Rochester Pro Am images courtesy of Paul Schwartz.
Professional squash returns to Rochester, New York, for the thirteenth staging of the 2014 Hazlow Electronics Rochester Pro Am.
The $7,000 Professional Squash Association Challenger 5+ tournament continues to serve as a developmental platform for both U.S. and international up and coming professionals to increase their world rankings, while also providing the Rochester squash community with an entertaining weekend of professional level squash according to event founder Eric Hernady.
“The tournament has become a springboard for a number of players to reach higher rankings and higher status tournaments,” Hernady said. “Our past champions include Shawn DeLierre, Rafael F. Alarcon, Karim Yehia, Ritwik Bhattacharya, and Karim Abdel Gawad.”
“The unexpected reward has been meeting and watching so many incredible athletes from around the world. They are enthusiastic, interesting young players that are respectful and a joy to have here in our city. I hope the word continues to spread about the hospitality of Rochester and its squash community.”
The tournament has the potential to expand further to benefit a future urban program according to Rochester Squash Racquets Association president Douglas Bennett.
“My major goal as RSRA president is to organize an urban squash program,” Bennett said. “This is going to be a difficult endeavor in a small city like Rochester, but we have a large and enthusiastic squash following. I am hopeful that the Rochester Pro Am will become a major fundraiser and PR motivator for an eventual urban squash program.”
Tuesday’s first round of qualifying featured sixteen players with eight vying for four main draw spots in Wednesday evening’s qualifying finals.
Playing on their home Lyman squash courts, University of Rochester’s Neil Cordell, Mario Yanez, and Ryosei Kobayashi impressed on the professional level, staging upsets in the first round of qualifying.
Only three of the eight seeded qualifiers advanced, thanks to upsets from the Rochester trio and Americans Chris Hanson and Bradbury Thompson.
Cordell, Rochester’s English No. 1, squandered a 2-0 lead to go into a fifth game against Rochester graduate and world No. 248, Adam Perkiomaki.
“The fifth started off slow and awkward. After a couple decent Cordell rallies, a couple tins and fluke shots, Perko found himself down 6-0,” reported Jesse Cramer. “Although Adam never stopped fighting, having come back to 6-8 and 8-10, Cordell would not relinquish his lead. The fifth went to Cordell 11-8.”
Freshman Kobayashi also needed five games to defeat Mexican world No. 237 Sergio Lopez. Kobayashi forced a fifth game after a tense four games with an 11-6, 13-15, 8-11, 11-6 scoreline.
“The boys fought back and forth to 8-8, neither gaining more than a two-point lead,” Cramer reports. “At 8-8, Ryo squeezed a loose shot out of Sergio and deposited an overhead-backhand directly into the cross-court nick. A 9-8, the ref showed his consistency. After telling the players time and again to play all balls possible, a ‘no let’ decision gave Ryo two game balls at 10-8. Ryo needed only one, scrambling around the court to retrieve three attacks from Sergio before the fourth attack clipped the tin.”
It was freshman No. 2 Mario Yanez who pulled off the most significant upset of the round, however, as the Mexican international defeated second-seeded world No. 198 Jonathan Maloney 11-9, 11-7, 8-11, 11-4.
Thompson, the unseeded Brown University graduate, eliminated eighth-seeded Victor Manuel Garcia Ramirez 12-10, 11-5, 11-4, while twenty-three-year-old Chris Hanson emphatically won his first professional match against fellow Dartmouth graduate and sixth-seeded compatriot Mike Lewis, 11-1, 11-1, 11-4.
For detailed match reports, images, and more information, visit www.rocprosquash.com.
Qualifying Round One:
 Cameron Stafford (CAY) bt Omar Sobhy (USA) 11-8, 12-10, 11-8
[L] Neil Cordell (ENG) bt  Adam Perkiomaki (USA) 11-4, 11-5, 8-11, 2-11, 11-8
 Luke Butterworth (ENG) bt Adnan Gul (PAK) 11-4, 11-4, 11-2
 Ahmad Alzabidi (JOR) bt Faraz Khan (USA) 11-9, 11-8, 11-3
[L] Ryosei Kobayashi (JAP) bt  Sergio Lopez (MEX) 11-6, 13-15, 8-11, 11-6, 11-8
Chris Hanson (USA) bt  Mike Lewis (USA) 11-1, 11-1, 11-4
Bradbury Thompson (USA) bt  Victor Manuel Garcia Ramirez (MEX) 12-10, 11-5, 11-4
[L] Mario Yanez (MEX) bt  Jonathan Maloney (ENG) 11-9, 11-7, 8-11, 11-4
 Cameron Stafford (CAY) v [L] Neil Cordell (ENG)
 Luke Butterworth (ENG) v  Ahmad Alzabidi (JOR)
[L] Ryosie Kobayashie (JPN) v Chris Hanson (USA)
Bradbury Thompson (USA) v [L] Mario Yanez (MEX)
 Muhd Asyraf Azan (MAS) v Qualifier
 Syed Hamzah Shah Bukhari (PAK) v Qualifier
 Aqib Hanif (PAK) v Qualifier
 Zac Alexander (AUS) v [WC] Le Roy Leong (MAS)
 Lewis Walters (ENG) v Thomas Brinkman (CAN)
 Todd Harrity (USA) v Shahjahan Khan (PAK)
 Michael McCue (CAN) v Qualifier
 Peter Creed (WAL) v Christopher Binnie (JAM)