TODAY at the ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic

Mon 10th March, Round One, Part One:       

[6] Alex Gough (Wal) bt [Q] Mohammed El Shorbagy (Egy)  11/5, 11/8, 4/11, 3/11, 11/5 (67m)
[2] James Willstrop (Eng) bt [Q] Mark Krajcsak (Hun)                         11/6, 11/7, 11/9 (30m)

[3] Lee Beachill (Eng) bt [Q] Chris Ryder (Eng)                                   11/8, 11/5, 11/4 (37m)
Joey Barrington (Eng) bt [5] Olli Tuominen (Fin)                      11/6, 6/11, 12/10, 11/8  (68m)

                             Day One Roundup from Alan Thatcher

Day One at Canary Wharf
Steve Cubbins reports

An exciting qualifying competition concluded at Wimbledon Rackets & Fitness Club yesterday, with four players booking their place in the main draw, and three of them were on show tonight.

First up was Egypt’s newest teenage sensation, British Junior Open Champion Mohammed El Shorbagy, taking on wily Welshman Alex Gough, at 37 the oldest player on the PSA tour. A brave fightback from 2/0 down and the Egyptian looked favourite, but Gough's experience finally told.

Next up was Hungarian champion Mark Krajcsak, making his first appearance here, against the defending champion and second seed James Willstrop, the Yorkshireman who is in a rich vein of form having won four major tournaments in the past two months. Krajcsak led in all three games, but it was Willstrop who took them all.

Willstrop’s Pontefract clubmate Lee Beachill, seeded three, faced our third qualifier in Chris Ryder, the World University Champion, and Beachill demonstrated that he's back to near his best after his recent hernia operation.

To round off the evening “Flying Finn” Olli Tuominen became the first seed to fall as Joey Barrington put in a determined performance, coming out on top in the longest match of the night.



getting ready ..

[6] Alex Gough (Wal) bt [Q] Mohammed El Shorbagy(Egy)
     11/5, 11/8, 4/11, 3/11, 11/5

Gough overcomes age gap

There's 20 years separating them, and it took a lot of that accumulated experience for Alex Gough to overcome Egypt's latest sensation tonight.

The Welshman kept his young pretender on a tight leash for the first two games, limiting Shorbagy to the odd flashing attack as he took a two game lead.

The Egyptian's winners started to pay dividends in the third though, as Shorbagy went out to a quick 5/1 lead. Half the court lights went out at 8/3, and although Gough took the first point on the resumption that was his lot for that game.

It was the same story in the fourth - confidence high, Shorbagy was getting the better of some well-crafted rallies and he usually had a winner to finish it off.

But Gough made sure the fifth was tougher, keeping the ball deeper and the rallies longer, and slowly but surely he drew Shorbagy's sting, drawing away in the second half of the game as the Egyptian found the tin much more often than the nick.

Shorbagy will learn from this, that's for sure ... and Alex will pay for it - "I need you, but I've got so many problems I don't know where to start!" he said to Sylvan the physio straight after the match ...

"I controlled him well at the start, but then I stopped hitting the ball to the back and he got more confidence - his forehand is just lethal, although he made quite a few errors on the backhand.

"The break for the lights didn't do me any good at all, I was so stiff when I went back on, I lost my focus and you get a bit all panicky, not knowing what to do when that happens.

"Beach was good, helping me get it back in between games and getting stuck in to win the fifth.

"He's good though, so strong at just 17, a future world champ for sure."


"I was very nervous at the start, my first match on a glass court in a professional event ...

"I started playing better in the middle, but he's so experienced, in the fifth I knew he was very tired, but I still couldn't win because he was hitting shots that I just couldn't read.

"But it's a great experience for me, I'll go back and work on a few things with Jonah now ..."

[2] James Willstrop (Eng) bt [Q] Mark Krajcsak (Hun)
                 11/6, 11/7, 11/9 (30m)

James settles in

It was just about the sort of match the defending champion would have wanted - testing, plenty of questions to answer, but not a gruelling first-rounder that takes it out of you for the rest of the tournament.

Krajcsak started well, taking a 5/1 lead in the first, but once Willstop found his mark (no pun intended) he reeled the Hungarian in fairly quickly. Same in the second - 4/1 for Mark before James found his range again. The rallies throughout were fairly short, bot making a few errors and going or relatively early winners.

It was an even start to the third, Mark making his run from 6-all this time, forcing James to up the pace again from 6/9 down. He did, a despairing dive from the Hungarian couldn't prevent James from reaching match ball 10/9, and one more rally and it was all over.

"I feel great, I love coming to play here in London, I always feel pretty comfortable out there.

"My concentration maybe wasn't there at the start of the games, but he came out pretty quickly, especially in the first, and I had to push hard to make him hurt a bit before I could take the lead.

"It was concentration again in the third, and I did well to come back, I didn't want to spend any longer on court than I had to.

"I felt pretty good, I just hope I can keep that going for a few more days ..."


"He played very quickly, he made a few errors too but he played well when he had to.

"I wanted to keep the rallies short as I was feeling the effects of my long qualifying match, but I really enjoyed it, it was a great experience to play someone like James in a venue like this."

[3] Lee Beachill (Eng) bt [Q] Chris Ryder (Eng)
              11/8, 11/5, 11/4 (37m)

Beachill still the Master

He may not be quite the veteran that Alex Gough is - "there's no way I'm playing until I'm 37, that's just stupid" - but although Lee Beachill has just hit 30 he is still, in his own words, tough to beat on his day.

He wasn't at his smooth, deceptive peak today, but he was near enough to keep Chris Ryder on a tight enough leash for pretty much three full games.

Chris was in there - 6/5 in the first, 6/5 again in the second, but when he needed to Lee tightened up and pulled away, plenty of well-contested rallies, but generally one winner.

"I'm playing well at the moment, but the transition from two hard qualifying games on plaster courts to taking on a world class player on glass is just too much.

"My length wasn't good enough, and I wasn't pleased with my short game either. I've played him a few times in Yorkshire league and got closer than that, so I'm disappointed not to do a little better really.

"That backhand of his  you don't know if it's going short or long, and then all of a sudden it's gone and you've had it.

"I enjoyed it though, and it was nice to have a bit of support from Hertfordshire here ..."

"I've been getting better more quickly than I would have expected after my operation, I did well at the nationals which gave me a lot of confidence.

"I'm moving much better and that part of my game felt good out there today.

"I'm enjoying my squash these days, and I'm looking forward to having a go at some more of the younger players coming up the rankings ..."

Joey Barrington (Eng) bt [5] Olli Tuominen (Fin)
     11/6, 6/11, 12/10, 11/8 (68m)

Joey toughs it out

This always promised to be a tough match, and so it proved. Compere Alan Thatcher prepared the crowd for a late night as he introduced the players, and if the first two games were somewhat shorter than you might expect, the last two certainly lived up to the billing.

This match featured the tough, long rallies that had been somewhat missing from earlier matches, and in the end it was Joey's extra determination that won the day ....

"It was quite a physical match, not a Lee Beachill precise game, but Olli plays at such a high pace, you have to try to to neutralise him.

"So not the prettiest match, I was rushing a bit at the start but thought I played well and I'm very pleased to win."

"I should have started better, I just wasn't doing anything. I've been playing well and I felt good going into the match but it just didn't work out today ..."

Barrington Bursts Into
Canary Wharf Classic Quarters
Roundup from Alan Thatcher & Howard Harding


Unseeded Englishman Joey Barrington produced the first upset on the opening day of action in the ISS Canary Wharf Classic when he despatched Finland's fifth seed Olli Tuominen in a brutal first round battle in the 5-star PSA Tour squash event in its fifth year at the East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf, London.


The 28-year-old from Glastonbury in Somerset played a solid tactical game against the world No16 from Helsinki, concentrating on keeping the ball tight down the backhand wall of the all-glass court at East Wintergarden. A simmering contest was littered with stoppages caused by bodily contact and both players seemed constantly on the brink of stepping across the boundaries of acceptable physical behaviour.


Ultimately, the quality and accuracy of Barrington’s disciplined approach paid dividends as the son of squash legend Jonah Barrington clinched his 11-6, 6-11, 12-10, 11-8 victory in 68 minutes to book a place in the last eight against fellow countryman Lee Beachill.


Yorkshireman Beachill, the third seed, overcame some fierce resistance from fellow Englishman Chris Ryder in an earlier first round clash. Qualifier Ryder, the Herts No1 who is based at Wolverhampton, gave as good as he got for much of the match but Beachill’s quality shone through when it mattered most.


The first game was level pegging until Beachill turned the screw and stepped up his game. Ryder competed willingly in some long and punishing rallies during the second game but it was usually Beachill who had the final say. The pattern continued in the third and former world No1 Beachill concluded a comfortable 11-8, 11-4, 11-5 victory in 37 minutes.


Ryder admitted the transition from club courts to the glass court at Canary Wharf was a tough one to make.   "It’s a big step up from playing on traditional plaster courts for two days in qualifying to playing on the glass court," said the reigning World University champion. "It takes a while to get your line and length and someone like Lee is one of the best in the world in that department.”


Beachill said: “I am happy to be back on court so soon after my recent operation and making the final of the National Championships in Manchester was a real bonus. My long-term plan is to keep the body in good shape and to continue challenging the younger guys for as long as I can. I’m not worried about being world No1 again but as long as I’m playing well and competing then I shall be more than happy. But I shall definitely not be playing when I’m 37 years old like Goughy. That’s just crazy!”


In the opening match of the day, teenage squash sensation Mohamed El Shorbagy produced an electric performance to rattle sixth seed Alex Gough. The 17-year-old Egyptian fought back from two games down to take the game to a fifth - but the Welsh veteran regained control to clinch victory after 67 minutes.


Shorbagy began in nervous fashion and the 20-year age-gap was evident as the vastly experienced Welshman forced his young opponent into a string of errors.


Shorbagy suddenly shed his nerves and began to find a rhythm. He maintained his composure to win the third game despite a brief hold-up when the court lighting failed. The Egyptian’s confidence was soaring and he powered his way through the fourth game with a succession of dazzling winners.


The crowd were willing him to continue in that vein but the lights went out on his bid to cause a shock result as Gough regained control in the fifth game, wrapping it up 11-5 as a tired looking Shorbagy struck the tin too many times.


A relieved Gough said: "He is a future world champion for sure.  I have played him before, so I knew what to expect.  e's got phenomenal talent and he's also got a lot of guts, and that's the main thing."


Shorbagy, a student at Millfield School in Somerset, revealed that his coach, squash legend Jonah Barrington, had offered him some sound advice earlier in the day. He said: "He told me not to play junior squash and I was very happy with how I played against such a very experienced opponent as Alex. He is a fine player and I am very happy with how I played on the glass court. This is a fantastic experience for me and I am sure I can learn a lot from it."


Reigning Canary Wharf champion James Willstrop played with all the flair, composure and confidence of a man on top of his game. The second-seeded Englishman looked relaxed and enjoying his work as he dealt solidly with the challenge posed by determined Hungarian qualifier Mark Krajcsak to win in straight games.


Krajcsak started strongly and led 5-1 in the opening game before the Yorkshireman began to impose his authority and won 10 of the next 11 points. Krajcsak again led 4-2 in the second before Willstrop took control.


The England number one's flair and love of the adventurous was evident as he delighted the crowd with his shot-making in the third game, but Krajcsak refused to roll over and put together a run of five points to lead 9-5. However, he was not allowed another entry into the scorebook as Willstrop tightened up, regained control and reeled off six points in a row, winning several points with outrageous flicks and feints that were beyond the reach of the diving, acrobatic Krajcsak.


Willstrop said: “I am very happy with the way I am playing at the moment. Winning four important tournaments in such a short space of time is a wonderful feeling.


“This is certainly the best phase of my career and I hope it continues for the next few days.”


Krajcsak said: “It is always a pleasure to play guys like James. He is such a fantastic player. I had a tough match yesterday in the qualifying final and someone like James makes you work incredibly hard to try to stay in the game.”


Qualifying at Wimbledon ... Framboise reports