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Rocky Mountain Open 2010
15-20 Mar, Calgary, Canada, $30k
20-Mar, Final:
Selby seizes Rocky Mountain title
Gary Park reports

Daryl Selby figures if his math is correct – and he’s sure it is – and the results go his way for the next week he will have cracked the world top 10.

What isn’t in doubt is that the 27-year-old Englishman finished the three-tournament Canadian PSA series on a high-note in Calgary, Alberta.

He avoided defeat in three straight finals by overcoming a potential runaway opponent in Hisham Ashour to win what organizers hope will be the first of an annual Rocky Mountain Open at the Calgary Winter Club.

For Ashour the immediate reaction was one of despair, venting at what he called “unbelievable, crucial” calls by officials, in a match he “really wanted to win.”

And winning would have made it doubly sweet, coming a few hours after his brother and world No. 1 Ramy Ashour captured the CIMB KL Open – setting the stage for what would have been a history-making day for the PSA.

For Selby the stakes were equally important to reach the Canary Open at a new run on the world ladder.

He went into his glide path from the outset, keeping to a minimum any loose shots that Ashour could have punished to unleash his dazzling, front-running abilities.

Other than opening at 3-0, Selby found himself in a tussle over every point, helped when Ashour floated on serve out and missed a low-percentage boast.

In the second game, Ashour was frequently at odds with the officials and making his case to the large gallery, while Selby remained calm and focused.

With his fortunes sagging, Ashour played an air-shot to open the third game and, despite fighting back to 7-6 he was quickly dispatched, committing a run of loose shots.

“I had to try and make the rallies as hard as possible and maintain a good length. Otherwise with Hisham it could be devastating. When I was in front I tried to be positive. I attacked well today. I had to move Hisham front and back and not give him any time with the ball. I played as well as I could have played.
“The first game was crucial. I was a bit annoyed that I didn’t finish it at 10-8, but I was happy to win it on the tie-break. Once I got a bit of a lead in the second game it was hard for him to come back.

“I felt like I played my best squash in these last two matches. Today my attacking was probably as good as it’s been the last three weeks. Physically this was my best week and my play became gradually better as time went on. I don’t know why, but I’ll take it.”

“The courts are not like the ones we we’re used to playing on. The floor is too hard. I’m getting used to the bounce. It was a hard, tough match. I was a bit heavy and Daryl played well. He deserved to win. But I wanted to win badly. It’s going to be my fitness my mental attitude over the next couple of months. I need to get a top 10. I have to get a top 10.”

“I’m really happy with the last three weeks. I played an OK match in the semi-final, but Hisham played like only he can. So it was maybe one match too many for me.

“I’ll be going home with a really positive feeling. Mentally I’ve learned to switch off after a match. I used to be always thinking about my next match and how the previous match went and about the tournament itself. So you end up being busy with the tournament 24/7 for five days in a row and it’s a lot of stress.

“Now I’m trying to focus on a tournament being five one-hour matches. So it’s only five hours out of my life and I don’t try to treat it as more than that. It costs a lot less energy. You’ve got to find ways to relax a bit.

“I will probably play Egypt in May. So I have a month with no tournament, just recovering and training for the next set of events. Instead of playing one week on one week off, I prefer to prepare really well over four to six weeks, then play two or three tournaments, and then go back to basics again.”

Rocky Mountain Open 2010
15-20 Mar, Calgary, Canada, $30k
Round One
17 Mar
18 Mar
 19 Mar
20 Mar
[1] Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned)
11/1 13/11 11/4 (35min
[Q] John Rooney (Irl)
[1] Laurens Jan Anjema
 11/5 11/8 11/6 (41min)
Stéphane Galifi
[1] Laurens Jan Anjema

4/11 11/7 11/9 11/7 (51m)

[3] Hisham Ashour

[3] Hisham Ashour

12/10, 11/4, 11/7 (45m)

[2] Daryl Selby

[6] Aaron Frankcomb (Aus)
6/11 11/8 11/9 1/11 11/9 (90min
Stéphane Galifi (Ita)
[3] Hisham Ashour (Egy)
11/9 11/4 11/8 (34min
Andrew McDougall (Can)
[3] Hisham Ashour
11/0 7/11 11/3 11/3 (35min)
[8] Eric Galvez
[8] Eric Galvez (Mex)
11/5 16/14 11/7 (44min
[Q] Matthew Giuffre (Can)
Gilly Lane (Usa)
11/5 11/7 12/10 (14min
[5] Martin Knight (Nzl)
Gilly Lane
11/9 11/5 11/4 (43min)

[4] Shahier Razik
[4] Shahier Razik

11/7 11/4 11/6 (45m)

[2] Daryl Selby

[Q] Zac Alexander (Aus)
11/9 11/3 11/3 (41min
[4] Shahier Razik (Can)
[Q] Clinton Leeuw (Rsa)
3/11 11/9 11/9 7/11 11/9 (75m)
[7] Campbell Grayson (Nzl)
[Q] Clinton Leeuw
11/9 12/10 14/12 (33min)
[2] Daryl Selby
Jan Koukal (Cze)
11/5 2/11 11/9 11/9
[2] Daryl Selby (Eng)

16-Mar, Qualifying Finals:

John Rooney (IRE) beat Wade Johnston (AUS)               11/5 11/3 9/11 11/3 (45min)
Zac Alexander (AUS) beat Adil Maqbool (PAK)               11/9 8/11 11/1 11/4 (35min)
Matthew Guiffre (CAN) beat Andrew Schnell (CAN)        7/11 11/6 11/9 11/9 (42min)
Clinton Leeuw (RSA) beat Eddie Charlton (ENG)     11/5 9/11 7/11 11/2 11/4 (59min)

15-Mar, Qualifying Round One:

John Rooney (IRE) beat Chris Truswell (ENG)                     11/9 11/6 11/5 (32min)
Wade Johnston (AUS) beat Paul Tuffin (NZL)                11/8 11/6 5/11 11/3 (33min)
Zac Alexander (AUS) beat Joel Hinds) (ENG)        11/3 9/11 6/11 11/3 11/9
Adil Maqbool (PAK) beat Tyler Hamilton (CAN)      8/11 11/3 9/11 11/5 11/2 (38min)

Andrew Schnell (CAN) beat Jens Schoor (GER)     11/8 11/9 6/11 6/11 11/9 (70min)
Matthew Guiffre (CAN) beat Jaymie Haycocks (ENG)           11/8 11/5 11/8 (30min)
Eddie Charlton (ENG) beat Kieth Pritchard (CAN)                 11/8 11/6 11/4 (25min)
Clinton Leeuw (RSA) beat Shaun Le Roux (ENG)   8/11 11/9 7/11 11/9 11/2 (73min)
19-Mar, Semis:
Ashour ousts LJ  in Calgary
Gary Park reports

Calgary, Alberta, is the Stampede City where even the best cowboys bite the dust once in a while.

And that’s what happened March 19 to No. 1 seed Laurens Jan Anjema in one semi-final of the $30,000 Rocky Mountain Open.

He was decisively tossed from the saddle by Eqypt’s Hisham Ashour, who now faces Daryl Selby in the final – the first encounter between the two.

The result derailed the LJ Express, which had been on track for three-out-of-three – Montreal, Winnipeg and Calgary – on the PSA swing across Canada.

Ashour, who has never had a world ranking above 20, was elated, declaring he could be “top 10 easily” if he could replicate his play against the powerful Dutchman.

He said the key for him is a more disciplined approach to training. “I feel when my body goes loose my head goes loose,” Ashour said.

After dropping the opener 4/11, and trailing 1/5 in the second, Ashour said he traded his strategy of going short to start “moving (LJ) around.” That turned into an 8-point run at which stage he “felt in control.”

LJ’s coach Lucas Buit said a dubious call in the second game was a setback when it “looked like LJ would win easily.”

Ashour quickly raised his tempo to a level that Buit said would be “dangerous to anyone,” while LJ lost control. “You can’t afford to put the ball in the middle when Hisham is shooting well,” Bruit said.

Thoughts of challenging for a spot among the world’s top 10 and memories of a loss in his only previous encounter with Ashour may also have had a bearing, the coach said.

Selby was in the groove from the outset of his third semi-final meeting with Shahier Razik in the past two weeks. He applied an early choke hold and seldom relaxed his grip.

“I couldn’t keep with the pace. It wasn’t there today,” said Razik, who had battled Selby for 186 minutes the two previous weekends, racking up 71 points in the process and felt he had a lot at stake in the third encounter.

But Selby said Razik “didn’t play anywhere near as well (as in Montreal and Winnipeg). He was a little bit off the pace for whatever reason.”

For himself, Selby was happy with his steady improvement and adjustment to the 4,000-foot altitude at the Calgary Winter Club and the rewards available from shorter shots.

Now Ashour stands between Selby and his last chance to finish on a high in Canada after two final losses to LJ. He ranks Ashour as “one of the most talented guys playing squash … a phenomenal short player.”

18-Mar, Quarters:
Normal order restored  in Calgary
Gary Park reports

The $30,000 Rocky Mountain Open was back on an even keel March 18, with the top four seeds locking up semi-final berths, putting an end to the lurching that dominated the Round of 16 at the Calgary Winter Club when three seeds were sent packing.

Easily leading the pack was the supremely confident top seed, Laurens Jan Anjema (world #15) who toppled Italy’s crowd-pleasing, creative shotmaker Stephane Galifi, putting himself two steps from a clean-sweep of the Canadian mini-tour.

Also through were England’s Daryl Selby (#12), Egypt’s Hisham Ashour (#23) and Canada’s Shahier Razik (#32).

LJ had no hesitation in pinpointing his edge over Galifi. “I was able to use my physical strength to expose him,” he said, suggesting that it “looks like (an intense training session earlier this winter) is paying off.”

But he was full of praise for Galifi’s “amazing” squash talents, holding his opponent up as model for young players. “Tactically and technically he is not easy to play. I always feel pressure against him,” LJ said. “He controls rallies so well.”

As usual, LJ’s court coverage was imposing as he maintained a relentless pace and full shot repertoire that had Galifi gasping in the middle of a see-saw second game.

Ashour delivered his full package of speed and dazzling shots, admitting he arrived in Calgary “angry” after losing the first round in Montreal and the second in Winnipeg.

He raced through the first game 11/0, weathered a fight back by Mexico’s Eric Gavez in the second, then turned up the heat.

“I felt like I was all over the place,” he said. “I hit the ball where I wanted. I found a place to put the ball. And I was not hitting the tin.”

Razik delivered a potent mixture of patience and placement, combined with an unrelenting retrieval game to take care of the more naturally aggressive American Gilly Lane in three games, a repeat result of two weeks earlier.

“I’m steadier than he is,” Razik said. “I like to slow it down, which frustrates him. I’ve been getting a lot of matches under my belt, I’m seeing the ball well and hopefully I can keep it together for another two matches.”

Rather than setting specific goals, Razik, 32, said his objective these days is to enjoy squash.

Selby was drawn into a fast-paced match with Clinton Leeuw, the only player to reach the quarter-finals without a top-100 ranking, who turned into a fan favourite with his never-say-die style.

Selby said he “played well in little patches, with three or four good rallies. I had good length and was taking the ball early.” But he was disappointed at his failure to sustain the runs.

The No. 2 seed said he was still trying to adjust to the court and the lively bounce of the ball.

Eager to move from #118 and regain the #90 spot he held in mid-2009, Leeuw chased everything that moved on the court.
Selby credited the South African with being “a fighter who didn’t make it easy for me,” noting that Leeuw had just completed three straight five-game matches.

17-Mar, Round One:
Aussies & Kiwis go South in Calgary
Gary Park reports

Two Aussies and two Kiwis went right Down Under on Day one of the main draw at the Rocky Mountain Open in Calgary, Alberta.
Three of them tossed the form book out the window in losing to lesser-ranked players and cleaning out the No. 5 to No. 7 seedings in the process.

New Zealander Martin Knight, No. 5, was less than sharp in bowing out to unseeded American Gilly Lane; No. 6 Aaron Frankcomb of Australia was edged out in five games by Italy’s unseeded Stephane Galifi; and No. 7 Campbell Grayson of New Zealand was defeated in a 75-minute marathon by qualifier Clinton Leeuw of South Africa, who completed his third straight five-game affair in three days.

It was  less of a surprise that Australian qualifier Zac Anderson lost in three games to Canadian veteran and No. 4 seed Shahier Razik.

Otherwise the top picks - No. 1 seed Laurens Jan Anjema and his chief rival Daryl Selby – reached the quarter-finals, with a couple of bumps along the road.

There was a tie-breaker in the second game between LJ and John Rooney, who called on his Irish luck, using green strings on St.Patrick’s Day.

But Rooney found the big Dutchman’s pace of play too tough to handle, resorting in the finish to a wry appeal , accusing his opponent of “talking all through the rallies.”

Having already beaten Selby in the Montreal and Winnipeg finals, LJ is on track for a Triple Crown on the three-star PSA swing across Canada.

He took two months away from competition to train before Dutch National title in February (also a victory for the left-hander) and which he said he set him up “mentally and physically” to pursue this year’s objective of a top-10 ranking, a gain of five spots.

“I’m doing everything I can to get the highest ranking possible,” he said. “I want to make the most out of the opportunity.” That includes investing in having his coach, Lucas Bruit, in tow.
Selby was stretched over four games by unseeded Czech Jan Koukal and had his back to the wall for much of the fourth game.

It’s not the thin air of Mexico City or Denver, but the Calgary Winter Club sits 4,000 feet above sea level, which has caught some players unprepared. No. 3 seed Hisham Ashour admitted the going was “tough” in long rallies, he felt “dry all the time” and the altitude ball was a “bit heavier.”

On the flip side, No. 8 seed Eric Galvez was more than happy to come down from Mexico City’s heights, after shaking off a string of injuries, and targeting an early return to the top 30. He ousted Canadian qualifier Matthew Giuffre, who mixes college studies with squash these days, which was evident when he dropped the pivotal second game 16/14.



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