Men & Women PSA $3k Challengers, 22-24 Jul, Ipswich
FINALS : Gina and Rui take the titles
Georgina Kennedy played her part perfectly in the anticipated outcome of the Arion Homes Off The Wall Squash PSA Open finals at Ipswich, but her co-star in the script, Daryl Selby, was upstaged by another dashing performer in the shape of Rui Soares from Portugal.
World number 22, Selby was a clear favourite with both bookies and the local partisan crowd to walk away with the spoils in his 200th PSA event. But it was the dashing young Soares who shone bright to take the applause and the winner’s crown in the inaugural event staged by OTWS at the Ipswich Sports Club. His 3-0 win was both deserved and classy, matched by an equally gracious winner’s acceptance speech.
Selby’s return to the tour after a 16-month hiatus due to lockdown will have left some wondering whether the enforced break might have accelerated the player’s decision to bring down the curtain his 19-year pro career. Well, we got our answer. Three decent wins en-route to the final showed there is still plenty of mileage left in those legs. And his self-challenge to compete for a place in Team England’s Commonwealth Games squash doubles team is totally valid.
For Kennedy, the are few question marks over her immediate future. She is clearly a young lady on a mission to capture titles and rise in the world rankings. She currently occupies 105th position but that will soon be consigned to the history channel once recent successes are factored in. Four PSA titles in a blazing summer will quickly see her elevated in the rankings.
Her final match against Scotland’s Georgia Adderley came down to a stiff, one-game challenge followed by a gentle stroll over the line. Adderley came out strong in the first matching the former Harvard College alumni punch for punch right up to 9-all. After that, it was downhill all the way for the number five seed.
Once Kennedy grabbed the initiative with that 11-9 first-game success, it was match over. A quick-fire 11-1 second was backed up by an equally rapid 11-3 third and it was all over, bar another charming acceptance speech enthusiastically received by the Ipswich squash faithful. A star is born.
Day TWO, Quarters : Lee Horton reports
Daryl Selby and Georgina Kennedy have the Arion Homes Off the Wall Squash PSA Open in their sights, albeit from differing perspectives to their careers.
Kennedy is fresh out of Harvard University and laying the foundations to a burgeoning career making a name for herself on the PSA world tour hunting titles and slaying seeds. In contrast, Selby has been there, done that but very much still wears the T-shirt in his 19th season on the pro tour.
Both brought their own brand of squash to the table in last night’s semi-finals at Ipswich. Kennedy is so packed with energy and dynamism, she should be sponsored by Duracell. Her 29-minute disposal of second seed Alison Thomson was as emphatic and efficient as you can get.
It was clear to see why she is on a clean-up mission this summer claiming PSA titles and well-earned winnings almost at will.
She meets Georgia Adderley in the final and the young Scot will need to produce more of the energy that removed home favourite and number one seed Anna Kimberley from the competition if she is going to test Kennedy.
Selby, meanwhile, playing his 200th PSA event, used all his nous and knowhow to quell the pace and youthful exuberance of 21 year old Curtis Malik who more than stood his ground against the 38 year old England international captain.
Malik overcame early nerves to level at 1-1 but that only inspired Selby to turn a few extra pages of his book of knowledge as he sealed a final date against Portugal’s Rui Soares who took out Josh Master’s 3-1.
Day One : Lee Horton reports
The Essex player held her nerve in a tense fifth game to quell the onslaught from Allen who won the first and fourth to set up a thrilling decider. “I knew I had to stay calm, dig in and play controlled squash,” said Kimberley. “Katriona is a true fighter so I was pleased to come through mixing aggression and grit with a little calm and control.”
Kimberley faces another Scot, Georgia Adderley, in a semi-final encounter that promises much. Adderley removed Bruna Marchesi Petrillo in round one and the fast-improving Margot Prow in the quarter-final. The showdown with Kimberley is eagerly anticipated.
Unseeded Georgina Kennedy continued her run of sparkling form making in 36 wins out of 39 this year as she eased into the last four withs win over Emilia Korhonen of Finland and Kace Bartley. She now goes head-to-head with No.2 seed Alison Thomson.
The England captain had dig deep to take out journeyman Vini Rodrigues, ranked 221 in the world, is a tough and enthralling five-game quarter-final that saw Selby two down and looking like he was on the ropes.
But if the gnarly Essex man was lacking in court time, he came packed with experience and a bloody-minded refusal to roll over. He hung in when many in the audience thought he was a goner and belied his 38 years with a rollicking comeback to book a last four appointment with Sussex’s Curtis Malik.
John Masters overcame fellow England player James Peach and will take on two seed Rui Soares after his 3-1 disposal of Tom Walsh.
Gina the one to watch Lee Horton reports
The 24-year-old Kent-based player has been in prolific form over the past two months claiming no less than three PSA titles plus a handful of satellite victories.
Now, the former Harvard University student goes into the $3k PSA Challenger 5 event at Ipswich full of confidence and form with 34 competition victories and only three losses since February. Her time at Harvard plus the Covid shutdown took her away from the PSA tour so her current world ranking of 105 somewhat belies her true potential.
She enters tomorrow’s event unseeded and takes on Finland’s Emilia Korhonen (7) in round one. Home club player Anna Kimberley is seeded one with a possible final meeting with Kennedy on the cards. Sixteen-year-old England junior Emma Bartley was handed the local wild-card and opens her account against Katie Wells who is seeded eight.
Selby back in action for OTW in Ipswich
Essex and England squash star Daryl Selby returns to PSA action this week, 16 months after his lastprofessional competition. Covid lockdown meant all squash events were canned but with the lifting of restrictions, the action is back up and running.
And Daryl headlines at the Arion Homes Off The Walls Squash Open PSA Challenger 5 event which starts on Thursday at Ipswich Sport Club, in Suffolk. The men’s and women’s event features two 16-player draws with Daryl installed as the men’s No.1 seed.
It will be a welcome return to action for the 38-year-old Colchester-based player who has his sights firmly set on next year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. He won a bronze medal in 2014, silver in 2018 and is not ruling out Gold next year.
“My last PSA tournament was Canary Wharf in 2020, a small matter of 16 months ago, but I beat a top 10 player and nearly the World Champ there so I’m hoping my form just carries on from that!
“I haven’t really considered hanging up the racket as long as I am still enjoy competing, age is but a number.”
The Ipswich event is backed by Arion Homes, a Bolton-based construction company headed by Rory O’Rourke. The organising team are from the Off The Wall Squash Academy based at the Garrison in Colchester.