Cuskelly Dethrones Farag to Win Biggest Career Title in the Motor City

Cuskelly MCO feature

Australian world No. 19 Ryan Cuskelly recorded the biggest result of his career Monday night in Detroit, dethroning $70,000 Motor City Open champion Ali Farag to win his largest career PSA Tour title at Birmingham Athletic Club.

In a tournament full of upsets including ElShorbagy brothers Mohamed and Marwan eliminated by Ceasar Salazar & Diego Elias respectively, the final continued the trend as Farag, world No. 7, fell in four games.

The Greenwich, Connecticut-based Cuskelly marked his ninth Motor City Open appearance, but before this weekend, never made it past the quarterfinals.

“I’m pretty excited to win my biggest title in my favorite tournament on the tour,” Cuskelly said. “I always told the guys here I’d win it someday, but I didn’t expect it to be this year.”

After losing the first game and earning a 2-1 lead, Cuskelly came back from a 9-4 deficit in the fourth game to defeat the Egyptian Harvard graduate.

“He stepped it up,” Farag said. “I couldn’t find the right balance between being aggressive and playing smart. Every time I would try to be aggressive, I would hit the tin. He put too much pressure on me.”

“I was up 4-2 and I thought about the finish line, which is silly,” Cuskelly said. “Next minute I was down 9-4 and I just tried to get back to playing normal squash for the fifth game.”

Cuskelly now holds a 2-1 career lead against Farag, whom he most recently defeated in the 2015 Charlottesville open.

“It’s unbelievable,” Cuskelly said. “I lost in qualification for years, but I did a lot of hard training in December and it paid off.”

For more tournament reports and images, visit www.themotorcityopen.com.

 

Charlton Captures Seventh PSA Tour Title in Delaware

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England international Eddie Charlton claimed the seventh PSA Tour title of his career fulfilling his seeding to win the inaugural $5,000 Delaware Pro Singles at Wilmington Country Club.

Although it is the twenty-eight-year-old’s seventh career title, it is his first since relocating to Chicago and first U.S. Pro Series title.

The Englishman entered the draw as the top seed, brushing off American David Cromwell in the first round and Canadian Cameron Seth in the quarterfinals.

The main draw was shaken up by three qualifiers who pulled off first-round upsets to reach the quarterfinals, including former U.S. men’s national team player Gilly Lane, who took out seven seed Stu Hadden in a three-game, first-round match.

Pakistani qualifier Syed Hamzah Bukhari made an unexptected run to the semifinals, upsetting Team USA’s four seed Faraz Khan in the first round and Bermuda’s Micah Franklin in the quarterfinals before losing out against Charlton in the final.

In an all-English final, Charlton held off two seed Adam Murrills 11-9, 11-5, 4-11, 11-6 in fifty minutes to claim the title.

PSA squash returns to Delaware in two weeks in the form of the $10,000 Corporation Service Company Delaware Women’s Open.

American Quartet Set for Delaware Pro Singles Main Draw

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Faraz Khan (l) at the 2016 S.L. Green U.S. Men’s Championship.

The first $5,000 PSA Men’s Delaware Pro Singles main draw is set following two rounds of qualifying, as four Americans aim for the title this weekend at the Wilmington Country Club in Delaware.

Former U.S. men’s national team player and world No. 46 Gilly Lane returned to the PSA Tour for the first time in fifteen months, and recorded two qualifying victories over fellow American Nick Talbott and Trinity graduate Elroy Leong to reach the main draw. The US Squash Academy Director will face Ireland’s seven seed Stu Hadden at 5pm Thursday afternoon.

Chicago-based Englishman Eddie Charlton leads the draw as the top seed. The former world No. 50 will take on American David Cromwell in the first round.

Greenwich, CT-based Faraz Khan enters the tournament as the four seed and will play Pakistan’s Syed Bukhari. Franklin & Marshall graduate Dylan Cunningham enters the draw as the six seed and awaits Canada’s Cameron Seth in the first round.

Main draw matches begin at 12pm noon local time. Follow live scores and view the draw on www.usprosquashseries.com/live.

U.S. Junior Champions Douglass and Stefanoni Enter U.S. Pro Series Qualifying

2016 U.S. junior champions Marina Stefanoni (l) and Andrew Douglas.
2016 U.S. junior champions Marina Stefanoni (l) and Andrew Douglas.

U.S. junior champions Andrew Douglas and Marina Stefanoni are both set to compete in qualifying for U.S. Pro Series events this week, the $10,000 Life Time Florida Open and $5,000 LiveStuff Open respectively.

Eighteen-year-old Douglass is making his U.S. Pro Series debut and just his second PSA appearance after competing in the 2016 Delaware Investments U.S. Open, where he stretch German world No. 44 Raphael Kandra to five games.

The junior Pan American Champion will face fellow American and St. Lawrence graduate Timmy Lasusa in the first round of qualifying from Life Time Fitness Boca Raton at 5pm ET.

One week after shocking the two seed in the McLean Open on her fourteenth birthday, Stefanoni travels north to the Tuxedo Club in New York to vie for a place in the Live Stuff Open main draw. Stefanoni will face fellow American Caroline Neave Wednesday at 6:15pm ET.

Follow live scoring from both tournaments and view draws on www.usprosquashseries.com/live.

Avila Holds Off Late Harrity Comeback to Win Salt Lake City Open

Photos by: Morgan Leigh Photography
Todd Harrity (l) and Alfredo Avila before the Salt Lake City Open final. (image: Morgan Leigh Photography)

Mexico’s Alfredo Avila held off a third-game comeback from Team USA’s Todd Harrity to win his eighth career PSA Title and first U.S. Pro Series title since 2013—the $15,000 Wasatch Advisors Salt Lake City Open—Saturday night at SquashWork’s in Utah’s capital.

Avila, world No. 75 and former world No. 35, showed no signs of fatigue after two consecutive five-gamers to reach the final and played his best squash of the tournament against the American world No. 53. After controlling the first two games 11-5, 11-6, Avila held three match balls in the third game up 10-7. Harrity dug in and fought off all three match balls and earned a game ball up 11-10, but Avila bounced back to seal the final 14-12.

“Today I played by best squash in this tournament,” Avila said after the final. “One of the most important things for me today was coming into the match with a plan against Todd. We’ve played twice before and I know how he plays and where he’s strong. I tried to play a game that wouldn’t let him play his best. I made my best shots and they went to the right places. It was 10-7 and after that I started to think I was going to win, but then he put a lot of pressure on me and played good shots, and I was hitting the ball without thinking about it being under pressure. Then it was 10-all and he had a game ball. So after that I refocused and went back to my game that was working well.

The Mexican aims to continue his U.S. Pro Series success in the new year, when he will aim for a second title in two months in Pittsburgh.

View an image gallery by Morgan Leigh Photography here.

El Defrawy Storms to Victory at Play Squash Women’s Open

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Kanzy El Defrawy in the 2016 Delaware Investments U.S. Open. (image: squashpics.com)

Report courtesy of PSA.

Egyptian number one seed Kanzy Emad El Defrawy lifted her third PSA World Tour title of 2016 after a dominant win over Canada’s Nicole Bunyan in the final stage of the 2016 Bitar Cosmetics – Play Squash Women’s Open, PSA W5 tournament held at the McLean Squash Center in Virginia.

El Defrawy, who has also won the Richmond Open and the Amman Open this year, was the highest ranked player to take part in the tournament at World No.41 and, after receiving a bye in round one, showed her class to defeat compatriot Farah Abdel Meguid and then Colombian Catalina Pelaez to earn her final berth.

23-year-old Bunyan, meanwhile, achieved a landmark week in Virginia as she fought her way through to a first ever PSA World Tour final, notably downing South African twins Lume and Elani Landman en route.

El Defrawy is ranked 49 places above Bunyan on the World Rankings, and overwhelmed the Canadian by playing at a lighting-quick tempo and ripping a number of punishing drives to the back of the court.

The encounter lasted just 20 minutes, with El Defrawy dropping just seven points across three games to capture her second PSA World Tour crown of the 2016/17 season.

Result – Final: 2016 Bitar Cosmetics – Play Squash Women’s Open
[1] Kanzy Emad El Defrawy (EGY) bt [4] Nicole Bunyan (CAN) 3-0: 11-1, 11-3, 11-3 (20m)

Harrity Sails into Salt Lake City Semifinals

Photos by: Morgan Leigh Photography
Harrity (l) against Larkin (Image: Morgan Leigh Photography)

Team USA’s Todd Harrity is through to the $15,000 Wasatch Advisors Salt Lake City Open semifinals following a three-game quarterfinal victory Thursday night at SquashWorks in Utah.

Harrity, the two seed, took out England’s eight seed 11-5, 11-9, 11-6 in thirty-two minutes to reach the semifinals where he will face Finish four seed Henrik Mustonen.

“It was a tough match,” Harrity said. “I was just trying to keep the pressure on and keep him behind me as much as possible. I was losing points where he was getting in front of me or if there were loose balls in the front of the court. So glad to have made it through in three because the second and third games were getting pretty close.”

Harrity is competing in the Salt Lake City Open for the first time.

“It’s my first time in Salt Lake City, which is great,” Harrity said. “I thought coming out here with the altitude that the ball would be zipping around and difficult conditions, but the courts are pretty true.”

The Princeton graduate is the only remaining American in the draw after compatriots Chris Gordon and Faraz Khan both exited in the quarterfinals.

Khan’s tournament came to an unfortunate and abrupt end in the first game when he was forced to retire due to injury against New Zealand’s Martin Knight. In the same half of the draw, former world No. 35 Alfredo Avila upset the seedings against Chris Gordon 11-7, 11-1, 9-11, 11-13, 11-5 in sixty minutes.

Friday’s semifinals begin at 6:30pm local time, 8:30pm ET. Follow live scores and view the draw on www.usproseries.com/live.

American Trio Advances to Salt Lake City Quarterfinals

Photos by: Morgan Leigh Photography
Khan (l) against Salazar (image: Morgan Leigh Photography)

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.

View an image gallery by Morgan Leigh Photography here.

Stefanoni Marks Fourteenth Birthday With First PSA Win

Stefanoni at the 2016 U.S. Junior Championships.
Stefanoni at the 2016 U.S. Junior Championships.

Report by David Keating

What a way to celebrate your fourteenth birthday. Play your second professional squash match against a number two seed and walk away with a 3-0 victory, your first pro win.

USA’s No. 1 junior, Marina Stefanoni, did just that Wednesday night. She exhibited a maturity beyond her years in defeating world No. 95 Sadia Gul of Pakistan in the round of sixteen at the Bitar Cosmetics – Play Squash PSA Women’s Open 2016 at the McLean Racquet and Health Club in Virginia.

“I was playing like a normal match,” said Stefanoni, an eighth grader from Darien, CT. “I wasn’t trying to think that it was anything bigger, so I wouldn’t get nervous.” She certainly didn’t look nervous.

Gul opened the match with a quick 2-0 lead, and spectators wondered if the young American could keep up with her skill and pace. But Stefanoni immediately countered with four straight points. It was a pattern that would often repeat during the match, where each player would reel off a streak of points.

Gul built an 8-5 edge in game one, and then Stefanoni turned the tables. She played two masterful lob shots to Gul’s forehand to win points seven and nine. The junior tied the game up at eight all with a forehand smash that nicked off the back wall. In all, she he reeled off six straight points to close out the first game 11-8. “I’ve been practicing [my lobs] recently,” said Stefanoni. “If you hit them high enough, you can play it as an attacking shot.” It worked.

At the beginning of game two, the pair traded points to 3-3 before Gul built a 7-3 lead. Stefanoni then took eight straight points to win game two, 11-7.

In the third game, Stefanoni built an 8-3 lead and victory seemed assured. But then Gul brought a higher level of urgency to her game. She surged back to 8-9 before Stefanoni hit a perfectly executed boast to bring it to match ball. Gul still managed to tie things up at 10-10, before Stefanoni closed out the game and match with a 13–11 win in the final game.

Stefanoni takes on South African Elani Landman, world #165, in the quarters Thursday.

Marina Stefanoni (USA) bt Sandia Gul (PAK) 11-8, 11-7, 13-11, (32 minutes)

Sachvie Defeats Vargas to Win Maiden PSA Title in Minneapolis

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l-r: Andre Maur, Nick Sachvie, Juan Camilo Vargas, John Wilinski

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.

 

 

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