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

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A BRIEF HISTORY ...
by Whit Sheppard

2004: The inaugural Davenport Professional Squash Championship, a 1-star PSA tournament boasting a $10,000 purse, was a big success and helped create a lot of buzz about the sport, not only at The Country Club of Virginia, where the event was played, but also throughout the surrounding area as well, which was the main aim. There were some good matches—Jan Koukal, a young player from Czechoslovakia beat David Evans (a former world #4) 3-2 in the quarters in a tough and entertaining match before losing in the final 3-0 to South African Rodney Durbach. Durbach had outlasted Shahier Razik 3-2 in a hotly contested semifinal match, Razik ending up afterwards with two bags of ice wrapped around his hamstrings, which made for an interesting photo-op.

2005: The tournament moved up to 2-star PSA tournament status, offering $20,000 in total prize-money. Shahid Zaman of Pakistan, the fifth seed, beat England’s Bradley Ball, the eighth seed, 11-5, 5-11, 11-4, 11-9, to win the title. Zaman defeated #2 seed Renan Lavigne of France and #3 seed Mark Chaloner of England to advance to the final, while Ball ended the ambitious challenge of qualifier Alister Walker of England in the semis, after Walker had taken out top-seeded Dan Jenson of Australia in the opening round.

As Gus Cook remembers: “The one thing that sticks in my mind about the tournament was talking to Bradley just before and then after his first round match, which he narrowly won 3-2. He had a very sore back and I had taken him for several massage appointments to try and help ease the pain. He honestly thought he would not be able to continue but still found the guts to push through and make the final, in the end being beaten by a player with amazing racquet skills and just too many shots at his disposal on the day.”

2006: The tournament achieved 3-star PSA tournament status, offering $30,000 in total prize-money, and main draw matches were played for the first time on the portable “McWil” all-glass court at the University of Richmond. The court was housed in the Student Commons building overlooking Westhampton Lake, providing a fabulous setting for world-class squash. With viewing for approximately 250 spectators, including 75 seats for sponsors, on many occasions people were literally balancing on chairs above the back wall just to get a glimpse of the action.

The draw was the strongest in the tournament’s short history, featuring 11 players ranked in the world’s top-50. Playing on a glass court in a great setting made for a great atmosphere, and after some relatively straightforward first-round matches, every quarterfinal except one went the full distance. Ironman Adrian Grant of England was the last man standing after coming back from 0-2 down to beat Egypt’s Mohammed Abbas in five games. The players walked off the court just before midnight in front of a small group of die-hard fans.

White had won his previous tournament, the Dayton Open, and continued his strong play in Richmond. In the semifinal round, the hard-hitting Scot bested Canadian Graham Ryding in four games, while Grant outlasted Egypt’s Wael El Hindi in a 77-minute, five-game match to advance. In the final, White defeated Grant 11-9, 11-6, 11-9 in 41 minutes to capture the title in a match that saw some incredible athleticism and clever, fast-paced shot-making.

2007: The tournament achieved 5-star status and the total purse reached the $50,000 mark, firmly establishing itself as one of the must-play North American tournaments for globe-trotting PSA Tour players. After qualifying play at The Country Club of Virginia, main draw play once again took place on a McWil glass showcourt in the Student Commons building on the University of Richmond campus. Crowds were up, enthusiasm was high, and the general consensus among players, sponsors and organizers was that it was the best tournament that Richmond had seen in the four years of the event.

One of the world’s fittest players, Anthony Ricketts of Australia, known to many as “The Machine,” defeated England’s Lee Beachill 11-8, 11-7, 11-10 (2-0) to capture the championship. Both finalists had overcome the challenge of Egyptian opponents in the semifinal round without the loss of a game, Beachill defeating Mohammed Abbas, while Ricketts beat back the challenge of qualifier and crowd favorite Hisham Ashour, who had won a stunning five-game quarterfinal against the 2006 champion, John White. Ricketts took the title, which turned out to be the capstone of his nine PSA Tour wins, in dominating fashion, without dropping a game in his four matches. Unfortunately, recurring knee problems forced the intense Australian to retire in December, 2007, and thus he’s not back in Richmond this year to defend his title.

2008:
 


2008 Event

2007 Event

2006 Event

2005 Event

2004 Event

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