|SquashTalk > News >Day Two USA Men's Trials|
|Follow the Cathay Pacific in mid August, www.squashtalk.com/hongkong2001|
DAY TWO OF THE US MEN'S TRIALS
and Press Release]
TWO OF THE U.S. TRIALS: WALKER, CHIN WIN, CLINCH SPOTS
Damian Walker and Richard Chin, both seeded first in their respective four-man pools, each followed up impressive straight-game victories in their opening round Thursday night with successful second-round matches Friday evening. Each has now clinched a spot on the U. S. Team which will be competing in the World Team Championships in Melbourne, Australia in mid-October, though the battle for the remaining two team positions became, if anything, more turbulent than ever as a result of the second-round play, thus setting up what should be a hectic and exciting weekend at the host Westchester Squash Club in Mamaroneck, NY.
Tonight's match-ups featured 1 vs. 3 and 2 vs. 4, and both top seeds encountered far more difficulty than they had in their opening-round victories. After winning the opening pair of games against Pete Karlen, Walker actually faced several game-balls against him in the third game, which Karlen led 8-5 before eventually bowing 10-8. Damian is an experienced and savvy campaigner, and he has been able so far to really impose his severe and mistake-free game upon his much-younger opponents right of the bat; by the time his opponents have acclimated to the harsh environment Walker thereby creates, the match is all but over and they are playing from behind, never a favorable proposition. To this point, he has just been a little too sharp for his competition, though a match like this can only accelerate the development of the fast-improving Karlen in the long run.
Chin's match with Preston Quick was perhaps the most greatly anticipated of the entire evening slate, as the latter was coming off a particularly strong performance in posting an opening-round upset, and in straight games at that, over the higher-seeded Tim Wyant. Their encounter fully lived up to its billing, devolving into a back-and-forth five-game marathon that consumed more than 100 minutes and virtually all the energy that either player could muster; in fact, after a particularly gruelling series of exchanges at 3-all in the fifth, both players took a small and seemingly mutually-agreed-upon break as each briefly appeared out on his feet. Richard had eked out a 9-7 win in the third game to go up 2-l, putatively a defining breakthrough, only to have Quick respond beautifully in the 9-4 fourth game. Chin has sometimes reacted questionably to such contretemps in the past, but this time he bravely announced "This is what its all about" on his way back into the court for the climactic fifth game, then lived up to this declaration by competing admirably and moving from that 3-3 crossroads to an eventual 9-6 victory.
The only all-Class of 2000 match of the night, between Beau River and Dave McNeely saw the latter respond wonderfully to his opening-round loss to Walker the 24 hours earlier by coming up big in a must-win situation and answering this imperative in four well-played games. When McNeely is on he has one of the most potent left-wall games (especially SHORT left-wall) of any American player, and on this evening his backhand drop served him extremely well. Admittedly burdened by a mild case of nerves in his match with Walker, David seemed really primed to play this time around. His years-long familiarity with his contemporary River's game may have contributed to his more confident approach, but River, who won the third game before grudgingly ceding the final fourth, stayed very close to his inspired opponent and still is very much in the hunt to make the team coming into the weekend's action.
The fourth and last match of the night also featured a player rebounding from first-round setback to launch himself right back into the midst of the competitive fray. Tim Wyant, who Thursday night was on the receiving end of Preston Quick's upset-causing heroics, exhibited the formidable lob-drop game that is such a major part of his attack when he is at his best, and subdued Mark Lewis in a match whose convincing nature and (especially)brevity may well have a substantial influence on what transpires in the third round Saturday afternoon.
The reason for the foregoing is that in Saturday afternoon's(2 pm start)1 vs. 2, 3 vs. 4 rotation in the pool playdown, an important match-up will pit Wyant, 1-1 so far but with the swift win over Lewis immediately behind him, against Chin, who as noted had to grind for nearly two hours before winning out over Quick, and this disparity could potentially be a significant factor in their encounter later today. In fact, one of the noteworthy aspects of today's play is that, even this late in the trials, every match still "means" something in terms of determining the U.S. team's eventual composition. River, who opened with a win over Karlen before his loss last night to McNeely, faces Walker today and still can play his way onto the team with a good weekend-long performance.
Lewis and Karlen, neither of whom was able to win either of their first pair of matches, are pretty much eliminated from realistically making the team at this point, but both are proven prideful battlers, and each can play the role of "spoiler" in their matches this afternoon against McNeely and Wyant respectively. Neither of the latter pair can afford to stumble today, as there are four players, all with 1-1 records to this point, vying for the remaining two available positions. Squashtalk will continue to provide daily updates throughout the remainder of the trials. Stay tuned.