round of the main draw.

The tournament is the focal point of the Kent Squash Festival, which will be introducing more than 300 school children to the sport all over the county. Many of the youngsters will be visiting the tournament during the week and as well as watching some top-class action they will also get the opportunity to go on court with some of the leading players.

The Kent Open continues to grow and this year includes one of the UK Racketball Series events on Saturday May 28.

That will be a busy day, with two PSA semi-finals, the tournament party and Bar-B-Q, and the Champions League final live on Sky, followed by a live band.

2010 Event

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