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Motor City Open: Europeans Go 5-0; American Trio Bow Out

Geo

By Matt Schoch, The Motor City Open

It was an opening day to remember for the French and English Wednesday as they dominated Round One of The Motor City Open presented by Sturbridge Capital.

Seven of the last 10 champions in the 21st annual Birmingham Athletic Club event have come from Egypt, but Europeans went 5-0 with three Englishmen earning wins, along with two Frenchmen.

Egypt’s Mohamed ElSherbini, India’s Vikram Malhotra and Qatar’s Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi also earned wins while the event’s three Americans were all eliminated.

Americans Todd Harrity and Shahjahan Khan were shown the exit in late matches with England’s George Parker topping Harrity, 11-8, 11-9, 11-9, and Malhotra closing out Khan, 14-12. 11-9, 11-5.

Parker came up with big shots when he needed to against Harrity to win all three games.

“I think I was probably a bit clever on crucial points,” Parker said. “It was pretty much 50/50 squash, I just think he made three or four errors a game.”

Khan, who was born in Pakistan but lives in Boston, battled a shin injury during his loss.

England’s Richie Fallows opened the sweep of the Yankees by topping Chris Hanson, 11-8, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7. Fallows battled a back injury throughout, but came through in the physical match after taking an injury timeout late in the third.

“It’s a court that’s quite quick and it’s a bit of a leveler,” said Fallows, who is playing in the MCO for the third year. He gave a shout-out to his host family, the Barrs, who make him feel right at home in metro Detroit.

“So I knew that I was going to have to play some good squash, hit some winners. I just kind of dug in today, waited for my opportunity, and luckily it came up.”

Still, despite quick exits for the Americans, Parker said squash in the MCO’s home country is on the rise.

“Definitely, the younger generation I can see coming up, I’ve heard there’s quite a lot of young 13, 14, 15 year-old lads coming who are going to be testing us,” mused the Englishman. “You’re always going to because (US has) the massive players, and now you’ve got the funding involved in the college squash. It’s bound to come through in the end. Numbers work, it’s what Egypt shows, they’ve got numbers, and you’ll have some that can play.”

Englishman Nathan Lake made quick work of India’s Aditya Jagtap in the opener, losing just 11 points in the 33-minute match.

Lake is coming off a tournament championship at the E.M. Noll Classic in Philadelphia on Sunday and is looking to continue his solid form.

“I’ve got miles on my legs, so I wanted to come out a bit intense,” said Lake, back in Michigan for the third time in four years. “It’s good to be sticking around for at least a few more days.”

France’s Benjamin Aubert did Lake six minutes better, beating India’s Ramit Tandon in 27 minutes, 11-4, 11-2, 11-4.

“It was a strange match, I think my opponent was a bit injured,” Aubert said. “I tried not to focus on him because he was hurt. I played my game, and tried to play as early as possible.”

Aubert’s countryman Sebastien Bonmalais won a four-game, 53-minute match against Mexico’s Arturo Salazar, which included 18 straight points won by the Frenchman.

Al Tamimi fought from 10-8 down in the first game to win it 12-10, taking the next two games much easier by 11-5 counts. El Sherbini topped Michael McCue, who lives in nearby Toronto.

Action continues Thursday with second round matches beginning at 5 p.m. Seeded players will make their MCO debuts in the second round against the eight players who advanced through Wednesday’s opening day.

Third-seeded defending champion Mohamed Abouelghar is in action at 6 p.m. against Al Tamimi, while 2018 MCO champion Marwan El Shorbagy, the second seed, plays Parker at 8 p.m.

Top-seeded Diego Elias of Peru, who lost to Abouelghar in last year’s final, opens play Thursday against Lake at 5 p.m. Miguel Rodriguez of Colombia, the 2015 champion, is also in the field, playing Fallows at 7 p.m.

Motor City Open presented by Sturbridge Capital
Round 1 results

(9/16) Nathan Lake, England, d. Aditya Jagtap, India, 11-7, 11-2, 11-2
Sebastien Bonmalais, France, d. (9/16) Arturo Salazar, Mexico, 15-17, 11-3, 11-0, 13-11
Benjamin Aubert, France, d. (9/16) Ramit Tandon, India, 11-4, 11-2, 11-4
(9/16) Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi, Qatar, d. Karim El Hammamy, Egypt, 12-10, 11-5, 11-5
(9/16) Richie Fallows, England, d. Chris Hanson, USA, 11-8, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7
(9/16) Mohamed El Sherbini, Egypt, d. Michael McCue, Canada, 10-12, 11-3, 13-11, 11-6
(9/16) Vikram Malhotra, India, d. Shahjahan Khan, USA, 14-12. 11-9, 11-5
(9/16) George Parker, England, d. Todd Harrity, USA, 11-8, 11-9, 11-9

Thursday schedule

  1. Diego Elias, Peru, vs. (9/16) Nathan Lake, England, 5 p.m., Court 3
    8. Cesar Salazar, Mexico, vs. Sebastien Bonmalais, France, 5 p.m., Court 2
    6. Zahed Salem, Egypt, vs. Benjamin Aubert, France, 6 p.m., Court 2
    3. Mohamed Abouelghar, Egypt, vs. (9/16) Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi, Qatar, 6 p.m., Court 3
    4. Miguel Rodriguez, Colombia, vs. (9/16) Richie Fallows, England, 7 p.m., Court 3
    5. Gregoire Marche, France, vs. (9/16) Mohamed ElSherbini, Egypt, 7 p.m., Court 2
    7. Leo Au, Hong Kong, vs. (9/16) Vikram Malhotra, India, 8 p.m., Court 2
    2. Marwan ElShorbagy, Egypt, vs. (9/16) George Parker, England, 8 p.m., Court 3

MCO SCHEDULE
Second round: Thursday, Feb. 6, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Quarterfinals: Friday, Feb. 7, 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Semifinals: Saturday, Feb. 8, 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Finals: Sunday, Feb. 9, 5:30 p.m.

LOCATION:
Birmingham Athletic Club
4033 W. Maple Road, Bloomfield Hills, MI

FOR TICKETS AND INFORMATION CONTACT: Julian Wellings, MCO Squash Director, 248.646.5050, jwellings@bacmi.net

Elias and Abouelghar Headline Largest Motor City Open

2019 Motor City Open champion Mohamed Abouelghar

The Motor City Open celebrates its twenty-first year with record prize money of $76,000 as four of the world’s top ten players aim for the PSA Silver title, February 5-9, at the Birmingham Athletic Club in Detroit, Michigan.

Follow Motor City Open live streaming and scores throughout the weekend on usprosquashseries.com/live.

Egypt’s Mohamed Abouelghar returns to Bloomfield Hills to defend his title as the tournament’s three seed and enters the top half of the draw. The world No. 9 could be in store for a rematch of the 2019 final in the semis against Peru’s top seed Diego Elias. Last year, Abouelghar defeated the world No. 7 in a dramatic five-game final and has yet to face Elias on the PSA World Tour since that final.

The bottom half of the draw features two past champions in the form of Egypt’s world No. 8 Marwan ElShorbagy, the 2018 champion, and Colombia’s world No. 10 Miguel Angel Rodriguez, the 2015 champion. Both ElShorbagy and Rodriguez needed more than ninety minutes to win their respective Motor City Open finals, and may need to put in a similar shift to engrave their name on the trophy once again.

A trio of Americans enter the first round of play on Thursday including Todd Harrity, Chris Hanson and recently-declared U.S. international Shahjahan Khan. Both Harrity and Hanson will aim to replicate their 2019 first-round wins. Hanson, world No. 66, will be first on court at 6:30pm local time against England’s world No. 55 Richie Fallows. Fallows won their only previous encounter in three games. Harrity, world No. 59, will take on England’s George Parker in what will be their first career match up at 7:30pm. Seattle-based Khan, world No. 63, will face Trinity graduate Vikram Malhotra for the fourth time in his career and will be in search of his first win against the Indian international.

For more tournament coverage visit psaworldtour.com.

Fiechter Claims Second and Largest PSA Title in Philadelphia

(l-r): Hana Ramadan, James Asher, Olivia Fiechter

Team USA’s Olivia Fiechter claimed her second and largest career PSA World Tour title–the $12,000 EM Noll Classic–Sunday, February 2, at the Racquet Club of Philadelphia.

The world No. 36 entered the draw as the top seed, and progressed to the final with three, 3-0 victories, all of which were recorded in thirty minutes or less. The bottom half of the draw saw fellow Americans and two and three seed, Marina Stefanoni and Haley Mendez, both exit early.

Drexel Freshman and Polish international Karina Tyma upset Stefanoni, world No. 61, 11-7, 12-10, 13-11 in a thirty-seven-minute quarterfinal. Hana Ramadan, the eight seed, started her run to the final with a forty-six-minute upset over Mendez, 9-11, 11-4, 13-11, 12-10. The Egyptian then defeated Tyma in a three-game semifinal to set up an encounter against Fiechter.

It was the Egyptian who came out stronger in the final, taking the first two games 11-5, 11-7. The twenty-four-year-old Princeton graduate was able to turn the match around, mounting a comeback to clinch the title 5-11, 7-11, 11-2, 11-7, 11-9 in fifty-four minutes.

Fiechter adds the EM Noll Classic title to her $5,500 Rhode Island Open title in 2018, and now heads to St. Louis to compete in the $20,000 Racquet Club Pro Series as the two seed, February 4-8.

 

El Tayeb Defends Cleveland Classic Crown

Egypt’s World No.5 Nour El Tayeb successfully retained her Cleveland Classic title after she defeated England’s World No. 7 Sarah-Jane Perry in the final of the PSA World Tour Bronze event Monday, February 3, at the Cleveland Racquet Club in Ohio.

The win marks El Tayeb’s second title of the season after lifting the China Squash Open title at the start of the season. The twenty-six-year-old from Cairo also recently made the final of the Carol Weymuller Open in Brooklyn but missed out to compatriot Nouran Gohar.

El Tayeb ensured she got back to winning ways in Cleveland, however, as she continued her strong run of form in the U.S. to come from one game down against England’s Perry and capture her tenth PSA title.

It was a brutal opening two games between the two players, with very accurate squash from Perry seeing her open up the lead and started the second well with her good variation of shots to set herself 10-5 up. However, that was not enough as El Tayeb saved eight game balls in total to tie the match. El Tayeb was then able to press ahead in the remaining two games as she broke the resolve of the Englishwoman, using her clever racket skill to seal her victory by a 10-12, 14-12, 11-5, 11-4 margin.

2020 marks the Cleveland Classic’s fourteenth edition since its founding in 2007.

Gohar Dethrones El Tayeb in Forty-Sixth Carol Weymuller Final

(l-r): Nour El Tayeb, Linda Elriani, Nouran Gohar (image: Jean Ervasti)

Egypt’s world No. 3 Nouran Gohar defeated world No. 4 and defending champion Nour El Tayeb in a decisive three-game final to lift the Carol Weymuller Open title in her maiden appearance at the Heights Casino Monday, January 27, in Brooklyn, New York.

The twenty-two-year-old from Cairo entered the $51,250 draw as the tournament’s top seed, and just a week after reaching the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions semifinals in Grand Central Terminal. Gohar enjoyed a breakthrough 2019 that saw her win both the British Open and U.S. Open, and doing so while continuing her studies in Egypt. Gohar traditionally missed the Carol Weymuller due to her scholastic schedule when the event was held in late October before the 2019-2020 season.

Gohar’s first game of the tournament against Penn graduate Melissa Alves proved to be her only conceded game of the tournament, which she dropped 5-11. From there on out, Gohar, known as ‘the Terminator’ on SquashTV, powered through the draw dispatching Alves in four games and thirty-two minutes. In the quarterfinals, Gohar only needed twenty-six minutes to progress in three games against Australia’s Donna Lobban.

A rematch of the ToC semifinals against ToC champion Camille Serme awaited Gohar in the semis, and the Egyptian swiftly avenged her loss in Grand Central 11-8, 11-8, 11-7 in thirty-four minutes. In the final, Gohar dethroned El Tayeb 11-9, 11-5, 11-2 in twenty-seven minutes.

“I’m extremely happy, I can’t describe it, I’m over the moon right now,” Gohar said. “I was just taking it match by match and didn’t quite imagine having this trophy in my hands at the end of this week. The mental part is really important first. I like playing on this court. The family I stayed with make it feel like home and the club and members and everyone are very welcoming. So I definitely think this helps to play well. Thank you to the sponsors and everyone that made this tournament possible for so many years. Hopefully I’ll see you next year.”

The Carol Weymuller Open, namesake of the long-time U.S. and Heights Casino coach, is one of the PSA World Tour’s long-established events, now concluding its forty-sixth consecutive year.

Dessouky Conquers Pittsburgh Open in Tournament Debut

(l-r): Duilio Costa, Fares Dessouky, Steven Baicker-McKee)

Egypt’s world No. 11 Fares Dessouky emphatically claimed the $52,5000 Pittsburgh Open title in a thirty-four-minute final against India’s world No. 13 Saurav Ghosal Sunday, January 26, at the Rivers Club in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The twenty-five-year-old from Alexandria entered his first career appearance in Pittsburgh as the tournament’s top seed, opposed by the two seed, Ghosal.

Dessouky progressed to the final with four-game wins over world No. 28 Campbell Grayson in the quarterfinals and world No. 14 Gregoire Marche in the semifinals. In the bottom half of the draw, Ghosal overcame former world No. 3 Omar Mosaad in a narrow semifinal encounter 11-6, 16-18, 11-7, 12-10 after seventy-three minutes.

In the final, Dessouky extended his winning record against the Indian veteran to 5-0, claiming the title 11-7, 11-4, 11-9.

“Fares played almost flawless squash to beat Saurav Ghosal in three in the finals of the Pittsburgh Open—and he needed to as Ghosal’s impressive speed, movement and court coverage combined with his soft touch to the front had proven too much for everyone else in the tournament,” reported Steven Baicker-Mckee. “Dessouky’s attacking game was at its finest all day, and he probably had fifteen balls roll out of the nick. Ghosal worked hard to keep Dessouky off the volley in game three, and the strategy helped, allowing him to pull even at nine-all. But after a hard-fought point to pull ahead 10-9, Dessouky smashed another ball into the nick to claim the title.”

The 2020 Pittsburgh Open title marks Dessouky’s third and largest PSA title. The Rivers club celebrated the eighteenth staging of the tournament since 1993.

 

Grayson Claims Largest Career Title in Houston

Danielle Maur (Life Time Squash Director), Andre Maur (Life Time Tour Director), Runner Up Alan Clyne, Omar Saeed (Northwestern Mutual and Title Sponsor), Winner Campbell Grayson and Jahanzeb Khan (Tournament Director)

New Zealand’s Campbell Grayson lifted the largest PSA title of his career, the $30,000 Men’s Northwestern Mutual Life Time Houston Open, August 11, at Life Time City Center in Texas.

Grayson, who is based in New York City, marked his sixth career appearance in the Houston Open with his second title in Texas having previously won the title in his 2013 debut–both times as the three seed–when the prize purse was $10,000.

Grayson’s breakthrough result of the tournament came in the semifinals against Australian rival and top seed Ryan Cuskelly, who Grayson took down 11-5, 11-7, 3-11, 8-11, 11-5 in ninety-five minutes. The world No. 43 kiwi moved on to the final to face Scotland’s four seed Alan Clyne. Another marathon match ensued as Grayson endured eighty minutes to lift the title 11-5, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7.

“I’d been in the semis and finals of a few tournaments this big, but hadn’t won one,” Grayson said. “I’m stoked to win it, Alan is always tough and also to have beaten Ryan as well. I used good tactics to win that one. Winning this title has been great to start the season along with earlier in the year taking out the Irish Open and I did well at the British Open too, although I was a bit angry at the way I played in the Nationals final against Paul Coll and thought I could have offered more in that match.”

The Houston Open celebrated its eleventh edition since its first in 2004.

Essam Wins Revived Philadelphia Open

Egypt’s Shehab Essam collected his fifth career PSA title by fulfilling his top seeding at the Life Time Philadelphia Open, June 1, at the newly-opened Life Time Athletic King of Prussia in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

Essam, world No. 75, progressed through the $11,000 draw by defeating U.S. junior champion Thomas Rosini in the second round, American Faraz Khan in a four-game quarterfinal and England’s Lyell Fuller in a close five-game semifinal. In the bottom half of the draw, Cornell graduate and four seed Aditya Jagtap reached the finals with wins over Americans Spencer Lovejoy in the quarterfinals and Timmy Brownell in the semifinals.

In the final, Essam stormed to the title in less than half an hour 11-8, 11-4, 11-4.

The tournament marked the Philadelphia Open’s revival since it was last held from 1994-1998.

Dussourd Defeats Brooklyn’s Douglas in Hyder Trophy Final

(l-r): Cleve Miller, Auguste Dussourd, Andrew Douglas, Eddie Kapur, Allwyn Callender

The fifty-first New York Squash Hyder Trophy–the longest continually-running softball squash tournament in the U.S.–saw Frenchman Auguste Dussourd defeat Brooklyn-native Andrew Douglas of the $11,000 PSA final, Sunday, May 5, at Equinox in New York City.

Founded in 1969, the Hyder Trophy featured a twenty-four-player professional draw hosted alongside adult skill level draws, which drew more than 175 players.

Douglas, a Penn sophomore, upset the tournament seeding on his way to just his second career PSA final, including a second round win over three seed Mario Yanez, and quarterfinal win over former world No. 35 Henrik Mustonen in the quarterfinals.

In the final, however, it was the top-seeded Frenchman who came out on top, lifting the iconic trophy 11-9, 12-10, 11-4 after fifty-four minutes.

Douglas, ranked world No. 130 at twenty years old, is set to make his next PSA appearance at the $11,000 Life Time Philadelphia Open, May 28-June 1.

Sixteen-Year-Old Stefanoni Claims Second Career PSA Title in Tennessee

Marina Stefanoni (center, right) with tournament organizers

Sixteen-year-old American Marina Stefanoni earned her second career PSA World Tour title in just as many months after winning the final of the $5,5000 Women’s Bourbon Trail Event No. 4 Saturday, April 27, at Scenic City Squash in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

In March, Stefanoni claimed her first career PSA title by winning the $5,500 Bermuda Open as the tournament’s two seed. Stefanoni entered the Bourbon Trail draw once again seeded second and this time pulled off a perfect tournament, clinching the title without dropping a game.

In the semifinals, Stefanoni overcame four seed and Bates graduate Nessrine Ariffin 11-4, 11-9, 11-6 in twenty minutes to set up a final against French Penn graduate Marie Stephan. In the final, Stefanoni prevailed 11-5, 11-9, 11-8 in twenty-three minutes.

“Stefanoni maintained something of a stranglehold and despite courageous endeavor, Marie Stephan could not break free of the iron grip of precise length and sudden vicious wrong footing volleys and short arm flicks that Stefanoni used to create missteps from her opponent and ultimately, take the match,” Reported Richard Millman, Bourbon Trail tournament director. “Many congratulations to Marina on winning her second career PSA event. A worthy champion giving notice of more to come.”

The Darien, Connecticut-native has now won both of her career PSA final appearances in just her third PSA event of 2019. The three-time U.S. junior champion continues her run of PSA appearances this spring with two events in May: the $5,500 BVI Open, May 16-18, and $5,500 Open International Volcans, May 23-26.