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Northern Ontario Open 2014
31 Mar - 05 Apr, Sudbury, Canada, $25k
05-Apr, Final: 
Coppinger claims Northerns title
Mike McCue reports   
photos by Meghan McCue    MORE PHOTOS

Steve Coppinger won the 2014 Northern Open title in convincing fashion over Marwan El Shorbagy in front of a packed audience this afternoon at the Sudbury YMCA.

Both players immediately found an immaculate length and width to begin the match, but Coppinger was on the ball fractionally quicker and began forcing the Egyptian into some taxing movements.

Marwan looked to be in some physical debt after last night's marathon victory over Adrian Grant. Coppinger was clinical sending the ball short with counter- and volley drops, leaving Shorbagy with few options other than a hard crosscourt straight onto the South African's racquet.

Marwan's best patch came in the second game, where he slowed the pace down and straightened up his hitting. Interestingly, much of the play was up and down the forehand wall, unlike the more frequently seen backhand exchanges. Marwan opened up an 8-5 lead (his only notable gap of the match), but Coppinger navigated his way back to 10-all and eventually won the game on his second chance.

This would turn out to be Marwan's last big push; 0-2 down to someone of Steve's standard less than 24 hours after going 90 minutes with Adrian Grant is an unenviable position to be in.

The final game saw the Egyptian resorting to attempts at nick off the serve, with wide-open rallies ensuing. He managed a few impressive winners, but it was not a sustainable strategy. Coppinger stayed tight and soon enough closed out the match 11-4.

Tournament photographer Meghan McCue anointed him with the nickname "Choppinger". A very impressive week for the South African, who dropped just a single game en route to the title.


Draws & Results

Northern Ontario Open 2014
31 Mar - 05 Apr, Sudbury, Canada, $25k
Round One
02 Apr
03 Apr
04 Apr
05 Apr
[1] Adrian Grant (Eng)
12/10, 11/6, 11/5 (55m)
Martin Knight (Nzl)
[1] Adrian Grant
10/12, 12/10, 14/12, 11/6 (96m)
  [6] Ryan Cuskelly
[1] Adrian Grant

6/11, 10/12, 11/9, 11/4, 11/7 (89m)

[3] Marwan Elshorbagy

[3] Marwan Elshorbagy

11/6, 13/11, 11/4 (46m)

[2] Steve Coppinger

[6] Ryan Cuskelly (Aus)
11/9, 11/6, 11/9 (52m)
Mike McCue (Can)
[7] Campbell Grayson (Nzl)
 7/11, 11/8, 11/9, 11/8 (70m)
[Q] Shawn Delierre (Can)
[7] Campbell Grayson
11/7, 11/7, 6/11, 3/11, 11/9 (70m)
[3] Marwan Elshorbagy
[3] Marwan Elshorbagy (Egy)
11/6, 7/11, 11/9, 12/10 (64m)
[Q] Shahier Razik (Can)
Julian Illingworth (Usa)
12/10, 11/5, 11/3 (36m)
[4] Tom Richards (Eng)
[4] Tom Richards 
11/8, 11/3, 11/5 (45m)
[5] Joe Lee
[5] Joe Lee

13/11, 11/3, 12/10 (51m)

[2] Steve Coppinger

[Q] Steve Finitsis (Aus)
9/11, 11/9, 11/7, 3/11, 11/6 (83m)
[5] Joe Lee (Eng)
[Q] Diego Elias (Per)
11/9, 12/10, 3/11, 11/4 (64m)
[8] Cesar Salazar (Mex)
[Q] Diego Elias
11/4, 10/12, 11/8, 11/7 (58m)
[2] Steve Coppinger
Chris Gordon (Usa)
11/3, 11/8, 11/4 (36m)
[2] Steve Coppinger (Rsa)
01-Apr, Qualifying Finals:

Steve Finitsis (Aus) 3-1 Arthur Gaskin (Irl)            11/7, 11/7, 6/11, 11/9 (88m)
Shawn Delierre (Can) 3-0 Lewis Walters (Eng)                   11/1, 11/5 rtd (20m)
Diego Elias (Per) 3-0 Dane Sharp (Can)                         11/8, 11/8, 11/9 (46m)
Shahier Razik (Can) 3-1 Charles Sharpes (Eng)      11/7, 9/11, 11/7, 11/6 (50m)

31-Mar, Qualifying Round One:

Arthur Gaskin (Irl) 3-2 Paul Rawden (Eng)   11/7, 5/11, 10/12, 11/7, 11/6 (70m)
Lewis Walters (Eng) 3-0 Nick Sachvie (Can)                   11/9, 11/8, 11/8 (38m)
Shawn Delierre (Can) 3-0 Matt Serediak (Can)           11/6, 12/10, 13/11 (52m)
Diego Elias (Per) 3-0 Asyraf Azan (Mas)                         11/8, 11/7, 11/8 (52m)
Dane Sharp (Can) 3-0 Fred Reid (Can)                          11/2, 11/2, 11/5 (20m)
Shahier Razik (Can) 3-0 Dave Letourneau (Can)           13/11, 11/4, 11/3 (44m)

2013 Event | 2012 Event | 2010 Event

03-Apr, Quarters:
Grant and Shorbagy survive
to reach Sudbury semis
Mike McCue reports   
photos by Meghan McCue    MORE PHOTOS

The first match of the night turned out to be the longest, and most closely contested throughout. Both Adrian Grant and Ryan Cuskelly are left-handers who build their rallies in the back corners and attack short only after working an opening. Grant was striking the ball more severely and finding good depth early on, while Cuskelly was over-hitting slightly. Despite doing more work and facing gameball, the Australian salvaged the first game 12/10. The second was also a drawn out affair, with neither player able to separate by more than two points.

After nearly an hour, Grant showed his years of experience at the highest level to avoid falling behind 2-0. The third was once again a dead heat, despite the rallies opening up and the exemplary movement of both players being tested. Cuskelly again had chances to take a 2-1 lead, but Grant tightened up on the crucial points and won the all important third game tiebreak. Ryan's movement finally began to falter in the fourth, and Adrian seized the opportunity with patterned attacks to the front left and back right. He emerged the winner after 96 minutes of remarkably even play.

Defending champion Marwan El Shorbagy maintained his perfect record in Sudbury, but only by the narrowest of margins. After completely dominating the first two games, Shorbagy suddenly found himself on the back foot as Campbell Grayson began taking the initiative early in every rally. With excellent accuracy and ball distribution, the Kiwi won the third and fourth comfortably to force a decider.

Shorbagy re-committed himself to finding a good length early in the fifth and never trailed. Campbell orchestrated a small comeback with some clutch winners, but at 9/10 Shorbagy bludgeoned a straight drive from the front right that left Grayson no option but to accept defeat.

Joe Lee provided a minor upset with a comfortable (score-wise) win over Tom Richards. Richards set a high pace in the first game, getting on the ball early and keeping it low. It seemed that Lee might struggle to maintain such a pace for a prolonged period, but in reality he became more settled as the match progressed. The second and third were marked by Joe working Tom far enough out of position to eventually hit a simple volley into the open court. Richards seemed lost for ideas and was not able to extend the match long enough to drag Lee out of his impressive rhythm.

Steve Coppinger and Diego Elias attracted the night's biggest crowd. Local fans had seen Diego power through three matches to find himself up against the South African veteran. Coppinger presented a higher standard than Elias had seen to date, as evidenced by the comfortable first game score. Diego reassessed and matched Coppinger's pace in the second, even managing to win the game on extra points courtesy of three sublime winners.

Steve showed why he has been in the top 16 from that point forward. Consistently hitting the correct shot to the correct spot, he systematically worked Diego out of position and won points with his counter drop. The hard work took its toll toward the end of the third, and the sting was taken out of Diego for the first time this week. Nevertheless, it was an incredible tournament for the young man who every spectator hopes to see back here again.

Video of the end of the Coppinger/Elias match

Draws & Results

02-Apr, Round One:
Elias joins seven seeds in Sudbury quarters

The first round of the Northern Ontario in Sudbury saw victory for seven of the eight seeded players, while Peruvian teenager Diego Elias continued his fine form from qualifying as he beat Mexico's eighth seed Cesar Salazar.

Photos by Meghan McCue


01-Apr, Qualifying Finals:
Qualifying complete in Sudbury
Mike McCue reports

The opening match was not many spectators' prediction for match of the night, but Steve Finitsis and Arthur Gaskin gave the Sudbury crowd exactly that.

The opening rallies felt like a long road to nowhere as the lively ball sat up high in the back corners. Gaskin won a massive rally to level at 5-all but Finitsis accelerated to 10-5 from there and ultimately closed out the game. Despite doubling his lead in the second, Finitsis found himself on the losing end of some dynamic rallies in the third.

After over an hour's play, both players were drenched in sweat and rallies were moving to the front court much earlier. Gaskin looked worse for wear physically, but stole some crucial points in the fourth to find himself 9-8 ahead. A perfect crosscourt width from overhead brought Finitsis level, and two tins later the match was over.

The second match was anticlimactic as Lewis Walters had to retire due to a rolled ankle. Shawn Delierre won the first comfortably, but Walters was getting involved in proceedings when he injured himself at 4/3 in the second. He summoned one more point with a crosscourt nick but was unable to continue after that game. Wishing him a speedy recovery.

Shahier Razik avenged a loss at this event in 2012 to Charles Sharpes by beating the Englishman 3-1. Razik is, in my opinion, the Ernest Hemingway of squash. Without the aggression or flash of his contemporaries, Razik succeeds by never over-extending himself, making the simple choice and letting the ball do the work.

And like Hemingway, his brilliance is often revealed only at the end. Sharpes was constantly trying to up the pace, and succeeded at times. After splitting the first two however, the game slowed considerably and Razik was able to dispatch working boasts and counter drops to take the sting from Charles' legs.

Peruvian wonderkid Diego Elias put on an excellent display of shotmaking and ball control to dismiss Dane Sharp. At 2-0 and 8-1 up, Elias relaxed a bit too much and eventually found himself 9-8 down before reasserting to win the last three rallies.

Mid-court holds to perfect length and crosscourt nicks were his methods of choice, but Dane deserves credit for hanging in the rallies and counter-attacking well.

31-Mar, Qualifying Round One:
Fifth edition under way in Sudbury
Mike McCue reports

The fifth edition of the Northern Open PSA event kicked off tonight at the Sudbury YMCA. The tournament has grown from a modest $10k in 2010, to a Challenger 15, and now an International 25. The current size of the event is remarkable given Sudbury's rather rural geography (population 150,000). The generosity and overall passion for squash in the community are the main reasons for this growth.

Due to some late withdrawals, there were only six matches slated for opening night. Arthur Gaskin was the first winner, subduing a fine performance by Paul Rawden.

Despite the ranking gap, Rawden found himself 2 game to 1 ahead on the back of an eight point run from 4/10 down in the third game. His exertions began to show after that though, and Gaskin gave himself just enough margin in the decider to be comfortable.

Matt Serediak also gave a fine account of himself despite being a big underdog. "The Duck", as he is affectionately known, forced Canadian #1 Shawn Delierre into two tie-breaks and kept him on court for nearly an hour before bowing out 3-0. Nick Sachvie found the physical demands of playing Lewis Walters too much, and also lost in three despite putting himself in winning positions in each game.

Peruvian teenager Diego Elias carried his momentum from last week's run in Houston onto the bouncy panel courts of Sudbury with a convincing 3/0 victory of Asyraf Azan. The continuity of the match was interrupted by Azan's incessant Let requests (and ensuing arguments), but Elias held his composure remarkably well for someone of so few years. He advances to play Toronto star Dane Sharp, who blew past Fred Reid. Elias and Sharp will square off in a rematch from last month's Ontario Open, which Elias won by default when Sharp conceded during the third game.

In the evening's final match, Shahier Razik gave a masterclass in patience and counter-attacking against Dave Letourneau. Razik faced gameballs in the opener but safely navigated the final rallies. Letourneau couldn't sustain the pressure required to unsettle Shahier after that. He will now play Charles Sharpes, who indeed beat Razik at the quarterfinal stage of this event two years ago.

2013 Event | 2012 Event | 2010 Event

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