Khan wins Bourbon Trail Opener
Richard Millman reports
In a wonderful, barnstorming final tonight at Scenic City Squash in Chattanooga Tennessee in the USA, US professional Faraz Khan overcame the determined, stylish and youthful challenge of Princeton University’s talented freshman Cole Becker, to win his first ever PSA title.
Becker did everything bar actually win the match. He had a match ball in the fifth.
He stormed out of the gate in the first game, firing on all cylinders with his clinical straight attacking volleys.
Faraz came back tenaciously, covering the court with remarkable athleticism and exacting a physical toll on the Princeton University athlete with twisting turning boasts, cross courts and particularly his backhand straight drop.
Khan took the second and there was some indication that Becker was reeling physically and losing his immaculate fundamentals and control.
However in the third Becker steeled himself and, with good mental discipline came back strongly with pinpointedly accurate straight drop volleys and equally deft counter-drops. This was a game of longer debilitating rallies.
At 2-1 down, the nervous calm appeared to have wobbled, but he similarly buckled down and punished Becker in the fourth, with the young college player making a number of uncharacteristic errors and almost capitulating at the end of the fourth.
Any thought that the fifth would be plain sailing for Khan was quickly dismissed as Becker was rampant at the beginning of the fifth, racing to an 8-3 lead. This included some self destruction by Khan as he attempted to have referee Harvey Miller win points for him and became sidetracked whining about decisions.
However to the Connecticut man’s credit, after some clear direction to focus on playing and to let the ref make the decisions, Khan set about a remarkable comeback.
He played several gritty, long, all court rallies, moving his opponent and winding him.
Having got in hand Faraz came all the way back to 8-8.
Becker then came alive with one of his classic straight short volleys to go up 9-8.
The next few rallies were a free for all of attack and desperate defense taking the game to 10 – 9 match ball to Becker.
Again Khan dug in, penetrating the deep back court to hurt the Princeton man and saving match ball before Becker found a second wind to earn a second match ball with a completely unexpected wrong footing disguise shot.
At 11-10 down it looked as though Faraz’s dream might be over, but no …. again he drove the ball deep and this time Becker finally broke – sending two balls to the tin.
Thus Faraz Khan won his first ever PSA title 13-11 in the fifth – as good a final as you will see at this level of the game.
Many thanks to all our sponsors and members who made the event possible.
We look forward to the $6K PSA Bourbon Trail Event No 2 in a couple of weeks time at Scenic City Squash in conjunction with The Burns Night Open – Jan 23-26.