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PACE Canadian Squash Classic -
Jan 9, 2007 by Martin Bronstein
Squashtalk Independent News; © 2007 SquashTalk LLC

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[ Canadian Squash Classic Main Draw ]

[Preview][Report 1] [Report 2] [Report 3] [Report 4][Quarter-Finals] [Semis]

Toronto, Ontario

Action for this year’s Pace Canadian Classic (presented by Dundee Securities) started at the Toronto Athletic Club, 36 floors above downtown Toronto. While two other clubs (Cambridge and the Badminton and Racquet Club) also hosted first round matches, the TAC was the center of activity.

First match on was between two players with much in common: both Australian, both have reached the top six in the world and both were felled by injury. Dan Jenson was there first and was number six in the world six years ago and heading for the top. He had everything, shots, reach (he’s well over six feet tall) and super style. A bad back put out and for the last three years he has been trying to attain his former state but again a recurrent knee injury has stopped his progress. He’s now number 46 in the world while his opponent Stewart Boswell, is back up to number eleven after sliding all the way down to the 300’s.

They played at a cracking pace with Boswell showing no mercy as he dominated the game and gave absolutely nothing away in winning 11-3. It wasn’t that Jenson was playing badly, it was simply that Boswell was playing so well.

Boswell almost ran away with the second game taking a 8-0 lead before he committed one of his few errors to give Jenson a point. Jenson made the most of it by running up four more points before losing 11-5 in under seven minutes.

Jenson showed his pedigree with some wonderful reading of the game which led to lightning responses that left Boswell flatfooted. But there were not enough of them and too many errors on his backhand to effect the result. The third game was over in six minutes due to seven errors from Jenson, who must surely put this down to new year rustiness and a recent lack of top match play.

Boswell seemed satisfied with his performance although he found the plastic panel front wall somewhat strange:
“The ball comes off much faster than plaster and it becomes a bit of slog. You don’t have time to get in front and volley,” he said at the end of the 25 minute game.

Next up was the young James Willstrop playing the old Alex Gough. With the Welshman pushing 36 years of age he was giving away 12 years to the young Englishman (as well as 14 ranking places).
Despite his advanced years Gough is still playing at a very high level; his many years on the circuit are obvious in almost every ball he hits and his use of top spin and a sort of shovel shot that goes under the ball and spins it like a cricket ball.

It was a thoroughly entertaining match with Willstrop unable to relax for a minute. He wont he first game 11-7 but found himself 3-7 down in the second as he made errors on ambition shots while Gough played near faultless squash. But then fortunes reversed and Willstrop cut out his errors, refused to give up on any ball and pulled his way back to 9-all.

This was entertaining squash and the cramped spectators really didn’t care who won. Willstrop reached game ball after a seriously long rally with both players performing miraculous feats of retrieval. But Gough smacked Willstrop’s loose serve into the nick to force a tie break. Willstrop hit fine forehand boast to get to game ball again and the a forehand volley drop into the nick got him the game and a 2/0 lead.
That game had lasted nearly 15 minutes and maybe too long for Gough who went behind very quickly in the third game, 1-5 only to fight his way back to 8-9 – four of those points coming from Willstrop’s errors. But Gough was too eager and hit the tin with a forehand to give Willstrop match point. The next rally was wild and fast and with Willstrop totally out of position and at Gough’s mercy, the Welshman slammed the ball into the tin. Both players laughed at the silliness of it and the match was over. Only 38 minutes, but solid, classy squash.

The third match ended in disaster for Nick Matthew, the world number five, who was surely looking for 2007 to be his entry into the top three. He played the elder Ashour, Hisham, and seemed comfortably in charge to win the first game 11-9 when the fates turned against him. Ashour, like so many Egyptians, is a dangerous man because of his range of winning shots and the courage to go for them. He suddenly had Matthew on the run and Matthew could only take charge, the rest of the time being forced to react to Ashour’s strategy. Matthew trailed the entire game but started to work his opponent around the court and kept the ball tight. The plan worked to force a tiebreak. Just as we though Matthew was in charge Ashour reached game ball again with a crashing cross court kill. Matthew played the next rally well and finally, with a good length, forced Ashour to hit a back wall boast. Matthew stood at the front wall, everything athis mercy only for his forehand drop to hit the tin to give Ashour the game. An angry Matthew threw his racquet down in disgust and left the court.

But he failed to regain control in the third game and although he led the game until 7-6 it would only take a couple of Egyptian kills to put him behind. True enough Ashour tied the game at 7-all and went on to win 11-8 to give him a surprise 2/1 lead.

Thus encouraged Ashour came into his own in the fourth and Matthew was again unable to regain the control that he showed in the first game and found himself 2-6 down. In going for a ball Matthew tripped on Ashour’s foot, went over on his ankle and lay on the floor in real pain. After ten minutes of icing, he left the court to be taken to hospital for xrays and wisely retired to give Ashour a place in the second round.

There was another retirement when Bernard Semper twisted his back in the second game against England’s Lee Beachill and retired with score at 2-0.


Julian Illingworth played well above his 91 ranking in pushing Canada’s Graham Ryding to a five game result. Illingworth, the US’s leading player is beginning to show signs that all his hard work is paying off. He won the first after a tie break and then came back from 2/1 down to force a fifth and deciding game which Ryding won 11-4 after 71 minutes.

Partial results.
[1]Amir Shabana (EGY) bt Shahier Razik (CAN) 11-8, 11-7, 10-11 (14-16), 11-6 (63mins)
[12] Mo Iskander (MAS) bt Matt Guiffre (CAN) 11-3, 11-4, 11-4 (28mins)
[6]Ramy Ashour (EGY) vs Tarek Momen (EGY)
[14]Mohammed Abbas (EGY) bt Rafael Alarcon (BRA) 3/0
[3]Gregory Gaultier (FRA) vs David Bianchetti (ITA)
[9]Lee Beachill (ENG) bt [Q]Bernardo Samper (COL) 11-4, 2-0 ret
[5]Anthony Ricketts (AUS) bt Dylan Bennett (NED)11-8,11-3, 11-5 (31mins)
[15]Ong Beng Hee (MAS) bt Simon Rosner (GER) 11-8, 11-4, 11-8 ( 33mins)
[10] John White (SCO) bt [Q] Omar El Borolossy (EGY) 11-10 (2-0), 11-7, 9-11, 9-11, 11-6 (51 mins)
[8] Karim Darwish (EGY) bt Shawn DeLierre (CAN) 12-10 (2-0), 11-5, 11-5 (51mins)
[13]Wael el Hindi (EGY) bt Jean Michel Arcucci (FRA) 11-3, 11-4, 11-8 (37mins)
Hisham Ashour (EGY) bt [4] Nick Matthew (ENG) 9-11,11-10 (2-0), 11-8, 8-5 ret.
[11]Stewart Boswell (AUS) def Dan Jenson (AUS)11-3, 11-5, 11-4 (25 mins)
[7]James Willstrop (ENG) def Alex Gough (WAL) 11-7, 11-10 (2-0), 11-8 (38mins)
[16[ Graham Ryding (CAN) bt Julian Illingworth (US) 10-12, 11-9, 11-3, 9-11, 11-4 (71mins)
[2]David Palmer (AUS) vs Liam Kenny (IRE) 3/1





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