Guilfoyle Classic : Baillargeon brings it home

It’s a home win at last

Ozzie Vallejos reports

Welcome to the main event! Supporters came out in droves waiting to see if young Canadian David Baillargeon would bring the Guilfoyle PSA Squash Classic to home soil or if it would get shipped off oversees to the motherland with Jaymie Haycocks.

David Baillargeon 3-1 Jaymie Haycocks 

I had a chance to chat with the two lads before the match, wishing them luck and each roasted me a bit with Jaymie even telling me he’d save his smiles for after the match. The man is a stone-cold assassin.

Don’t get me wrong, Jaymie is a nice guy but you can tell he’s been around the block a couple times. He’s seen every shot heard every joke, which is clearly why I couldn’t make him laugh and David couldn’t catch him on any holds. Jaymie took the first game 11-8 looking like he stole a snitch straight from Hogwarts making the ball jump and spin in obscene directions.

David started off the second sprinkling in a few tins, but he kept the score tight and regrouped mid game. Using the power of his long flowing locks he channeled his inner Thor and hammered a crosscourt nick on his first game ball opportunity to close the game out 12-10.

The match was tied but a tidal wave of momentum was with the young surfer dude looking squash superstar and he didn’t just hang ten, he hung 11 on Jaymie and took the 3rd 11-5. Cowabunga!

With David up 7-2 in the fourth juniors could be seen clamoring the court waiting for their chance to get an autograph from the French-Canadian Clydesdale when suddenly I experience déjà vu. Only the night before Jaymie was able to come back from 2 games to 1 down despite his sprained ankle.

That’s when Jaymie ripped off a series of shots slicker than his head proving that bald was beautiful and took his first lead of the game. But the door was left open a crack and David proceed to smash the living daylights out of the ball earning him championship point.

On the first time of asking the Canadian finally was able to catch Jaymie on a hold, flicking the ball crosscourt past the Englishman for a winner. David let out a ferocious roar and the crowd exploded into applause witnessing David’s maiden PSA title.

Congratulations David Baillargeon on your first title, and we hope that many more are on the horizon.

P.S. I was able to crack a smile out of Haycocks in the end although it might have been when I was handing him his prize money. Still counts as one of my top ten biggest accomplishments.

Semifinal day and the club was buzzing!

Ozzie Vallejos reports

The spectator’s area was packed! I was thankful I had a fresh stick of peppermint gum on hand that’s how close I was to some of these people.  Would Tomotaka Endo continue his improbable run or would David pummel his way into the final?  Will Reiko need shred up another insole?  Will Jaymie crack a smile and change the cold dead look in his eyes?  We were all ready to find out.

David Baillargeon 3-1 Tomotaka Endo 

Both athletes came to PLAY!  Obviously the first game was tight and both Endo and Baillargeon traded points the way I traded Pokémon cards back in grade school.  It was 7-7 in the first when Baillargeon ate what looked like a can of spinach, pumped up his forearms and popped off the next 4 rallies to take the lead.  The home hopes were riding high, but Endo secured the second game with a series of sensationally severe low slices.

Baillargeon looked the fresher of the two and forced Endo to throw everything he had as a final gambit.  10-9 up in the third Baillargeon dove more often and more expertly than an Italian soccer player and took game three.  Endo had put all his eggs into the basket of the previous game and with nothing left for the fourth.

Baillargeon was victorious closing out the final game 11-3 and for the first time ever we will have a Canadian in the final of the Guilfoyle Squash Classic!   

Jaymie Haycocks 3-2 Reiko Peter  

This one was a barn burner!  Emotions ran so hot that not even referee Mike McCue’s velvety voice couldn’t simmer these guys down.  In the beginning things were friendly and both players pranced around like gazelles swiftly bounding back and for between the T and the ball. However, both Peter and Haycocks are big, tall and strong lads and slowly but surely every inch of space on the court was fought over.

The oooh’s and aaahhh’s coming from the spectators were enough to warrant mike (microphone not Mike McCue) and naturally referee McCue with that Barry White voice of his obliged.  Peter had put together an incredible 2 games to 1 lead when disaster struck!

In the very first rally of the fourth game Haycocks rolled his ankle while stepping on Peters foot and we all thought it was over.  Hobbled, Haycocks took the 15 minutes allowed for his injury and went around back to work on his leg.  The murmurs in the crowd were beginning and just when all hope seemed lost when Jaymie came limping around the corner brandishing an ankle brace over a very hopeless tape job he obviously did himself.

I thought to myself “Jaymie would last a couple points and retire”…he lasted more than a couple.  “Maybe he will retire after he loses the fourth game?” … he won the fourth 11-7.  “He can’t win the match can he?” …he totally did.  Jaymie whipped up so much wizardry I thought I was witnessing a Harry Potter spin off.  Forced to shoot, guess on shots and hold the T more physically he ultimately pulled off the comeback essentially on one leg.

Jaymie will have to muster up whatever magic he has left in tomorrows final against Baillargeon.  The action kicks off at 2pm!

Quarters : Doozy of a Day

Ozzie Vallejos reports

Day 3 is behind us here at the Guilfoyle PSA Squash Classic and boy was it a doozy. I’m exhausted from all the squash I’m vicariously experiencing through tonight’s athletes so forgive me if tonight’s report is especially punny or riddled with metaphors and anecdotes.

Tomotaka Endo 3-1Asyraf Azan

Azan’s run here at the Guilfoyle classic has finally come to and Endo (had to do it). The signs were evident early that Azan wasn’t near as sharp as the night previous. The mind was willing, but the body … the body was toast. Don’t get me wrong, early on Azan was able to pull Endo in all different directions but being the fit lad, he is forced his opponent to play one too many shots.

It was looking like death by a thousand lunges, but Azan dug deep and was able to take game 3. The comeback was short lived as Endo’s T dominance quickly extinguished Azan’s early lead in the fourth.

David Baillargeon 3-0 Leandro Romiglio 

Baillargeon is strong…like, really strong. I still feel like I’m underselling this guy so let me paint a picture. His arms are like legs and his legs are like sequoias. I nearly had to take him aside between games, to tell him to tone it down since we just had our front wall redone.

Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway) he was dominant early and while Romiglio was able to get ahold of some winners the young Canadian was never going to relinquish any lead he had pulverized into the match. GSP may have retired from the MMA today but it looks like there’s another young French Canadian ready to beat some athletes into submission.

Jaymie Haycocks 3-0 Nick Sachvie

Haycocks is a wizard with his racquet. Displaying a masterclass of keep away he had Sachvie running around the court the way I have cat’s running around my living room when I get ahold of a laser pointer. Nick, one of the most dangerous hitters of the squash ball I know (Hits it harder than Baillargeon) once hit the ball so hard that when it hit the front wall it gave up and went nowhere and the ball wasn’t dead either. T

onight, unfortunately he never had the chance too massacre any poor squash balls. Any time Haycocks felt like he was venturing too far away from the T he would throw in a perfect lob and take it back. Jaymie has looked fresh spending less than 1 hour on court in the tournament so far but is sure to be tested in the semis.

Reiko Peter 3-0 Graeme Schnell 

No matches tonight made went the distance however the running time for this one emulated a 5-game war. Peter played with the precision of a swiss watch and was able to move Schnell around in the first game taking advantage of an opponent who just wasn’t as dialed in.

First game went to Peter and some in the crowd had had thought last nights 5 game marathon had taken its toll on unranked invitee Graeme Schnell. Boy were those misguided spectators wrong. The second game clocked in at nearly 40 minutes of non-stop action that made nearly leave the room it was almost too much to handle. Finally, at 18-17 in the second Reiko squeezed a drop in so tight it made his compression socks look loose and he walked away up 2 games with some serious miles put on his opponent.

Fun fact: Peter savagely shredded his insole midway through the second game and the evidence can be seen on his Instagram. “Surely he has nothing left after that!” I heard from a passerby who clearly had never seen Schnell play squash ever before.

The third game picked up where the second left off and back and forth they went. Peter even shot up a hand or two in the middle of games appealing Schnell’s outrageous pickups, but good pickups none the less. Looking literally possessed, Schnell would throw his body around the court and contort himself anyway he could to retrieve every ball.

In the end Peter couldn’t make that ball bounce twice but a loose ball in the middle reminiscent of the final shot of the previous night’s marathon finally did Schnell in. “Stroke match to Peter” said the ref and the match was over. As an aside I felt this match was officiated with such zest that I was able to bribe the ref (PSA Mike McCue) into doing tomorrow night’s semi.

Day TWO : Top seed beaten as Canadian trio advance

Ozzie Vallejos reports

Day 2 is in the books and with the top 8 seeds ready to debut and they did not disappoint.

his evenings squash played out with more drama and intensity than a Latin Soap Opera, but how could it not with names like Leandro Romiglio and Ricardo Lopez in the mix. The South Americans weren’t the only ones making waves as the crowd were treated to a fantastic blend of international styles with every matchup a unique country to country head to head save for 2 All-Canadian bouts.

Here are some of the standouts of the night:

Asyraf Azan 3-1 Abhay Singh

This match easily drew the biggest crowd of the night and rightfully so. Azan continued his electric shot making right out of the blocks. With Singh set to serve, the referee had hardly finished saying “Love all” before the ball grew eyes and found the nick. “1-love Azan”.

And after an exhibition style barrage of winners the first game was in the over and the lower seeded Azan was looking confident. Singh settled into the next game and was able to tame the Malaysian into a playing a slightly more traditional albeit still high paced style of squash. Azan still able to sneak off with the second game but the crowd could tell that the tide was turning.

Singh was off like a cannon in the 3rd game carving out a 6-1 lead eventually closing out the game 11-8. Just when it seemed the upset was off, Azan came roaring back and the two exchanged points blow for blow like a Rocky Balboa fight and up 10-9 in the fourth Azan decided to end the match just as swiftly as he started it…crosscourt nick roller. Azan plays Tomotaka Endo tomorrow at 5:30pm.

Graeme Schnell 3-2 Cameron Seth 

In an evening already highlighted by an upset of the top seed, the crown jewel had to be this match. The only match of the night to go the distance it was obvious early that we were all going to be here a while. Schnell set the tone right away making the rallies long and very physical, pining and probing Seth for weaknesses. At 5-5 in the first Schnell (a Chiropractor) must have tapped into his vocational training, made some adjustments and rattled off the next 6 rallies closing out the game 11-5. Not to be out done Seth made some adjustments of his own and after conceding the first point in the second game, went OFF winning the next 11 in a row!

The crowd was abuzz, and the third game only fueled their fascination. This game alone lasted 30 minutes and as you can imagine the scores were even tighter than their length. The marathon 3rd ended with a leaping Seth, climbing an invisible ladder, backhand plucking a Schnell crosscourt lob from the heavens and burying it straight nick. Greg Gaultier might’ve even shed a tear if he were here to see it. Game to Seth 13-11.

Down 2 games to 1 Schnell clamped down and let out a deep toned “LET’S GOOO!!!!” I didn’t think possible of a man so slight. He took the 4th easily and the crowd got the 5th game they were itching for. Back and forth they went, giving up no easy points when things got testy at 9 all on a “No Let” given to Schnell. The cruelest of calls was followed up with another “No Let” but this time to Seth. Schnell then mustered up the strength to pull one point ahead and finally after almost 90 minutes he got his first match ball opportunity.

Laser focused and looking like Tom Brady heading into overtime Schnell closed out the game forcing his opponent into popping one straight through the center of the court drawing a stroke and ending it all. Schnell plays Reiko Peter tomorrow at 8:30pm.

Day One : THIS is squash!

It was a fantastic kick off to the Guilfoyle PSA Squash Classic and we are once again very pleased to be hosting this event for the 6th year at The Cricket Club.

The keen spectators were treated to high level squash from a bevy of international players as well 3 home club invitees. The fascination was so much so that I had overheard one gob smacked viewer say under their breath “I thought I was playing squash … but now I realize I was playing something totally different…THIS is squash!”

Some notable results of the night:

Cory McCartney (CAN)3-2 Ismail Rauf (CAN)

McCartney came out to an early lead, playing solidly with few errors, seemingly aided by the power nap he took between courts 1 and 2 prior to the start of his match. However, Ismail was able to rally with a flurry of gutsy winners to come from 7—4 down in the second before taking the second game 11-9.

The third started similarly to the second with Rauf seemingly attempting to make as many ball marks just above the freshly lowered tin as possible. Game 3 to Rauf 11-4. McCartney wasn’t to be denied on this day however as he was either unwilling or unable to let the ball bounce twice forcing Rauf into marathon rally after marathon rally followed by brief bouts of tin taps.

The final two games were McCartney’s 11-6, 11-6, and he moves on to play Leandro Romiglio tomorrow night at 5pm.

Asyraf Azan (MAS) 3-0 Elliott Hunt (CAN) 

Our sole junior entry in the event Elliott Hunt, was matched up with the very exciting and talented Malaysian AsyrafAzan. The excitement started in the warm up where the young Malaysian seemingly had an endless supply of no-look, spin, behind-the-back and hold-flick shots during every exchange. Hunt who looked as fit as an 18-year-old NCAA star athlete should be was unfazed and every bit the professional, ready to play spoiler.

However, once the match started Azan turned the dial up to 11 and proved to Hunt that the seemingly endless amounts of trickery in the warm up was truly limitless. Hunt was able to retrieve his way into and even neutralize many of the rallies but lacked many winners (at least one that Azan hadn’t seen before) and was only able to physically grind out a lead of 5-2 midway through the second before playing the rest of the game behind in score and behind his opponent.

Azan moves on to play top seed Abhay Singh tomorrow night at 7pm.