24-29 May, Maidstone, England, $10k
TOM FORD TAKES KENT OPEN TITLE
By ALAN THATCHER
No.2 seed Tom Ford claimed his first PSA World Tour title for
six months when he won a thrilling final of the Select Gaming
Kent Open against Welsh outsider Joel Makin.
Ford, a tall left-hander from Cheltenham, took 83 minutes to
wear down an opponent playing his eighth match in 12 days.
who was runner-up in the Stortford Classic a week earlier, was
on his knees in the closing stages but kept battling through his
obvious exhaustion to lead 9-8 in the fifth game.
But Ford, who has developed into a stylish, attacking player,
finished strongly to win the final three points with shots of
stunning accuracy before a packed gallery at The Mote Squash
Club in Maidstone, Kent.
The contrast in styles created a fascinating encounter with Ford
angling his soft volley drops into both front corners with
Makin’s powerful, physical approach producing some unbelievable
retrieving and plenty of winners of his own.
Both players had battled through punishing, five-game
semi-finals, with Ford beating Peter Creed in 87 minutes and
Makin outlasting top seed Charles Sharpes after 104 minutes of
However, they both looked fresh at the start with rallies of
50-plus shots. Ford led 8-5 in the opening game before No.8 seed
Makin stormed through to win it 11-8. The second and third games
were both settled on tiebreaks and, after almost an hour’s play,
Makin led two games to one.
sensed his opponent was tiring and raced through the fourth game
in six minutes. He was in front all the way through the fifth
game until he reached 8-6, when he lost three points in a row as
Makin made one final, dramatic push, despite finishing many
rallies bent double with fatigue.
Ford’s cool temperament saw him control the final, punishing
exchanges with some precision rallying. He worked his opponent
into every corner of the court to reel in one of the biggest
prizes of his career and his first tournament win since two
titles in Canada in November.
A delighted Ford said: “I want to thank a lot of people for
running this superb tournament but the man I need to thank the
most is the resident osteopath, Nick Griffith, who has treated
me every day for an injury to my ribs and helped me to compete.
“Having extras like that available to us means a lot to the
players and we appreciate it very much. It is a tough life on
the tour and sometimes it can be a lonely existence but I have
really enjoyed all the interaction with the Mote members during
is lovely to play in a proper squash club in front of
knowledgeable and appreciative audiences.
“I want to thank Joel for making the final such a great match
and I felt we both produced some of our best squash on court
Makin, when asked how he felt during the fifth game, replied: “I
was pretty tired in the first game, let alone the fifth.
“I am pleased to have put together two good tournaments back to
back and my aim, as always, is to keep improving.”
It was the youngest final in the eighth edition of the Kent
Open, with Ford at 22 years of age and his opponent one year
As Ford raised aloft his trophy after receiving it from title
sponsor Jonny Powell, of Maidstone-based Select Gaming,
spectators agreed that it was the best final in the tournament’s
24-29 May, Maidstone, England, $10k
 Charles Sharpes (Eng)
11/6, 12/10, 11/8 (45m)
[Q] Asim Khan (Pak)
 Charles Sharpes
7/11, 11/5, 11/9, 11/8 (47m)
 Jaymie Haycocks
 Charles Sharpes
11/8, 4/11, 11/13, 11/3,
 Joel Makin
 Joel Makin
8/11, 12/10, 11/13, 11/5, 11/9 (83m)
 Tom Ford
 Jaymie Haycocks (Eng)
11/8, 8/11, 11/6, 11/9 (45m)
[LL] Brian Byrne (Irl)
Joel Makin (Wal)
8/11, 12/10, 11/8, 6/11, 11/3 (82m)
[Q] Youssef Soliman (Egy)
 Joel Makin
13/11, 11/6, 11/5 (51m)
 Richie Fallows
 Richie Fallows (Eng)
11/3, 10/12, 11/6, 16/14 (47m)
Lyell Fuller (Eng)
[Q] Nick Mulvey (Eng)
12/10, 11/7, 11/7 (39m)
 Peter Creed (Wal)
 Peter Creed
11/8, 11/5, 11/7 (37m)
 Peter Creed
13/11, 11/6, 8/11, 11/13, 11/9
 Tom Ford
Matthew Hopkin (Aus)
11/9, 11/6, 11/1 (38m)
 Chris Fuller (Eng)
[Q] Patrick Rooney (Eng)
5/11, 11/8, 8/11, 11/4, 11/8 (69m)
 Arthur Gaskin (Irl)
[Q] Patrick Rooney
11/9, 11/8, 12/10 (43m)
 Tom Ford
Ashley Davies (Eng)
12/10, 11/9, 3/11, 11/2 (46m)
 Tom Ford (Eng)
Nick Mulvey (Eng) 3-2
Ben Ford (Eng)
11-5, 11-6, 10-12, 8-11, 11-8(68m)
Patrick Rooney (Eng) 3-1 Ondrej Uherka (Cze)
11-5, 8-11, 11-3, 11-5 (38m)
Youssef Soliman (Egy) 3-0
Brian Byrne (Irl)
11-4, 11-9, 11-7 (47m)
Micah Franklin (Ber) 3-2 Asim Khan (Pak)
14-12, 9-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7 (72m)
Qualifying Round One:
Nick Mulvey (Eng) 3-2 Joe Green (Eng)
4-11, 7-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-5 (70m)
Ben Ford (Eng) 3-1 Bradley Masters (Eng)
9-11, 11-3, 11-3, 11-5 (35m)
Patrick Rooney (Eng) 3-1 Sean Conroy (Irl)
11-0, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7 (41m)
Ondrej Uherka (Cze) 3-1 Rui Soares (Por)
11-6, 1-11, 11-6, 11-8 (60m)
Youssef Soliman (Egy) 3-0 Emyr Evans (Wal)
11-8, 11-4, 11-7 (38m)
Brian Byrne (Irl) 3-0 James Evans (Eng)
11-7, 11-5, 11-5 (25m)
Micah Franklin (Ber) 3-0 Gary Nisbet (Eng)
11-7, 11-4, 11-2 (23m)
Asim Khan (Pak) 3-2 Chris Tomlinson (Eng)
8-11, 9-11, 14-12, 11-6, 11-7 (63m)
FORD MEETS MAKIN IN KENT OPEN FINAL
By ALAN THATCHER
Top seed and reigning champion Charles Sharpes crashed out of
the Select Gaming PSA M10 Kent Open after a dramatic and often
physical contest with Welsh No.2 Joel Makin.
Their semi-final battle lasted 104 minutes, seven minutes less
than an equally unpleasant final of the Stortford Classic last
week contested by the same two players and won by Sharpes.
contrast, No.2 seed Tom Ford overcame Welsh No.1 Peter Creed in
the opening semi-final in an absorbing match that ebbed and
flowed with brilliant, attacking squash, coupled with
astonishing retrieving in a match that was a credit to the
professional game, with honesty, commitment and sportsmanship in
Both matches went to five. Ford protected a 10-6 lead and closed
out the match 11-9 after a late wobble. Makin won 16-14 after
Sharpes wasted a 10-7 lead.
Ford has developed into a flamboyant, attacking player with an
impressive range of attacking shots. Much of his match with
Creed took place in the front half of the court with both
players attempting spectacular winners, which in turn produced
equally impressive retrieving.
Ford won the opening game the hard way. He powered ahead to lead
10-6 but Creed won five points in a row before Ford nailed it
He dominated the second, winning 11-6, and the 22-year-old
looked to be heading for a place in the final as he led 7-4 in
Creed showed why he is rated one of the best athletes in the
game as he hurled himself around the court, combining some
gut-wrenching retrievals with superb winners.
He won the third 11-8 and took the fourth 13-11 after some fast
and furious rallies.
Creed led 5-3 in the fifth before Ford put together a phenomenal
spell of controlled aggression to win six points in a row. After
a couple of tins he closed out the match and booked his first
appearance in a PSA final since November.
He said: “Peter is such a great competitor that I always knew
that a big fightback would emerge at some stage.
“It was a really enjoyable match to play and I love the whole
atmosphere here at the club. It’s great to see the club packed
out every day and the players really enjoy coming here.
“On my last appearance here I only lasted one day but it’s nice
to come back and stay for a bit longer. I am really looking
forward to the final.”
a bizarre twist, the second semi-final finished on a conduct
stroke for racket throwing for the second night in a row. Last
night Jaymie Haycocks was punished for his indiscretion after
Sharpes had been awarded a conduct stroke.
This time it was Sharpes who conceded the stroke and launched
his racket towards the front wall after a momentous battle in
the fifth game.
Makin gleefully celebrated the decision. It was an unfortunate
end to a brutal contest. It wasn’t pretty. But it was raw,
high-octane sporting endeavour, compelling drama to the end.
WELSH WIZARDS CAST A SPELL ON THE KENT OPEN
By ALAN THATCHER
Peter Creed and Joel Makin celebrated a Welsh
double as they progressed to the semi-finals at the PSA M10
Select Gaming Kent Open.
Makin took out No.3 seed Richie Fallows and Creed played
superbly to beat talented Australian Matthew Hopkin.
Makin faces top seed Charles Sharpes in a repeat of last
week’s Stortford Classic final which Sharpes won in five games
over 111 minutes. Creed tackles No.2 seed Tom Ford.
Creed and Makin enjoyed straight-games victories in front of a
packed gallery at The Mote Squash Club in Maidstone, Kent. But
there was a huge contrast in the style and atmosphere of each
Creed’s match was full of entertaining exchanges at the front of
the court and some blindingly brilliant retrieving from both
Hopkin led in all three games but Creed finished strongly in
The following match, however, was full of unpleasant verbal
exchanges as Fallows hit the self-destruct button.
touch play has improved significantly but his temperament is
clearly still a work in progress.
After the match he admitted he was considering his future in the
game and said: “Referees are making it really difficult for
me to play the game. I feel that they are picking on me all the
time and every time I play a backhand drop shot it seems to be a
stroke against me.
“I am enjoying my training with England Squash up in Manchester
and I am seeing a sports psychologist to help me deal with this
stuff but it’s impossible when you think referees are treating
you like this.”
His opponent, Welsh No.2 Makin, was delighted to win through and
said: “It certainly felt like Richie talked himself into a lot
of trouble. It was a hard, tough first game but he lost his way
in the second when he started getting involved with the
“I just wanted to avoid getting involved in those exchanges
and concentrate on my playing my game. I was pleased with the
way I have been playing for the past few weeks and it’s great
when it all comes together.”
a busy night for the referees, Charles Sharpes won through to
the last four when Jaymie Haycocks was conduct stroked on match
ball after throwing his racket at the front wall.
Sharpes was relieved to win in four games and Haycocks admitted:
“It wasn’t the best way to finish the match.” Haycocks had
won the first game and matched Sharpes for long periods of the
contest. He added: “I was playing well in patches but then
started hitting a few tins. It was very frustrating.”
contrast, Tom Ford and Patrick Rooney played superb squash with
hardly a let. All three games were tight as the 18-year-old
Rooney showed how much he is improving as a player.
Ford won 11-9, 11-8, 12-10 and said: “I have seen Patrick on
court at national squads and I am very impressed with the
intelligent and mature way he has developed. He has a good hold
and moves the ball around well.
“I have been playing in some discomfort after injuring my ribs
and it hurts if I try to hit the ball hard.”
26-May, Round One:
JOEL MAKIN MAKES HIS MARK ON KENT OPEN
By ALAN THATCHER
Joel Makin of Wales continued his excellent run of form by
beating rising Egyptian star Youssef Soliman in the first round
of the Select Gaming Kent Open at The Mote Squash Club in
who beat the higher-ranked Ben Coleman and Welsh number one
Peter Creed on the way to last week’s final of the Bishop’s
Stortford Classic, ended Soliman’s unbeaten run in UK
tournaments this year.
Soliman had followed up his triumph in the British Junior Open
Under-19 competition by winning PSA titles in Aberdeen, Jersey
After a successful run through qualifying he came up against a
determined opponent who matched his pace and won the contest
with a more disciplined, controlled approach.
While Soliman self-combusted in the fifth, hitting tins,
conceding strokes and arguing with the referee, Makin remained
calm to clinch victory 8-11, 12-10, 11-8, 6-11, 11-3 in 82
minutes, the longest match of the night.
He said: “I was very pleased with the way I played last week and
kept that form going tonight. I knew his reputation for playing
at a high pace and he has obviously had a good run in recent
tournaments. I felt I contained him well and was happy to play
my own game.
“I have been working with my coach Robert Owen for a year and a
half and we are working on lots of different areas. There is no
short cut to improving as a player and I’m working hard in
training with a strong group of players.”
Soliman said: “My leg was hurting me a little bit and I lost
focus in the fifth game. I wasted energy getting involved in
discussions with the referee and started making a few mistakes.”
At times the match grew a little scrappy, with referee Wendy
Danzey forced into making 37 decisions.
Makin will be hunting another major scalp when he meets No.3
seed Richie Fallows in the quarter-finals. Fallows had a battle
on his hands before he overcame Lyell Fuller 16-14 in the fourth
Top seed and reigning champion Charles Sharpes beat Pakistani
qualifier Asim Khan in straight games, although there were
several highly competitive passages of play before Sharpes
closed out the match. In the quarter-finals he faces Jaymie
Haycocks, who removed Ireland’s lucky loser Brian Byrne in four
said: “It’s the last tournament of the season, so it’s a big
push from me to try to win it.”
No.2 seed Tom Ford won a hard-hitting all-English battle with
Ashley Davies in four games, although the match threw up a
bizarre scoreline of 12-10, 11-9, 3-11, 11-2.
Davies squandered a game ball in the first and the second was
also a close-run affair. However, Davies powered through the
third and was 8-0 up before Ford registered point. The fourth
was similar, although this time Ford reached 10-0 and match ball
before Davies managed to avoid the bagel with two late points.
said: “I have never played a match like it. The third and fourth
were crazy. The first rallies in both games were very long and
whoever won it went on a big run of points. It was so mad. Tom
couldn’t win a point in the third and the same happened to me in
Ford now meets 18-year-old Merseysider Patrick Rooney, who
squeezed home 3-2 against Ireland’s Arthur Gaskin, who was
suffering from cramp as the match wore on.
Australian Matt Hopkin won his opening match against Chris
Fuller 11-9, 11-6, 11-1 in 38 minutes – and that included a
10-minute stoppage to have a blood injury treated.
He said: “I twisted my ankle at 1-1 in the first game and then
grazed my knee as I hit the floor so had to go off to stop the
“When I came back on court Chris won four points in a row but I
managed to focus and get stuck into the game.”
Fuller, renowned for some marathon matches in previous years at
The Mote, was at a loss to describe his rapid exit.
“I don’t know what happened,” he said. “I never really got
25-May, Qualifying Finals:
Luck of the Irish as Brian Byrne claims first round
By ALAN THATCHER
It’s not often that four matches produce five winners but that
was the case with tonight’s qualifying finals of the Select
Gaming Kent Open. If that sounds a bit Irish, blame Kilkenny’s
finest squash player, Brian Byrne, who lost a spectacular match
against Egyptian firecracker Youssef Soliman but was then
rewarded with a Lucky Loser slot in the main draw after the
withdrawal of the injured Joel Hinds.
A hip injury forced Hinds to quit, but it turned into good
fortune for Byrne, whobattled toe-to- toe with Soliman for 47
minutes before the Egyptian powered through to a first round tie
against the in-form Joel Makin.
It should be quite a match. Makin beat Welsh number one Peter
Creed and top seed Ben Coleman in last week’s Bishop’s Stortford
Classic before losing a five-game final to the Kent Open’s top
seed and reigning champion, Charles Sharpes, in a battle lasting
makes his first appearance at The Mote after a fantastic first
half of 2016. After winning the British Open Under-19 title at
Abbeydale, he won the $10k North of Scotland Open in Aberdeen
before winning two $5k tournaments in Ipswich and Jersey. In all
of them he had to work his way through to the final from
The quality of his match against Byrne was worthy of a far
higher status. With shot-making and retrieving of an astonishing
quality, it was hard to comprehend that we were witnessing a
Soliman won 11-4, 11-9, 11-7 but Byrne earned the title of Mick
Rodriguez for some amazing shots through his legs and behind his
back. His real name then came first out of the pint glass for
the lucky loser draw for a first round tie against number five
seed Jaymie Haycocks.
Soliman and Byrne were first up in the qualifying finals and the
intensity they produced was matched in all three of the matches
Rooney is looking in superb form. After starting the tournament
with a bagel (11-0) first game win against Sean Conroy of
Ireland, he followed up with a powerful performance to beat
Ondrej Uherka of Czech Republic. Rooney pulled away from 6-4 to
win the opening game, but let slip an 8-7 lead in the second as
Uherka finished strongly. Rooney then tightened up all aspects
of his game to win the third 11-3 and the fourth 11-5.
Rooney’s reward for his 38-minute victory was a first round
clash with number six seed Arthur Gaskin from Ireland.
Bermudan Micah Franklin and Pakistan's No.2 seed Asim Khan left
everything on court after a 72-minute marathon which could have
gone either way.
Khan looked edgy and nervous as he struggled past 39-year- old
Mote Head Coach Chris Tomlinson in the first qualifying round,
but here he demonstrated enormous physical resources to
withstand a determined attack from Franklin.
edged the first game 14-12 and fought back from 7-3 down in the
second to lead 9-8, but Franklin closed out the game 11-9. Khan
was in control throughout the third as Franklin's accuracy
deserted him, and the fourth was almost a carbon-copy of the
second as Franklin played aggressively to lead 8-2 only for Khan
to draw level with a run of six points. Again Franklin squeezed
home to take it to five.
From 0-3 down he won four points in a row, but then Khan did the
same. Back came Franklin and at 7-7 it was anybody’s match to
win or lose. Khan’s tight drops were the decisive factor as he
won the final four points to gain a place in the main draw
against top seed Charles Sharpes.
Mulvey fought back from two games down to beat top qualifying
seed Joe Green on Tuesday, and almost suffered the same reversal
of fortunes himself as Kent’s Ben Ford recovered from two games
down to take the match to five.
But in another match of high intensity and superb squash, Mulvey
held it together to win 11-8 in the decider after 68 minutes of
pure drama. The 40-year- old Ford recovered from two games down
in impressive fashion to take the match to his opponent with
some inventive shot-making.
Mulvey now meets Welsh number one Peter Creed, the fourth seed,
in the bottom half of the draw.