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West of Ireland Open 2010
01-04 April, Galway, $8k
Finals day in Galway
Edwin Brennan reports

Well this is it, after 4 long days, weeks and months of hard work in the build up to the event the final day is finally here!

The first matches went on court at 10.30am which was slightly later than scheduled but with the amount of pull outs and walkovers it freed up a few courts. A good quick start on Sunday morning is always essential to ensure the matches don’t run on until all hours.

Slowly but surely the number of matches on the board got less and less and the finals slowly went on court one by one. First on the centre court was the Ladies final, between Laura Mylotte a member of the WISPA tour and also of Galway Lawn Tennis Club and Victoria Bell also a member of the WISPA tour and sister of our club coach Paul Bell.

The crowd slowly gathered for the match who saw home hope Laura one game down but she battled back and thanks to a few errors from Bell she won the next 3 games and ensured the home club had at least one winner.

Next to the court was the Men’s A final between Niall Rooney and up and coming Neil Martin. Rooney, a brother of John, was seeded number 1 for the event and has had somewhat of an easy run to the final. But Martin who is just out of the Irish junior ranks wasn’t going to let Rooney have it all his own way. He pressured Rooney to call on his experience to ensure another title stayed in the host club for another year at least.

2pm arrived and with that the PSA final was here. The crowd had built up and close on 80 people were packed in. Just before the final there was time for a quick picture with Hector Ó Heochagáin, a national celebrity who does a lot of TV and radio presenting. He was originally entered in the graded event but was forced to withdraw due to injury. He is an avid squash fan and keeps up with the world rankings and news. He even attended the Amr Shabana squash camp last summer.

With that the ‘big hitters’ took to the court. The Scottish number 1 seed Alan Clyne was a slight favourite but Piedro Schweertman the tall Dutch man, who doesn’t seemed to get fazed by anything had other ideas.

After the formalities were out of the way, which were presided over by Michael Hynes, a colleague of mine on the board of Irish Squash and member of Galway LTC, play got under way. Clyne started like a whirlwind and stormed into an early 1-0 lead, before Schweertman found his rythmn in the 2nd but whatever shot he played Clyne got to it and won the rally. In the 3rd game it was Clyne who again got the best start and got an early lead, but Schweertman refused to give up. Half way through the 3rd game the players were level but Clyne stepped up a gear and ran of the eventual winner 3-0 in 30 minutes.

Afterward it was straight into the bar for the presentation of prizes and after the thank you’s and the reminder to everyone about the night out in Garavan’s tonight, it was onto the prizegiving. I was delighted to present the A plate prize to Dan Zilic who has kept the world of squash updated on the progress of the matches in Galway.

He was surprised to hear his name called out as he was concentrating on typing up his report! It was nice to have two home winners in the Ladies and Men’s A section, but the home crowd really appreciated the high level of play and sportsmanship from the pro players. The Paddy ‘Whack’ Walsh cup was presented by Paddy’s son, David, who also thanked the sponsor and the players for the efforts.

Before I go I would like to thank all my team for the weekend without them it wouldn’t be possible to put on the show. A mention again to Dan for his brilliant reporting and a special mention to Steve and the team at squashsite for their fantastic service. In fact, I think if Steve was as fast at putting up reports and pics as he was at squash, he would be in the world’s top 10 in no time!

I am going to sign off in the same way I did last year and say “now it’s off to the bar for the real main event!”

Clyne takes the title in Galway
Dan Zilic reports

After the players finally got to sample some delicious Guinness on Saturday night - no alcohol was served in pubs on Friday - everyone was looking forward to the final day. The men's A-grade final provided a perfect warm-up for the eager crowd as it pitted local Niall Rooney against Ulsterman Neil Martin. It also pitted two contrasting styles of play against each other - the very quick and pacy Neil versus the stylish Rooney.

I began watching the intriguing match mid-way through the second game and was treated to a 31-shot rally (thanks to the unknown lady who counted them), which set Niall up to win game two and take a 2:0 advantage. Game three was fantastic with Niall impressing the crowd with some deft touches to the front of the court and Neil showing some super court coverage. There was one particular rally that could have easily featured in the PSA final: Niall hit a great drop shot which Neil managed to dig out, only for Niall to hit a vicious forehand volley which Neil miraculously retrieved and kept the rally going, only for Niall finish with a beautiful backhand drop into the nick. In the end Niall won the game, and therewith the match, in the tie-break, but not without some more action-packed rallies.

On to the 'real' finals between Piedro Schweertman and Alan Clyne. It only took the crowd three rallies to figure out the strengths of each player, as Clyne was his dynamic self from the first rally and it only took Schweertman three rallies to crack his first devastating nick. However, the Dutchman didn't find too many in game one and it was Clyne who delighted the crowd with some delightful counter drops, which resulted in an 11:4 win.

Schweertman started a little better in game two and used one of his trademark reverse-angles to take a 2:0 lead. Unlike other opponents facing the Scot Schweertman did not seem prepared to change his style of play to adapt to Clyne's speed, which might be the right thing to do if you yourself have a style of play that other's find difficult to cope with. Playing this way proved the 'silent assassin' (I heard two guys call him that yesterday) right since he took an 8:6 advantage and looked capable of closing the game out. At this point he was using some nice cross-court lobs whenever he got into trouble. Unfortunately for Schweertman a run of errors as well as an excellently held backhand drive from front-court (which sent the entire crowd in the wrong direction too) meant that Clyne took the next five points and the game 11:8.

The Dutchman found himself on the backfoot throughout game three and despite plenty of rallies showcasing Clyne's popular all-court sprints, the game was over relatively quickly 11:5. Schweertman had two lets denied, which left him absolutely emotionless. Plenty of other players would have argued their case furiously, but the Dutchman is very difficult to upset.

Therewith the title went to Alan Clyne deservedly - he hadn't dropped a single game throughout the whole week and is a fine competitor. Also, what is remarkable is that he hardly ever takes any lets and plays any ball he can. The crowd were eager to see plenty of more of these entertaining rallies but it is a lot to ask of people who have to play Clyne, as the pace is absolutely nightmarish.

Edwin kicked off the prize-giving ceremony in great style and it rounded off the excellently run tournament very well. The team who put on the tournament here put so much effort into it and all the players seem to really appreciate that and many return every year. Laura Mylotte, the winner of the ladies event, highlighted nicely not only how much the tournament means to Galway and Irish squash, but also how much this is all down to Edwin. You might think that organising these type of events is always done by elderly gentlemen, but Ed is actually only a few years older than twenty and has been running this event for several years!

That concludes this year's event - and in case you were wondering: I won the Men's A-plate and won a nice little trophy.

Who or What is
Paddy ‘Whack’ Walsh?

Every year we always get asked who or what is Paddy ‘Whack’?

This year we are asked even more because of the name change of the tournament from the Garavan’s West of Ireland Open to the Paddy ‘Whack’ Walsh West of Ireland proudly sponsored by Garavan’s Bar.

The name change came about because the sponsor wanted to put more emphasis on Paddy ‘Whack’ as opposed to himself. Paddy ‘Whack’ Walsh was a long term member of the squash club and a close friend of Charlie Garavan who is the father of our sponsor Paul.

In 1998, Paddy passed away suddenly after a short illness and it left the local squash community shocked and Charlie in particular. In 1999 the Garavan family decided to put up a trophy in his memory and some sponsorship money for an initial 3 year period.

The event grew and became more popular and the Garavan family extended and increased their sponsorship each year which has allowed us to increase the size of the event.

Every year the winner of the top section is presented with the trophy in Paddy’s honour. There is an inscription on the back of the cup which is read out before it is presented.

It reads – “In memory of Paddy ‘Whack’ Walsh, Squash player, international bridge player, teacher and a gentleman. Whose untimely death left a void in the squash fraternity.”

Previous winners include John Rooney, Liam Kenny, Joey Barrington, Niall Rooney, Scott Handley and Simon Rosner.
It’s all in the pack!

This year, our sponsor, Paul Garavan decided to do something different for the players to make them feel even more welcome.

So on top of the increase in prize money he wanted to put together a ‘goodie bag’ for the PSA players. The contents included a bag with the event name embroidered into it, a towel with the event name embroidered into it, two bottles of shower gel, a bar of soap, a tube of toothpaste and a racket grip.

The players seemed to like it and most of them were extremely happy with the shower gel! On top of the bag we have boxes of water to keep the PSA players thirsts at bay.

The shirt

The first match on this morning was Jose Facchini and Alejandro Garbi Caro.

Most of the crowd form the early morning game couldn’t help but notice the back of Jose’s shirt – “El Matador” which was appropriate especially as he was playing the Spanish qualifier Caro.
West of Ireland Open 2010
01-04 April, Galway, $8k
Round One
02 Apr
03 Apr
 03 Apr
04 Apr
[1] Alan Clyne (Sco)
11-7, 11-5, 11-7 (34')
Fabien Verseille (Fra)
[1] Alan Clyne
11-5, 11-4, 11-3 (34')
[8] Aqeel Rehman
[1] Alan Clyne

11-9, 11-6, 11-8 (41')

Jose Facchini

[1] Alan Clyne

11-4, 11-8,

[4] Piedro Schweertman

[8] Aqeel Rehman (Aut)
5-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-2 (47')
Chris Truswell (Eng)
[3] Ben Ford (Eng)
7-11, 11-4, 5-11, 12-10, 11-6 (66')
Jose Facchini (Ita)
Jose Facchini
14-12, 11-7, 11-5 (43')
[Q] Alejandro Garbi
[7] Stuart Crawford (Sco)
11-8, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7 (46')
[Q] Alejandro Garbi (Esp)
[Q] Olivier Pett (Eng)
11-7, 11-6, 2-11, 11-6 (51')
[5] Arthur Gaskin (Irl)
[5] Arthur Gaskin
11-9, 11-5, 11-9 (38')
[4] Piedro Schweertman
[4] Piedro Schweertman

4-11, 13-11, 12-10, 11-7 (56')

Jonny Harford

[Q] Lucas Vauzelle (Fra)
11-6, 11-6, 11-8 (33')
[4] Piedro Schweertman (Ned)
Jonny Harford (Eng)
7-11, 11-5, 11-6, 10-12, 11-4 (73')
[6] Johan Bouquet (Fra)
Jonny Harford
11-5, 13-15, 11-5, 11-8 (50')
[Q] Andrew Birks 
[Q] Andrew Birks (Eng)
11-9, 11-7, 11-0 (31')
[2] John Rooney (Irl)

History of the West of Ireland Open

For the 4th year now Galway has hosted a PSA event to run alongside its graded event. While the PSA section was a very welcome addition to the tournament programme the main success has been in the graded event for years.

Squash at Easter has always been a centre part of the squash calendar in both Galway and Ireland for over 30 years. At one stage the event was so big it had to use 7 venues throughout Galway city with results being sent between one and the other by helpers driving or cycling between venues or old army radios (no such things as mobile phones, but that was well before me time).

In the boom time for squash in the late 70’s and 80’s this was the case year after year, but sadly squash slowly declined in the west and many of the venues were either closed or went beyond repair. The event has now settled into its home in Galway Lawn Tennis Club and has gotten bigger and better ever since. The idea of a PSA event was mentioned by several club members over the last 7 or 8 years but no one was prepared to take the ‘plunge’ and organise it.

Then about 5 or 6 years ago I became involved in the club’s squash committee, I was keen for the event to grow and attract some world class players. The sponsor was approach to see if he would increase his sponsorship, which he kindly agreed to and with a lot of hard work the Garavan’s West of Ireland PSA event was born. A couple of additions later and a few increases in sponsorship means the event has grown and grown and hopefully will continue to do so.

Semis in Galway
Dan Zilic reports

Clyne vs Facchini

After five hours of rest for the players we resumed with the first semi-final at 6pm, between unseeded José Facchini and the top seed Alan Clyne. Clyne, the bundle of energy, has had two relatively comfortable 3:0 wins while Facchini beat number three seed Ben Ford 3:2 in the first round and then beat Spanish qualifier Garbi 3:0 earlier this morning.

The first few rallies showed both players willing to play a high-paced game but Facchini lost his patience mid-way through and saw himself 6:1 down. The Italian is an experienced competitor and clawed his way back in playing tight squash and delaying his shots a little in order to get Clyne to stand still. He also got two strokes quite luckily when two of Clyne's volley-kills jumped out enough to warrant a stroke to the Italian. José was moving well at this point and was even covering Clyne's feared backhand drops. Yet the game went to Clyne after the best rally of the game.

Those who expected that there was no way back for Facchini were proven wrong and the Italian took a slight lead in game two. At this point Facchini was delaying almost every shot as well as using some excellent deception in order to keep Clyne from dictating the pace. It made for some fascinating rallies and also gave Clyne a chance to show off his incredible recoveries, which gave him the game 11:6 in the end - Facchini being warned for taking too much time in between rallies.

In the third and final game Facchini started slowing the pace down with a lot of cross-court lobs. When he wasn't scoring points off these he went for some cheap shots and found himself down quickly. All credit goes to him though for really fighting back at this point and making this last game very competitive. He might have lost the match and game but was definitely on the right path and was playing the right game to make Clyne work very hard. Facchini is a talented player and impressed every one here with some exceptional skill and showmanship, but all that was not enough to take a game off the Scottish number one..

Schweertman vs Harford

The strong Dutchman and the tall Englishman traded point for point early on in the match - though in very contrasting style. Schweertman hit three outright winners at about 200mph, while Harford outpositioned his opponent or made him hit an error. Then Schweertman hit his first tin and suddenly couldn't find his winning touch again. Harford was playing the right game though and he is a player who adapts to his opponents very well. Thanks to some clever distribution and some easy errors from Schweertman, Harford took the first game 11:4.

A new and improved Schweertman came out in game two. He impressed the crowd with some dead winners and rallied well with Harford. The Dutchman won't have been happy with his serving though as he allowed Harford to hit three cross-court nicks off his serve, two of them winning Harford the rally. The game, which featured the longest rally I have seen so far at 5:5 went into a tie-break in which Harford failed to convert a game-ball. At this point Schweertman was in the swing of things playing some cracking reverse angle boasts and taking the game 13:11.

There was one rally in the third game that illustrated perfectly what a great squash player Johnny Harford is, when he worked Schweertman all over the place thereby using frequent change of pace and lovely oversight. It took him to 8:3 but the emotionless Schweertman did not seem to have been affected by the monster rally, and instead started his comeback. He defended a gameball of Harford's, in which the Englishman hit two near perfect kills that Schweertman heroically picked up. He then finished the comeback with a perfect drop and an error from Harford. This was one lead too many for Harford to give away and he failed to regroup after that. Not converting leads has haunted him in every match he has played this week. It wasn't as if he gave the fourth game away, but Piedro took an early lead and whenever Harford was getting back in contention the merciless Dutchman hit a dead winner out of nowhere.

A superb match of squash nonetheless that was thoroughly enjoyed by an appreciative and good crowd.

Interview with Alejandro Garbi:

I wasn't unhappy with my game against José. He is a tall player and volleys very well. My tactic against him was to hit the ball low and hard, which worked out well in the first game, but wasn't quite sufficient. In the second and third game I got more and more tired, and I was also pretty nervous. It is the first time I got to the quarters of an $8k PSA event. I have only been playing PSA again since October of last year and have played eight tournaments since.

I had a brief spell on the PSA tour in 2005 and played four tournaments back then, but life was tough without a sponsor or anything. So after that I went to university and started working in Spain. The reason I have made a comeback was because I played a large local event in Santiago, and I managed to beat Martin Knight and Siddarth Suchde in the qualifiers but then lost to Davide Bianchetti in the main draw - another Italian! But after those results against top 50 players I thought 'Why not?' and decided to give it another go.

Now I am going home to Castellon, south of Valencia, where I am currently based. I do some coaching there and we have a $4.5k local PSA tournament on - I am the number three seed and Mazen Gamal is top seed

My objective for this year is to reach the top hundred! We also have the national championships coming up soon and Borja will be playing in them too - after he played the PSA even in Dublin end of April.

Borja will be the guy to beat and it will be a tough fight between myself, Davide Vidal and Oriol Salvia, to play him in the finals. And yes, I am looking forward to seeing Borja back in action - especially his incredible boasts. We are the same age and I always had to play him in the finals of the junior tournaments. Unfortunately!

Quarters in Galway
Dan Zilic reports

Day two of the Paddy 'Whack' Walsh West of Ireland Open (sponsored by Garavan's Bar) is, to be frank, a hell of a tough day for the pro players. Play begins at 10am with matches being played in consequence on center court and, the reward for winning is another match later on in the day at 6pm.

Facchini vs Garbo - 3:0

The only two Southern Europeans remaining in the draw began proceedings today. Now I personally hate playing in the morning and was happy to see that yesterday's first round defeat against resident coach Paul Bell has been rewarded with a bye for myself! Anyway, Garbo doesn't seem to mind what time it is as he played at an astounding pace. The problem with playing at that pace however of course is precision, and often enough his balls would spill into mid-court, a range from which Facchini is very useful. Game one was open and was only won in the tiebreak by the Italian. Garbi was not happy and seemed more agitated with refereeing decisions than Facchini. I don't speak Spanish and I think the only person who actually understood what Garbi was saying to himself was Facchini, a fluent Spanish speaker.

Facchini took game two by a higher margin and, I know it is a cliche, used his experience to handle this difficult and energetic opponent and ran out a comfortable 11:5 win in the third game, despite another fun-to-watch dive by the Spaniard. Garbi came back from 1:10 down with some awesome attacking squash, but he was never going to win nine points in a row.

For Garbi this was likely one match too many - his fourth match in 48 hours - and that against the strongest opponent yet. Nonetheless, a great addition to the tournament and a passionate and exciting player. Facchini on the other hand is tough player to crack and will be dangerous in the semis if his body can keep up.

"Today, I feel really well and Alejandro is a good player so it was very close in the 1st and 2nd," said the Italian. "In the 3rd he lost concentration and made a few errors which allowed me to win. I’m happy! It will be a tough match tonight in the semi-final, I will give it a go, and it’s worked well so far."

Harford vs Birks - 3:1

Harford had a tough five-setter yesterday evening and was annoyed with himself afterwards for not wrapping things up in four, as he held an 8:3 lead at 2:1 up. He started off better than Birks though and looked that bit more determined and sharper and deservedly took the first game by a five point margin. Game two looked to be a carbon copy of game one with Harford imposing his game upon Birks. Birks hits a great ball when he finds his rhythm but it looked like Johnny was taking him out of his comfort ozone - which resulted in a 10:6 lead. Birks made an unlikely comeback though and won a very tense tie-break with some skillful play and one or two crucial errors from Harford.

The next game went Harford's way again but he was working hard for every single point. Birks was playing good intelligent squash but it wasn't quite enough. The story was similar in game four but this time Birks took a five - two lead, but to his horror Harford won the next seven rallies and reached matchball at 10:6. Three rallies later the game was his and he booked a well-deserved ticket to the semis. All in all this was a very enjoyable and fair match - very few lets and some great all-court squash.

"I’m please to get through," said Harford. "I have to remember a game doesn’t finish at 10, I have to keep going to 11. I’m pleased with the way the body’s holding up and looking forward to the semi-final."

Rehman vs Clyne - 0:3

By now everyone knows that Clyne is one of the quickest players around and plays a fantastic counter-drop. So what can you do against that? Well, you try and contain him and avoid playing an open-court game that would allow him to use his speed.

Rehman, in the beginning, tried exactly that and was using his lobs wisely and took a 3:1 lead in game one. Rehman's natural game though is more based around pace and hitting the ball hard so he wasn't exactly in his element and a few rallies later he was battling it out with Clyne in some frantic-paced rallies. This isn't squash for purists and there were many cross-courts and mid-court lengths, but the sheer speed made for good watching. Clyne though is tough to beat at this type of game and took the game comfortably.

Game two was fairly similar and Rehman failed to play tight enough to trouble Clyne, who involved Aqeel in several high-paced and energy-sapping rallies - which slowly took their toll on the young Austrian. Rehman did not look his physical best throughout the match and seemed to be hindered by something. The Scot went on to win game three by a similar margin and will face Facchini in the semis, who probably would have hoped for Clyne to spend some more time on the court.

"I felt really good on court," said the top seeed. "I was comfortable all the way through. I am glad to get through in 3 especially with the semi-final this evening. I have never played Jose before so I am looking forward to playing someone new."

Schweertman vs Gaskin 3:0

I recently played German league and our opponents had Piedro Schweertman playing at number one for them. After he had beaten our number one I told him that I had rarely seen a more impressive knock-up. The left-handed Dutch creamed the ball into the nick time and time again and left our number one standing there bewildered. Today I only saw one minute of the knock-up but that was enough to see one ball slammed into the nick.

Schweertman took the better start but Gaskin regrouped mid-game. Schweertman is a strong guy and Gaskin found it tough to get past him - resulting in countless let situations. Arthur struggled to keep his calm during the game but remained in contention until a drop into the tin saw him lose the first game 11:9 - the Dutchman remaining stoic and unimpressed throughout.

11:4 was the scoreline of game two in favour of Schweertman, who continued to impress with his no nonsense game which sees him alternate hard-hitting winners with delicate drops and lobs. Arthur was contending for each rally and executed some beautiful holds from front-court, but Schweertman generally was not giving him all that much to work with.

Game three was the best of the lot and the two players were exchanging some great winners but Gaskin committed a vital error at 9:9 and Schweertman closed the match out 11:9. This game, it should be noted, was also the first one that the quiet Dutch was to be heard, even if it was merely a 'Sorry', 'Score?' and 'Thanks!'

Some promising semis coming up later today. Facchini is a clever player and may be able to outwit speedy Scot Clyne, while I can see Harford and Schweertman battling out a tough four- or five-setter.


West of Ireland year four,
a day in the life.....

Edwin Brennan's loooong day

With the West of Ireland Open now in its fourth year things start to fall into place a lot easier (or so you would think). I have been reading Andy Holland’s pieces from the U-19 Europeans with interest as I think they are something different that you would normally see.

Personally I don’t find reading normal reports that interesting and always look out for something different. With Dan Zilic down for the weekend to play in the graded event, he has very kindly agreed to help out with some of the reporting which takes a load off my mind.

So I have decided to write about a day on the life of a tournament organiser and see what the feedback it like. I apologise in advance if you find it boring! I mentioned above thas things should fall into place having organised the tournament for the past four years, but things aren’t always as they seem.

8.15am - I was awoken by my alarm clock and after 1 or 2 snooze buttons pressed I finally got up. I left me house for the club and was greeted by my right hand man for the weekend Jim, the caretaker Mike and the club electrician Ronan. They were all on the centre court fitting a new heater and sweeping the court getting ready for the morning's play.

10am - The first game went on court and like the other qualifying finals matches they were all very close (see Dan’s report). We were also joined by another referee – Joe Ruddy joined the tournament referee Brian Williams and John O’Donnell who is also playing in the graded event, so there is plenty of help on hand.

1.45pm – The qualifying matches just finished and the draw for the main draw was made. There are some interesting matches in prospect and local eyes will be watching out for John Rooney the home favourite who takes to the court at 6pm. I updated the draws and sent them off the various contacts in the different sites as well as a short piece for the local radio. We also had a visit from the sponsor Paul Garavan who popped into see a few matches. He has also entered the D section for the weekend.

2.15pm – I left the club to go for my lunch in a local restaurant. Arthur Gaskin and his girlfriend Lyndsey asked me to join them. I felt like the squash players had taken over the place with the three French main draw players at one table and a couple of the English lads at another. I had a good meal followed by my favourite Apple pie! That set me up for the day.

3.30pm – I arrived back at the club to find a few more players had withdrawn from the graded event, which meant another shuffle around with the times. Following some late withdrawals of some players last night it meant I had to re-do the A draw then the B draw then the C draw (you get the picture).

4.30pm – One of the referees down for the weekend Joe asked me for a game before the action started so I togged out and showed him a thing or 5! I beat him relatively easy (one game was 11-0). Time for a quick shower and back up to the tournament desk to get stuck in for the 6pm start. In the meantime a new sponsor sign was being fitted to the centre court.

6pm – Everyone has started to arrive and with the club car park full due to both a squash tournament and badminton tournament the club was a hive of activity. A few more pull outs with some players not even bothering to contact me which is very frustrating the show gets on the road. 154 matches to go!

7.05pm – The upsets begin! Number 3 seed Ben Ford is knocked out in 5 which was a great opener. The crowd packed in for the next match where home favourite John Rooney took to the court against qualifier Andrew Birks. He had said to me earlier in the day that his ankle wasn’t the best after a collision in a league match during the week. I was secretly hoping he would recover enough to get through it, but it wasn’t to be. He was uncomfortable from the start and tried to put the pressure on his opponent but to no avail. The crowd empathised with Rooney but we will have to wait until next year. Stuart Crawford was also knocked out so there were upsets everywhere!

8.30pm – Time for a quick bite to eat and have a chat with some friends from around the country who have come to play the graded event, meanwhile the local interest has shifted to Arthur Gaskin who was on the centre court and the Irish interest rests with him, thankfully he came out a winner!

9.30pm – The last matches have gone on court and it’s time to start wrapping up for the day. Upload the pictures to get ready to send. Write up the quotes from the winners of the PSA matches. Nearly time to go, thank god.

10.30pm – Time to shut up shop for the night. Send off the reports, pictures, compare notes with Dan etc. I’m wrecked after the day but with two more full days to come I need a bit more in the tank. Now off to see the better half before she forgets what I look like!

Until tomorrow, good night.

Round One in Galway
Dan Zilic reports

Not a good day for the seeds so far with the number 2, 3 and 7 seed crashing out. Local hopes are still alive after a gutsy performance by Arthur Gaskin.

Facchini vs Ford

First match of the main draw on centre court was between Jose Facchini of Italy and Ben Ford of England. I think it is safe to say that both of them are two of the more senior players of the draw, which of course does not reflect in any way on their squash!

I haven't seen either play before really but I heard a lot of Ford's shot-making and remember Facchini made a PSA final the other day without being seeded.

Ford took the first game 11:7 and I only arrived to witness Facchini complaining to the referee about his last decision, which obviously had cost him the game (other vocal Italians spring to mind of course).

The Italian turned things around in game two and won comfortably 11:4. Ford wasn't finding his nicks and although it was evident that Ford plays a clever game with a lot of touch and cut, it just wasn't precise enough.

In addition to that Facchini was stepping up nicely and playing positive squash. Game three was marred by the two players getting in each others' way - Ford seemed far more frustrated about it than Jose. Despite that he took the game and Facchini was rather upset with himself.

Facchini battled along gamely and won the best rally of the match at 2:5 down - showing some great recovery and persistence for which he was rewarded with a simple tinned return in the next rally by Ford.

 At 10:7 matchball Ford it looked to be all over for the resilient Italian. But he hit a superb crosscourt backhand nick to reach 9:10 and Ford tinned a crosscourt nick off the serve to make it 10:10. Facchini made it five points in a row with a tight drop and an error from Ford. This was tense and frantic stuff with the crowd enjoying the increasingly long rallies.

The fifth game provided more drama and was an even affair until midway through. There was one very curious rally when Facchini missed to volley a lob, turned around 180 degrees with the ball and instead of calling a let opted to play the ball, much to the horror of Ford whom he almost hit with the ball. The Italian apologised profusely and hit the ball down anyway but everyone couldnt help but wonder why he opted to play the ball in the first place.

All that didn't throw Facchini off though and he worked himself to matchball 10:6 from 5:6 down. Ford couldn't stop him and was not happy at all. He felt that throughout the match Facchini was not clearing sufficiently which caused countless let situations, though the Italian apologised every single time (and repeatedly) if he were in the way or if he hit a ball off the frame or similar.

“ I feel bad because I was injured I only started training 2 weeks ago. I feel tired! I made too many mistakes. It was a good game because my head is strong. I’m really happy to win, Ben is a great player. I will give tomorrow’s match my best shot.”


Schweertman vs Vauzelle

On the other court Schweertman, the tough Dutch player, beat qualifier Vauzelle in straight games. It should be noted that the showcourt is a glass back court, while the other matches are played on a (very warm) hardback court.

Rooney vs Birks

On centercourt the crowd favourite John Rooney took the stage next against qualifier Andrew Birks. Birks started badly and it looked like he would struggle with Rooney's pace, but he recovered from 1:4 down and took the game 11:9 much to everyone's surprise. While Rooney wasn't exactly playing badly it did seem like he was struggling slightly with his movement and it was his left ankle that prevented him from lunging into some balls.

Things didn't get better for the Galwayman in game two which he lost 11:7, and it seemed to get clearer with every rally that there was something seriously hindering John. Birks was not to fault though and took advantage of the situation and even a restricted Rooney is not easy to beat.

Some wonderful rallies concluded the match that Birks went on to win 3:0. It is a real pity to see Rooney to exit the tournament, but he seemed in good spirits afterwards. It does turn out though that he went over on his ankle during the week and some heavy strapping wasn't enough to see him through.

Crawford vs Garbi

Much fancied Spaniard Garbi went through against the likeable Scot Crawford. I didn't watch any of the match but Stuart didn't seem to be in competitive mood against a fired up opponent and was somewhat philosophic about his loss.

Gaskin vs Pett

Hopes for Irish participation in the quarters now rested on Gaskin who faced the potentially strongest qualifier - Oliver Pett. Gaskin played his usual hard-hitting furious pace and took the first two games. Pett really is capable of playing some breathtaking squash but the outcome of the rallies was too often determined by him hitting a tin.

Despite regular tins he was moving Arthur around the court nicely and the hard work took its toll on the Carlowman as he lost the third game 11:2. Gaskin looking tired at this point and Pett distributing the ball effectively and cutting out some of the risks.

Against all odds Pett went back to hitting too many tins and Gaskin, who seemed to be suffering cramps in both calfs, put in a real gutsy performance to take the game 11:7 and the match 3:1. Which therewith ensures continued Irish interest in the PSA draw!

Rehman vs Truswell

While Gaskin was battling away the Austrian secured his quarterfinal ticket with a win against Chris Truswell.


 – “It’s a really hot court so I couldn’t over hit anything, i normally hit it hard so its wasn’t working. The ball was bouncing a lot and he was just hitting it back, when I slowed the pace and he made several mistakes which allowed me to get ahead. I enjoyed playing him and he is a fair player who is still young. It’s also good to be back in Galway again."

“I needed to keep focus. It was obvious that John wasn’t moving well from mid-way through the first so I had to keep the ball going. I’m very pleased with the win over the higher ranked player but can’t really celebrate due to John’s injury. I have got to get my head right again for tomorrow”

“i was a bit tired at the start but I played hard and straight. I felt good in the 3rd and 4th. It was a good match and a good tournament so far for me”

 “It was a tough match. I played too fast in the first 2 games but he came back strong in the 3rd. I got a second wind in the 4th game and closed it out.

"I was a bit nervous at the start as it’s my first tournament in about 4 months due to injuries. I’m happy to be playing again. I would like to thank Lindsay (my missus) for working out my injuries (she’s a physio in case your thinking anything else!)"

“I played quite well, I was nervous at the start and Chris started well. I found my rhythm in the 2nd and I attacked more which gave me some confidence in my shots. Chris got a bit tired as the match went on and I played better as the match went on. So overall I’m happy with the win and to get through to the next round”

“I wasn’t too sure how I would go tonight, I’m just finished a doubles tournament so I had to get my head together quick. The match was very tactical throughout and if you give any loose balls to Fabien he is lethal. The number 2 and 3 seeds have been knocked out but the draw is still very strong so I’m not taking anything for granted.”

 “I’m pretty pleased with the win. I should have had it in the 4th but he dug in and took it to 5 but luckily I had enough in the tank. Thanks to Edwin for giving me the wildcard and the chance to play here in Galway”

Qualifying complete in Galway
Dan Zilic reports

Here I am in Galway playing in what is probably my favourite squash tournament in Ireland - the Paddy 'Whack' Walsh West of Ireland Open, sponsored by Garavan's Bar (in true Irish fashion the main sponsor is a local pub). Galway, for those unfamiliar, is way over on the west coast of Ireland and the club here is only a couple of hundred meters away facing the mighty Atlantic ocean.

Ireland, for those unfamiliar with the local scene, has a very decent national tournament circuit comprising eight tournaments spread throughout the country. Regulars are current and former PSA players such as the legendary Derek Ryan, John Rooney and his brother Niall, Arthur Gaskin and even Liam Kenny makes the occasional stop-over.

What is great about the tournament here in Galway is that there is a large national circuit event (this year's top seed in aforementioned Niall Rooney) as well as a PSA tournament, which this year boasts a record prize-fund of $8k. Also, there is a small but strong women's event too - this year the top seed is Irish international Laura Mylotte. So an ideal way to spend the Easter weekend if you are an avid squash player.

Last year my fellow countryman Simon Rösner beat Gily Lane in the final, this year's top-seed is the speedy Scot Alan Clyne. The wildcard went to the great Johnny Harford, who is back on the circuit after a lengthy injury spell. Local interest is harbored by Arthur Gaskin, and especially the popular John Rooney, the number two seed who hails from Galway!

What is not so great is if you are a qualifier in the PSA event, since, even if you are lucky enough to make it through to the main round, you need to play the main draw on the same day as your final qualifying match.

I only arrived yesterday evening here from Dublin so I missed the first qualifying rounds, yet there were no notable upsets and none of the locals were able to win a game off the pros.

Today though started with an upset in qualifying when Frenchman Lucas Vauzelle beat Rory Pennel 3:1 - but unfortunately I was still having breakfast at that point.

I was able to witness Andrew Birks' performance against Neil Cordell. Andrew looks like a very solid player who hits the ball nicely while Neill used his volley-boasts and drops cleverly to break up Andrew's rhythm. The match was even at one-all but Anthony made sure to be wary of Neill's tricky shot to the front court and once he picked up these won most rallies in game three. This pattern continued in game four and at 10:7 up Birks looked like the definite winner. Cordell battled back to 10:10 but ultimately lost the game and therewith the match 10:12.

On to match three which pitted up- and coming Spaniard Alejandro Garbi against Mark Fuller. With Borja Golan still not having made his comeback yet it is always nice to see some Spaniards in a PSA draw. Last year David Vidal made it to the semis here after all.

The match between the Englishman and the Spaniard started at apace easily a notch higher than the previous game. Fuller is a very athletic and quick player and Garbi looks very explosive and possesses a pretty deadly forehand. The slightly unorthodox Spaniard took the initiative with some inventive play but Fuller adapted well and the match was poised at 7:7. There were some spectacular gets and rallies and it was a pity that Garbi won the game 11:8 on what looked like a let (he was awarded a stroke). Fuller was upset and accused the Spaniard of fishing. Fuller emerged stronger from the break and took a three point lead and held on to it throughout the game, despite a fantastic dive by Garbi.

Garbi came shooting out of the blocks in game three and raced to a 6:0 lead, aided by three strokes against Fuller. The Englishman got back into the game with some superb lengths but it was to no avail as the Spaniard closed game out with a superb dropshot 11:7.

Despite Fuller taking the lead in game four the Spaniard came back with a vengeance. His powerful drives from mid-court and front-court were too low and hard for Fuller to pick up as he steamrolled past the Englishman 11:3 in game four. Nonetheless, a very enjoyable match and whoever faces Garbi later this evening will hope that he is tired.

Olivier Pett and Bart Ravelli played the last of the qualifying matches. Ravelli is the second seed in qualifying and cannot have been happy to face the young Englishman - who looks a class act. Pett has some great disguises and flicked and killed the ball with great confidence. Ravelli is a fine and casual looking player too but it looked like he hadn't expected such tough opposition and lost game one 11:7. In game two Pett exuded confidence and continued his stylish and deadly display to go 2:0 up and it looked like a 3:0 to the Englishman - but Ravelli dug deep and Pett was almost over-confident. Ravelli took game three with a lucky mishit and it was even throughout game four, but Pett won a decisive rally at 9:9 and was awarded a stroke (a 50/50 call I'd say) to take the match 3:1.

First round begins later today - so the qualifiers only get a couple of hours of rest.



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