Hamza Gets a Tour
April 7, 2008, By Kirsten Carlson, SquashTalk.com , Independent News; © 2007 SquashTalk LLC
Hamza Celebrates Tour Title Breakthrough At Rochester
Squash symbiosis is all the rage in Rochester, NY. The most prevalent examples stem from last weekend's Rochester Pro-Am, a PSA satellite tournament that was held at the University of Rochester alongside a four-draw amateur event. Egypt's Ahmed Hamza won his first PSA title, defeating top seed Patrick Chifunda in four. The tournament, now in its seventh year helps the Rochester SRA grow and the PSA gain notoriety in the area. Members of the increasingly talented University of Rochester men's squash team get the opportunity to play a pro tournament while their growing fan base is able to see their school's best players compete against some of the world's best players.
"It was a packed house," tournament director Mithun Mukherjee said of the later rounds. "A lot of the University of Rochester kids came down too. With the new team there has been a rejuvenated enthusiasm for squash."
Hamza and Chifunda have met twice in PSA competition, both times at the Rochester Pro. Hamza won their match in the first round of the 2005 event. Their match in the final was a fiercely fought affair, but one Hamza always believed he could win.
"During the tournament, he was playing really good squash and I was a little worried," Hamza said. "I just believed in myself, and told myself I can do it." Chifunda took the first game.
"He started really well hitting winners, playing tight squash," Hamza said of Chifunda. "He hit 11 winners in a row. In the second time I said to myself, 'Keep it clean and tight. No errors.' In the second I volleyed more and won. The fifth was point by point. I would score, then he would score. It went on like that until we were tied at 9."
Hamza ended the tie and the match quickly: First a backhand nick, and then a forehand nick for the win.
The title was the first after playing in three finals during his six years on the tour. Hamza, who is an assistant pro at the Field Club of Greenwich, was thrilled with his win.
In addition to the final, other matches that drew plenty of spectators included those featuring University of Rochester players. Awareness of the team, and squash itself, have grown. An intramural squash program at the school was reestablished, giving some less experienced players a chance to compete. Three players from Rochester's team played in the main draw. Jim Bristow was given the wildcard spot, while Hameed Ahmed and Will Newnham each made it through two qualifying rounds to secure their first round positions. The first round was end of the road for all three.
"The primary objective for the guys was to qualify," said University of Rochester Head Coach Martin Heath. "Hameed and Will both came through tough matches. They both played okay. Hameed pushed Chifunda quite hard. Will did well. The only disappointment was Jim's match."
at Rochester last fall, Newnham took a year to train fulltime.
The England native played 10 PSA events during that time but hasn't
played a pro tournament since beginning college.
"It was a really good opportunity to play in it," Newnham said. "Quite a few students were watching which always gives more motivation to play well. I think it is a good event for squash in general."
Newnham lost in four to No. 3 seed Fernando Lopez of Mexico.
"I managed to get reasonable length but wasn't holding the ball tight.
In the third, which I won, I hit the ball tighter and was getting flicks," Newnham said. "Playing pro squash now is hard because with studying and other things, you can't play squash all the time. It was pretty hard to keep up the pace. If I was fitter, I would have had an edge on him."
One Rochester player walked away a victory this weekend. Pat Harris, who has now concluded his collegiate squash career, won the 4.0 draw in the amateur event. The number of amateur players to enter surprised Mukherjee.
"Last year we didn't have such a great turnout for the amateur," he said. "We had close to 60 participants this year. It was nice, but made us a little nervous initially because we weren't expecting that large of a turnout. We were initially planning to play Friday onward, but a lot of the players had to start Wednesday evening. We are hoping this success encourages more people to travel to Rochester for tournaments, and that this can help promote more play in between cities in upstate New York."
The amateur tournament switched venues after the quarters, moving from the Genesee Valley Club to the five court complex at the University of Rochester. The amateurs were able to watch the pros as their matches concluded just before.
The organizers are aiming for another successful tournament next April. Mukherjee said they are strongly considering taking the event up to Super Satellite level, along with scheduling it to make it easier for PSA players to travel to a few events in the general area during around the same time. The growth of the tournament seems a sure thing as squash gets more popular throughout Rochester.
RESULTS: Rochester Pro Squash Open, Rochester, NY, USA
 Patrick Chifunda (ZAM) bt [Q] Hameed Ahmed (FIN) 11-9, 11-2, 10-11 (0-2), 11-4
Salvador Martinez (MEX) bt  Jacques Swanepoel (RSA) 11-9, 6-11, 11-8, 11-8
 Fernando Lopez (MEX) bt [Q] William Newnham (ENG) 11-9, 7-11, 11-9, 11-8
[Q] Lekgotla Mosope (BOT) bt  Armando Olguin (MEX) 11-6, 11-3, 11-4
 Ahmed Maged Hamza (EGY) bt [Q] Jason Delierre (CAN) 11-10 (4-2), 11-9, 11-7
 Michal Reid (CAN) bt Jim Bristow (ENG) 11-7, 11-3, 11-9
 Arturo Castillo (MEX) bt Navin Samarasinghe (SRI) 11-7, 11-10 (3-1), 11-4
 Andrew McDougall (CAN) bt Joe Millman (ENG) 11-5, 11-2, 11-3
 Patrick Chifunda (ZAM) bt Salvador Martinez (MEX) 11-8, 5-11, 11-1, 11-9
[Q] Lekgotla Mosope (BOT) bt  Fernando Lopez (MEX) 11-4, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6
 Ahmed Maged Hamza (EGY) bt  Michal Reid (CAN) 8-11, 8-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-6
 Andrew McDougall (CAN) bt  Arturo Castillo (MEX) 11-6, 8-11, 11-4, 11-6
 Patrick Chifunda (ZAM) bt [Q] Lekgotla Mosope (BOT) 7-11, 11-7, 11-10 (2-0), 11-4
 Ahmed Maged Hamza (EGY) bt  Andrew McDougall (CAN) 11-8, 11-8, 11-4
 Ahmed Maged Hamza (EGY) bt  Patrick Chifunda (ZAM) 6-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-5, 11-9