The 2017 Carol Weymuller Open final will be a rematch of the 2015 final between Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini and New Zealand’s Joelle King Monday night at the Heights Casino in Brooklyn.
World No. 1 Nour El Sherbini is on the brink of tournament history with a potential record of three consecutive titles in Brooklyn. After bowing out of the U.S. Open presented by Macquarie Investment Management in the quarterfinals earlier this month, El Sherbini appears to be back on form. El Sherbini avenged her quarterfinal loss against U.S. Open champion Nour El Tayeb by dispatching her compatriot in a four-game quarterfinal.
In Sunday’s semifinals, El Sherbini defeated her third Egyptian opponent of the tournament, Salma Hany, in three games to advance to her third consecutive Carol Weymuller final.
“I’m feeling good and playing much better, feeling my shots and attacking more,” El Sherbini said after her semifinal victory. “In the final it will be tough one with whoever wins–whether it’s Raneem or Joelle—it’ll be tough. I’m looking forward to another Weymuller final.”
King, world No. 10, pulled off her first career win against Egypt’s world No. 3 Raneem El Welily in their thirteenth career matchup. King avenged her recent U.S. Open semifinal loss against El Welily 11-6, 3-11, 11-9, 14-12 to advance to her second career Carol Weymuller final.
“Finally! I’ve never beaten Raneem ever, not even since the juniors,” King said. “Through juniors she was the player that we all idolized. It was one of those matches where I didn’t know what the score was really. I just tried to play every point the best I could. In the fourth I just tried to take the ball as early as possible and I think from 10-10 we both played some great squash. Tomorrow is just another day, just going to try and recover and play my game and to be ready from the first point.”
In the 2015 final, El Sherbini defeated King 11-5, 11-6, 11-3.
This past week Gregory Gaultier took another step toward redefining his pro squash career with a masterful performance at the PMI Bellevue Classic. Staged at the Boys and Girls Club Hidden Valley Field House just outside of Seattle, the sixteen-man $150,000 tournament was the richest event ever for an event its size.
Gaultier pocketed over $25,000, after working through the draw without dropping a game. In Saturday’s final, he took out Egypt’s Ali Farag 12-10, 12-10, 11-8 to win his fortieth PSA title. The win returns Gaultier to the world No.1 ranking, which, due to the PSA’s ranking algorithm, he’d lost in May despite not dropping a match.
The Frenchman is a familiar figure to pro squash fans. For the past decade he’s never been ranked lower than sixth in the world, occupying the number-one spot for nine months and winning the World Championship in Seattle in 2015. At thirty-four years old, he’s in the midst of an epic PSA winning streak that currently stands at six tournaments and twenty-seven matches—a level of play that’s bound to elevate his status in the pantheon of squash’s all-time greats.
Throughout his career, Gaultier has been known for wearing his heart on sleeve—pumping his fist and strutting around the court when he’s won a crucial point, pouting and crying to the heavens when he hits the tin or feels he’s been dealt an injustice by the referee. It’s been a common sentiment that if he could rein in his emotions, he would be nearly unbeatable.
As recently as January he delivered an astounding display of hot-blooded melodrama against Mohamed Elshorbagy in the semifinals of the Tournament of Champions. In the months following that notorious match, though, he seems to have found his long-illusive inner peace. His play has been relaxed, cool and clinical as he systematically has beaten one opponent after another. It’s a chicken-and-egg situation: is Gaultier playing well because he’s so calm, or is he calm because he’s playing so well?
Whatever the case may be, his newfound composure was on full display in the PMI Bellevue final against Farag. The quality of play was through the roof. Farag is a unique talent—he seems to glide effortlessly around the court, his thin limbs acting like rubber bands as he stretches to reach shots and then contracts back to the T. He was Gaultier’s equal through much of a match that was distinguished by long, spectacular rallies. Farag tried to disrupt the Frenchman’s rhythm with a mix of crosscourt drives and boasts; Gaultier countered with classic tight length and pinpoint shot-making. Both made one jaw-dropping retrieval after another.
Farag had one game ball in the first game and four in the second, but at those crucial moments Gaultier kept his focus and elevated his play. He took the first game with two immaculate cross-court kills, and pressured rare errors from Farag to save those games balls in the second. The intensity and entertainment value were as high as imaginable for a three-game match.
While the quality of the final was exceptional, the match of the tournament was the back-and-forth five-game quarterfinal between two veterans, James Willstrop and Borja Golan. After losing the first two games, Golan threw caution to the wind and went on a run of relentless, error-free attacking squash. For two games he was on fire, taking the third 11-2 and jumping ahead 10-1 in the fourth before closing out 11-6. The tension of the fifth game brought Golan back down to earth, but he still managed to scrap to a 10-7 lead, earning a conduct warning along the way. Willstrop looked weary, but he dug in and took advantage of loose balls to pull back even at 10-10. He then delivered his trademark shot, a spirit-crushing backhand drop, to reach match ball, and finished with an unreturnably tight backhand drive. The crowd was stunned by the remarkable comeback.
The tournament was also notable for the return of injury-plagued star Ramy Ashour. His first-round match was only his seventh PSA match of the year, and the first since retiring injured in the semifinals of the British Open in March. Ashour is famous for returning in top form after long layoffs, but things didn’t pan out that way this time. He was beaten in the second round by Marwan ElShorbagy 11-8, 12-10, 5-11, 11-6, in a match of short rallies, finished with some beautiful winners but also an uncharacteristically high number of errors from both players. Ashour’s movement looked tentative at times, but the good news is that he completed the match with his body intact.
Former Columbia No. 1 Ramit Tandon won his first PSA title against fellow Indian Kush Kumar in the final of the $5,000 SYS Open Sunday, May 14, at Southampton Youth Services on Long Island, New York.
The main draw included a raft of first round upsets that included all four qualifiers advancing to the quarterfinals. Former U.S. world juniors teammates Timmy Brownell and Spencer Lovejoy both recorded their first PSA main draw victories in the first round. Lovejoy upset seven seed Joshua Hollings in four games, before falling short in the fifth game against Trinity No. 1 Kush Kumar in the quarterfinals.
Brownell made a surprise run to the semifinals beginning with a three-game first-round upset over five seed Stu Hadden, and a five-game win over qualifier Mohammed Nabil in the quarterfinals. Kumar then dispatched Brownell 11-7 in the fifth in the semifinals.
After winning two qualifying matches, Tandon progressed through the draw without dropping a game, including in the semifinals against two seed Clinton Leeuw. In the final, Tandon defeated his compatriot 11-3, 11-2, 11-3 in thirty-one minutes.
Mexican nineteen-year-old Jesus Camacho upset the top three seeds on his way to winning the largest title of his career—the $10,000 Madison Open—this weekend at Madison Squash Workshop in Wisconsin.
Camacho first upset England’s five seed Chris Fuller in a four-game, first-round match, before taking out Seattle-based three seed Shahjahan Khan in a three-game quarterfinal.
The Cuautitlan Izcalli-native pulled off two major upsets in the final two rounds of the tournament. First, a three-game upset over two seed and U.S. champion Chris Hanson to reach Sunday’s final. In the final, Camacho held off a two-game comeback from top seed Piedro Schweertman to win the title 13-11 in the fifth game.
The Madison Open marks Camacho’s second career PSA Tour title in addition to the $5,000 2016 British Virgin Islands Open, and first U.S. Pro Series title.
S.L. Green U.S. men’s champion Chris Hanson enters the $10,000 Madison Open as the two seed this weekend at Madison Squash Workshop in Wisconsin.
The twenty-six year old is making his second PSA appearance since claiming his first national title last month. Hanson, world No. 92, is predicted to face fellow American Faraz Khan, the seven seed, in the second round Friday, April 21, and Seattle-based Pakistani Shajahan Khan in the semifinals Saturday, April 22.
If the draw plays out according to seeding, Hanson will meet Dutch world No. 72 Piedro Schweertman in Sunday’s final.
Last month one week after the S.L. Green, Schweertman defeated Hanson in a five-game, first-round match at the $15,000 Manitoba Open.
The Madison Open is live streaming and scoring all weekend on www.usprosquashseries.com/live. First round matches begin Thursday, April 20, at 5:30pm local time, 6:30pm ET.
Americans Todd Harrity, Chris Gordon and Faraz Khan advanced to the quarterfinals of the $15,000 Wasatch Advisors Salt Lake City Open Wednesday night at Squash Works in Utah.
Harrity, the two seed, and Gordon, the three seed, are the highest-seeded players remaining after Mexican top seed Arturo Salazar was forced to concede his match against Khan after two games due to injury. Khan will face New Zealand’s seven seed Martin Knight for a spot in the semifinals.
Gordon, world No. 55, will face Mexican five seed Alfredo Avila in the quarterfinals after a three-game victory against England’s Reuben Phillips. Avila, former world No. 35 and current No. 75, defeated Gordon in their only previous match up in the 2016 Squash Colombia Open.
In the bottom half of the draw, Harrity recovered from losing the first game against Cayman Islander Cameron Stafford to reach the quarterfinals in four games. The two-time U.S. champion will take on Australian eight seed Joshua Larkin for a place in the semifinals.
Canada’s Nick Sachvie, a Cornell graduate, defeated recent Trinity graduate Juan Vargas to win his first PSA Tour title—the $10,000 Life Time Minneapolis Open in Minnesota.
The unexpected final saw unseeded Sachvie move through the top half of the draw, upsetting four seed Danish Atlas Khan in three games in the quarterfinals before reaching the final after Mexican top seed Arturo Salazar was forced to retire due to injury after one game in the semifinals.
Making his U.S. Pro Series debut, Vargas made it through two rounds of qualifying before taking out England’s two seed Angus Gillams in three games in the first round. The Colombian international then upset Team USA’s eight seed, Faraz Khan in the quarterfinals and England’s seven seed Anthony Graham in the semifinals to reach the final.
In the final, Sachvie stormed to the title in three games defeating Vargas 11-5, 11-6, 11-2 to win his first U.S. Pro Series title.
Qatar’s Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi held off Team USA’s Chris Hanson in a marathon five-game Life Time Fitness Atlanta Open final Sunday at Life Time Athletic in Sandy Springs, Georgia.
Hanson was making just his second and largest PSA final appearance after progressing through the main draw as the two seed. Hanson didn’t drop a game on his way to the final, which included a semifinal victory over three seed and former world No. 33 Eric Galvez.
Top-seeded Al Tamimi lost just one game before the final against surprise semifinalist and eight seed, Clinton Leeuw, who upset four seed Kush Kumar in the quarterfinals.
The final was the first PSA match up between the top two seeds. Al Tamimi earned the early advantage in the first game 11-9, before Hanson responded by winning the second and third games 11-4, 11-9. Al Tamimi forced a fifth game by claiming the fourth 11-9, where he claimed his maiden PSA title 11-5.
After making his SquashTV debut as the Wild Card in the world series Windy City Open last week, and his second PSA final appearance this weekend, Hanson now readies for the U.S. S.L. Green Men’s Championship in Charlottesville, March 17-19.