Aspin Cup : it’s Stefanoni and Dussourd
STEFANONI AND DUSSOURD EARN SPOTS IN WORLD OPEN DRAW
The limited, but full seating was witness to the first women’s Aspin Cup professional division. In fact it is believed to be the first professional sporting event of any kind to be witnessed on Prince Edward Island, Canada’s smallest province.
It was a draw with a great deal of parity as half of the women were within 40 ranking spots of each other. But at the end it had two finalists who were both teenagers and who had not dropped more than one game in each of their three matches. As juniors they both have had tremendous success. The senior, Hana Moataz of Egypt has already completed her junior career and is second year of university.
Her ranking has dropped to 138 because of inactivity and injury but her wins this week against players all ranked between 60 and 74 demonstrated that she is back. Marina at 16 is definitely a potential top 10 player who wasn’t threatened at all this week and has stood in the winner’s circle in three similar size PSA events; BVI, Bermuda and Chatanooga.
This match had everything….. shifts in momentum, tremendous court coverage, exciting attacking squash and the drama of a 17-15 fourth game which went in favour of Hannah to level the match. The fifth had what you would expect from two excellent players: stupendous gets, attacking nicks, long, attritional rallies and a close score throughout, but at the end it was the American Stefanoni who stood standing proud after 70 minutes of terrific squash by two future stars in this game.
This final featured Sean de Lierre, the Canadian veteran who had been as high as #35 in the world and who has maintained his fitness, speed and deceptive method of playing for over 15 years on the tour.
The # 3 seed’s draw was a dream. His first round opponent failed to show for his match and his second round adversary #234 and much improved fellow Canadian, Thomas King, couldn’t provide much resistance.
Last evening Shawn was able to defeat the #5 seed Jaymie Haycocks in a tough 3, so he fortunately came into today’s match with rested legs. Now he had to do battle with the #1 seed and Nash Cup Champion Auguste Dussord who had a 0-2 escape over Juan Camacho in the quarters, and last night, a very tough three game victory of Caribbean champ Chris Binnie.
However, today Auguste was definitely the quicker and more consistent player on the court. He surely wanted that invite to the Worlds in Doha this November. There was nothing that Shawn could hand out that Auguste couldn’t gather up and reply with interest and imagination.
Though the rallies were thrilling for the crowd it soon become obvious that the younger man was in control and wouldn’t let go. Two tournaments, two championships, it was a very rewarding Canadian stop in the Frenchman’s early season schedule
Semis : Moataz Keeps Marching Along
Jon Power reports
The unseeded 19 year old Hana Moataz who has slipped away from a few days of classes at Harvard University to improve her current PSA ranking of 138 is doing just that in fine fashion.
The former top Egyptian junior is in fine form, not losing a game to second seed Nicole Bunyan. She should be very confident for the final tomorrow having only lost one game the first three rounds. Her speed, consistency and power were just a little too much for the Canadian, particularly at the latter stages in the final two stanzas in which Hana squeezed those big points at the end of each game.
In the other women’s semi the number four seed, teenage superstar Marina Stefanoni lost the first game, but her ability to use the whole court, give away very few errors hurt the visibly tired Ali Thompson. Her huge win last evening against #1 seed Sarah Cardwell took it’s toll. Alison pushed to the limit, and even came within a point from extending the match into the fifth but just couldn’t find the answer against the young American. The four games of brutally hard squash took over an hour. But every minute was appreciated by the Charlottetown crowd..
On the men’s side two highly conditioned athletes put on a show for 70 minutes. The court coverage was spectacular with Chris Binnie covering more court than anyone could imagine for such a big man. The whole match was a back and for forth affair with the quick and well trained French athlete Auguste Dussourd just securing those important end game points. The boys traded blows in all three games, but the little extra speed and timely shot variation paid dividends for the higher ranked player.
The second match between our two tournament ‘old timers’ Shawn Delierre and Jaymie Hatcocks was certainly an exposure to squash of a bygone era. The half second delay in clearing, the exaggerated let calls, wrong path interference and constant dialogue with the referee presented delays which hadn’t been seen all week.
In the end it was Delierre who hit the timely winner or forced the critical error. Again for just over an hour the fans were treated three very slow but entertaining games.
Tomorrow with the men it will certainly be an all french affair… France vs La Belle Province du Canada. And the women will feature probably two future top 10 players. We look forward to the final day of action.
Quarter-Finals : Thomson & Moataz join seeds in semis
It was another great evening at the University of Prince Edward Island Squash Center. Eight matches, three of which went the distance and three based upon the August rankings were considered upsets.
We thought that we would be in for a very long night of squash when both court 1 and 2 did not free up until well into the second hour, and these were matches which involved both our number one seeds. In each case our number ones were up against the sixth seed and in each case it was a five game battle.
On the women’s side, like the men it certainly could have gone either way, but in this case the lower ranked Ali Thomson from Scotland after surviving a 12-10 victory in the fourth and one match ball in the fifth before she could say that she upset the WR #60 15-13 in 64 min.
The men’s match lasted 10 more minutes but had a different rhythm. No 1 seed and Nash Cup champ Auguste Dessourd could not find an answer for the young speedster from Mexico who just seemed to hit the last good shot every time in those 30 plus shot rallies. But the continued fast pace and long rallies were beginning to take their toll on Camacho. The 21 year old from Mexico City could only come up with 12 points in the next three games. Again Dessourd was in a semi-final.
The middle four matches were certainly quicker and less tense. Marina Stefanoni the world class 16 year old got off to a very quick start winning her first game in 6 min, but then was quickly halted by Marie Stephane in equally quick fashion. But then the two women dug their heels in and played two very tough games, but it was the young speedster from the US who seemed to bear down the best during ‘end game’ points and proved to be just that little bit better than her French adversary on the day.
It was an upset on paper, but the Egyptian Hana Moataz certainly showed that her ranking will soon displace that of Anna Kimberley who just couldn’t make any inroads against the 19 year old who is definitely on the rise.
Two relatively quick three gamers on the men’s side kept scheduling on time. The veteran Canadian Shawn Delierre just had too many weapons for his younger compatriot Thomas King, as did Caribbean champ Chris Binnie in his match with American Guy Davidson.
The final matches on the program involved our number two seeds Nicole Bunyan and Shah Khan. Khan just got out foxed by the wily ol’ Jaymie Haycocks. Haycocks demonstrated his experience when Shahjahan would often get caught in behind the Englishman and then just couldn’t deal well with the oncoming variety of shots and pace. It may have been a different story if the younger man was able to have taken the very exciting overtime second game. Now we will have two seasoned pros both over 35 years of age playing the semis tomorrow evening.
The last women’s match of the evening treated the full house to virtually a duplicate of the women’s opening match three hours earlier. The #2 seed Canadian Nicole Bunyan was pushed to the limit by the exciting Mexican, Maria Garcia, but this time the higher seeded player was able to pull it out, holding her nerves in a great 11-9 in the fifth decision.
TWO UPSETS HIGHLIGHT DAY ONE OF ASPIN CUP
Besides the disappointments of #3 seed Daniel Mekbib of the Czech Rep. due to an injury pullout and James Wyatt unfortunate flight delay default, day one ran very smoothly. Consistently large crowds throughout the afternoon and evening were witness to excellent squash and even two first round upsets.
Two side by side courts at the local university gave the Charlottetown viewers a great opportunity to view simultaneously a very high level of men’s and women’s professional squash. And as a bonus they had three opportunities where they could cheer on local stars. But it was 16 year old wildcard, Liam Jinks who had family, friends and local squash supporters cheering the most as he, after two excellent games just narrowly lost the third to veteran and #5 seed Jamie Haycocks.
On the women’s side we were fortunate to have all seeded players ranked in the top 100 in the world and naturally they all expected to do battle Thursday for a place in the semis and hopefully by Saturday an invitee spot into the World Open. This indeed was the case throughout the day, but it was Egyptian student Hana Moataz who upset the apple cart. After being down all 10-8 in he third to second seed Nikki Todd she battled back, won the third and rolled in the 4th. Another Canadian, third seed Nicole Bunyan, just barely escaped the same demise to US PSA rookie Laila Sedky by coming back from 2-1 down to win 7 and 6 in the final two stanzas.
The men followed much the same pattern with the higher ranked players rolling into the quarters. But it was the fast improving Guy Davidson from Boston who belied the rankings. His sound technique, fitness and well controlled style of play proved to be a little to much for #7 seed, Brit, Alex Noakes. After a very hard fought and long first game Noakes ran out of ideas and Davidson, 180 ranking spots below cruised home 11-3, 11-4.
Squash fans here in Charlottetown were in awe of the level of squash they saw today. Now they have chosen their favourites and await anxiously for what will most certainly be an even be greater squash to come.