Qualifying finals in Richmond, VA as NAO gets underway
Feb 20, 2010, by Howard Harding © 2010 SquashTalk.com , Independent News; SquashTalk LLC; Photos by Pat Lyons Photography
(updated 21-feb-10 9:28 )
Lane, Gordon and Samper fall short [MAIN DRAW/RESULTS]
A trio of Australians will join the main draw of the $93,750 North American Open Squash Championship in Richmond, Virginia, after successes by Zac Alexander, Ryan Cuskelly and Steve Finitsis in the qualifying finals of the second PSA Super Series 2010 event of the year at the University of Richmond.
Alexander became the lowest-ranked player to qualify when he beat Colombian Bernardo Samper 11-6, 11-4, 11-4 in 29 minutes. The 21-year-old from Brisbane will take on third seed Amr Shabana in his first ever meeting with the four times World Open champion from Egypt.
"This is my first time qualifying for a Super Series event, so I'm very pleased with the win today," said Alexander, ranked 105 in the world. "I’ve never played Bernardo in a PSA match but we train together in New York a bit so I knew it was going to be tough out there. Now I’m just looking forward to playing either tomorrow or Monday."
New York-based Ryan Cuskelly dashed US hopes of success in the qualifiers when he beat New York-born Christopher Gordon 11-7, 11-6, 9-11, 11-3.
"I found it a little tough to get going today because I have played a lot of squash the last couple of months," said the 22-year-old from New South Wales who is already competing in his seventh PSA Tour event of the year.
"But all credit to him, he stuck in there and made me work for it," added the world No51 who now meets Olli Tuominen, the 14th seed from Finland.
Steve Finitsis had to battle for 56 minutes to overcome higher-ranked Frenchman Julien Balbo 11-8, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8. The Queenslander now lines up against Aamir Atlas Khan, the 13th seed from Pakistan.
LANE LOSES 98 MINUTE MARATHON AFTER 2-1 LEAD
There was further US disappointment when Mexican Cesar Salazar beat Gilly Lane, the American number two from Philadelphia, 11-13, 11-9, 1-11, 14-12, 11-8 in a 98-minute marathon.
"I didn’t start the first game too well and, though I lost it, I felt I was getting a better length at the end - then I got it together in the second and felt in control," explained the 22-year-old from San Luis Potosi who now faces Egypt's 11th seed Wael El Hindi.
"In the third I didn’t do anything, rushed to finish the points and totally lost the plan. By saving a few match balls in the fourth, it gave me the confidence for the fifth and I think he felt the pressure."
RESULTS: North American Open Squash Championship, Richmond, Virginia, USA
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt Khawaja Adil Maqbool (PAK) 11-7, 11-7, 11-9 (21m)
Mohammed Abbas (EGY) bt Jens Schoor (GER) 11-4, 11-3, 11-5 (26m)
Yasir Butt (PAK) bt Shaun le Roux (ENG) 11-7, 6-11, 11-5, 11-6 (44m)
Zac Alexander (AUS) bt Bernardo Samper (COL) 11-6, 11-4, 11-4 (29m)
David Phillips (CAN) bt Scott Arnold (AUS) 11-9, 10-12, 11-5, 11-1 (44m)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt Christopher Gordon (USA) 11-7, 11-6, 9-11, 11-3 (51m)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt Gilly Lane (USA) 11-13, 11-9, 1-11, 14-12, 11-8 (98m)
Steve Finitsis (AUS) bt Julien Balbo (FRA) 11-8, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8 (56m)
Updated 1st round draw:
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) v Stephen Coppinger (RSA)
 Aamir Atlas Khan (PAK) v [Q] Steve Finitsis (AUS)
 Peter Barker (ENG) v [Q] David Phillips (CAN)
 Thierry Lincou (FRA) v Farhan Mehboob (PAK)
 Amr Shabana (EGY) v [Q] Zac Alexander (AUS)
 Wael El Hindi (EGY) v [Q] Cesar Salazar (MEX)
 David Palmer (AUS) v Shahier Razik (CAN)
 Olli Tuominen (FIN) v [Q] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
 Alister Walker (ENG) v [Q] Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
 James Willstrop (ENG) v Aaron Frankcomb (AUS)
 Joey Barrington (ENG) v Rafael F Alarcon (BRA)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v [Q] Yasir Butt (PAK)
 Adrian Grant (ENG) v Simon Rosner (GER)
 Karim Darwish (EGY) v Amr Swelim (ITA)
 Julian Illingworth (USA) v [Q] Mohammed Abbas (EGY)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v Esteban Casarino (PAR)