Tortola Classic 2023

Tortola Classic 2023 : FINAL

[4] Spencer Lovejoy (Usa) 3-2 [3] Muhammad Asim Khan (Pak)   11-5, 12-14, 2-11, 11-7, 12-10

This match really had it all!

Asim started slowly and Spencer took full advantage. From 3-2 up he reeled off five straight points and it appeared as if physically Asim may have been feeling the effects of his five set match with Andrew Douglas yesterday. Spencer carried the momentum straight through and took the game with relative ease 11-5. Asim came out much stronger in the second. His trademark work down the backhand wall began to come in to effect and physically he was looking much sharper. After a nip and tuck end to the game he snuck it 14-12 and levelled things up at 1-1.

Post match, Spencer remarked that he got his game plan wrong in the third… he tried to slow things down and Asim picked him off. Asim took charge and won 11-2. He was looking a strong favourite at this point. Spencer upped the pace and intensity in the fourth and it paid dividends. He won 7 points straight to take the 4th 11-6.

Into a fifth we went. After some high quality squash at the start of the 5th from Asim, he managed to open up a 7-1 lead. Spencer was still looking strong physically though and he put in a big push. He played a couple of great points with some fantastic retrievals and Asim also helped him with a few poor points. 7-7.

They traded points until Asim held match ball at 10-9. Spencer saved it. Spencer then earned a match ball of his own and for what seemed like the first time this week Asim’s trusty backhand drop let him down and found the tin. A shame for the match to finish on an error… however it in no way took away from what had been an incredible final!

We were fortunate to have a fantastic five game thriller in last year’s title decider between Balazs Farkas and David Baillargeon… and to get another this year was equally as pleasing!

Huge congratulations to Spencer on a fantastic week of squash and a very well deserved title!

A huge thank you to His Excellency The Governor for being in attendance and making the presentations!

A big thank you also to all the players for helping provide a full day of squash for our members. This started with the Pros helping out with our Junior Programs between 9am and 12pm. They then held a Play The Pro session where several of our members got the chance to take them on. Finally, just prior to the final we had a fun Doubles Exhibition in which Andrew Douglas and Mohamed Zakaria got the better of Adam Murrills and Aaron Allpress.

In order to not let the party stop… both Spencer Lovejoy and Andrew Douglas will be staying on for a couple of days to run some clinics for the adult members on Monday!

I’m already looking forward to next year’s event!

Adam Murrills

Semis : top seeds beaten

  Spencer Lovejoy 3-1 Bernat Jaume

The first game started at quite a slow pace. Neither player was being too pro-active. From 5-4, Bernat took control of the game and asserted himself around the middle of the court. The second game saw Spencer come out with more intensity. He started finding his length and getting the ball through the mid-court allowing him to get in front and play from the middle of the court a bit more. He also started taking the ball in short positively. It was him this time that sped away from 5-4 to take the game 11-5. 1-1 in games.

The heat and outdoor nature of the courts make conditions out here in the BVI tough. Bernat looked to be feeling it physically. Spencer on the other hand… after having just played in similar conditions out in Cartagena, Colombia for the PanAm Champs… seemed to be coping well. He was able to keep the intensity high and he continued to attack short with quality when he got his opportunities. I’ve not seen a huge amount of Spencer… but from the matches I have seen that was the sharpest I’ve seen his short game looking.

He closed out the third and fourth 11-5, 11-2 to secure a good win and a spot in tomorrow’s final.

Muhammad Asim Khan 3-2 Andrew Douglas

Both players play with a nice weight of shot to the back of the court, and they both have the ability to finish points when taking it in short. The first game was a high quality affair with both players performing well. Asim edged it 14-12. Andrew quickly took charge of the second game and it seemed as if maybe Asim was finding it tough on there physically – 11-4 Andrew.

Asim is a very relaxed player and seemed unfazed. He was back on it at the start of the third and earned himself an early two point cushion which he never relinquished before taking the game 11-7. If Asim does create a lead it can be quite hard to wrestle it back as he has the ability to find quick winners. His attacks in to the front left were particularly deadly.

There were some great / physical rallies at the start of the fourth which Andrew got the better of. Asim then went for some speculative shots which didn’t come off and Andrew ran away with the game 11-4. Andrew too was very potent in the front left.

They continued to trade winners in to the front left at the start of the fifth. Some great squash ensued with some lovely finishes. Asim managed to open up another small lead at 4-2 and managed to never allow Andrew back level. It was fitting that he closed out the match with another near perfect backhand straight volley drop. He took the game 11-6 and with it the match 3-2.

Tomorrow’s schedule :
9am-12.15pm: Junior Clinics, 1pm-2.15pm: Play a Pro, 2.15pm-2.55pm: Doubles Exhibition
3pm: Muhammad Asim Khan vs Spencer Lovejoy

Quarters :  top four seeds through to semis

On first was recent US National Finalist Spencer Lovejoy against Canadian Cory McCartney. Cory is very physically fit and has some nice holds on his backhand. Spencer too prides himself on his physicality and his slightly stronger basic game made it hard for Cory to make inroads in the match. Cory competed well and was in the rallies… however more often than not it was Spencer who was able to find the winner. He won the match in efficient style 11-3, 11-7, 11-5.

Bernat Jaume was once again tested tonight by Bryan Cueto of Mexico. Bryan hustled well and had Bernat under some serious pressure for the first 2 games… but it was Bernat who played the important points slightly better to win them both 11-8 and 13-11. After 2 tough games, Bernat then pulled away and started finding more winners as he raced away to take the 3rd 11-1.

Andrew Douglas – US National Champion – was up against Sanjay Jeeva of Malaysia. Sanjay is a very exciting player to watch. He’s very unorthodox and uses his speed and shot making abilities to unsettle the rhythm of his opponents. Andrew has a very solid technique and is a player who prefers playing at a medium pace with a lot of structure. It was going to be a test of who could impose their game on the other for longer. In the first game you could tell Andrew was having trouble reading Sanjay’s attacks.

Sanjay managed to speed up the game and this played in to his hands. With his style of play he will always make a few errors… but he found enough winners to sneak the first game 12-10. Sanjay came out with more of the same in the 2nd game. Andrew weathered the storm and took an important 2nd game 11-9. Patterns started to swing slightly more in Andrew’s favour. Sanjay was attempting his shots from tougher positions and this led to more errors and opportunities for Andrew to ‘tidy up’. Andrew took the 3rd 11-7 for a 2-1 lead. The 4th was close however you felt that now Andrew was just about in charge. He managed to close it out and get his tricky opponent off in 4 games.

The final match of the evening was Muhammad Asim Khan of Pakistan vs the young Frenchman Laszlo Godde. Asim is an incredibly relaxed player with silky skills. In the first 2 games his quality was too much for Laszlo and he opened up a 2 game lead, 11-4, 11-6. Laszlo persevered and got his reward in the 3rd taking the game 11-7 against his higher ranked opponent. Asim isn’t the tournament’s number 3 seed for no reason though and he re-asserted himself to take the 4th 11-3 and the match 3-1.

Following the squash we then all headed up in to the Club’s Restaurant for the Sportsman’s Dinner! The professional players and the club’s members were served a beautiful 3 course meal. The members were then treated to two Q&A sessions with the pros. First up we had Tino Antonio Mackay Palacios, Aaron Allpress and Muhammad Asim Khan, and then we had Bernat Jaume, Spencer Lovejoy and Sanjay Jeeva. The guys were great with their answers being both fun and informative. A very enjoyable evening!

For those that didn’t make it in to tomorrow’s semi finals we have a boat trip lined up around the gorgeous surrounding islands! Post boat trip we then have what should be 2 awesome matches to look forward to–

5.30pm – Bernat Jaume vs Spencer Lovejoy
6.30pm – Andrew Douglas vs Muhammad Asim Khan

Adam Murrills

Day TWO : Seeds win through to the quarters

Another great evening of squash in front of a packed crowd. All top 8 seeds managed to navigate their way through to tomorrow’s quarter finals.

Unfortunately this meant that local hope Joe Chapman bowed out to young Frenchman Laszlo Godde. Laszlo was solid from the start. Squash is such a brutal sport that if one player has the physical edge it can be very difficult to break them down. With Joe no longer training full time… he wasn’t quite able to match the intensity of his younger counterpart. Joe showed his quality and threatened in the 2nd but couldn’t quite take the game succumbing 11-9. Laszlo will be happy to have then closed it out in three games.

Most of the seeds managed to win their matches relatively comfortably however two matches could have gone either way.

Based on their rankings Cory McCartney (Canada) was strong favourite to take down Stephen Hearst (Northern Ireland)… however Stephen had other ideas. Steve’s technically a nice player and he moves the ball around intelligently. In the first game he outmaneuvered Cory for the most part and led all the way to 10-9. Cory’s resilience and grit kept him in it. Steve was unable to convert his three game balls and Cory took an important first game. Cory once again saved a game ball in the second before closing it out 12-10.

Cory then maybe suffered a slight dip physically in the 3rd which Steve took 11-5 whilst once again playing a nice brand of squash. But the Canadian was back on it again in the fourth with a renewed intensity which carried him through to an 11-6 win. When the two spoke post game… Cory commented that Steve had played the better squash in the first two games and could easily have been 2-0 up himself. Credit to Cory though for his attitude and court coverage. His billet has informed me that he went back for thirds this evening… well deserved!

The match everyone was anticipating did not disappoint! Bernat Jaume and Mohamad Zakaria put on a great show for everyone in attendance – including His Excellency Governor Jon Rankin. The two had played previously with Bernat sneaking it 3-2… so the Spaniard knew not to underestimate his young opponent.

Both players came out firing and the intensity was high from the first exchanges. Zakaria is very sharp around the court and very skillful with the racket. Bernat too is a skillful player and he used his stronger frame to dominate the middle of the court. From there he was clinical with his attacks both short and long. The first 2 games were very well contested however Bernat managed to pull away from the mid-stage in each taking them 11-7, 11-6. Zakaria responded strongly in the 3rd and managed to wrestle back the momentum. He used his speed around the front of the court and managed to find several wristy winners. 11-8 Zakaria and we were heading in to a fourth.

Zakaria appeared to have all the momentum and Bernat appeared to be feeling the conditions as Zakaria opened up a 5-0 lead. Bernat didn’t panic though and gradually chipped away at the lead. From 8-8 both players played some great squash. It was awesome to see these big points being decided by winners and not errors. Both players had their chances but it was the Spaniard who held his nerve to take the game 14-12 and with it the match 3-1. Zakaria really is quite a talent at just 15 years of age. I’m sure we’ll be seeing him fly up the rankings over the coming months / years. Bernat too was very impressive tonight and I’m sure that performance will give him confidence moving forwards for the rest of the tournament.

Taylor Carrick may have gone down 3-0 to second seed Andrew Douglas… however he went down a treat with our young juniors! Big thank you to Taylor for doing a little Q&A with our 5-8 year olds! These kind of things make tournaments all the more special for the host club and their members!

Bring on the quarters!     Adam Murrills

Day ONE : Locals enjoy the exposure

A fun first evening of squash at the Carey Olsen Tortola Classic 2023! After several late withdrawals we were afforded the luxury of having 9 local players in the draw. Our players were thrilled to get the opportunity to test themselves against some of the best players in the world in front of strong local crowd!

Seven of the matches tonight were BVI v The Rest Of The World. The BVI players gave it their all and put in some strong performances however they were unable to beat any of their Professional counterparts.

Special mention must go to Danny Henderson who at the young age of 15 years old managed to take the first game against his Mexican opponent who’s ranked 378 in the world.

At 1-1 he also held game ball in the third narrowly losing out 15-13. The final score was 7-11, 11-2, 15-13, 11-4 in favour of Armando Olguin. Overall it was a very encouraging performance from Danny and one which will hopefully provide him with confidence moving forwards.

Another highlight of the night was getting to watch young Mohamad Zakaria. Like Danny, Zakaria is only 15 years old and he looks like a real talent.

He’s already established himself as one of the top juniors in the world. Dion gave it his best effort but Zakaria’s quality shone through. I know the crowd are very much looking forward to watching him tomorrow against the tournament’s number one seed and World Ranked number 58 Bernat Jaume.

In the eighth match of the evening we saw two BVI players match up against each other in the form of Joe Chapman and Rory Thornton. These two are no stranger to each other and played in last year’s National Final. Joe has previously been ranked as high as 98 in the world and his pedigree showed tonight. He now carries BVI’s hopes in to the last 16 where he will face Laszlo Godde.

Tomorrow we look forward to the top 8 seeds joining in the action!   Adam Murrills