Edmonton BKY Open 2023

BKY Technologies Open 2023 : FINAL

[2] Salah Eltorgman (Can) 3-1 [6] Abdelrahman Nassar (Egy) 11-5, 11-9, 9-11, 13-11 (58m)

The stage was set for an epic encounter between two players who came into the final in contrasting fashion, Salah so far not really being pushed hard while Abdel was tested fully.

A nervy start for Abdel and his body language was rounded shoulders and heavy footwork and Salah reeled off five points in three minutes. Salah looked far more composed, and he took a firm grip of the T and never released it for the entire game. Not much to tell in this one as it was all one-way traffic for the Canadian.

Abdel came out a different player in the 2nd and the whole feel of this game was one of cat & mouse and a full battle was now on. Lots of strong rallies and bold shot-making from both players got us to 9-all and it was a flip of a coin to decide who would take it. A couple of dives and wrong-footed movements from Abdel lost him the edge he needed and he now found himself two games adrift, but still in the hunt.

The 3rd game was identical, and Abdel seemed lifted by his efforts and was rewarded with some aggressive play midway through the 3rd to get a 10-7 advantage. He was now working Salah far more corner-to-corner and even though Salah rebounded to 9-10, Abdel’s pressure wasn’t allowing Salah to relax and have the time he so loves on the ball, and it was game to Abdel, 11-9.

It was now game-on and Abdel came out at the start of the 4th with the hunger in his eyes as well as his movement, firing it short whenever he had the chance and taking it early, exerting a lot of pressure whenever possible – short, wide, on the volley, holds, flicks, you name it, he did it. It worked so very well, and Salah was on the back foot for much of the game, however, Salah showed why he’s currently in winning form and he kept absorbing and digging – and so at 9-all in the 4th, it literally was down to who could keep the ball out of the tin as the retrieving was ridiculous and the squash was easily top 50 standard if not higher!

It felt like every inch of the court was used in every rally and despite a three-minute injury timeout for Salah after accidental racquet contact to the face, the tension remained high for players and spectators alike. Abdel saved a match ball at 10-9 down to force a tie-break and had a game ball himself at 11-10 but couldn’t convert it and Salah raised the tempo for one last ditch effort to avoid going into a 5th game and it worked, losing just one of the last four points – it was Salah in four and with it the trophy, a winning player banner for ceiling and another tournament win to maintain his great recent run of form. Superb end to a wonderful tournament and our knowledgeable and enthusiastic fan-base are already talking about the next event!

Huge thanks goes out to our sponsors, BKY Technologies, Laserfix, RapidEx, TD Wealth and KV & Associates, all the staff and members at the Royal Glenora Club and the volunteers and billets as well as the organizing committee for all pulling together to make this such a phenomenal event – all the players asked me to pass on their personal thanks for such a fantastic event and they all want to come back for our next event!

Pete Goodings

Semi-Finals : Top seed downed as Eltorgman carries home hopes into final

[6] Abdelrahman Nassar (EGY) 3-1 [1] Perry Malik (ENG)

The first Semi-final of the day was a complete contrast of styles – Perry the consummate, measured, tactical player with fluid, floating movement and superb shot placement while Abdel is a fast, aggressive, attacking player with very fast hands and explosive movement all over the court. Game 1 was all Perry, controlling the T and being very patient, waiting for the right openings to go in short. Apart from a couple of unforced errors, Perry remained ahead for the entire game and finished it off with a flat-roller backhand cross court nick.

The 2nd game was more of the same with Perry dominating a lot of the rallies and making most of the playbook work in his favor. Abdels speed to the front was his biggest weapon while Perry’s was his patience – the only flaw was his error rate in this game. Abdel started drawing Malik into a hard-hitting regime which almost worked, but Malik steadied the ship and went back to the plan that worked so effectively in game one, coming from 4-7 down to draw level, only to then hit two poor unforced errors and put a lot of pressure on himself. Abdel’s accuracy came to the fore in the last few points and Perry’s gameplan evaporated. The continual swings of momentum were happening so quickly and at 1- game apiece, the match was definitely up for grabs for the one that decided to stick to what was working best. Abdel it was that took the 3rd in a tie-break, mainly due to a few more errors from Perry, but also down to some great retrieving and absorption of pressure from the Egyptian.

4th game and Abdel started fast, upping the tempo and Perry matched him – sadly, this was a mistake, as the greater error rate came from Perry, trying to take the ball in short from a fast ball. This gave Abdel a chance to get to the ball as it came off the wall further, whereas earlier in the match, the slowing of the ball from Perry meant the ball stayed further up the court when he went short. At 8-4 up, Perry’s cause was now a steep hill to climb, and his shot selection and execution were getting increasingly tentative, his shoulders tightening as the ball came to him and his relaxed, fluid style was looking more tense, especially at the front of the court.

A couple more errors from Perry gave Abdul the upset he was so dialled in for and he goes through in four tough but very well-earned games.

[2] Salah Eltorgman (CAN) 3-0 Leo Chung (HKG)

These two have played each other in the last two tournaments on tour and Salah has taken both matches 3-0, so the momentum and confidence going into this match was certainly with the Canadian.

This was a great display of measured line and length as well as composure from Salah and unfortunately for Leo, he hit too many errors in the halfway through the first game – possibly forcing it too much as he had a 6-3 lead. This gifted Salah a fairly easy 1st game and maybe the last 2 matches were playing on Leo’s mind? The second game was more of the same and if was possible, Salah looked even more relaxed than usual, taking the ball later and lower and Leo simply couldn’t dent the armor of Salah – nothing he was doing was working, but his game was looking more lack-luster the longer the rallies went and his tin rate was going higher and higher and the long 5-setter from yesterday may be one reason for a flatter energy level from Leo.

Salah was taking points at a canter and adding to the pain was Leo’s flat footwork which, combined with his increasing tin rate made for a very one-sided affair. Salah took a quick clean 3-0 and with it a fairly fresh pair of legs into the final tomorrow.

Pete Goodings

Quarter-Finals :

[1] Perry Malik 3-0 [7] Brice Nicolas (FRA) 

First time these two have played each other and the first game was clearly all about working each other out. Perry started the brighter keeping the ball mainly on the left wall and simply waiting for an opening before starting to use the other areas of the court, and his accuracy for the first half of the game was excellent, giving him a healthy four-point cushion at 5-1. A few unnecessary forced shots though and some poor shot selection then got Brice back to 5-all and then 8-5 up in no time at all.

Perry clearly took a mental pause here and after a deep breath and a big reset of focus, he went straight back to what proved so rewarding at the start and just waited patiently for the openings to appear and appear they did – straight through to 11-8. The start of the 2nd was a little tentative from both players, but Perry at 4-all started to absorb the power Brice was throwing into the mix and varied the pace and width so well that Brice had very few answers other than to ‘chase’. The only thing now that seemed to affect the scoreline was if Perry made any errors. 2nd game to Perry 11-9 and he took this momentum into game three, creating good flow and rhythm that was just too much for the Frenchman to break down. 3-0 Perry and a great start to the evening for the event as well as the Englishman!

[6] Abdelrahman Nassar (EGY) 3-2 Wailok To (HKG)

Abdel (I’m shortening his first name for the sake of this report) started fast & Wailok went toe-to-toe with the tempo, but this is Abdel’s wheelhouse and he never really looked out of his comfort zone in the first two games. He has some great hands and uses a variety of holds at different heights with high tempo hitting so it’s virtually impossible to get into a rhythm against him.

The high tempo continued for the 3rd with Wailok still trying to match him and while it worked to keep him in touch, that’s all he was achieving and not creating any impactful rally-building throughout most of game three, so apart from a few simple unforced errors, Abdel was comfortably controlling the ball up to 8-all. At this point, something seemed to shift for both players – Wailok started hitting deeper and being more patient and Abdel started rushing and flicking more than earlier hitting looser and more with far less accuracy (almost like he thought he’d done enough).

Wailok is a big, strong guy, built more like a weight-lifter and it looked towards the end of the 3rd like the work rate was going to be too high to maintain, but clearly not yet as he appeared to relish the hard, physical rallies and settled into the task of getting everything back – and it worked, surprisingly taking the game in a tie-break. This continued for the first four points of the 4th game with Abdel looking a little rattled and Wailok saw the Egyptians lack of focus, pushed on with his clean lines hitting and kept the pressure on to take it due to the Egyptian hitting too many errors, and the quality of Wailok’s game was increasing.

The 5th was all business and both players mentally regrouped and started like it was the 1st game again. Abdel once again started to build the rallies and was being patient, and it paid off well and he got a decent lead that he never gave up. At 10-4 up he looked in total control now and even though Wailok threw in some ‘Hail Mary’s’ that worked, it was only a matter time before one of them came up short and so it was, hitting the tin off a shorter length – he can however be forgiven for playing a tired shot as he had done the lion’s share of the court-coverage in this match – 3-2 Adbel and a great encounter by two players who displayed clean movement off the ball and who were clearly respectful of each other’s game.

Leo Chung (HKG) 3-2 [5] Ka Hei Ho (HKG)

Two friends started and two friends finished this match. Very clean rallies with so few lets the referee’s role was hardly required. These two are playing and training partners so they know each other’s games inside out and the retrieving to the unaware looked exceptional – and while it was undoubtedly superbly athletic, those in the know could see they were fully aware of each other’s repertoire. This though did not take away from the very high skill level also on display and the shot play from both fabulous to watch. Ho took the first game with some really nice backhand delayed flicks from the front and some silky-smooth, flowing movement to keep Chung on the back foot.

The 2nd started much the same but then Ho started to look a little jaded and after accidentally hitting Chung with the ball off a random turning shot (unaware of where his opponent was), he certainly backed off on the creativity and this hurt his dominance and Chung capitalized to take it – Ho looking to be tiring the longer the rallies went. Some hi tempo hitting from Ho at the start of the 3rd gave him a quick lead and he seemed buoyed by the momentum and grabbed the 3rd game, albeit still looking the more tired of the two.

In the 4th, Chung seemed to sense the Ho’s slow-down and he stepped up the volleying and took the ball earlier and earlier and Ho had no answers. So, into the 5th, and the spectators could sense another seeding upset. Chung was straight back to it, and Ho was clearly now on low-battery mode, especially when reacting and moving to the front and Chung doubled-down on all volleying opportunities, taking the ball in short at any opportunity. It worked like a charm and his accuracy was super-effective, and despite a few errors that so often come when looking to take the ball so early, the last game lasted just 9 minutes and Chung booked himself a well-earned semi-final spot!

Fabulous display of high-quality Squash and we’re looking forward to seeing if his quality again tomorrow.

[2] Salah Eltorgman (CAN) 3-0 [8] Laszlo Godde (FRA) 

Two very contrasting styles of player on display here – Laszlo with a very rigid, mechanical methodology and Salah the polar opposite – the most relaxed, casual player you’re likely to see. First game was a true fact-finding mission for each other, Laszlo using plenty of height and width sprinkled with higher pace and short cuts into the front, while Salah was happy to absorb everything and wait until an opportunity presented itself and then held the ball for so long, almost goading Laszlo into moving before the ball was hit.

Salah took the first but not without trouble, not truly settling into any kind of playing pattern, and made a few unforced errors at some odd moments. His quality did shine through towards the end of the second game though and he clearly got the better of his opponent with his ball control, which in turn took his opponents’ movement to places he didn’t want to go.

More of the same in game 3, with some super-early volleying from Salah who was stepping up onto the T to get at the short ball SO early – and with Laszlo not asking too many questions of him it was a quick finish. Physically Salah didn’t expend too much energy and he was definitely happy to get off in 3!

Pete Goodings