Elias Reaches First PSA Final in Greenwich

2014 Professional Squash Association Greenwich Challenger Semifinals, Greenwich Country Club, Connecticut. 

Luke Butterworth reports: 

[Q] Diego Elias (PER) bt [4] Lewis Walters (ENG) 11-4, 11-9, 12-10 (28m)

Teenage sensation Diego Elias makes his first PSA final after taking out Lewis Walters in three games.  Walters battled through a very tough five-setter last night against Phil Barker. It was apparent in the first game that Walters was a little flat-footed and wasn’t moving to the best of his ability. He tried to extend the opening rallies to find his rhythm and it produced some great opening rallies. A few errors from Walters gave his opponent daylight at 6-4, and he didn’t look back, attacking the front on the volley and firing some penetrating drives down the line to close out the first game 11-4.

Diego took a quick 4-1 lead in the second leaving the crowd thinking that this was going to be a sprint to the finish for the young Peruvian. Walters dug in and made the middle and end of this game very hard for Diego. Walters hadn’t missed a forehand, cross-court volley nick in any of his matches and impressed everyone with his sublime shots. Elias tried his best to contain the Englishman, straightening up his game, not giving Lewis any opportunities to shoot for the nick. A few very good rallies at 9-9 ended in simple lets and kept up the intense atmosphere. A tight ball missed by Walters gave Elias game ball, and he worked a great rally to finish the ball with a deadly kill shot.

Elias (left) and Walters. (image: Luke Butterworth)
Elias (left) and Walters. (image: Luke Butterworth)

With the 2-0 lead, it was clear that Elias was brimming with confidence going into the third. As the game went on, he started to delight the crowd by expanding his shot selection and showing that he has a lot of talent with the racket, pulling off shots from behind his head and behind his back.

With Elias serving at 9-6 up, not only did Elias pull off possibly one of the best rallies of the tournament, he claimed the ‘Shot of the tournament!’ The rally started off with a few high paced exchanges followed up by slow and solid defensive play. The rally then started to heat up with both players volleying everything and chopping and changing the direction of play. An Elias drop shot to the front left was hammered cross-court down the middle only to be ferociously driven to the back of the court from behind the back by Elias. Walters sprinted as quickly as he could to retrieve the ball up against the back wall. The crowd gasped in astonishment at the retrieval, but what happened next was pure excellence. Elias darted towards the front wall and looked to be volleying the ball. He stepped back, swung his racket around the ball and finished the ball with a drop shot into the nick. It was Shabana and Willstrop-esque. The whole crowd erupted into applause and really showed their appreciation.

The match still wasn’t over though at 10-6 match ball to Elias. Walters fought back with some great attacks and tight drives. He got it back to 10-10 with an Elias unforced error, and with the crowd again on the edge of their seats. Once Diego got himself to another match ball, he made no mistake, closing the game out with an excellent volley kill.

“I’m so happy to make my first PSA final,” Elias said. “I’ve worked hard for this and I’m looking forward to playing the final tomorrow.”

[2] Zac Alexander (AUS) bt [3] Clinton Leeuw (RSA) 11-3, 3-11, 11-2, 11-5 (47m)

Alexander (left) and Leeuw. (image: Luke Butterworth)
Alexander (left) and Leeuw. (image: Luke Butterworth)

Clean-striker Alexander raced to a one love lead in this match taking the game 11-3. Alexander’s clinical finishing of a loose ball was of the highest standard in the first. In the second game, it was the complete opposite. Clinton stepped up the court, taking the ball in short on the volley quickly and defined. This caught Zac off-guard after a comfortable first game. All credit to Clinton for redeeming himself after a lackluster start.

Alexander cleaned up his approach in the third and took a 6-0 lead within moments, again with solid attacks, but this game there were one too many errors from Leeuw. The momentum was with Alexander all the way and he managed to go on to win the third with ease.

The fourth and final game had Alexander taking off where he left the third game, this time taking a 9-0 lead. Leeuw was tiring, but Alexander was relentless with his tempo and game plan. A late game comeback to 4-10 wasn’t enough for the South African. Alexander closed the match out squeezing one last error out of Clinton to set up a very exciting final tomorrow with Elias.

Alexander has been out with injury for months recently, and is well into his comeback now and he seems to be getting stronger and stronger. He is a great role model for anyone who has an injury and is looking to make a solid comeback.

“I just want to say thanks so much for the past few days to Phil, Chris and Larry local Luke,” Alexander said. “All the players have enjoyed the tournament so far and it’s been great to play locally here in Greenwich. Tomorrrow, I hope to play well in front of my new home crowd, cheers.”

[Q] Diego Elias (PER) bt [8] David Letourneau (CAN) 11-9, 11-4, 11-5 (37m)
[4] Lewis Walters (ENG) bt [LL] Phil Barker (ENG) 6-11, 11-9, 11-6, 6-11, 13-11 (81m)
[3] Clinton Leeuw (RSA) bt [5] Todd Harrity (USA) 11-9, 11-5, 8-11, 8-11, 11-9, (71m)
[2] Zac Alexander (AUS) bt [Q] Ahmad Alzabidi (JOR) 11-1, 11-5, 11-8 (19m)