PACE Canadian Squash Classic -
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:
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).
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.
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.
MATTHEW LOSES TO TWISTED ANKLE
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.
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.
ILLINGWORTH PUSHES RYDING
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.