Jan the Man in Kent final
Alan Thatcher reports
Jan Van Den Herrewegen won the Colin Payne Kent Open after a punishing, pulsating final against top seed Rui Soares.
The Birmingham-based Belgian won a massively entertaining five-setter 9-11, 11-9, 11-4, 9-11, 11-5 after 76 minutes of high-quality squash in front of a packed crowd at Tunbridge Wells Squash Club.
The score see-sawed throughout the match, with the ascendancy switching from player to player.
That was clearly evident in the opening game as Van Den Herrewegen surrendered an 8-3 lead. Soares put together a run of points but when he reached 10-9 he noticed blood pouring from his left thumb after scraping his hand on the court floor.
After a 14-minute break for treatment, he returned to wrap up the opening game.
Van Den Herrewegen began strongly again the second game and advanced to a 9-4 lead before Soares began his customary recovery process. The Portuguese clawed his way back to 8-9 but the Belgian managed to clinch the game 11-9.
The third began in a similar pattern, but this time Soares failed to make any inroads as Van Den Herrewegen powered through 11-4.
Soares did respond in the fourth, however, battling back from 7-4 down to win 11-9 and take the game to a fifth.
This time Van Den Herrewegen imposed himself firmly on proceedings and, having built a 9-2 lead, withstood a brief recovery from Soares to close out the match 11-5.
In a poignant presentation ceremony, Colin Payne’s daughters Alice and Charlotte handed the runners-up trophy to Soares before Van Den Herrewegen received the winner’s trophy from Councillor Jane March, head of Culture, Leisure and Tourism at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.
Van Den Herrewegen, who is studying for a PhD at Birmingham University, was delighted to win his first PSA title for more than a year.
“It was a great match, very fair, and we were both trying to play the ball at every opportunity.
“There were some odd dynamics going on because I feel Rui plays his best squash when he is behind and he proved that with the two games he won. But I am very pleased with how I played. There were a few passive spells but I was confident going forward to attack.
“This is a great tournament and it has a lovely feel to it with all the club members getting involved. They were absolutely hanging from the rafters upstairs and I love playing in tournaments like this.”
Jan van den Herrewegen
“I keep coming back and maybe one day I will this tournament. As Jan said, this is a great event with so many people working hard in the club to make it happen.”
Before the final, Jasmine Hutton of Sussex won a highly entertaining Collins Jewel Women’s Challenge against Elise Lazarus of Essex 11-9, 13-11, 11-7.