• Davenport North American Open  • 21-28 Feb 2009 • 

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01-Mar, Final:
James Willstrop
bt Gregory Gaultier
     11/6, 6/11, 11/9, 8/11, 11/4 (82m)

Willstrop's winning ways ...
It's another major title for in-form James Willstrop as the Englishman, newly-elevated to #4 in the world, won a see-saw battle with Gregory Gaultier in the final at the University of Richmond ...

29-Feb, Semis:
Willstrop & Gaultier in final
Two straight-game semi-finals with James Willstrop proving too good for a tired Karim Darwish while Gregory Gaultier won a fast-paced shootout with John White ...

28-Feb, Quarters:
Darwish downs Ramy
A couple of thrillers in the quarters as Karim Darwish wins the all-Egyptian battle to set up a semi with Willstrop, and Gaultier comes through a French five-setter to meet that man White ...

27-Feb, Round Two
Olli ousts Palmer
The top seven seeds will be joined in the quarter-finals by Olli Tuominen, who upset third seed David Palmer ... Lincou survives against Abbas after saving three match-balls in the third ...

26-Feb, Round One, Day Two
Illingworth's Ashour pair
Another seven seeds through to round two, but the one upset  is the one the home crowd wanted as Julian Illingworth beats one Ashour to set up a meeting with another ...

25-Feb, Round One bottom half
All seeds safely through
No upsets in the first day's play at the University of Richmond, but Renan Lavigne and Olli Tuominen were both taken to a decider ...

Draw & Results


Photo Gallery &  Slideshows
from Patricia Lyons


 
 

Willstrop Wins Richmond Title

England's James Willstrop extended his best-ever run on the international squash circuit by beating French rival Gregory Gaultier in a dramatic five-game final, to win the third title in his fourth successive final appearance in a PSA Tour event.

It was a see-saw climax in which Gaultier, the world No3, paid the price for early errors in two of the games before Willstrop clinched the last game to claim the title after 83 minutes.

The win marks Willstrop's tenth PSA Tour title - and his third PSA Super Series trophy. The Virginia triumph caps a sensational twelve months for the 24-year-old Yorkshireman who failed to reach a single PSA final in 2006 - then began his winning Tour run in March last year with success in the ISS Canary Wharf Classic in London. The England number one followed this with title victories in the Prince English Grand Prix and the Mamut English Open and a runner-up berth in the US Open.

After leading England to a successful defence of the World Team Championship title in India in December, Willstrop continued his Tour run by reaching the Bear Stearns Tournament of Champions climax in New York in January, before lifting the Case Swedish Open crown last month - when he also had time to retain his British National Championship title in Manchester.

   

29-Feb, Semis:
W
illstrop too good
for tired Darwish


Karim Darwish’s upset marathon win over wonderboy Ramy Ashour in the quarterfinals caught up with him when he faced England’s James Willstrop in the semi-finals.

Willstrop tends to start slowly, but against Darwish he was in to his stride right away, Darwish was caught unawares and Willstrop piled up the points with gusto, hitting cannonball volleys and going for winners at every opportunity.

The March world rankings pushed Willstrop up to number four in the world and he played like it. Darwish simply had to answer to Willstrop’s superb length and his ability to take the ball early. It was almost no contest as Willstrop ran away to win the game 11-4 in just over ten minutes.

Darwish got into the match in the second game, forced himself to move up the court and was no longer getting caught with Willstrop’s drop shots and boasts.

He was no longer being dominated and even took over the dominant role to take a 5-2 lead, but Willstrop was not fazed and continued to attack, always on the lookout for winners.

This was now evenly-matched high quality squash which drew the crowd into the drama of the game. At 7-all it looked as though this could go to five games. Willstrop got to game ball 10-8 but Darwish did not give up and hit a backhand winner of his own to save the first game ball and was given the second when Willstrop’s volley drop hit the tin to force extra points.

The next really ended when the referees denied Darwish a let – a questionable decision, but Willstrop snatched at a shot and sent the ball into the tin to make the score 11-all. Another backhand chop drop put Willstrop at game ball again and when the ball took a strange bounce in the back left corner Darwish was cruelly foxed and hit the ball into the tin to finish an entertaining 20-minute game.

Sadly, when he came back for the third game Darwish quickly showed that his tank was empty: he was unable to compete at any decent level, so Willstrop ran through to win 11-1 in a few minutes, to put him in the final.

Gaultier outshoots White

The second semi was a bit of an anti-climax; John White could not – or was not allowed to to play the brilliant game he played yesterday. Gregory Gaultier moved up several gears and everything he tried at the front of the court came off.

White admitted later that he was unable to do anything: “When you come up against someone playing as well as Gregory, there is really nothing you can do. It’s very frustrating. Yesterday was great. Today was c***.”

Well not exactly that bad, because the standard was still very high and the three games still took 39 minutes.

This makes the for an enticing final; the world number three versus the world number four. Neither player will be tired and both will be looking for a prestigious win ...
 

Davenport Pro Champs 2008,
23-Feb to 01-Mar, Richmond, $80k
Round One
Bot 25/Top 26 Feb
Round Two
27-Feb
Quarters
28-Feb
Semis
29-Feb
Final
01-Mar
[1] Ramy Ashour (Egy)
11/5, 11/7, 11/9 (28m)
[Q] David Phillips (Can)
[1] Ramy Ashour
11/6, 13/11, 12/10
Julian Illingworth

[1] Ramy Ashour

11/4, 6/11, 4/11, 11/5, 11/8 (60m)

[6] Karim Darwish
 
[6] Karim Darwish


11/4, 13/11, 11/1 (41m)



[4] James Willstrop
 

[4] James Willstrop

 

11/6, 6/11, 11/9, 8/11, 11/4 (82m)

 

[2] Gregory Gaultier

[14] Hisham Ashour (Egy)
11/7, 15/13, 4/11, 11/7 (51m)
Julian Illingworth (Usa)
[6] Karim Darwish (Egy)
6/11, 11/13, 11/6, 11/6, 11/4 (55m)
Saurav Ghosal (Ind)
[6] Karim Darwish
11/8, 11/9, 11/5 (39m)
 [12] Alex Gough
[12] Alex Gough (Wal)
11/6, 11/9, 12/10 (42m)
[Q] Tom Richards (Eng)
[4] James Willstrop (Eng)
11/7, 11/8, 11/6 (30m)
[Q] Jethro Binns (Wal)
[4] James Willstrop
11/5, 11/8, 11/6
(43m)
[9] Lee Beachill
[4] James Willstrop

6/11, 11/5, 11/0, 11/4 (56m)

[8] Wael El Hindi
 
[9] Lee Beachill (Eng)
11/8, 11/2, 11/5 (25m)
[Q] Yann Perrin (Fra)
[8] Wael El Hindi (Egy)
11/7, 12/10, 11/3 (39m)
Aaron Frankcomb (Aus)
[8] Wael El Hindi (Egy)
11/9, 6/3 rtd
 [13] Shahier Razik
[13] Shahier Razik (Can)
11/2, 11/6, 12/10
Shawn Delierre (Can)
[Q] Liam Kenny (Irl)
11/6, 8/11, 11/7, 6/11, 13/11 (88m)
[16] Renan Lavigne (Fra)
[16] Renan Lavigne
11/8, 11/8, 9/11, 11/5 (45m)
[7] John White


 

[7] John White

11/9, 11/7, 11/6 (31m)

[11] Olli Tuominen


 

[7] John White

 

11/7, 11/4, 11/8
 

[2] Gregory Gaultier
[Q] Wade Johnstone (Sco)
11/8, 11/8, 9/11, 11/7 (38m)
[7] John White (Sco)
Rafael Alarcon (Bra)
11/8, 11/13, 8/11, 11/6, 11/5 (66m)
[11] Olli Tuominen (Fin)
[11] Olli Tuominen
11/6, 11/8, 11/8
[3] David Palmer
Eric Galvez (Mex)
11/5, 11/3, 9/11, 11/5 (46m)
[3] David Palmer (Aus)
[Q] Julien Balbo (Fra)
11/7, 11/5, 11/3 (38m)
[10] Mohammed Abbas (Egy)
[10] Mohammed Abbas
7/11, 9/11, 12/10, 11/6, 11/5
[5] Thierry Lincou
[5] Thierry Lincou

11/5, 11/9, 6/11, 7/11, 11/3 (54m)

[2] Gregory Gaultier
[Q] Robbie Temple (Eng)
11/6, 11/8, 11/9 (30m)
[5] Thierry Lincou (Fra)
Patrick Chifunda (Zam)
11/8, 11/5, 12/10 (40m)
[15] Cameron Pilley (Aus)
[15] Cameron Pilley (Aus)
11/5, 11/6, 11/3 (38m)
[2] Gregory Gaultier
Yasser El Halaby (Egy)
11/8, 11/5, 11/6 (33m)
[2]
Gregory Gaultier (Fra)

 
24-Feb, Qualifying Finals:

Liam Kenny bt Arturo Salazar                         11/4, 11/5, 11/3 (34m)

Yann Perrin bt Ryan Donegan                         11/6, 11/5, 11/7 (40m)
David Phillips bt Arthur Gaskin                       11/9, 11/5, 11/6 (49m)
Tom Richards bt Jens Schoor                         9/11, 11/8, 11/8, 12/10 (60m)
Wade Johnstone bt James Snell                     11/6, 11/8, 8/11, 11/5 (45m)
Robbie Temple bt Ryan Cuskelly                   13/11, 1/11, 8/11, 11/9, 11/2 (90m)

Jethro Binns bt  Chris Gordon                        11/8, 12/10, 4/11, 11/6 (49m)
Julian Balbo bt Josh Greenfield                      13/15, 11/8, 11/8, 11/4 (44m)

23-Feb, Qualifying round one:
 
Liam Kenny                                                      Bye
Arturo Salazar bt  Peter Goodings                      11/3, 11/6, 11/1  (20m)
Ryan Donegan bt Joe Millman                            11/0, 11/4, 11/1 (23m)
$ Yann Perrin bt Lefika Ragonste                          11/3, 11/4, 11/6  (24m)

David Phillips                                                    Bye
Arthur Gaskin bt Jacques Swanpoel                    11/2, 11/1, 11/4  (22m)
Tom Richards bt Ahmed Hamza                          11/9, 11/5, 5/11, 11/7 (39m)
Jens Schoor bt Fernando Lopez                           11/6, 11/3, 11/7 (28m)

James Snell bt Jonas Laursen                             11/6, 11/7, 11/6  (27m)
Wade Johnstone bt John Street                           11/2, 11/5, 12/10 (20)
Robbie Temple bt Cesar Salazar                         11/8, 11/7, 9/11, 11/6 (49m)
Ryan Cuskelly                                                   Bye

Jethro Binns bt Philip Nightingale                         11/8, 11/9, 11/5 (34m)
Chris Gordon                                                     Bye
Josh Greenfield bt David Hetherington                  11/5, 11/7, 11/2  (19m)
Julian Balbo                                                       Bye


      
2007 Event                2006 Event              2005 Event              2004 Event
 
28-Feb, Quarters:
DARWISH PULLS OFF THE BIG UPSET


It finally happened: Ramy Ashour loses.

The young Egyptian who has won two of the Players Cup Series tournaments, finally ran out of legs and was beaten in an engrossing five-game match by fellow Egyptian Karim Darwish.

Ashour has played almost non-stop for the last 22 days – tournaments and exhibitions - and this match finally sapped his energy, his accuracy and his will. Darwish played well, slowing the pace down to take control in the first game, but Ashour forced himself back into competition mode and the winners started sparking off his racket as he effortlessly took the next two games. The fourth game was a disaster when at 4-4 Ashour committed a string of six unforced errors to put Darwish at game ball and he made no mistake in taking the game to force a decider.

Darwish led from the beginning of the fifth and it was obvious that Ashour simply could not summon up the energy to attain his normal standard. Darwish ran out the surprising winner after 59 suspenseful minutes.

WILLSTROP WINS AMID CONTROVERSY

Darwish, a former world junior champion and presently ranked 8 in the world, will now meet James Willstrop of England, the world number six, who came through to win a match marked by a drama and controversy as Wael el Hindi of Egypt became enraged by the referee’s decision in the third game to penalise him a point for dangerous play. El Hindi had swing his racket, deliberately missing the ball, to demonstrate that had he hit it, the ball would have struck his opponent. It was an inexplicable decision and although El Hindi had won the first game showing superb style, and lost the second, he threw the third away 0-11 and despite recovering some composure, could not get back on track and lost the fourth 11-4.



“I was full of rage, I thought I would burst. I thought the referee was disrespectful in the way he spoke to me. For the last few months I have been playing good squash but I was so angry it affected my movement,” El Hindi said after the match.

WHITE SLAYS THE GIANT KILLER

John White of Scotland, the seventh seed, took on yesterday’s giant-killer, Olli Tuominen of Finland and gave him a lesson in fast accurate racket work. White was in sizzling form and effortlessly slotted in the winners while all Tuominen could do was chase shadows. It was a short sharp execution taking just 30 minutes, a performance that White judged later was 9½ on a scale of one-to-ten.

When the 34 year old White was asked what he was thinking during one very long rally, he replied: “He was doing all the running, I was just standing there hitting the ball, so I was quite happy. “

THE FRENCH RESOLUTION

After the all-Egyptian match there was the all-French match as Thierry Lincou tried to get revenge over Gregory Gaultier, who had beaten him in the British Open last year. It was a ding-dong battle which kept the spectators in their seats to the last point. Gaultier seemed to have it all under control as he took the first two games, but Lincou knew how to subdue the tricky Gaultier, slowing the ball down and using the lob. It paid off as he took the next two games forcing a deciding fifth.

Gaultier opened up a lead – but it wasn’t easy; the rallies were long and there was a real battle in the front corners as they traded counter drops. Gaultier maintained his supremacy to take the game 11-3 and emerge the victor after 54 minutes.

“I knew Thierry still had yesterday’s hard games in his legs so I was making him work. He came back very well when he slowed the game, but I think he finally got tired,” Gaultier said between gasps of breath after the match. He will now meet White.
 

 
27-Feb, Round Two:
PALMER KNOCKED OUT BY TUOMINEN ...


Third seed David Palmer suffered a shock defeat at the hands of 11th seed Olli Tuominen of Finland in the second round of the 2008 Davenport Professional Squash Championships at the University of Richmond Virginia. This was Palmer's second bad result in as many weeks, Palmer having to bow out of the Canadian Classic two weeks ago because of lower back problems.

His problem today was not his back, but the sizzling run of form that Tuominen produced to bamboozle him. The Finn was playing at his very best, pasting the ball tight to the walls and getting to everything that Palmer hit. There is no hiding place for the ball when Tuominen is in this form, which hasn't happened very often lately. Today he was the Flying Finn and there was very little Palmer could do about it.

Tuominen had won the first game but Palmer asserted his authority to lead the second game 8-3 when some refereeing decisions started to irk the Australian. Tuominen put together a run of eight points to win the game 11-8, the final decision of the game leaving Palmer fuming. In the third game Palmer's concentration was broken and although he managed to pull back from 3-9 to 8-10, Tuominen's drive, determination and pace was always going to win the day and he took the game 11-8 for a shock victory.

ABBAS CRASHES AGAIN

Egyptian Mohammed Abbas is now ranked 13 in the world, his highest ever rankings and may not get higher unless he overcomes the jitters that visit him when about to beat one of the top ten. It happened again today when he outplayed fifth seeded Thierry Lincou of France for three games and stood at match ball 10-7.

Unsettled by a ball called up that Abbas though was down, the Egyptian simply could not maintain concentration, lost the game 12-10 and his nerve and determination diminished in the final two games to allow Lincou to escape with an unlikely victory.

"I just kept running, running after the ball. In the first two games he just outplayed me and I couldn't do anything. I was always behind him on the court. In the third I finally managed to get in front of him.. I am just relieved to have won," said Lincou.

RAMY ASHOUR AVENGES FAMILY NAME

Top seed Ramy Ashour of Egypt got a little revenge over American Julian Illingworth who had knocked out Ashour's elder brother in the first round in one of the shocks of the tournament. Illingworth gave a very good account of himself and although he went down in straight games, he forced a tie break in both the second and third games, to show that he is good enough not be outclassed by the best player in the world today. It was a well contested match with a high standard of squash with Illingworth shooting in his share of winners. But the Ashour speed is startling and eventually overwhelmed his opponent.

WILLSTROP ON TOP FORM

James Willstrop and Lee Beachill repeated their performance of the British championships held last week when Willstrop beat his training partner to remain British champion. Today the two Yorkshireman put on a startling display of speed squash which was pure entertainment. The ball was cracked with accuracy down the walls and into the nicks. This was squash of a very high order: the standard and speed were maintained for 43 minutes before Willstrop emerged a 3/0 victory. It wasn't that Beachill played badly, it was that 24 year old Willstrop played so well.
 
 
Round One, Top Half:
ILLINGWORTH NEW AMERICAN HERO


In the final second round match of the day Julian Illingworth brought the 2008 Davenport Professional Squash Championship to life with a stunning display of creative intelligent squash that deservedly brought him a 3/1 victory over Hisham Ashour, who is ranked 17 places above him.

Illingworth, in the view of some observers, played the match of his life, to earn a place in the second round where he will meet Hisham’s younger brother Ramy, the world number two.

Illingworth started full of confidence and took the game to the very talented Ashour. More surprisingly he outplayed , Ashour, a master shot maker, at the front of the court, which is where most Egyptians excel. While Illingworth was hitting sublime winners, Ashour, in his usual impetuous search for winners was making errors – five in all. This was quality squash and Illingworth looked thoroughly at home. He won the first game 11-7, and showed great poise in saving two game balls to force an extended tie-break which he won 15-13 after much suspense.

It all fell apart for the American in the third game, after some strange bounces in the back corner made him mis-hit, and he lost the game 11-4 in under five minutes. The fourth started badly with Ashour taking a quick 3-0 lead but Illingworth settled down to regain his form to gradually claw his way back in. There were some stunning rallies with both players stretched to their fullest. It was Illingworth’s concentration and cool demeanour that won the day and he took the game 11-7 to earn a second round match against Ramy Ashour, the world number two who had little trouble despatching Canadian qualifier David Phillips in straight games.

WAEL EL HINDI IN THREE BUT FRANKCOMB SHOWS WELL

Egyptian glamour boy Wael El Hindi took on the young Australian Aaron Frankcomb. Although the score shows a straight games victory for the 8th ranked El Hindi, it wasn’t that straightforward. Frankcomb displayed a fine all-round game and, if there had been any justice, should have taken the second game which he led most of the way. He showed that he could attack with the best of them and reaped the dividends of El Hindi’s lackadaisical attitude when he thought he had the match won. Frankcomb held game ball at 10-9 but El Hindi hit a perfect length to force a tiebreak and the impetuous Frankcomb put a drop shot into the tin to give El Hindi game ball. The Egyptian made no mistake with a fine forehand slam to length to win 12-10.

In the third game El Hindi was a little more circumspect in his approach to the game while Frankcomb took his foot off the pedal to allow his opponent to cruise home 11-3 to end the 38 minute encounter.

El Hindi said he allowed Frankcomb to slow the pace down which is why it went to a tie-break. Frankcomb, on the other hand, was none too happy. “I was happy that I was going forward well and with my general play, but I was disappointed in the way I went down in the third game,” said Frankcomb who is ranked 48 in the world.

DARWISH HAS TO FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL

Young Saurav Ghosal of India, ranked 49, gave the world number 8 Karim Darwish a real fright by taking the first two games in just 21 minutes. This perilous situation was a very real wake-up call for the Egyptian who finally got going in the third game and corrected the situation by taking the next three games fairly easily.

“I was asleep,” admitted Darwish, “ and he started very quickly and played well. I got up at nine o’clock this morning which is really not early enough for a one o’clock game,” he said with obvious relief in his voice. He will not be able to sleep for a game or even a point in the next round when he meets Alex Gough. The 37 year old world number 20 took no chances when playing qualifier Tom Richards of England. He won the first two games but had to fight hard in the third as Richards, who has just returned to action after 8 months out due to injury, showed his potential and speed. Qualifier Richards had climbed to 54 in the world before the injury and is now ranked 121, but his play suggested he is mended and should soon start climbing back up.

Gough, fresh from his efforts in the British championships said that he didn’t take the result for granted. “I haven’t played for a week, while Richards has been through qualifying and would be played in, so I had to be careful. I’m just please to have won in three,” he said.

ALL-CANADIAN AFFAIR NOT EVEN NEAR A CIVIL WAR

Canadian team-mates Shahier Razik and Shawn Delierre were drawn to play each other, their eighth meeting with Razik ahead 5-2 on the head-to-head.

DeLierre was far from motivated in the first two games but picked his game up in the third to force a tie break, fighting to save three match balls before finally going down. Razik will now play El Hindi in the second round which will be played at a very different pace with a much higher level of commitment.

BEACHILL ALL BUSINESS

Lee Beachill, former English champion, was all business today producing one of the most efficient performances of the day in despatching young Frenchman Yann Perrin in 27 minutes. Beachill had been operated on for a double hernia in December, but he looked good as new as he went for the jugular with every shot, at a pace that the Frenchman could not live with. Beachill now plays fellow Englishman James Willstrop who took a little longer to beat Welshman Jethro Binns in straight games.
 
 

Round One, Bottom Half:
Lavigne Survives While
Chifunda Cheered In Virginia

 

The first round of the 2008 Davenport Professional Squash Championship held at the University of Richmond provided a mixed bag of players and competition. In the most competitive match of the day Renan Lavigne of France survive a spirited comeback from Ireland’s Liam Kenny, who pushed the Frenchman to extra points in the fifth game.

 

Despite the gap in rankings – Lavigne is world number 26 while Kenny has slipped to 52 - the players were equal in most things and played a similar game, matching each other in both defence and attack.

 

Kenny looked the better armed and often seemed on the brink of breaking away, but Lavigne always managed to contain Kenny’s spirited attacking. In the decider, Kenny came back from 0-3 down to lead 6-4 - but the 30-year-old from Dublin could not stop Lavigne’s constant supply of energy.

 

Kenny saved two match balls, then got to match ball himself at 11-10, but it was Lavigne who persevered that little bit more to win in 88 minutes.

 

It took Patrick Chifunda, a wild card local entry, to get the crowd roaring - even before he’d struck a ball. Born in Zambia, educated in South Africa, Chifunda now coaches at the Country Club of Richmond. His popularity had the packed galleries roaring him on as he tried to bamboozle world number 26 Cameron Pilley, the lanky Australian.   Chifunda’s speed and acrobatics almost paid off in the third game as he led 7-4 and then was tied at 9-9 with a real chance at taking the game. But an error put Pilley at match ball and he took the final point with a backhand drop. The players left the court to more roars of approval.

 

“I just play my best squash and don’t worry about the rankings,” said the smiling 32-year-old Zambian. “I just like to hassle these players as much as I can and try enjoy myself.”

 

English qualifier Robbie Temple managed to give Thierry Lincou a bit of a fright in their first round match. Temple had knocked out the up and coming Ryan Cuskelly of Australia in the qualifying round - a good win for a player who has just entered the top 100. Left-handed Temple plays his backhand with two hands, a la Peter Marshall - and like Marshall, can keep his opponents guessing as to which way the ball is going.

 

Lincou, now ranked seven in the world, had it all his own way in the first two games - but suddenly found himself 6-1 down in the third. The Frenchman managed to climb back into the game only because Temple made four unforced errors which allowed Lincou to draw level and then go on to take the game to close out the match.

 

“Concentration,” responded Lincou when asked what happened in the third game. “I just lost my concentration and when he got five quick points, I panicked.”

 

Australia's David Palmer, who now lives in Boston, cruised to a two game lead over Mexican Eric Galvez, ranked 36 in the world. But the world number four and former world champion suddenly lost his flowing game in the third to allow his opponent to hustle and bustle his way to win it 11-9.  One of the most experienced men on the circuit, Palmer firmly shut the door on the Mexican in the fourth to assure his second round berth.
  

Qualifying at the County Club of Virginia
Reports from Pete Goodings, Gus Cook and Hunt Richardson

Liam Kenny bt Arturo Salazar
     11/4, 11/5, 11/3 (34 mins)

Kenny started in very dominate mood and maintained this throughout the whole match. He never let Salazar get into a rhythm and Kenny’s anticipation was key to the match.

Eventually the very quick and athletic Mexican succumbed to the control and accuracy and had no answer for the tactical assault he sustained as Kenny eased in to the main draw.

Yann Perrin bt Ryan Donegan
     11/6, 11/5, 11/7 (40 mins)

A similar story for the next game. Perrin started strongly and was only ever behind twice in the whole match. His speed and control around the court was the telling story, with better shot selection and a calmer approach on the ball when under pressure.

Donegan’s strength and consistency has improved over the past 12 months and he held Perrin well in some good exchanges but he didn’t quite have the finishing touches when any openings appeared. At this level you have to be able to take your chances when they are presented.

David Phillips bt Arthur Gaskin
       11/9, 11/5, 11/6 (49 mins)

This game started well and looked like it could have been a contender for match of the round, with Gaskin putting some nice rallies together and eventually was the first one to look like taking the first game. However the experienced Canadian put a few nice shots away into the nick at very telling times and secured the opening game at the first time of asking.

After this Phillips never looked back and even though Gaskin chased well and remained competitive he never quite got back in touch with Phillips who looked more in control as the match progressed. Gaskin should be proud of this maturing performance though as has game has shown considerable improvement in the past 12 months

Tom Richards bt Jens Schoor
      9/11, 11/8, 11/8, 12/10 (60 mins)

This match had five sets written all over it – however Richards had other ideas and after narrowly losing the first, he started to take the ball a little earlier and use his attacking boasts to full effect often catching the German off guard in the second.

There were moments in the third where Richards looked a little rattled having apparently worn Schoor down with some great variety, moving the German around the court very well.

Schoor’s shot play however was still very much alive & Richards took nothing for granted and had to fight tooth and nail to the end for his victory.

Wade Johnstone bt James Snell
     11/6, 11/8, 8/11, 11/5 (45 mins)

It was fairly one-way traffic in the first two and a half games with Johnstone dictating the play and pushing the ball around the court well. Snell is a determined character though and never gives in and just kept hanging in on the rallies to see what would happen.

Snell did take a few opportunities when Johnstone seemed to switch off and make a few simple mistakes & there was a great example of this mid-way through the third. At two games & 6-2 down a lot of players would be close to throwing in the towel but Snell dug deep and took the opportunity with both hands and stepped up to take the game 11-8.

However in the fourth Johnstone got the bit back between his teeth and closed out the match with some very tactically sound squash, eventually coming out on top. Snell acquitted himself well here in Virginia and he should be pleased with his maiden Davenport appearance.

Robbie Temple bt Ryan Cuskelly
    13/11, 1/11, 8/11, 11/9, 11/2 (90 mins)

After the first few points this was obviously going to be a humdinger of a battle - both left-handers who love cracking the ball to the back with the odd boast thrown in for fun (oh and one or two drops shots in the fourth and fifth!).

Neither player looked like they were going to tire until Cuskelly right at the last few points in the fifth. The rallies were fast, hard and long but temple looked to have the freshness in his legs at the end to make the telling difference.

Temple had a blank in the second and just seemed to forget what he could do with his racket only getting one point, but soon found his rhythm in the third and even though he narrowly dropped the game it seemed to light a fire in his belly and this took him through the fourth and into a strong position in the fifth – and he never looked back, taking the final game 11-2.

Jethro Binns bt Chris Gordon
      11/8, 12/10, 4/11, 11/6 (49 mins)

Another aggressive battle with Jethro the more stylish, orthodox of the two taking the first two games after some very hard fought rallies. Gordon is a very fit and strong athlete though and dug deep finishing off some well constructed rallies to take the third.

Gordon has the reputation of being a very physical player and he always plays the ball whenever possible. This sometimes this can be the undoing of the young American, as he often would play a ball that would be a clear point/stroke – but he is nothing if not fair and this cannot be held against him.

Binns took his chances in the fourth and put away some great opportunities when they were presented – good job really as everyone's money was on Gordon if had gone to five – as Binns’ legs looked very tired towards the end of the match.

This was a great scalp for the young Welshman and he now looks forward to the main draw with eager anticipation.

Julien Balbo bt Josh Greenfield
      13/15, 11/8, 11/8, 11/4 (44 mins)

This match started like a whirlwind with Balbo covering a huge amount of court in the first and Greenfield flashing winning shots from everywhere. The New Zealander seemed to know no fear in where to attempt winners from and it paid off taking the game 15-13.

This was the format for the whole match with Balbo playing some very consistent tight squash and covering the court with incredible speed but often falling prey to Greenfield’s audacious shot play.

The pace of the match stayed at such a high tempo however, that eventually Greenfield started to try for one too many winners and made far too many mistakes off the back of some very physically tiring rallies.

Eventually Balbo ran out the deserved winner in four but the crowd were entertained to some exhibition style squash.

23-Feb, Qualifying Round One
Qualifying in Richmond
Gus Cook and Hunt Richardson report ...

27 players showed up for the draw today therefore resulting in five byes.

Arturo Salazar beat Peter Goodings ( local )
     3-0 , 11/3, 11/6, 11/1 in 20 mins.

A very jet-lagged Goodings was not up nor ready for the pace of the speedy and younger player and the first of the Mexican twins makes it through comfortably. Now players Kenny

Ryan Donegan beat Joe Millman
     3-0, 11/0, 11/4, 11/1 in 23 mins.

Donegan looked sharp, focused and strong in this match and did not give Millman a chance to get comfortable by forcing a fast past with hard and low hitting. Now plays Perrin.

Yann Perrin beat Lefika Ragonste
      3-0, 11/3, 11/4, 11/6 in 24 mins.

The Frenchman has been in Richmond training hard and preparing for the past 3 days whilst Ragonste made the drive down from Baltimore just the night before the match. Although there were some very entertaining and well fought rallies throughout, there was only likely to be one winner today and that ended up to be the case.

Arthur Gaskin beat Jacques Swanepoel
       3-0, 11/2, 11/1, 11/4 in 22 mins.

In the middle of an evenly played first game, Swanepoel twisted his ankle, fell behind, lost it in 6 minutes and didn’t recover until the beginning of the third game. By then it was too difficult for him to extend the rallies or keep up with some of Gaskin’s basic tactical patterns beyond a few shots. Now plays Phillips.

Tom Richards beat Ahmed Hamza
        3-1, 11/9, 11/5, 5/11, 11/7 in 39 mins.

Creative shots streamed from both players’ racquets, Richards demonstrating the meaning of putting “English” on the ball with a topspin floating drop to the left nick from just inside the right quarter-court at 9-4 in Game 2.

The next game went to Hamza thanks to an inspired assault on the Englishman’s forehand peppered with drops to the left nick and deceptive cross court flicks. Richards’ experience in English League and tournament play was all too evident in the end. Now plays Schoor.

Jens Schoor beat Fernando Lopez
       3-0, 11/6, 11/3, 11/7 in 28 mins.

Schoor looked very impressive with this win giving his opponent no opportunity to get into his game and will prove difficult in his match against Richards tomorrow - certainly one to watch.

James Snell beat Jonas Laursen
      3-0, 11/6, 11/7, 11/6 in 27 mins.

Laursen had flown in from the UK one week early to help the tournament organizer and had become very popular amongst the members of The CCV who had been giving lessons to and getting to know well.

They will be sad to see him leave early but the Englishman had a more consistent game on the day and the error count for the man from Denmark proved costly. He will be hoping for better results in his National Champs next week. Now plays Johnstone.

Wade Johnstone beat John Street ( local )
       3-0, 11/2, 11/5, 12/10 in 20 mins.

This was a highly entertaining match to watch with Johnstone moving the slightly older Street around all four corners of the court time after time. In the end youth and experience prevailed although the former UVA star lacrosse player will have something to tell his children about one day.

Robbie Temple beat Cesar Salazar
      3-1, 11/8, 11/7, 9/11, 11/6 in 49 mins

A great match to watch between two extremely fleet players, with Temple showing the disciplines of English squash training, holding the middle and forcing Salazar to run extra yards on most of the rallies. Temple looked comfortable with a high-tempo game. Salazar never tired but his extraordinary speed and agility were outmatched by Temple’s length and width.

Salazar pulled a muscle in his quadriceps in Game 4 and hobbled through the last few points which was a disappointing end to a very fast-paced and entertaining match. Now plays Cuskelly.

Jethro Binns beat Philip Nightingale
      3-0, 11/8, 11/9, 11/5 in 34 mins.

Binns looked very solid and won a lot of points by making Nightingale stretch from the front left to the back right, which tired him out. If Nightingale can keep his opponents from exploiting this tactic then he will be a very handy PSA tour player but sometimes having to get down from his great height can take a while and so prove costly. Now plays Gordon.

Josh Greenfield beat David Hetherington ( local )
        3-0, 11/5, 11/7, 11/2 in 19 mins.

Hetherington, The CCV and Virginia State Champion took a while to get used to the pace and accuracy from the Kiwi player now based in Philadelphia and the first game was over in a blink.

However in the second he became more comfortable and some very good rallie followed, perhaps harking back to his days when on the Trinity team. In the third Greenfield stepped it up a notch and started slapping consistent backhand short drives to the front which the American could not return and that was the end of the first days action. Now plays Balbo.
 


Preview on Richmond.com

Tickets are available for Monday, February 25th to Wednesday, February 27th.

Matches for Thursday, February 28, 2008 to Saturday, March 1st are sold out.

There will be free parking for spectators in the Special Events Lot at the University of Richmond.

 
Davenport Pro Squash Champs Draw World’s Top Pros ...

Richmond, VA – Squash professionals from around the world are converging on Richmond for the 2008 Davenport Professional Squash Championship which will be held in a high visibility glass-walled court at the University of Richmond’s Millhiser Gym February 25th to March 1st.

“This draw is will be the strongest draw anywhere in the U.S. this year and probably one of the top six strongest draws anywhere in the world in 2008,” says tournament director Gus Cook, who is also the head squash pro at the Country Club of Virginia.

“With $80,000 in prize money, we have achieved super series status,” adds fundraising chairman David Hetherington. “It’s a strong statement to the global squash community that Richmond is on the map with London, Hong Kong and New York City.”

“When I talk to the international pros they all remark about how much they enjoy coming to Richmond because it’s so friendly here,” says Cook. “They like the city and they like the welcoming atmosphere at the University of Richmond campus. As this tournament has grown, the enthusiasm of the host families, volunteers, spectators and sponsors has made a big impression on them. It’s one of their favourite stops.”

The top 12 world ranked players that have committed to play are: Ramy Ashour, Egypt, world #2; Greg Gaultier, France, world # 3; David Palmer, Australia, world #4; James Willstrop, England, world #6; Thierry Lincou, France, world #7; Karim Darwish, Egypt, world #8; John White, Scotland, world #9; Wael El Hindi, Egypt, world #10 and others.

In total, eight of the world’s top 10 and 16 of the top 25 players will compete. Richmond’s standout squash player, Patrick Chifunda, who is ranked 112th in the world will be the local favourite to watch.


Preview on Richmond.com

 

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