ESC Edinburgh Open Finals

Nick Forrest reports

SH1913The final day had arrived and after 63 games and 10 rounds over 3 days we were left with just four. In the ladies final, top seed and world number 38, Coline Aumard, was up against the highly promising 14 year-old, Habiba Mohamed, who holds the title as the youngest WSA tour title winner.

The main talking point before the match was whether Coline would be able to play following her ankle injury from Saturday’s semi-final. The good news was that Coline was prepared to give it a go after strapping her ankle.

However, the injury was worse than expected and Coline was unfortunately forced to concede the match after going down 11/4 in the first.

SH1918A jammed crowd took their seats, many of them having played in the amateur graded events throughout the weekend and were now looking forward to relaxing with a drink and watching some quality squash. Simon Boughton, the tournament organiser for the last 13 years, welcomed everyone and introduced both players. After a brief warm-up on the show court-which due to a combination of spectators and all the squash this weekend, seemed to resemble something closer to a sauna- we were off.

Habiba started at great pace, forcing Coline to twist and turn with deep cross courts to the back. With each twist Coline grimaced and you could tell she wasn’t able to move her full range. However, Habiba remained disciplined, not allowing her opponents injury affect her own game and continued to play some great shots. Coline plugged away, but after going 8/2 down she had already effectively conceded the match. Habiba won the game 11/4 and Coline did what was best for her long term health and conceded due to injury.

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Much respect must go to Coline, for even attempting to play. Congratulations though to Habiba, winning her second WSA world tour. Habiba said: “Thank you, I’m delighted to win a WSA tournament again and I would like to come back next year.”

I’m sure we can expect to see big things from her in the future. Hopefully we will see both these players playing each other at next year’s Edinburgh Open and they can give us what I’m sure will be a closely fought contest.

SH1911With the ladies match finishing abruptly, many of the spectators filled up their glasses before the men’s final started at 4pm. In the final were Adrian Grant and Daryl Selby, both England Internationals and former Edinburgh Open winners. Selby has been coming to the Edinburgh Open since he was 19 and won last year’s tournament against Tom Richards, whilst Grant beat Saurav Ghosal to win the open in 2010. These two have played each other on many occasions and the crowd expected a closely fought contest. What they got was a pulsating encounter, with rallies that seemed to last for days. In the end Selby was able to retain his trophy, beating Grant 3/1.

Selby said: “It was one of the toughest finals here I’ve had. I would like to thank everyone at the Edinburgh Sports Club for putting on another great event. I knew I had to win the fourth or that was it.”

The opener was nip and tuck to 4/4 before Grant gained a sizeable 8/5. However, Selby seemed to turn on the gas and brought it back to 8/8. Grant was playing well, but was making one too many unforced errors and Selby was able to win the first 11/8.

SH1914The second game was filled with excitement and controversial referee decisions which both players disputed. Although the players must not enjoy some of these decisions, it certainly adds to the suspense of the match. Again, Grant started the stronger, picking up incredibly tight shots but Selby kept the score-line close at 5/4. Just like the first, Grant lost a large amount of points in succession and despite playing well will wonder how he lost 11/5. Most of the crowd expected Selby to complete the hat trick, especially when he went 7/4 up in the third. However, a resurgence in from Grant made sure the fans were left on the edge of their seats as he clawed points back in succession to gain a 9/7 lead. Selby brought it back to 9/9, in a sequence which included a rally which contained over 40 shots. Grant then escaped a stroke decision, much to the bemusement of Selby who argued with the referee that his shot was blocked. He had previously been given a “no let” decision as he tried to reach a drop shot from Grant, which may have added to the frustration. Grant wasn’t to be distracted and won the third 11/9 much to the crowds delight in a guarantee of an extended final. . It was certainly the least Grant deserved, having put so much into the match thus far.

SH1906The third game seemed to have taken its toll on Grant as Selby raced to a commanding 8/2 lead, with Grant making several errors. Not too long after Selby was 10/4 up with five match balls. However, Grant never gave up and kept going all the way to the end, pushing Selby to the back of the court with some deep cross courts and forcing him into errors of his own. Grant brought the game back to 10/8 and the crowd were now swinging towards a Grant victory. Selby kept his cool though and with a hard drive to the back of the court won the game and sealed the match.

It was one of the finest Edinburgh Open matches witnessed and the sold out crowd showed their appreciation with a standing ovation. The trophy ceremony followed which brought a conclusion to a fantastic weekend. It was great to see so many Scottish internationalists make it to the latter stages. We witnessed some great squash and look forward to next year which promises to be another exciting Open. Thanks to Simon Boughton, who organises the tournament and works effortlessly. The event wouldn’t be what it is without him.

Nick Forrest

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