Hong Kong’s Henry Leung beat teammate Tsz Kwan Lau to win the $11,000 globalsquash.com Life Time Atlanta Open, the world No. 92’s second PSA title of 2019 Sunday, February 17, at Life Time Athletic Sandy Springs in Georgia.
One week prior to Atlanta, Lau got the better of his Hong Kong compatriot in the Linear Logistics Bankers Hall Club Pro Am, on his way to the final. This week, though, it was Leung that took the victory, defeating Kwan in a marathon four-game final, 13-11, 9-11, 12-10, 11-5 after ninety minutes.
“Rallies were long and brutal between both players,” said Andre Maur, Life Time Squash Tour Director. “Henry looked in control all week and had a plan from right from the start of the event. He played, he fought and he conquered to win his first title on the Life Time Squash Tour.”
Leung celebrates his third PSA title in his last four events. The title was also the twenty-three-year-old’s first career U.S. Pro Series appearance, and is the first Hong Kong international to lift the Atlanta Open winners trophy.
The Atlanta Open will celebrate it’s twentieth year in 2020, having been held annually since 2000.
Hania El Hammamy won her first PSA Challenger Tour 30 event in Cincinnati tonight, her largest PSA tour victory to date, but it is surely just a sign of a decorated career to follow for the talented eighteen year old. The Egyptian teenager has had an incredible start to 2019, first winning the British Junior Open in January and now she has back to back PSA titles in Scotland (Tour 20 event) and now in Cincinnati. Hania’s only loss of 2019 came at the hands of Nour El Sherbini at the Tournament of Champions, and even then she got a game.
When being interviewed after the match, Hania told the packed crowd in attendance that she had read the reports of the semis where her error count had been eluded too. She decided to make a conscious decision to fix it today and fix it she did as a near flawless performance took her to the title without the loss of a single game this week. It wasn’t that Vicky played badly either, she may have been lacking a little confidence with the injured ankle still heavily strapped, but the fact she was even in the final showed she wasn’t too far from her best. For Vicky it is a second straight Gaynor Cup final loss and she may have thought twice about coming back for 2020, but the announcement by Vere Gaynor, title sponsor for the tournament, that the Gaynor Cup will be a $50k event next year may have just convinced her to return.
It was a great week of squash with the PSA players in town for the week putting on a great show on the court and also representing the World Squash Tour in impeccable fashion. The enjoyment the sponsors had playing the pro’s that lost in the early rounds in both singles and doubles made the week the true highlight of the Cincinnati squash calendar.
 Hania El Hamammy 3-0  Victoria Lust 11-5, 11-8, 11-7
France’s Gregoire Marche won his first career PSA title on U.S. soil–the Three Rivers Capital Pittsburgh at the Rivers Club in Pennsylvania.
Marche, world No. 30, defeated Egypt’s world No. 22 Zahed Salem in the final.
To reach the final, the Frenchman had to overcome both of the Salazar twins as he dispatched Arturo in the quarter finals and Cesar in the last four.
Salem’s route to the final in Pittsburgh saw him beat Campbell Grayson in the second round, Nafiizwan Adnan in the last eight, and World No.25 Nicolas Mueller in the semis.
The final would be the longest match of the tournament, lasting 83 minutes as Marche took an early lead, before Salem fought back to tie the game through four.
Marche won the first 11-9 after Salem made a series of mistakes. Marche then won the second 11-6 to take a two game lead. Salem came back into it, winning the third on a tiebreak, before tying the match after a victory in the fourth game.
However, Marche stayed strong mentally, winning the fifth game 11-5 to take his eighth PSA title and his first PSA Bronze title.
Both men will next be in action at the 2018-2019 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family, in Chicago in two weeks time.
The Pittsburgh Open offered the largest prize money in tournament history, $52,000, in the tournament’s seventeenth year.
Result: Three Rivers Capital Pittsburgh Open Final
 Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt  Zahed Salem (EGY) 3-2: 11-9, 11-6, 10-12, 6-11, 11-5 (83m)
Despite surrendering the third game in their first ever meeting, India’s top-seeded Ramit Tandon controlled the final of the Seattle Open against Egyptian Mohamed El Sherbini from the word “Play.”
It wasn’t that the third-seeded Egyptian, and cousin of women’s World No. 2 Nour El Sherbini, played poorly. He simply had no solutions for the puzzle Tandon was creating. Superior length and width, along with deft touch at the front by Tandon led to clear winners or loose balls from El Sherbini that, on six occasions in the opener, resulted in strokes against him. The stroke-fest continued in the second game as Tandon built an insurmountable lead before ElSherbini made a game of it with a handful of winners of his own.
ElSherbini managed to solve his self-imposed traffic jam in the third by cleaning up his errors to build a 7-1 lead that Tandon was seemingly willing to let go. But in the fourth, Tandon—who reached a career-high World No. 58 on February 1—put the hammer down and ran away with the title.
The win was Tandon’s second title in the last 12 months and second on U.S. soil, despite not currently working with a coach, he has leveraged his time on court with his training partner, Ramy Ashour, into a rise in the rankings from No. 493 in April 2017. Currently the second reserve, Tandon is hopeful of gaining entry into the the $1 million World Championships that begin in Chicago’s Union Station on February 23. But for now, the rising star can enjoy the rewards from a week of dominant play in Seattle.
As he had all week, Mohamed Abouelghar took the long, tough road on Saturday to win the championship of the 2019 Motor City Open presented by the Suburban Collection.
Abouelghar needed five games to top Peru’s Diego Elias in the finals, completing a week where the Egyptian won four matches in 18 games in the Professional Squash Association World Tour event.
Third-seed Abouelghar topped #4-seed Elias in a thrilling, high-quality, 63-minute final, 5-11, 11-6, 11-3, 4-11, 11-8 – becoming the seventh Egyptian to win the MCO in the past 10 years at the Birmingham Athletic Club.
Veteran referee Mike Riley called it one of the five best matches he has ever called.
“I’m very, very happy and proud to put my name on the trophy with so many legends,” Abouelghar said. “It’s very special.”
Despite the long week, the 25-year-old Abouelghar showed off his endurance in the final.
“It was hard, man,” Abouelghar said. “Diego is such a great player. Sometimes he makes you work so much, you have to grind yourself out. He moves the ball very well around the court. At some point, you just have to retrieve and get the ball back.”
In Game #1, Elias raced through seven of the last eight points to win, 11-5.
Abouelghar came out aggressively in the second game. He took a 7-2 lead and won 11-6, then dominated Game #3 for an 11-3 triumph. Elias recovered the win the fourth, 11-4, setting up a dramatic finish.
“It was a tough match, he played well,” said Elias, 22, who also reached the MCO semifinal in 2017. “It was really close, but I felt it was right in front of me this time.”
The pair played to a tie at 8-8 before Abouelghar won the final three points to raise the trophy.
“I doubt if it gets harder than that,” Abouelghar said. “We’re going to play many more battles. I’m happy I got this one, and I’m sure he’s going to come at me next time.”
Tournament organizers praised the champion’s resilience and also recognized Elias as an up-and-comer to watch.
“I’m confident that within the next 12-24 months, he’s going to be right up there near the top, in the top five in the world,” MCO co-chair Peter Schmidt said. “It’s great to have a fantastic final.”
Added Derrick J. Glencer, co-chairman of the MCO: “This happens a lot at our tournament, and a lot of people who end up winning our tournament go on to being world No. 1 and I can absolutely see (Elias’) future. It was a brilliant battle tonight.”
Watch a replay of the MCO final on YouTube below. Match starts at 01:19:48)
Egypt’s world No. 3 Nour El Tayeb leads the $51,250 Cleveland Classic draw this week, January 31-February 4, at the Cleveland Racquet Club in Ohio.
The ninth staging of the event draws three of the world’s top ten players, with England’s world No. 9 Alison Waters and world No. 10 Tesni Evans entering the field as the three and two seeds, respectively.
El Tayeb is seeded to meet Waters, a two-time finalist in 2016 and 2017 in the semifinals, with a seeded final against Evans. Evans will open her campaign either against Cornell graduate Danielle Letourneau or Harvard graduate Haley Mendez–the only American in the twenty-four-player draw.
Sixteen players representing eleven countries squared off in the first round of the Seattle Open, a PSA Challenger event, with seven of the eight seeds coming out on top.
The one upset resembled a gladiatorial battle–or a hockey game. Matias Tuomi of Finland beat American Christopher Gordon in a four-game match that included over 30 minutes of delays due to blood injuries sustained by both players. Gore aside, the match was a display of the lethal effectiveness of driving deep along the left wall and following with a straight drop, a strategy that paid dividends for both players. Gordon worked the combination well late in the first game, coming back from 1-7 to even things 9-all. At 11-11, Tuomi took a racquet just above the eye, but following his injury break returned to take the game 13-11. Gordon gained his own 7-1 advantage in the second and cruised to a win in the game. Early in the third, though, he suffered a cut below his mouth, and after that he never got entirely back on track. Tuomi won the third and fourth, both 11-7.
Two more of the evening’s matches went to four. Daniel Mekbib of the Czech Republic and Joeri Hapers of Belgium both looked to impose pace on each other, but it was the lefty Mekbib who managed to dominate the middle of the court, sending Hapers scrambling repeatedly deep into the back right corner, particularly in the first and fourth games. Hapers found his form in the hotly contested second, taking an early lead and holding for his only game of the match.
With an emphatic forehand crosscourt nick, Frenchman Sébastien Bonmalais finished off the other four-game win, over the second Czech in the draw, Ondrej Uherka. It was one of the evening’s most entertaining matches, with both players hitting tight length and displaying soft touch at the front, and both working through interference rather than asking for lets. Bonmalais, just 20 years old, showed the influence of French stars Thierry Lincou and Gregory Gaultier, moving fluidly and using severe delays in his swing.
The remainder of the matches were decided in straight games. Englishman Lyell Fuller, Indian Ramit Tandon, and Canadians Andrew Schnell and Shawn Deliierre all notched decisive victories. Mohamed El Sherbini of Egypt had to work harder for his 3-0 win over American Faraz Khan, with the first and third games going to extra points. In the first, El Sherbini dominated a series of long, testing rallies to take a 9-3 lead, then proceeded to lose his length and find the tin. Khan came back to reach game ball at 10-9 and again at 11-10, but the Egyptian elevated his play to close out 13-11. The story in the third was a reverse of the first, with Khan going up 6-1 and ElSherbini fighting back. The tail end of the game was marked by a series of contested calls and tins from both players, with El Sherbini ultimately triumphant, 15-13.
The curtain came down on the 2019 CSC Delaware Open at the Vicmead Hunt Club, in front of a pack crowd, with a very entertaining match and an even more deserving winner.
Lisa Aitken of Scotland landed her biggest PSA title to date with a gutsy three games to two come from behind win. For the first half of the match it looked like Tsz-Ling would walk away with her twelfth title as she controlled the T with measured length and a deceptive short game.
However, as with the semi-finals Aiken is one determined individual and playing some of her best squash. Tsz-Ling had one an opportunity in the third game to close it out, but some unforced errors at the business end of that game allowed Aitken to get back into the match.
From that point she never looked back as she dominated the “T” from that point from which TSZ-Ling had no answer.
Aitken wins her sixth PSA title, and with her current form she should add to that haul in the future.
Team USA’s Todd Harrity and Chris Hanson recorded first-round victories at the $70,000 Motor City Open presented by the Suburban Group Tuesday, January 29, at the Birmingham Athletic Club in Detroit, Michigan.
Harrity, world No. 48, defeated Trinity graduate and world No. 58 Vikram Malhotra 11-4, 11-4, 11-7, to set up a second-round clash with Egyptian world No. 10 Mohamed Abouelghar.
“The U.S. hasn’t been a dominant force on the men’s pro singles squash tour ever,” Harrity said. “Guys like Chris and I—and a bunch of good young players coming up as well—are really working hard to try to change that. When I think about these things, it’s really exciting to think about the future of squash in this country.”
Two-time U.S. champion Hanson recorded his first career PSA win over New Zealand’s world No. 42 Campbell Grayson 11-5, 11-7, 11-6. Hanson, world No. 63, will face Egypt’s world No. 17 Omar Mosaad less than two weeks after the pair faced off at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions. Mosaad won their New York City encounter in a close three games 11-8, 12-10, 11-8.
“The state of U.S. squash is getting better,” Hanson said. “At a tournament like this, where guys in the top 10 or 20 are playing, we’re not quite there yet, but with some wins like this, we’ll make it known that the Americans are making a push.”