l Wimbledon Club Squash Squared Open l 12-17 March 2017 l London, UK l

Today ] SEMIS ] QUARTERS ] ROUND ONE ] [ QUALIFYING ]

 2017 Tournament Reports

Mon 13-Mar, Qualifying Finals:

All eight seeded players won their first round qualifying matches on Sunday, so the qualifying finals promised some great squash as the last four spots in the main draw are claimed.

The top three seeds - Egypt's Youssef Soliman and Indians Vikram Malhotra and Mahesh Mangaonkar all won in four games while England's Jaymie Haycocks produced the upset of the round as he beat Denmark's Kristian Frost in a long five-setter.

Qualifying Finals:

[1] Youssef Soliman (Egy) 3-0 [8] Jan vd Herrewegen (Bel)
          11/5, 11/9, 11/8 (52m)
[3] Mahesh Mangaonkar (Ind) 3-1 [5] Evan Williams (Nzl)
          11/13, 11/4, 11/7, 11/6
[7] Jaymie Haycocks (Eng) 3-2 [4] Kristian Frost (Den)
          6/11, 11/8, 11/7 8/11, 11/8
[2] Vikram Malhotra (Ind) 3-1 [6] Jens Schoor (Ger)
          11/9, 13/11, 9/11, 11/4
 

Sun 12-Mar, Qualifying Round One:
Seeds through as Qualifying
gets
under way at Wimbledon

The 2017 edition of the Wimbledon Club Squash Squared Open kicked off at noon on Sunday with eight qualifying round one matches.

TWC's Squash Director Stacey Ross was one of the early starters, while at the end of the session former world #2 Peter Marshall made a rare PSA appearance.

Neither managed to record a win though as all eight seeds, including favourites to qualify Egypt's Youssef Soliman, Indians Vikram Malhotra and Mahesh Mangaonkar, plus Denmark's Kristian Frost made it through to Monday night's qualifying finals.

Qualifying Finals:                           Fram reports from Wimbledon

[1] Youssef Soliman (Egy) 3-0 [8] Jan vd Herrewegen (Bel)nn11/5, 11/9, 11/8 (52m)

Jan had to do a heck of a lot of work

The Belgium had to cover a lot of ground today, and weathered the nick/attacking shots from the Egyptian for the whole duration. Youssef made a few errors, but mostly his shots were lethal, and I doní t know how Jan was able to save and retrieve them, less alone counterdrop them beautifully like he did, times and times again.

After a slow start, Jan played a great squash, coming back from 6/2 in the 2nd, scoring 5 points in a row. Youssef found some great pace to put the Belgium under pressure, 7/7, 8/8, 9/9, with the Egyptian clinching that decisive game, 11/9 after two very heavy/intense rallies.


All to his credit, Jan never said die, kept fighting in the 3rd, taking a good lead 4/1, only to be caught out 5/5, the hard work produced in the first two games started to feel heavy in the legs. A few errors at the end of the game, and itís 11/8 for Youssef, whoíll be delighted to save his energy for tomorrow.

I was happy with my pace today, I kept the pace very high, but like yesterday Sean, Jan started to mix up the pace very well, and in the last two games, playing nice lobs, slowing down the pace, and increasing his accuracy.

His length was so good, he kept sending me in the four corners, and Iím lucky to sneak the 2nd game. That gave me the confidence I needed to win the third.

Last year, I reached the main draw too, I hope to do better this year!

[3] Mahesh Mangaonkar (Ind) 3-1 [5] Evan Williams (Nzl)     11/13, 11/4, 11/7, 11/6

Evan nearly there, Mahesh too powerful

It was a good game that one, both working very hard indeed.

Mahesh took a great lead in the first game, 8/4, only to see his lefthander opponent find his flicks and drop shots all over the court, 8/8. 9/9. Evan got all the game balls Ė 3 of them Ė and itís on the third he finally closed it, 13/11.

But somehow, Mahesh was physically stronger in the three next games, and more importantly, more consistent. The New Zealander had moment of brilliance, but cut off with errors that frustrated him more and more as the match went along.

After taking the second 11/4 rather easily, Mahesh concentrated his shots on Evanís backhand Ė and it worked Ė 6 unforced errors on that side alone (thanks Abdullah for the stats): In the 3rd, Evan is quick off the blocks, 4/0, 6/2, but Mahesh patiently grinds him out, 7/7 to take the game 11/7.

The 4th looked folded for the Indian,5/2, but a sudden drop of energy seems to hit him Ė very dark eyes out of the blue Ė and the New Zealander senses it. A big push, 5/6, but Mahesh found his second wind, scoring the next 5 points, to close this out, 11/6Ö

Iím the fittest I ever been! But itís just the pressure I put on myself that gets me tired. In training, I do much more than that, seriously, and I hardly breathe. The rallies donít get me tired, the pressure does.

After I started dropping in the rankings in 2016, I started wondering if I was ever able going to get back where I was or even higher. I think I can play top 30, but I have a mental block when I play. I just do not attack. I find great lines, great drives, open the opportunities, but I do not seize them.

Itís not the best of times for me, I am trying to get better, trying to sort out my mind, and I just work as hard as I can, every day, to try and get confidence back in my game.

[2] Vikram Malhotra (Ind) 3-1 [6] Jens Schoor (Ger)    11/9, 13/11, 9/11, 11/4

I think I was controlling the rallies, but thatís moments like that I feel Iím coming back from injury Ė ankle Ė and Iím not as match fit as I would like. I made just too many errors. Itís only my second tournament of the season, and I feel that the more matches Iím playing the better I feel and the more confident I get, my racquet work getting sharper.

It was very close, but I could feel I was making him do a lot of work. What was reassuring, is that Iím back to my fitness of before the injury, and after the two games, I was not winded at all.

In the third, it was again close, and at 9/9, it was anybodyís game, but I sent a shot sitter into the tin at game ball: itís like Iím still thinking about my shot instead of just playing it.

Iím lucky he got a bit tired in the 4th, but I think the game plan that Thierry my coach put in place for me Ė with lengthy texts Ė worked beautifully. He had played Jens last year in a League match and he had fresh memories of it. So he set it up for me. It was all about the disciplineÖ

[7] Jaymie Haycocks (Eng) 3-2 [4] Kristian Frost (Den)       6/11, 11/8, 11/7 8/11, 11/8

Definitely a game of two halves!

I didnít see anything for the first 2 games, and to be honest, couldnít hear the decisions in the 3rd as the ref was upstairs in the gallery for some reasons, hence mute to us all downstairs! Apparently, Jaymie was up 7/2 Ė so many discussions with the ref from Kristian, bless him. But the Danish young dad managed to claw back to 7/7, only to see Jaymie score the next 4 points 11/7 to take a 2/1 lead.

And then, at 4/3 Kristian in the 4th Ė I was watching the other court that was a match ball Ė Kristian racquet got right into Jaymieís left eyebrow.

Bleeding followed, thank Heaven we had a doctor on site that had a good look, and recommended the match to be stopped for the night, as the bleeding could resume Ė impossible to put a plaster at the place apparently.

Nobody wanted the match to continue the next morning. So on the advise of Lee Beachill, this is what was decided: on agreement with Kristian, the match would resume, but if the bleeding was to start again, no penalty would be applied to Jaymie, and or they would try and stop the bleeding, or the match would resume the next day.

Off we went then, back on court. The official ref had to leave and catch his train, so Steve Richardson stepped in, having asked Kristian if he was ok with him officiating Ė as Steve had been coaching Jaymie at the start of the game: there again, Kristian was as obliging as possible and accepted it.

The 4th resumed, and it was a close game, but soooo many stoppage, so many decisions, most of which Kristian was not agreeing with. 6/6, 7/7, 8/8. Very long and gruelling rallies, very up and down the wall at times, with Jaymie going for high speed shots that Kristian always seemed to get back in play! And itís the latter that levels it all 11/8, after being warned for ďmanhandling his opponentĒ on game ball.

ďThatís the first time I ever heard that expressionĒ, stated the Danish upon his return on court.

Back to gruelling rallies on the backhand in particular, both playing extremely high accuracy lines. 3/0 for Jaymie, Kristian wonít have it, 3/3. But Jaymie seems to have found the perfect balance between tight squash and attacking short game: 7/3, 9/4. A big push from Kristian on match ball 6/10, again a few calls but Jaymie finally clinches the decider 11/8.

I was not positive enough in the first game, he was in front of me, slowing the pace down nicely. So I had to step in front of him, being more positive, speed it up, and play kills across his body. Although I played so many side wall nicks, you would have thought it was a tactic, and got about 10 strokes in two games!

I think he was maybe getting a bit tired in the 4th, but then we had like 45m of interruption for my blood injury, so that took care of that!

Qualifying Round One:                     Fram reports from Wimbledon

What a start to the day ! 

[1] Youssef Soliman (Egy) 3-1 Sean Conroy (Irl)             11/7, 11/13, 11/3, 11/3 (62m)
[8] Jan Van Den Herrewegen (Bel) 3-1 Stacey Ross (Eng)     11/13, 11/6, 11/3, 11/3

It was not easy for either Jan VDH or Youssef Soliman first round to say the least.

STACEY'S STILL GOT IT

A sentence, overheard while the Squash Pro and former PSA player Stacey Ross was battling it on against Belgium Jan VDH, says it all: return of serve in the nick, long drop shot, excellent read and guessing of the ball, perfect length and width, lovely lobs, yes Stacey still got it all.

I swear he had more grey hair at the end of the first game than he had at the start of it though ďI think he is worried it might get to fiveĒ smile a spectator. ďHe is worried it might get to three!Ē retorted his mate.

Blesssssss.

It was never easy for Jan Ė who along with Abdullah Al Tamimi Ė had a bit of a misadventure yesterday, as their backback were stolen from their car, along with their laptops, passports, and other precious things. Hope the rest of the tournament will make them forget that terribly unpleasant affairÖ

Yes, yesterday, we came for 30m hit, and while the car was parked, guys in motobikes broke the two back windows and stole all our bags. Not great really, but not much you can do about it.

As for the match, I never saw him play but I had heard about him. I just couldnít break him down in the first, and he made me work hard for it! How good is heÖ

But I just tried to keep the pace up, thinking that he might run out of steam eventually, and thatís what happened, but it was never easy.

SEAN MADE IT HARD

What a lovely match that was, played in the right spirit, between two players that are patient enough to make it structured, but who both like their shot game too, making it a great show for the spectators.

The first game was very close indeed up to 5/5, a few errors from the Irish, 8/5, 9/6 Youssef, 11/7. A good response from Sean in the second, same close game up to 5/5 ,but this time itís the Irish that finds his groove, 10/6 game ball.

Was not that simple, as it seemed like Youssefís arm went relaxed and started finding nicks all over the four corners! The Egyptian wonít manage to get a game ball though, and itís the Irish on his 6th GB, 13/11.

The last two games saw the Egyptian dominate the middle and Sean just couldnít contain him anymore, 11/3, 11/3. But a truly entertaining and lovely game that was.

Iím trying new shoes, and I didnít feel comfortable in the first two games, and he was playing so well, mixing the pace beautifully, playing the right tactics, and I was not happy with my movement.

In the 3rd, I took a bit of time off as my back was feeling extremely sore, I was hoping it was nothing, and it was, I was able to get back on court quickly.

In the last 2 games, I found my range, and controlled the game better. I feel Iím in the tournament now.

[5] Evan Williams (Nzl) 3-2 Joe Green (Eng)            11/6, 12/14, 11/1, 3/11, 11/8
[3] Mahesh Mangaonkar (Ind) 3-0 Ben Grindrod (Nzl)            11/7, 11/8, 11/6

IMPOSSIBLE TO CALL

It was the first time I think I saw Joe Green play and I have to say I liked what I saw. An excellent mover out there, really intense, he likes to hit low and hard, retrieves beautifully and also took his chances when he set the opportunities up.

He was playing against ďFlickĒ Evan Williams, from NZ, whose major problem he admits is his lack of consistency. Very weird match that was, with Evan dominating the middle and making his opponent run a lot in the 1st, 11/6. Then a huge second game, Evan game ball, 10/9, 11/10, 12/11, but soo many errors, and itís eventually the Dig In Englishman that takes the cake, 14/12 on his first game ball.

Itís getting weirder when Joe doesnít show up at all in the 3rd, 11/1 Evan, while the New Zealander doesnít show in the 4th, 11/3 for Joe!!!!

The 5th is anybodyís really, very intense between two lefthanders that really want to win, a few too many calls on that bouncy courts, at 8/8, a no let that truly upsets Joe Ė donít ask me, I was writing the score down and didnít see Ė the Englishman getting a conduct warning for ball abuse. 10/8 match ball, the Englishman has to change his racquet as well, a let as we are not sure if the ball is out of court, but itís finally Evan, 11/8, with a very unhappy and frustrated JoeÖ.

Itís unfortunately a reoccurring fact, last year, I was up 2/0 and 7/2 up and lost it in 5. I seem to often be up in a match, and not able to finish it off. Iím trying to sort it outÖ

Iíve been working in Pontefract for the past 6 months, where you work a lot of accuracy and tactic. Iím trying to play faster and more aggressive, and at the moment, Iím caught out between too fast and too slow!

But I would say the unforced errors are the biggest problem for me. But a win is a win I guess Iíll have to take it.

A big thank you to my friends Ė all came from London, all New Zealanders, the 12 of them! They made a big difference, thanks for that guys.

The court is very bouncy, so even when I was putting him under pressure, volleying a lot, he would just lift the ball and play tight squash. So I had to hang in there, and wait for him to break down, being patient, instead of just going for silly shots and making errors.

In the 3rd, it was fine up to 9/1, then I started to make too many errors, up to 9/5, but I finally got away with it, 11/6Ö.

[7] Jaymie Haycocks (Eng) 3-0 Eain Yow Ng (Mas)

EXPERIENCE v YOUTH

It was never simple for Jaymie Haycocks against former Junior Champ Eain Yow Ng. The young player had the hands and golden touch of Beng Hee, thatís gives you an idea how great he is playing.

Jaymie kept having to work extremely hard, any loose ball would be instantly punished, and the Englishman will be very pleased to take it on 3 today.

I know it was going to be tough, I heard about him, I had seen little of him, but I knew he played well in the World Champ in Cairo, and had a few good results too lately against top 100.

So I got in front of him, played my game, hold him and push him back, hold him and push him back, but if I was playing at the front too soon, he would be all over it.

I lost concentration a few times during the match, and I was lucky in the 3rd, I was down 8/5, he was playing very well. Itís all about keeping your discipline really.

Iím glad to win in three, for sure.

[4] Kristian Frost (Den) 3-1 Dougie Kempsell (Sco) 11/8, 4/11, 11/3, 11/3 (51m)

The two first games were very tough, I knew he is playing a traditional squash up and down the wall, and so do I, so it was bound to be a hard battle.

I lost the second game, but I was not that worried as I knew I had put a lot of work in his legs and it paid off in the 3rd and 4th, where I got a good lead in eachÖ.I was able to put a bit more variation at the end of the match.

I have been trying to stay focused on the game, and nothing else, which has been my goal for the past 10 yearsÖ.

Having a little boy changes your perspective on everything. Suddenly, you are not number one in your home anymore. He is. And you have got to protect him, and care for him. Itís really, really, really niceÖ.

[2] Vikram Malhotra (Ind) 3-0 Peter Marshall (Eng) 11/4, 11/8, 11/4

PETER STILL DANGEROUS, VIKRAM PATIENT

It was a bit like the first match Stacey Ross versus Jan VDH: we know who is going to win, but itís a bit like playing John White in the qualifying first round of the US Open!!! Tough job.

For those young kids who do not know who is Peter Marshall, he was world number 2 and has got the particularity to play a two hand backhand Ė ďhard to readĒ admitted VikramÖ

The Indian played some good rallies at the start of each game to make sure he would put a lot of work in the 45 years old man from Nottingham. And it worked, eventually. But easy, it never wasÖ

I studied his game extensively. I learned a long time ago something we are all aware of, unless stupid: nobody gives you anything, and I knew Peter was not going to be easy to beat.

What he lost in physicality, he gained on tactical awareness and experience, especially when we would get to the 7, 8, 9, mark: he had been there so many times, under the limelight. I had to be aware of his capabilities of pulling through, with his unique style of play, so deceiving: it was the first time ever I was playing against somebody using two hands for his backhand.

On my side, I am lucky enough to train with Thierry Lincou, my coach, so Iím used to play a former world number 1, and the way they move you around, Iím used to play an experienced player. Plus, Thierry played Peter a lot, so he was able to point out how Peter plays his game and devise with me a foolproof game plan.

It was all about discipline today, and sticking to that game plan, which was difficult for me as Iím an attacking player. It was nearly like playing a conditioned game, where I was not allowed to play certain shots. I managed to contain him and prevent him access to his whole weaponry of lethal shots.

I have an incredible respect for Peter, and I know itís normally not really appreciated by the players when you say that, but he is playing incredibly well for his age, and I hope that one day, Iíll be like him.

It was an incredible experience to get on court against such a player.

[6] Jens Schoor (Ger) 3-2 Lance Beddoes (Nzl) 9/11, 7/11, 11/9, 11/4, 11/9 (70m)

THE WEIRDEST OF GAMES ...

It was probably the longest and certainly the weirdest of matches that last one.

Lance Ė on fire and playing the best squash I ever saw him play Ė seemed unbeatable in the first two games, up 8/0, and 7/0 in the second, saving 2 games balls in the first game was well.

It looked like Lance was going to upset the seeding, but Jens mentally came back in the game, finally taking the lead 2/0 in the 3rd, then a close game throughout, 2/2, 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, 6/6, 7/7, 9/9, with the German closing it on his first game ball, 11/9.

Another close start in the 4th, but at 4/4, Jens feels that his opponent is getting tired, and zooms to the finishing post, 11/4, forcing a decider.

The 5th has got a few too many decisions, both of them being a bit tired by then, and so was the ref, having done 4 matches on the trot without a break or a cup of tea!!!

Lance takes a good lead, 4/1, but Jens is finding some great confidence shots, in particular two crosscourt volley nicks and two backhand flicks that truly taxied his opponent. 7/5, 8/6 for the German, but Lance is still very much in it, 8/8, 9/9.

Incredibly, Lance, who hasnít made a single error for 4 games, tins his drop shot at that precise moment. 10/9, match ball, and a sidewall shot that shoots straight back at Lance, and itís a stroke, 11/9. ..

Either he plays always incredibly well against me, or Iím playing extremely badly when I play him, or he just loves my game. And I think he just loves my game, that suits it very well.

In the first two games, when he was fresh and really sharp, he played extremely well, I donít think I did much wrong, his shots were just going in, and if I managed to get on back, he would get the next shot right away.

He is one of those players that are not rhythmical, and very hard to play in my book. He plays a few grinding rallies then shoots out a few winners, then long rallies again. Itís very hard to get into any kind of rhythm or getting used to his game.

At 9/9, I told myself to go a bit defensive, not to make any errors, and wait for him to make the error, or for him to give me the opportunity to attack. He made the error, then on match ball, a very good decision from the ref, who gave me a stroke as the ball shot out of the corner straight on himÖ.

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