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David Palmer wins 41st NYC Hyder Trophy
May 17, 2009, by Rob Dinerman, , SquashTalk.com , Independent News; © 2009 SquashTalk LLC       

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(updated 17-may-09 20:07 )

Too Much Weaponry For Razik    

Top seed David Palmer, a multiple-winner of the British and World Opens and a former occupant of the PSA No. 1 ranking, lived fully up to his impressive career resume by storming through the 41st Quentin Hyder Invitational, the longest continually running international-ball tournament in the history of United States squash, without losing a single game. The Australian-born currently Boston-based Palmer earned the winner’s share of the $7,500 purse with sequential straight-set wins over Ehimen Elhalen, ISDA top-five doubles star Clive Leach and fourth seed Liam Kenny to reach the final round today at noon, where he solidly out-played a valiant but overmatched second seed Shahier Razik, a two-time Hyder winner himself and 11-9 fifth-game runner-up to Wael El-Hindi two years ago, by a score of 11-7, 9 and 8. The Squash Club LA on Manhattan’s upper east side served as tournament headquarters, and a large crowd, mostly composed of competitors in the multitudinous amateur flights, gathered courtside to witness the final.

Razik, who had led defending Hyder champion (and reigning five-time U. S. National champion) Julian Illingworth two games to love in last night’s semifinal action before finally eking out an 11-8 fifth-game decision, competed as whole-heartedly as ever, flowing gracefully, his slender body as flexible as that of a fish in water, able to change direction and adapt to any permutation in a point in an unflappable manner evocative of Mark Talbott, the now-retired WPSA superstar of the 1980’s and early 1990’s, though, unlike Talbott, Razik is capable of hitting srop shots that seem to melt on the front wall. The powerfully built Palmer, on the other hand, exudes strength and muscular athleticism, exploding to the ball and teeing off at it, all complemented by a dynamic front-court game, an ability to respond when he is wrong-footed that is rare for someone his size and, most surprisingly, possessed of a deft and delicate touch. His overall offensive arsenal is superior to Razik’s and in this match it came to the fore in the mid- and late-game spurts he was able to string together that accounted for the landing of all three games in his column.

Those decisive runs were from 6-all to 10-6 in the first game, from 9-all to 11-9 in the second and from 5-all to 9-6 in the close-out third. In each of those games save the second (when Palmer had to overcome a 7-4 Razik advantage and the score was tied at 7-all, 8-all and 9-all before a pair of former forehand winners, on a wall-clinging shallow rail volley followed by a biting cross-court with Razik leaning to his right anticipating a rail), the top-ranked Canadian, after falling behind early on, had to expend so much energy to equalize the score that the effort (coming as it did on top of his marathon match with Illingworth less than 20 hours earlier) left him vulnerable when Palmer responded to being caught by raising the ante (just as the latter had done in a second-game burst from 7-all to 10-7, 11-8 against Leach Friday night).

In the first game, Palmer’s 4-0 run from 6-all consisted of a tight forehand drop shot off a lengthy all-court exchange, followed by a well-concealed forehand cross-court that wrong-footed Razik, who then tinned a drop-shot serve-return and was unable to track down a narrowly-angled Palmer forehand working-boast. And in the middle portion of the third, Palmer went from 5-all to 9-6 when he won a front-court exchange with a backhand straight drop shot, then scored on another forehand working-boast, got a no-let call in his favor and (after a Razik backhand rail winner) gratefully accepted an unforced Razik tin on a backhand volley, a possible winner for Razik, who desperately needed one at that juncture but instead caught the top of the tin.

Razik would earn the next two points to close to 8-9, but Palmer rose to the occasion with perhaps his best-concealed and most well conceived salvo of the day, a backhand cross-court drop shot that tantalizingly cleared the tin and landed softly near the right wall, totally flat-footing a dismayed Razik, who had readied himself for almost any shot but that one. Then at championship-ball, Palmer nursed another backhand drop shot that a diving Razik was unable to scrape back into play to conclude an extraordinarily well played final whose outcome, however, never seemed to be truly in doubt. Ultimately, Palmer’s career accomplishments, as well as, more relevantly, the state of his present-day game, is at a different qualitative level than those of any of the tournament’s other 18 very talented entrants, and throughout this weekend he compellingly lived up to that scintillating standard and proved too much for anyone to handle.


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