ESC Edinburgh Open
Day Two, Fri 24th:
Nick Forrest reports
The inaugural Edinburgh Squash Open at the Edinburgh Sports Club started today with the first round providing some enthralling matches to whet the appetite of any squash enthusiast.
With the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow approaching shortly there seemed to be an even greater interest for the Open, with a large crowd turning up. They were kept entertained throughout the early afternoon with several closely fought battles and number 10, Daryl Selby-recently just back from the J P Morgan tournament in New York-on court.
The tournament attracts players from all over the world, however there was local interest today with Scottish number 2 Greg Lobban in action against Edinburgh University student, Seigo Masuda. Seigo was up against it from the start with Greg finding a perfect length from the start and winning the first 11/1. The second game was a lot better from Seigo, who forced Greg into some long rallies. However, Greg’s quality came through and he won the next two games 11/3.
After the match Greg said: “I played well, a very solid game. I’d seen Seigo play at the Scottish Junior Open a couple weeks ago and knew he was solid but I knew I had the experience to get through.”
Greg, who made it to the Quarter-Finals last year, is looking to take it just one game at a time: “I’ve had a year in the professional game and I think my game has improved, however the competition this year is even stronger so it’ll be tough. I’ve got Joe Lee next and will need to focus on that first.”
Joe Lee, ranked 37 in the world, plays Greg in the next round after an impressive 3.0 victory over the young talented Aberdonian, Chris Shinnie. Chris gave a valiant effort, especially in the first, losing only 12/10. Joe was on fire in the next two games though, winning both 11/2.
Shinnie said: “I played alright but was a bit loose in the last two games and got punished. My legs started feeling heavy. He’s a top player. I didn’t have my head band on, that’s what went wrong!”
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I DIDN’T HAVE MY HEADBAND ON, THAT’S WHAT WEANT WRONG.” CHRIS SHINNIE
Scottish number one and world number 37, Alan Clyne looks to be in good form, beating the impressive Julian Tomlinson from Manchester in straight sets, and winning 11/3 11/3 and 11/5. Julian was full of praise for the Scot: “He was very strong at the front. He was just on to everything. He was on to it so fast, I didn’t know where he was going to go. His backhand is particularly strong. I was happy with the performance.”
Scotland number 3 and Sports Club member, Dougie Kempsell was next to represent the Scottish contingent. With a home support behind him, he hopes to use that energy to his advantage. He said: “I’m looking to at least get to the quarter finals, although it won’t be easy. You get a lot of support from the members and I don’t have the hassle of travelling. The vibe is fantastic. The tournament helps to keep things ticking over with the Commonwealth on the horizon.”
Dougie beat Craig V-Wallace to book his place in the second round, winning 11/1, 11/4 and 11/3. Craig showed spirit for someone still young, but Dougie was onto everything so quickly and Craig struggled to slow it down.
Dougie’s opponent in the next round is fellow Scot, Jamie Henderson, who had to dig deep to fend off the challenge from Steve London. Although Jamie won 3/0, 11/8, 11/7 and 11/9, Jamie kept each game on a knife edge, forcing Jamie to the back with some impressive volleying. Jamie was just too strong though and kept his cool, even during heated spells on court.
Jamie said: “It was good, I’m playing fairly good stuff. I had a game plan which I stuck too and it worked. I eased up a bit in the third but that can often happen. Dougie will be a tough one. I know it’ll be high intensity but I’m looking forward to it.”
2012 finalist, Andy Whipp was pushed by Allan Tasker, who showed some lovely touches to the front of the court which helped him win the second game 11/8. However, Andy is a veteran of the tournament and showed his experience by taking the third and fourth 11/8 and 11/4.
Top seed Daryl Selby took on Colinton Castle’s Chris Grey. Chris was up against it but showed some real ability in the third and last game, losing only 11/7. Daryl had only arrived late the day before from New York having just lost 3/1 to El Shorbagy in the J P Morgan PSA event.
Selby said: “There were only two planes I could have caught to make it in time for this event but I’m glad to be hear. I always enjoy it and it’s great to see Simon and everyone else. Plus my wife and my son Noah have come with me for the weekend and made a trip of it.”
Aberdonian Jamie Jacobson, just came up short against David Wardle in a terrific 3/1 match. Jamie kept his opponent moving but David showed great energy and ability at the front, constantly putting pressure on his opponent and taking it 11/8, 11/13, 11/4, 11/4.
Number two seed and world number 21, Adrian Grant took on local member Jacques Laas. Commonwealth gold medallist in Delhi 2010, Grant took a while to warm up, largely thanks to some wonderful play from Laas, who refused to be intimidated by his opponent’s credentials. The first game in particular was something Laas can be proud off, losing only 11/9. Grant though showed what a machine he is by getting everything Laas had to offer back at frightening speed and took the next two 11/2 and 11/7.
The match of the first round was Club coach Simon Boughton versus Phil Nightingale in a five set classic. Simon’s great length and ability at the front of the court seemed to take Phil by surprise and Simon took the first two games 11/5 and 12/10. Simon started to tire though with Phil pushing Simon to the back and forcing him into a few unforced errors. Phil showed great tenacity, clawing back to two each winning 12/10 and 11/9. The large crowd were going nowhere and knew the final game could go either way. It looked as though Simon would take the match, as he raced to a 9/5 lead. However Phil was not deterred and came back, getting to every tight shot Simon hit. In the end Phil won it with a shot to the back, cue applause from the gallery. 11/9 in the fifth.
Simon said: “I just switched of when I gained that lead. It was a tough match and I could of possibly taken it another day.”
The ladies were up next and I struggled to see much of the matches due to being blocked by a large crowd which had started to gather. One to watch for the future, 14-year-old Egyptian, Habiba Mohamed took on equally talented youngster Georgina Kennedy in the first round. It took a while to get the game to start with the referees insisting both players wore goggles, as is the common protocol in Scotland for players under 18. Once it got going though it proved to be a great match. Habiba took the first two games 11/3, 11/5 and looked comfortably hitting the ball with more power than some men I’ve seen play. However, Georgina dug deep and deserved to win the third 13/11. The final game was a close one too, but the Egyptian came away with a 12/10 victory.
Finally it was important to mention how sad we were all to hear of the passing of Ken Gibbs. Ken was passionate about the sport and put in hours upon hours referring many top games. He was a joyous person with a permanent smile on his face and will be sadly missed.
Day One, Thu 23rd: –
The 2014 edition of the ESC Edinburgh Open kicked off with qualifying matches in the men’s and women’s draws. Scottish success came in draws with Tournament Director Simon Boughton winning through to the BSPA main draw, while Claire Gadsby and Senga Macfie are through to Friday morning’s WSA qualifying finals.
The £10,000 BSPA and WSA event sees World no.10 Daryl Selby top the seeding in this year’s Championships held at Edinburgh Sports Club from 23rd – 26th January.
Commonwealth Gold Medalist and current world no. 21 Adrian Grant will also be competing for this year’s title ensuring that the very highest level of squash will be on show.
The ESC Edinburgh Open is the biggest event on the BSPA circuit with a total prize fund of £10,000. After taking the title three years ago Selby went on to beat World Champion Nick Matthew to take the British National title in Manchester.
Scottish interest comes from Scottish no. 1 and world no. 37 Alan Clyne and 2014 Commonwealth Games hopefuls, Greg Lobban who is rising sharply up the world rankings winning in Kuala Lumpur last year, Kevin Moran and Edinburgh’s Douglas Kempsell currently ranked world no. 127 will also be competing for the title. Scottish assistant National Coach Stuart Crawford and Edinburgh Sports Club coaches Simon Boughton and Ross McHoul are also going to be in action.
The ladies event is the only WSA event in the country and all the top 4 seeds currently sit in the top 50 of the world rankings. No. 1 seed is Coline Aumard of France with Kylie Lindsay of New Zealand seeded to meet her in the final.
“Since its inaugural event in 2001 the championship has become a firm fixture on the international squash calendar and the strength of the draw continues to amaze me,” said Simon Boughton – Tournament Director.
“It is rare to have the squash of this level on our doorstep and anyone with an interest of the game really should think about coming along to have a look. It is also a great chance to see how our top players fare against those at the top of the world game.”
Jonathan Tait, Manager at Edinburgh Sports Club, is delighted with this year’s entry: “This event continues to attract some of the world’s highest ranked professional players to give spectators a wonderful opportunity to watch squash of the highest quality being played over a four-day period”.
The Championships begin on Thursday 23rd January, concluding with the finals on Sunday 26th January.
Ticket Information call 0131 539 7071