Waller wins marathon final in Cleveland
In their first meeting on the PSA World Tour, Adrian Waller prevailed in an epic battle 16-14 in the fifth, reports Chase Greppin.
ElSherbini started out strong taking the first two points on two winners. After a few errors and decisions Waller got on the board making it 2-3 with an ElSherbini lead. ElSherbini continued to stay on top, extending his lead to 6-3. After a few strokes were awarded to ElSherbini, his lead opened up to 8-4. Waller answered, taking the next two points but ElSherbini quickly rattled off three points, taking the first game 11-6.
Waller came out of the break on fire exploding to a 6-0 lead thanks to a series of winners. Waller never looked back taking the second game 11-2 in only 6 minutes.
The third game began neck and neck with the score tied 2-2. ElSherbini then opened up a lead to 6-2. Waller then got his momentum back taking four straight points and evening the score at 6-6. Waller then made it seven straight points taking the lead at 9-6. ElSherbini won one more point before Waller closed out the game 11-7.
After a few decisions and some errors, the score came to a 2-2 tie. Waller then broke the tie and opened up a 6-4 lead. ElSherbini then closed the gap to within one point with the score being 7-6 Waller. They each then traded off points ending up in an 8-8 tie. ElSherbini then took the advantage of an error and gave himself a game ball opportunity at 10-9. Waller quickly took it back to level at 10-10. ElSherbini then took the next two points to take the game 12-10 and send it into a fifth.
The fifth game opened up close, tied at 3-3. The score remained tied to 4-4. Elsherbini then broke the tie and opened up a 7-4 lead thanks to a series of winners in the front of the court. Waller gained a few points back making the score 7-6 with an ElSherbini lead. Waller then tied the score up at 8-8. Waller then took the lead giving himself two championship balls at 10-8. After two errors, ElSherbini tied the score at 10-10. The tie continued to 13-13. ElSherbini got his own chance at championship ball, but couldn’t close it out. With two tight kills in a row, Waller closed out the match 16-14 in the fifth.
The win marks Waller’s ninth PSA title, two years after his last.
Photos by Jeffrey Fehn
 Adrian Waller (ENG) 3-1 Patrick Rooney (ENG)
Waller and Rooney had played twice before in PSA matches with both going to Waller 3-1, so a close match was likely. The first game was tight, with Rooney making a run at the end to come from behind. Waller raced out to an early lead in the second and didn’t look back. Waller held on to win the third 11-8. The fourth was closer — at 8-8, Waller won two in a row to get two match balls. Rooney saved the first match ball, but Waller closed it out on the second.
Waller: “It was so close the whole way through. It didn’t really feel like one of us was on top or the other. First game: point for point. I got the lead in the second and managed to hold on again as he came back at me. By the middle of the second I started to pin him back behind me, which I needed to do otherwise he’d take me apart in the front of the court.”
 Mohamed ElSherbini (EGY) 3-2 Nathan Lake (ENG)
ElSherbini and Lake had last faced each other in a PSA match in 2018 with ElSherbini winning in three. Lake had a much tougher path to the semifinals than ElSherbini, with three matches totalling 177 minutes, including two tight 3-2 affairs. Lake, though, looked fresh early, and jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead. ElSherbini fought back with a quick third game.
The match turned on the fourth. Lake took a 6-0 lead and looked to cruise to the final. ElSherbini took two quick points to make it 2-6 before a bruising rally left it at 2-7. From there, ElSherbini won four of the next six to take it to 6-9. ElSherbini then reeled off five straight to win the game. ElSherbini took a lead early in the fifth and it was never close from there.
ElSherbini: “Well, I was surprised with his performance to be honest. I haven’t played him in three years. He’s been playing amazing and his tight drives were putting me in a lot of trouble.”
Photos by Jeffrey Fehn
 Mohamed ElSherbini (EGY) 3-1  Alan Clyne (SCO)
The first match featured two previous CSC Open participants: Alan Clyne and Mohamed ElSherbini. Clyne took the first game in a tight and fiercely contested 11-9. ElSherbini went on the attack in the next games, playing aggressive squash and firing the ball in, winning comfortably in 4.
ElSherbini: “Alan is a very good player and very fast, and I had never played him before. The first game for me was a test. I didn’t know what to do so I was playing long rallies to see how he attacks and how he counters. After the first game, it was… bam! bam! bam!”
 Adrian Waller (ENG) 3-1  Lucas Serme (FRA)
Waller and Serme had played twice before in PSA matches, each winning one, so a close result seemed in the cards. Waller took the first two before Serme answered back before falling short in the fourth.
Waller: “I’m happy to get through in four there. I started really well and felt really comfortable through the first two games but he’s going to fight to the end. He changed his tactics and made it so much harder for me. I didn’t react well enough and he deserved that third game, so I had to change my tactics again. I started that fourth game and made some winners, and was happy to have that fast start because he was always coming back.”
Patrick Rooney (ENG) 3-0 Tsz Fung Yip (HKG)
Yip had the match of the day on Friday, winning in five over Cesar Salazar. Rooney had almost an hour less on court through two rounds after quick results in the first two. The first was the closest with Yip moving well in the early stages going up 7-5 before ultimately succumbing 11-8. The next two were clinical from Rooney, taking 14 minutes combined. A chant of “Rooney!” met his victory.
Rooney: “Obviously, I don’t want to spend too long on court, knowing he’s already had two 3-2s so he might already be a little fatigued, a little tired. The first game I thought I’d drag it out a bit, see how he was feeling, and I thought he was feeling it a little bit, so I stayed with my tactic, hit my targets and came off in three.”
When asked his favorite shot of the night? “When I served out. [laughter] I’m trying to perfect my serve, so if I serve out once a match, I’m OK with it…”
Nathan Lake (ENG) 3-2  Greg Lobban (SCO)
2019 CSC Open Champion Greg Lobban started out slow but charged back in the second against Nathan Lake before ultimately going down 2-0. Lobban’s pace looked like it affected Lake in the third and fourth — fairly easy victories for Lobban. The pace slowed by the fifth and Lake proved too much, giving him his first ever PSA victory over Lobban in four attempts.
Lake: “It was tough, Greg plays with a good intensity if you let him. He gets in front and plays with a fast pace which I’m not a fan of. I thought I’d just about measure him down the wall, keep it straight enough and force him to hit out. The second game was crucial — 12-10; those games are a flip of a coin and suddenly it’s one all instead…”
The 2021 edition of the Cleveland Skating Club Open – the 6th Cleveland Skating Club Open – features a split of the matches between Urban Squash Cleveland’s glass court and the panel court of the Cleveland Skating Club.
Round One went to form with the higher seeds winning. The match of the evening was the final one on the CSC court with Tsz Fung Yip defeating Rory Stewart in a tight 3-2. Yip came back from 2-1 down to pull through in five. Local hopes were dashed as Patrick Rooney, fresh off a 3rd round finish at the US Open, defeated CSC pro Daren Ramsey in three.
Round 2 will again be split between Urban Squash Cleveland and Cleveland Skating Club with top seeds Greg Lobban, Cesar Salazar, Adrian Waller, and Mohamed ElSherbini in action.
Photos by Jeffrey Fehn