Qualifier Elias and Lucky Loser Barker Shock Greenwich Main Draw

Qualifier Diego Elias and Lucky Loser Phil Barker shocked the Professional Squash Association (PSA) Greenwich Challenger main draw with first-round upsets Thursday evening at the Greenwich Country Club in Connecticut.

Seventeen-year-old Elias, world No. 130, pulled off the upset of the tournament in the first round of matches Thursday evening, knocking out top seed and world No. 66 Muhd Asyraf Azan in four games and seventy-six minutes.

Luke Butterworth reports: “What a start to the night at GCC. Two excellent competitors took to the court and didn’t disappoint the excitable crowd. Despite a few second-game warnings to Azan and a conduct stroke for too much conversation with the referee, the quality of squash was of the highest quality. With two long-legged players, it’s inevitable there will be contact, but once the players tightened up their drives the game began to run much better.

Elias and Barker full small
Elias (left) with Barker before their qualifying final. (image: Luke Butterworth)

“The crowd were glued to the match—whether it was the controversy or the emphatic retrievals—and this was certainly a match to remember. The referee, Faraz Khan, did a great job with the decisions.”

“I’m very happy to win this match,” Elias said afterwards. “It was a hard match and I really worked hard to keep my concentration through the difficult points and the lets and collisions. I feel good and I’m ready for my next match.

After losing to Elias in the qualifying finals, GCC Head Professional Phil Barker received new life in the tournament through a main draw lucky loser spot. To the delight of the home fans, the thirty-two-year-old Englishman extended his run with a three-game victory over Seattle-based teenager Shahjahan Khan.

South African Clinton Leeuw gives two thumbs up after his first-round win over Argentinian Hernan D'Arcangelo. (image: Luke Butterworth)
South African Clinton Leeuw gives two thumbs up after his first-round win over Argentinian Hernan D’Arcangelo. (image: Luke Butterworth)

Butterworth reports: “The fighting spirit of the youngster Khan versus the steady, experienced club head pro was a terrific match. All three games were close and momentum swung back and forth throughout each game.

“A very tight second game was clinched by Barker, and that seemed to give him the edge and confidence to close the match out. At 10-9, match ball to Barker, a long rally concluded with a Butterworth-esque forehand drop shot, tight as you like to the side wall, giving Khan no chance to retrieve. Word has spread around the town of Greenwich that Phil has been playing excellent squash this week so we’re hoping for a big crowd Friday night!”

Jordanian Ahmad Alzabidi was a third qualifier to knock out a seed in the longest match of the round as the world No. 226 upset Canadian Matthew Serediak 11-7, 8-11, 8-11, 11-9, 12-10 in seventy-eight minutes.

Former Princeton University teammates David Letourneau and Todd Harrity both recorded three-game, first-round wins over unseeded opposition. Letourneau defeated Jamaican Chris Binnie 11-8, 11-4, 11-7, while Harrity eliminated Wild Card and Round Hill Club-based Butterworth 11-6, 11-6, 11-6.

Round one:
[Q] Diego Elias (PER) bt [1] Muhd Asyraf Azan (MAS) 8-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-6 (76m)
[8] David Letourneau (CAN) bt Chris Binnie (JAM) 11-8, 11-4, 11-7 (31m)
[LL] Phil Barker (ENG) bt Shahjahan Khan (PAK) 11-4, 13-11, 11-9 (50m)
[4] Lewis Walters (ENG) bt [Q] Tom Pashley (ENG) 12-10, 11-3, 9-11, 6-11, 11-7 (71m)
[3] Clinton Leeuw (RSA) bt Hernan D’Arcangelo (ARG) 11-5, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9 (59m)
[5] Todd Harrity (USA) bt [WC] Luke Butterworth (ENG) 11-6, 11-6, 11-6 (41m)
[Q] Ahmad Alzabidi (JOR) bt [7] Matthew Serediak (CAN) 11-7, 8-11, 8-11, 11-9, 12-10 (78m)
[2] Zac Alexander (AUS) bt [Q] Chris Hanson 12-10, 11-8, 8-11, 11-8 (67m)

4:00pm: [Q] Diego Elias (PER) v [8] David Letourneau (CAN)
6:00pm: [LL] Phil Barker (ENG) v [4] Lewis Walters (ENG)
5:00pm: [3] Clinton Leeuw (RSA) v [5] Todd Harrity (USA)
7:00pm: [Q] Ahmad Alzabidi (JOR) v [2] Zac Alexander (AUS)