Aitken Wins First Career U.S. Pro Series Title at CSC Delaware Open

(L-R) Rodman Ward ( President of CSC) Liu Tsz-Ling(Runner-Up) Lisa Aitken(Champion) and R ay Chan-A-Sue( Tournament Director)

report courtesy of Ray Chan-A-Sue

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.

Harrity and Hanson Advance to Motor City Open Second Round

Chris Hanson (r) against Campbell Grayson (image: Bryan Mitchell)

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.”

Matches are streaming and scoring live on usprosquashseries.com/live.

For more tournament coverage and information visit themotorcityopen.com.

Motor City Open Celebrates Twentieth Year in Detroit

Marwan ElShorbagy (l) against Paul Coll in the 2018 Motor City Open final (Photo: Bryan Mitchell for MCO)

The Motor City Open presented by the Suburban Collection starts its engine Tuesday, January 29, as the $70,000 PSA World Tour Silver men’s event marks its twentieth year, January 29-February 2, at the Birmingham Athletic Club in Detroit, Michigan.

First round action is set to kick off Tuesday afternoon at 4pm ET with matches streaming and scoring live on usprosquashseries.com/live.

Defending champion and world No. 8 Marwan ElShorbagy leads the field as the top seed, and is opposed by two seed and 2015 champion Miguel Angel Rodriguez. Egypt’s world No. 10 Mohamed Abouelghar and Peru’s world No. 11 Diego Elias round out the top seeds as three and four, respectively.

The first round will see the top-two U.S. men on tour in action. Following his second round appearance at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, world No. 48 Todd Harrity is in search of his second first round victory of the month against Trinity graduate and world No. 58 Vikram Malhotra.

Two-time U.S. champion and world No. 63 Chris Hanson will take on U.S.-based Kiwi Campbell Grayson in what will be a rematch from 2017 Motor City Open qualifying, which Grayson won in three games.

The Motor City Open was first held as a $12,000 draw in 1999, and has been held as a $70,000 draw since 2013.

For more tournament coverage and information visit themotorcityopen.com.

Bernabeu Captures First Career U.S. Pro Series Title in Florida

(l-r) Life Time Tour Director Andre Maur, Iker Pajares Bernabeu, Joe Griffin, Life Time Boca Raton Head Pro Peter Chesire

Spain’s world No. 65 Iker Pajares Bernabeu won his first career U.S. Pro Series Title–the Betty Griffin Memorial Florida Open–and his eighth career PSA title at Life Time Athletic Boca Raton.

The twenty-two year old from Barcelona entered the tournament as the two seed, and brused aside India’s five seed Aditya Jagtap and Guatemala’s four seed Josue Enriquez on his way to the final.

The top half of the draw saw England’s top seed Richie Fallows fulfill his seeding to reach the final, including a dramatic 13-11 fifth game win over Havard’s Victor Crouin in the semifinals.

An hour-long final saw Bernabeu upset Fallows, world No. 57, 11-9, 11-6, 5-11, 11-6.

The title marks Bernabeu’s first on U.S. soil in just his fourth PSA appearance stateside and his first PSA title since the Qatar Circuit No. 5 in December 2017.

The Florida Open marks the final U.S. Pro Series event of the 2018 calendar year with the inaugural $5,500 Bourbon Train Event No. 1 set to kick off the new year, January 3-5.

Hanson Wins Fifth Career PSA Title in Minnesota

Chris Hanson (center right) and Chris Gordon (center left) surrounded by Securian Open fans and organizers.

Two-time S.L. Green U.S. Men’s Champion Chris Hanson notched his fifth career PSA title this weekend–the $11,000 Securian Open at the Commodore Squash Club in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The world No. 66 didn’t drop a game on his way to the title, fulfilling his top seeding in the draw that included three other Americans–Chris Gordon, Andrew Douglas and Faraz Khan.

Gordon, the two seed, progressed through the draw to set up an all-American final against his U.S. teammate. In the final, it was Hanson who emerged victorious 11-6, 11-6, 11-6.

“I felt good about my preparation in the lead up to the tournament last week, which allowed me to maintain focus throughout the event on each individual match,” Hanson said. “I started strong in every match, which allowed me to take control early on and helped me to not have to go to extra games.”

Hanson’s match up against Gordon was their first on the PSA World Tour. Hanson had won their most recent encounters in the 2017 and 2018 U.S. Championship semifinals.

“The final with Gordo was very enjoyable since we were both happy to make the final and have an incredible amount of respect for each other’s squash,” Hanson said. “Even though I was confident in myself, I knew I would have to produce some of my best squash to beat him on the day.”

Hanson ends the 2018 calendar year with three PSA titles and a second national title. January will see Hanson compete in Grand Central Terminal for the first time in his career as one of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions men’s wild cards.

“I’m very happy to finish 2018 with a win,” Hanson said. “I can take that confidence into my preparation for ToC 2019 and the rest of the season.”

 

Team USA’s Hanson and Gordon Lead Securian Open Draw in Minnesota

Team USA’s Chris Hanson (r) and Chris Gordon lead the Securian Open draw.

Four of Team USA’s top-ranked players on the PSA Tour are set to compete in the $11,000 Securian Open this week, December 5-8, at the Commodore Squash Club in St. Paul Minnesota.

The U.S. Pro Series event is seeded for an all-American final between two-time S.L. Green U.S. Men’s champion Chris Hanson, the top seed, and U.S. veteran and world No. 85 Chris Gordon, who slots into the draw as the two seed.

Two-time S.L. Green U.S. Men’s finalist Andrew Douglas is set for this third professional appearance this fall. The Penn sophomore has risen to world No. 119 as the fourth-highest ranked U.S. player on the men’s tour following his wild card appearance at the FS Investments U.S. Open in October. Douglas, the seven seed, could face Gordon in the semifinals in the bottom half of the draw.

Faraz Khan, world No. 128, joins his U.S. teammates in the draw with a first round match up against Trinity graduate and six seed Juan Camilo Vargas.

Match play begins Wednesday, December 5, from 12pm local time, 1pm ET.

Follow live scores on usprosquashseries.com/live.

Fiechter Wins First Career PSA Title in Rhode Island

Olivia Fiechter (l) and Menna Nasser

Team USA’s Olivia Fiechter lifted the first PSA title of her career–the inaugural Women’s Rhode Island Open–Sunday, November 18, at the Nicol Squash Club in Providence, Rhode Island.

The twenty-three-year-old from Philadelphia entered the draw as the three seed, following her ascendancy to a career high world ranking in November. The Princeton graduate’s ranking was boosted by a wild card appearance at the FS Investments U.S. Open, which propelled Fiechter from world No. 115 to 79.

Fiechter fulfilled her seeding by recording two victories en route to the semifinals where she met fellow Princeton graduate and top seed Nicole Bunyan. The match up between the two Tigers was the closest match of the tournament extending to five games with Fiechter edging her old teammate 6-11, 11-9, 6-11, 13-11, 12-10.

“It’s never easy playing a friend and especially a former teammate whom you’ve always looked up to, but it was also fun to know that a Princeton tiger would definitely be advancing to the final on Sunday,” Fiechter said. “Nicole and I train together occasionally so I knew she is playing at a really high level and that it was going to be a really tough match up. She’s one of the toughest competitors I know so I knew she was going to push me mentally and physically. It couldn’t have been much closer and it’s a shame there had to be a loser, but I was of course thrilled to sneak out the win in the end and was proud of myself for hanging in there in the tough moments.”

Egypt’s world No. 112 Menna Nasser reached the final with an upset over two seed Kace Bartley in the semifinals to reach her third career PSA final. In her PSA final debut, Fiechter edged the Egyptian 11-6, 11-9, 13-11 to clinch the title.

“I’m beyond excited to have captured my first PSA title in Rhode Island,” Fiechter said. “I was lucky enough to have my coach, Peter Nicol, and parents there to support me throughout the week and to be able to share this win with them made it all the more special. I knew there were some really strong and experienced players in the draw but I went in feeling confident that If I played my best squash, I’d have a good shot at making it to the end.”

The Rhode Island Open was Fiechter’s third tournament of the fall, having reached the Nash Cup quarterfinals in September and the U.S. Open last month.

“Given that this was my first tournament since the U.S. Open in October, I was able to put in a lot of hard work in the 4-5 weeks leading up to this event and so it’s an amazing feeling to know that that hard work paid off,” Fiechter said. “While I of course aim to win any tournament I enter and set high expectations for myself, I also know that time and experience go a long way on tour and that results don’t happen overnight; for this reason, capturing my first title in the first six months of my career is an incredible feeling and I hope to use the momentum from this win as a confidence booster for my upcoming tournaments.”

El Tayeb Captures Maiden Carol Weymuller Open Title

(l-r): Nour El Tayeb, Tournament Director Linda Elriani, Sarah-Jane Perry (image: Kelley Holmgren)

Egypt’s world No. 3 Nour El Tayeb earned her first Carol Weymuller Open title in her fifth career tournament appearance with a four-game final win over England’s Sarah-Jane Perry Monday night at the Heights Casino in Brooklyn, New York.

The $51,250 PSA Tour Bronze draw culminated in El Tayeb, the top seed, and Perry, the two seed, meeting in the final. El Tayeb progressed through the draw with three four-game victories in each round, including a semifinal win over three seed and 2015 champion Alison Waters. In the bottom half of the draw, Perry pulled off a five-game comeback against Team USA’s Amanda Sobhy in the quarterfinals and holding off a stern semifinal challenge from Egypt’s Salma Hany in the semifinals.

In the final, El Tayeb once again needed four games as she dispatched Perry 11-8, 10-12, 11-6, 11-8 in fifty minutes.

El Tayeb’s fall tour in the U.S. got off to a rocky start two weeks ago with a round of sixteen exit at the FS Investments U.S. Open at the hands of Sobhy, but the Egyptian is pleased to be back to her winning ways as the Weymuller marks her first title since the Windy City Open in February.

“At the beginning of this season I think I put too much pressure on myself to do better than last year,” El Tayeb said. “Being in the top four area I was too desperate. When I was interviewed at another tournament they said that I had created a rivalry between me, Nour and Raneem and this put on more pressure. I should have enjoyed it more being in the mix. Then I lost early last week too so I just thought I should enjoy, relax and give it the best I could and this result shouldn’t matter. SJ is very positive and whether she wins or loses she takes more from the match than if she puts pressure on herself. Over the last 2 years there have been a lot of changes in my life, being married to Ali who helps me a lot, together with Haitham Effat and Hossam Nasser, who has added a lot of attacking to my game and Ali Ismail my fitness coach, he has made me fit enough to back up my matches. Thanks to them all.”

The Carol Weymuller Open is one of the PSA Tour’s long-established events with 2018 marking its forty-fifth staging.

“Carol started the junior squash program here at The Heights Casino many years back with her late husband Fred, and it has obviously grown and expanded along with the sport,” said Linda Elriani, Tournament Director. “We always like to thank Carol for all her hard work and dedication back at the start, as we wouldn’t be where we are today with our program if she had not been forward thinking enough to develop squash in this area.”

Watch a replay of the final on the Carol Weymuller Ustream page. Watch an interview with El Tayeb and New York sports journalist Nate Chura below.

Cuskelly Pulls Off Perfect Tournament at Chicago Open

Franz Schwerer, Anil Gidwaney, Allen Edelson, Ryan Cusckelly, Cesar Salazar, Khuram Hussain, Andre Maur

Australia’s world No. 16 Ryan Cuskelly stormed to his sixteenth career PSA title without dropping a game at the Walker & Dunlop/Hussain Family Chicago Open Sunday, October 21, at in Chicago Illinois.

The sixth consecutive edition of the tournament hosted at Life Time Vernon Hills continued its rise in prize money with $28,000 on offer for the PSA Challenger Tour 30 twenty-four-player draw.

Cuskelly made his way through the draw with a round of sixteen victory over training partner and U.S. national champion Chris Hanson and a quarterfinal victory over world No. 55 Joshua Masters. In the semis, Cuskelly held off seventeen-year-old Egyptian phenom Mostafa Asal in three games. Ensuing semifinal saw twin brothers Cesar and Arturo Salazar pitted against one another in a match that went the distance to five games with Cesar, world No. 25, prevailing 11-8 in the fifth.

With the advantage of a fatigued final opponent, Cuskelly powered through the final 11-5, 11-6, 11-3 in thirty minutes.

“Cesar had a brutal match with his brother yesterday and they nearly knocked each other out,” Cuskelly said. “I knew he might have been a little tired so I just tried to make the game as hard as I could at the start. I’m happy with my week. I started the season slowly so I just wanted to play some good squash and I proved that this week and won all of my matches 3-0.”

The 2018 Chicago Open title marks Cuskelly’s second, adding to his 2014 title.

El Tayeb and Perry to Contest Carol Weymuller Final

Nour El Tayeb against Alison Waters (image: Kelley Holmgren)

Report courtesy of Linda Elriani

Semi finals day is here at the 2018 Carol Weymuller Open. Everyone was excited to see some more action packed squash and that’s certainly what they got and more!! There were two Egyptian and two English players in the semi finals. Two of the strongest squash nations in the world.

The first semi final of today was between world #3 and #1 seed Nour El Tayeb from Egypt, and world #9 and 2014 Carol Weymuller Champion, Alison Waters from England. Alison is the only player in the draw this year to have previously won this tournament and she was also a finalist in 2009 and 2016. Nour has reached the quarterfinals four times before in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016, so I’m very sure she would love to make it through today to make it to her first Weymuller final.

In the head to heads Nour is up 3-2 over Alison, but they have had some great five setter matches in the past so maybe we were going to see another epic one here today!

In the first Nour started off strong and focused and she looked to be following her game plan really well. Alison played at a slower pace than she usually does and it gave Nour time to place the ball and slot in her nicks which is she does best! Nour looked very relaxed and confident and didn’t seem to be missing any opportunities given to her and also took some shots in that Alison wasn’t expecting. Nour went through to win the first game surprisingly easily 11-3.

Alison also started the second game a little too passively and giving Nour too much to use her amazing skills. There were times in the second when Alison worked an opening and would normally slot the ball away and she played it deep again. Maybe she lost a little bit of confidence from making some errors in the first game and wanted to play herself into the rallies. Alison just seemed a little bit off compared to yesterday where she was do incredibly sharp and attacking. Alison plugged away and in the middle of the game she started look more comfortable and could apply some pressure, which results in getting a couple of mistakes from Nour for the first time in the match. Nour regrouped and managed to win the second game 11-7.

The third started in a similar tone but around 8-5 to Nour, Alison started to take the ball earlier and apply some pace. The points went back and forth and Nour started to look a little nervous for the first time in this match. In previous matches when things were not going so well on the court Nour would notice what was happening off the court, like someone moving in the crowd etc. It was a telltale sign that her confidence was not quite as high as it had been in the first 2 games. Nour certainly put a lot of effort into trying to finish the match off in three, as in one particular rally she dived and also did the splits and still managed to win the point!! Alison evened things up to 8-8 and stuck with her game plan. With an array of great shots, including a perfect forehand lob and a wonderfully held trickle boast, Alison was back in the match winning the third 11-8.

The time in between games really helped Nour the most as when she came back on court she was re-focused and ready to go. Before we knew it Nour has an 8-1 lead. Not the start that you want when you have just won the previous game and want to continue the momentum. Alison gave a big push and still applied some great pressure here and there and hits some great drives, but Nour was on today and she went through to take her place in the Carol Weymuller Open for the first time ever. She won 11-3, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6 in 47 minutes.

A smiling Nour said “This morning I was studying by watching lots of Alison’s previous matches so I knew how to play her. I think I did play well for the most part. She kept changing her game plan and towards the end of the 3rd, she relaxed and cut down the errors. I think in the fourth, I wanted to start well and be as pumped as possible and I feel that every day here I have played better than the day before. I’m excited to be in the final. I look at it as just another match in a tournament and hopefully I’ll play just that little bit better again!”

I went and found Alison after the match and asked how she was feeling she said “I’m disappointed really, I thought I played some good squash in there, but my shots weren’t really going in until the second game. Nour played well and didn’t really give me any cheap errors. You feel like you have won the point, but she dives and you have to win it again! Overall there are some positives to take away. I felt like I played well in patches. You can’t play a first game like that and get away with it with Nour. Hong Kong is my next tournament so I have 3 weeks until then. I’m looking forward to it.”

The second semi final match featured world #8 and recent Netsuite Champion, Sarah-Jane Perry, from England and world #15 Salma Hany from Egypt. Salma is the youngest player in the semi-finals today, but this week she has definitely shown that she has a wealth of experience and lots of maturity in her game, even though she is only 22 years old. Sarah-Jane has been continuing her fantastic and consistent form winning the Netsuite Open in San Fran earlier this month beating the world #2 to retain her title from last year.

Sarah-Jane is ahead 2-1 in the head to heads with Sarah-Jane beating Salma in the netsuite earlier this month, but I’m sure that feisty Salma will not let that stop her from making every effort to reach her first ever Weymuller final. Salma made the semi-final of the Weymuller in 2017 and Sarah-Jane made the semi-final is 2016, so it’ll be exciting to see which player prevails today. Both players had long, taxing five setters yesterday, fighting back from being 2-0 down, so it’ll also be interesting to see how they hold up physically once the match really settles in. We will have to wait and see!
The first game of the second match was the longest game of the whole tournament at 23 minutes long! There were some incredible rallies with wonderful varied pace and brilliant use of the four corners. Both players were vying for the T and trying to control the middle. Sarah-Jane has such long strides and lunges and sometimes you think that she can’t get a ball back but somehow she reaches out and back comes the ball again! Salma is wonderfully swift and fantastically gutsy so you know you have to do so much to win each point. The points continued to go back and forth and both players were putting so much effort into trying to get this first game under their belt. Salma was the first to get game ball at 11-10 but couldn’t capitalize on it. The second game ball was Sarah-Jane’s at 12-11 but no such luck! This continued on and both players had their chances to cease the game but couldn’t win that final point. Finally it got to 15-15 and Salma did a perfect forehand boast winner and a great backhand drop that Sarah-Jane just got her racket to but clipped the tin giving Salma the first game 17-15. The first game as great in so many ways….quality squash, tremendous movement, incredible variation in pace, and copious amounts of heart!

Salma started the second game well going 4-1 up quite quickly and looking in control. But Sarah-Jane is tough and didn’t want to lose this match. She dug in and gradually started to contain Salma’s array of winners. The more Sarah-Jane stayed solid and kept the ball in the corners the more errors would appear from Salma and then her confidence seemed to diminish somewhat. Sarah-Jane evened up the points at 8-8 and then with a tin off the return of serve from Salma and cross court onto Sarah-Jane’s racket she went through to the win the second game 11-8.

In the third game it was the reverse of the second with Sarah-Jane getting a nice 4-1 lead, but this time Salma dug in and managed to control the middle and worked at taking the ball early to taking vital time away from Sarah-Jane. Salma evened up the game at 8-8 (just like Sarah-Jane did in the second). Salma didn’t get another point after that as Sarah-Jane surged forward and with the final winning forehand drop shot, a fist pump and a shout, Sarah-Jane took the second 11-8.

The beginning of the fourth it was a replica of the third, with Sarah-Jane taking the 4-1 lead and a gritty Salma refusing to lay down. Salma evened up the score at 4-4 and she squeezed to 8 first. Sarah-Jane plugged away and focused to make sure she didn’t deviate from her game plan and the game eventually evened up at 8-8.

Considering how exciting and fierce the match was, with plenty of let and strokes thrown in too, Sarah-Jane stayed incredibly calm and collected. This really helped Sarah-Jane to keep her focus, which is obviously vital in an incredibly tight match like this. It was two the strokes against Salma at the very end that cost her the match and Sarah-Jane reached a new mile stone in reaching her first Carol Weymuller final. Sarah-Jane won 15-17, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9 in 58 minutes.

A very happy Sarah-Jane after the match said “I’m pleased that I got through in the end as her shots were so good and I never felt settled. I knew she had a hard match yesterday so I tried to make it hard. I’m definitely more confident in my fitness than I used to be. Every time I play Nour it’s been 3-2! Hopefully this one will be my one!!”

A disappointed looking Salma said “I think we were both nervous in the first game and we were both desperate to win the first game and then I managed to take it. In the second I was 8-5 and I lost a little bit of focus. I’m just really disappointed. I think the match has a lot of stopping and the ref was bad for both of us! All credit to her, she played well and fought to the end. I am just a little disappointed as I wanted to make one better than last year. Overall it was a great week here and I’ll keep coming back until I win it!”

Congratulations to both winners who played absolutely amazing squash and we very much look forward to the final tomorrow between Nour El Tayeb and Sarah-Jane Perry at 7.30pm. Everyone is so excited to see who will be the 2018 Carol Weymuller Champion. Both players will be playing their first final here at the Heights Casino and they will both be hungry to leave with the Champions trophy. I can’t wait to find out!!!

PSA | U.S. Squash