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Windy City Open 2013
29 Jan - 03 Feb, Chicago, $25k

03-Feb, Final:
Borja bags Windy City title
William James & Jim Wellington report

A snowy Sunday afternoon in Chicago and a capacity crowd of corporate sponsors and patrons of the tournament showed up for the show down between the affable, but intense South African and the superbly conditioned Spaniard, both enjoying relatively new world rankings at 20 and 10 respectively. While only four games, the 74 minutes of scintillating racquet work kept the crowd awestruck.

Borja Golan (ESP) bt Stephen Coppinger (RSA)
            5/11, 11/8, 11/6, 11/6 (74m)

Game one commenced with long, patient rallies as they felt each other out and softened the ball. Coppinger's game of constant pressure was being matched by an opponent who could respond with grace and counter-attack. Both kept their heads, but Coppinger ended quite a few rallies with winning drops that had to be played extremely well, as Golan was reading and moving quickly. Coppinger was also nullifying Golan's attacks with his fast hands and cross-courts played from difficult positions. The real difference in game one was Coppinger coming out on top of most of the many exchanges in the front left corner.

Game two started with Golan looking nervous, but responding with some of his best offense as well as increased referee interaction. This put Golan up 6-3 quickly, and now Coppinger was doing more of the running and scrambling. Coppinger hung tough, going point-for-point to 6-8, but looked like he was fighting harder and harder. A slip-and-fall by Golan might have given Coppinger a rest, but he tinned and then hit out of court, giving Golan four game-balls. Coppinger saved two by getting Golan out of position, but Golan returned the favor, converting the third.

In game three Coppinger tried to resume control by applying even more pressure. Golan now seemed to absorb it easily, and Coppinger errors started to creep in. This is the game where the tide noticeably turned, Coppinger being pressured more than pressuring.

Coppinger would have to make a very effective push in game four if he stood a chance of extending the match to a decider, but it looked like an uphill battle. Golan's intelligence and athleticism was starting to show, and Coppinger started to put more balls in the center as he fatigued. Golan was able to turn these into winning positions as well as several strokes. The ball also got noticeably colder, making for shorter rallies, which favored the fast, fresher Spaniard as he scrapped and gritted with intelligence to his first Windy City Open title.

Special credit goes to referee Beau River, who handled a difficult match with aplomb. There were many traffic issues, with Golan feeling blocked and Coppinger feeling Golan was playing him rather than the ball. Beau was consistent, firm when he needed to be, and used humor to keep the crowd at ease and the players at bay and in the court playing squash - a class act.


Windy City Open 2013
29 Jan - 03 Feb, Chicago, $25k
Round One
31 Jan
01 Feb
02 Feb
03 Feb
[1] Borja Golan (Esp)
 11/5, 11/3, 13/11 (52 min.)
[Q] Omar Abdel Meguid (Egy)
[1] Borja Golan
11/6, 11/6, 11/3 (45 min.)
Karim Ali Fathi
[1] Borja Golan

11/6, 11/3, 5/11, 11/4 (37m)

[Q] Andrew Wagih

[1] Borja Golan


5/11, 11/8, 11/6, 11/6 (74m)


[2] Steve Coppinger

Martin Knight (Nzl)
11/7, 11/6, 11/5 (38 min.)
Karim Ali Fathi (Egy)
Shahier Razik (Can)
11/8, 7/11, 11/6, 11/5 (74 min.)
[Q] Andrew Wagih (Egy)
[Q] Andrew Wagih
11/6, 11/7, 10/12, 8/11, 11/7 (90 min.)
[4] Max Lee
Campbell Grayson (Nzl)
11/9, 6/11, 11/7, 12/10 (72 min.)
[4] Max Lee (Hkg)
[3] Alan Clyne (Sco)
11/2, 14/12, 11/9 (42 min.)
Leo Au (Hkg)
[3] Alan Clyne
7/11, 11/4, 11/7, 11/13, 11/6 (67 min.)
[Q] Matthew Karwalski
[3] Alan Clyne

 12/10, 11/7, 11/5 (48m)

[2] Steve Coppinger

Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy)
11/9, 11/4, 11/6 (37 min.)
[Q] Matthew Karwalski (Aus)
Cesar Salazar (Mex)
[Q] Charles Sharpes (Eng)
Cesar Salazar
 11/2, 11/3, 11/4 (25 min.)
[2] Steve Coppinger
Fred Reid (Can)
11/2, 11/4, 11/2 (20 min.)
[2] Steve Coppinger (Rsa)

30-Jan, Qualifying Finals:

Charles Sharpes (Eng)  bt Christopher Gordon (Usa)  8/11, 9/11, 11/9, 11/8, 11/6 (89m)
Omar Abdel Meguid (Egy) bt Rex Hedrick (Aus)  13/15, 11/2, 11/8, 11/3 (76m)
Matthew Karwalski (Aus) bt Peter Creed (Wal)  11/5, 11/7, 11/3 (28m)
Andrew Wagih (Egy) bt Olli Pett (Eng)  11/5, 12/10, 11/9 (37m)

29-Jan, Qualifying Round One:

Christopher Gordon (Usa) bye
Charles Sharpes (Eng) bt Jack Herold                            11/1, 11/3, 11/4 (19 min)
Omar Abdel Meguid
(Egy) bt
Mark Heather (Eng)           11/5, 11/4, 14/12 (31 min)
Rex Hedrick (Aus) bt Sam McCartney                             11/2, 11/4, 11/4 (16 min)
Matthew Karwalski (Aus) bt Ibrahim Nyanzi (Uga)          11/1, 11/2, 11/6 (17 min)
Peter Creed (Wal) bt Alfredo Avila (Mex)                        11/4, 10/8 rtd (26 min)
Olli Pett (Eng) bt Yoni Ellous                                          11/4, 11/1, 11/2 (24 min)
Andrew Wagih (Egy)

02-Feb, Semis:
Top seeds through to Chicago final
William James & Jim Wellington report

A full crowd and then some was on hand tonight to watch Windy City Open's semifinal matches, as well as some of the best amateur players from around the country.

Stephen Coppinger (RSA) bt Alan Clyne (SCO) 3-0

Coppinger started applying most of the pressure, but Clyne was responding well, especially given that he had been on court more than twice as long in the last two days.

Play was competitive, but Coppinger's shots always seemed to be one inch wider/tighter/shorter, taking him to 9-6. But suddenly Coppinger gave 2 uncharacteristic tins and a stroke, then a winner by Clyne, and Coppinger was facing game ball. Clyne squandered it by tinning a forehand volley from a winning position.

Coppinger then closed it out with two unreachable cross-courts. Clyne played some amazing drop-shots in game two that made it close, but Coppinger just kept the ball far enough from Clyne to ease away.

Game three saw Clyne's tired legs start to show as Coppinger was able to keep the ball out of his reach even more, but a very good showing for Clyne, who had already come through some difficult matches. For Coppinger's part, it is easy to see why he is one of the hot players on tour.

Borja Golan (ESP) bt Andrew Wagih (EGY) 3-0

The fans went into this match wondering how a qualifier, ranked 57 in the world, who had already spent three hours and 21 minutes on court, would do against a fresh, top-ten player.

Wagih brought off a lot of winners in game one, and you could tell, win or lose, he didn't want to spend another 90 minutes on court tonight. In game two, Wagih's winners turned more to tins, but it was still a lot of interesting, mixed-pace cat-and-mousing.

Game three saw Wagih attempt even more crazy winners, but this time they went in, with the crowd and even Golan applauding and he took the game. Golan, not wanting to see that again, changed strategy in game four and started shooting as well. As it turns out it was an intelligent move, and changed the game back to his favor.

Now instead of cat-and-mouse, we had a gunfight. Golan had the bigger guns and better legs, and took it, but exciting stuff. It leaves us wondering how much more we will see of Andrew Wagih , and why, if Golan can shoot so well, why he doesn't do it more often. Perhaps he saves it as a plan B, or for special occasions.

Tomorrow's final should be excellent, with two fresh payers in great form and with contrasting styles.

01-Feb, Quarters:
Wagih joins three seeds in Chicago semis
William James & Jim Wellington report

An appreciative crowd was on hand to see some remarkable squash moments on quarterfinal day in Chicago.

Stephen Coppinger (RSA) bt Cesar Salazar (MEX) 3/0

Salazar must have felt Coppinger was so solid, that if he didn't force something to happen, nothing would. Unfortunately, what Salazar made happen was errors. Salazar settled in as the match went on and played some good, entertaining squash, and made Coppinger concentrate. But it was never going to be enough to hurt the lanky South African with his fluid, cerebral style of play.

Alan Clyne (SCO) bt Matthew Karwalski (AUS) 3-2

Game one was fast paced and exciting because both players were using the whole court effectively - definitely not squash for the unfit. Game two saw Clyne become more accurate and Karwalski less as the punishing pace continued. Just when Karwalski started to look tired, he showed us what it is really like to run, and run, and then the errors came.

Game three went the same way with Clyne pushing Karwalski to the edge, but some short rallies at the beginning of game four let Karwalski recover and play on equal footing for a while and he was just able to take it, saving a match ball on the way. The difference in game four was that when Karwalski got tired, he raised his elbow and hit much harder, rather than making short errors as he had done in two and three.

Even though he fought hard, there was just not enough left in the tank in the final game to match the fitter and more experienced Clyne. This was a match played by two very fair guys who both played everything they possibly could, with no fishing, even though there were opportunities - a fine example for all of us.

Andrew Wagih (EGY) bt Max Lee (HKG) 3-2

Match of the tournament - so far. The first two games showed Egyptian style shot-making on display - intelligent, deceptive, unpredictable. It's not that Lee was playing badly, but when an Egyptian is on his game what are you going to do? Probably referee the next match.

Wagih went up 6-0 in the second, but was looking more and more tired, perhaps having used up his legs in his 74 minute encounter last night. Then the ball lodged in the tin, and they finally removed it, it wasn't round any more, so they warmed up a new ball. Then Wagih broke a string, then ripped the bottom off his shoe and had to change. All this and he still held onto the game. In game three, it looked as though the flood gates would open because Wagih looked so tired, and no one thought could lose game three and still win the match.

Somehow he held on, and gritted his way to 10-8, holding two match-balls. Everyone held their breath, thinking that it was now or never, but Lee responded with two nicks in a row and then took the game.

The rest is history, or so I wrote in my notes. Lee did take game four as expected, and Wagih looked more and more tired, leaning on walls for support. Somehow he not only continued, but continued to win rallies.

At 7-7 in the fifth Lee hit Wagih in the head with the butt of his racquet, and Wagih looked hurt. But when he stood up, he hit a winner, and Lee followed with two straight tins, which was completely out of character for him. 10-8...two more match balls...an unreachable cross-court...is was over...standing ovation.

Borja Golan (ESP) bt Karim Ali Fathi (EGY)

Just as last night, Golan opened with length mixed with many boasts. Fathi responded by returning nearly every boast with a cross-court, which made him predictable.

Game two was close, but Golan's control was amazing, slowing it down and making the tough moments look comfortable. Game three saw Golan mixing the pace, showing great accuracy, patience, and controlling the whole way.

31-Jan, Round One:
Qualifying complete in Chicago
William James & Jim Wellington report

A cold Thursday night in the Windy City did not deter a full house of squash fans from the first round of the tournament at the University Club of Chicago. Congratulations to the MetroSquash WCO organizers and supporters for thirty two years of great squash.

Stephen Coppinger (RSA) bt Fred Reid (CAN)
       11/2, 11/4, 11/2 (20 min.)

Wild Card Fred Reid put in a strong performance, but Coppinger's recent form proved to be too much for the young Canadian.

Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt Charles Sharpes (ENG)
      11/4, 1/11, 15/13, 11/5 (59 min.)

After 89 minutes last night, Sharpes was a little slow out of the gate. Salazar was not in the mood to take it easy, playing consistently, retrieving everything, and using the whole court. The swing in game two is difficult to explain because Sharpes couldn't have warmed up that much. Depending on who you ask, it was a rest game, a blip, or a bad start. The real battle was game three - close play, tough referee calls, dives, and Salazar really putting work into the legs of Sharpes. Salazar went up 10-6 but didn't take in until his seventh game ball. Game four saw the ball go cold and Sharpes loose energy and concentration, while Salazar remained strong.

Alan Clyne (SCO) bt Leo Au (HKG)
                 11/2, 14/12, 11/9 (42 min.)

Game one went in a flash, with many errors and Au not reacting well to the pace, but Au meant business in game two. Clyne had to work hard and save three game ball to take it. Game three was close and tightly contested, but Clyne was just a little better when it mattered most.

Matthew Karwalski (AUS) bt Omar Abdel Aziz (EGY)
       11/9, 11/4, 11/6 (37 min.)

Qualifier Matthew Karwalski was nearly flawless in stopping the tough Egyptian. Aziz seemed out of sorts as his shots and strategy weren't coming off, but all credit goes to Karwalski for applying basic pressure, taking the ball early, winning points on volleys, drops and boasts, using every inch of the court and rising to the occasion.

Max Lee (HKG) bt Campbell Grayson (NZL)
           11/9, 6/11, 11/7, 12/10 (72 min.)

The play was fast paced and powerful, with quick exchanges, but an early slip/fall seemed to put Grayson off his stride letting Lee take the first game. A see-saw ensued, each player expending so much energy to win a game that he went down in the next. In the fourth, Grayson felt a bit hard done bye some referee calls, but fought back to 10 all. But all credit goes to Max Lee for being fit, tough, and playing well in the crucial moments.

Andrew Wagih (EGY) bt Shahier Razik (CAN)
             11/8, 7/11, 11/6, 11/5 (74 min.)

Razik didn't apply enough pressure in game one, responding more than initiating, but somewhere in game two he gained confidence. This led Shoukry to force his shots more as fatigue crept in. Razik's patience and persistence were paying now and he took the game. But the Egyptian had more fight left in him. In the end twenty one year old Shoukry had too much speed, strength and skill to be beaten tonight.

Borja Golan (ESP) bt Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY)
              11/5, 11/3, 13/11 (52 min.)

Golan used boasts relentlessly to test his opponent's movement early on. The rallies were unpredictable, but Golan came out on top in the majority. The third got much closer, Golan looking worried, and the game turned into another let-fest with both players opening the door so many times to complain to the referee that the fans wanted to lock the players in the court. If any of you "back-the-bidders" are wondering why squash can't get into the Olympics, this is it.

Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) bt Martin Knight (NZL)
      11/7, 11/6, 11/5 (38 min.)

Fathi was fast, powerful, and inventive which relegated Knight to a reactionary role. Knight fought well for a while, but the Egyptian ultimately forced him to make errors that cost him the match tonight.

30-Jan, Qualifying Finals:
Qualifying complete in Chicago
William James reports

Once again a sizeable crowd on day two of the Windy City Open was on hand to witness the emergence of the four qualifiers for the main draw.

Andrew Wagih bt Olivier Pett (ENG)
             11/5, 12/10, 11/9 (37m)

A hot court and bouncy ball lead to long rallies and difficulty in making effective drops. Pett's errors in going short were probably the difference in game 1. Some tough, lengthy rallies in the middle of game 2 seemed to leave Pett unphased, but pushed the Egyptian a little too far, but Shoukry made some incredible drops and Pett a few crucial errors. This kept Shoukry close, and at 10/9 Pett had game ball and won the rally, and the game, on a disputed not-up call.

Pett showed incredible sportsmanship and offered his opponent a let, but then lost the next three rallies and the game. Game three saw Pett keep up with solid play and looked like he would close out the game, but from 6/9 down, the rapidly tiring Shoukry summoned his energy and nerve taking the next five rallies and the match.

Matthew Karwalski (AUS) bt Peter Creed (WAL)
           11/5, 11/7, 11/3 (28m)

Karwalski used basic squash and had to work very hard to contain the speedy Peter Creed. In game 2, the Welsh Warrior's play became more steady, extending the rallies, but tiring him as well. This ultimately lead to game ending errors. Sensing the fatigue, Karwalski put in many more drops in game three, which opened the court and paid great dividends.

Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) bt Rex Hedrick (AUS)
           13/15, 11/2, 11/8, 11/3 (76m)

This match had it all: blocking, diving, game-balls saved, intimidation, 37 lets, playing through inerference, profanity, inappropriate gestures, fun…and that was just the first game. Game one was very close, with Hedrick just edging it at last. Game two saw Meguid change strategy and decide to use the other half of the court – the front, and what a difference it made.

This opened the court and allowed Meguid to exploit the tiring Hedrick. The Australian found another store of energy for game three and was able to go up 8-4, but his hold was tenuous, and Meguid’s smart, consistent play won him seven straight rallies and the game. With Hedrick even more fatigued, game four was a formality, but Meguid had the crowd in hysterics on several occasions in the most enjoyable match of the tournament so far.

Charles Sharpes (ENG) bt Chris Gordon (USA)
       8/11, 9/11, 11/9, 11/8, 11/6 (89m)

These two were so well matched, and so similar in their playing styles, that one fan said near the end that they might as well have flipped a coin in the beginning rather than go through all that work. T

he play was fast paced, with both taking the ball early and not afraid to go short, especially on the backhand side. The match started very cleanly with very few lets, but by the end turned into a let-fest, which must be why some are clamoring to lower the tin again, so that fewer matches come down to referee decisions rather than playing ability.

Gordon’s chance was to close it out in three, which he almost did. After that Gordon got a little slower and had more trouble closing out rallies, and Sharpes got sharper, closing out the match with two spectacular volley nicks.

Windy City Qualifying under way
William James reports

With two local juniors and two club pros in the lineup tonight, a large, enthusiastic crowd was on hand at the UCC’s beautiful new facility which sports four singles and one doubles court overlooking Lake Michigan.

Olivier Pett (ENG) bt Yoni Ellous (NED)
            11/4, 11/1, 11/2 (24 min)

An entertaining, exhibition style encounter between UCC club pro Ellous and the 2011 champion.

Peter Creed (WAL) bt Alfredo Avila (MEX)
             11/4, 10/8 rtd (26 min)

Peter Creed applied much more pressure to his opponent in game one with perfect widths, tight lengths, and a conservative but effective short game. Game two was much closer and contentious, but in the middle of the rally at 9/8, Avilla yelled and hopped out of the court on one leg, having exacerbated an injury to his right foot which he sustained during a match last week.

Matthew Karwalski (AUS) bt Ibrahim Nyanzi (UGA)
              11/1, 11/2, 11/6 (17 min)

Although Nyanzi has a nice swing and moves well, Karwalski was too solid and clinical for the Ugandan to make any inroads.

Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) bt Mark Heather (ENG)

The first game was tight to 4/5, when a string of strokes and errors gave Meguid 7 straight rallies and the game. The second went easily to the Egyptian as well, and when Meguid went up 4/0 in the third it looked over. But buoyed by the crowd and some excellent play, local pro Mark Heather came back to make the third very close.

Rex Hedrick (AUS) bt Sam McCartney (USA)
           11/2, 11/4, 11/4 (16 min)

Sixteen year-old local junior McCartney showed talent and potential while fighting well in his first professional match.

Charles Sharpes (ENG) bt Jack Herold (USA)
           11/1, 11/3, 11/4 (19 min)

The rallies were long and intense, and Sharpes had to really concentrate to contain 17 year-old local junior Jack Herold, who put in an impressive performance.

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