site stats
Monthly Archives: April 2014

Zac comes back to claim victory in the fifth


Zac Alexander (AUS) bt Todd Harrity (USA) 3-11, 6-11, 11-4, 13-11, 13-11

In a thrilling five game finish to the event on a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon, Australian Zac Alexander avenged two recent losses to his opponent, American Todd Harrity. Zac is the second Australian to lay his hands on the Rochester ProAm title since Ryan Cuskelly’s Rochester triumph in 2009.


Todd looked comfortably on his way to seal the match after the first two games with both players playing at a high pace but Todd’s volleys eventually getting the better of Zac. In the third, Zac appeared to work the front corners, especially the right, very effectively to his advantage and quickly got a game under his belt. The fourth and fifth games saw both players neck to neck in points with the pace slowing down only slightly. 10-8 up in the fifth, Todd squandered two match balls eventually conceding to a gritty Zac.


Final presentation:

Full match replay via UStream:

Posted in 2014

The stage is set

Match reports by Jesse Cramer:

Zac Alexander bt. Asyraf Azan (9-11, 11-9, 11-6 3-11, 12-10) in 104 minutes
The weather is gorgeous outside here in Rochester, a rare occasion. But inside the Lyman Squash Center, Asyraf Azan and Zac Alexander faced off in the first semi-final match. Asyraf’s game plan was very apparent, boasting an unusual number of times. He was trying to expose what he thought was rust in Zac’s movement. But Zac seemed prepared for it, moving quite fluidly and striking the ball with stereotypical Aussie cleanliness. All tied up at 4-4, some early nerves and tins from both players. They settled down, and started playing clean rallies and clean winning shots. Asyraf’s speed allowed him to keep a few tough points going, winning some rallies even though Zac seemed in control. 8-6 to Asyraf. An unforced tin from Zac, followed by a cross-court fade from Zac, and then a tin from Asyraf , and it’s 8-9, Zac’s serve. The serve was loose, and Asyraf crushed it into the nick, 10-8. Asyraf squandered his first game ball, hitting a weak tin. But on his second, he managed the squeeze Zac to the backhand wall, forcing a loose shot from Zac that resulted in a stroke. First game to the Malaysian, 11-9.
To start the second, Asyraf playing exhibition style squash, going for nicks and using rather inefficient movement patterns. Although fun to watch, it hurt him more than it helped, as Zac used play to build a 5-3 lead, and then 6-4 lead. A bit of controversy on the next point, as Asyraf’s drop clipped a small crack in the front wall plaster and jumped unnaturally sideways; Zac kept playing, Asyraf stopped…a no let was given. Can we get an official ruling from someone in cyberspace? The best rallies, in my opinion, are when the two players trade control multiple times, showing that they can both distribute and absorb pressure. The tail end of the second game was defined by those rallies, and the crowd was very much appreciative. Asyraf found his finishing touch, and out-manuevered Zac back to 8-8. Tin, tin, tin after three lengthy rallies, 10-9 to Zac. A few lets over the next three rallies, Zac unhappy with Asyraf’s movement, and Asyraf unhappy with the ref’s judgment. After another drawn out rally, Zac squeezed Asyraf with a tight drop shot, and Asyraf could not pick it up cleanly; game to Zac, 11-9.
Zac’s continued his consistent play in the third, taking advantage of some unwise and poorly executed attacking shots from Asyraf; 3-0 after 45 seconds. Although it appeared Asyraf was settling down, the crowd was baffled when, after a legitimate let call, the Malaysian threw down his racket, kick the ground, and punched the wall. After another let call, the Malaysian released a barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world, “WHHHHHY ref?! WHY?!” Proceedings were getting chippy. The squash carried on to 5-5. Straight nick roller, an easy tin, and a stroke; 8-5 to Zac. Two traded rallies, and then an unforced tin from Asyraf, 10-6 to Zac. Right off the next serve, Asyraf found the tin, and the third went to Zac 11-6, 2-1 up.
Zac couldn’t maintain his form into the fourth, and Asyraf took advantage of the many free points that Zac gave him. 4-1 quickly grew into 8-2, and the game was all but over. The fourth to Asyraf, 11-3.
The fifth, as could be expected, was slow and staccato. Many lets interrupted play, as the match surpassed the 80 minutes mark. The scoreline advanced slowly but evenly, the two players locked at 3-3. But by using some unforced errors from Zac, combined with a couple cheeky winners, Asyraf built an imposing 7-4 lead. Back and forth, 8-5. A wonderful drop shot, 9-5. Zac tried to sneak a shot down the middle, but Asyraf read it and took advantage of Zac’s bad position, 10-5 match ball. But after a straight nick, a tin, and a no let, Zac found himself at 8-10. Another tin from Asyraf, 9-10. Next point, Zac held Asyraf and sent him the wrong way. By the time the Malaysian recovered, the ball was dying in the back. 10-10, tie-breaker. Doesn’t get closer than this. Another dying length from Zac, and a no let; 11-10, match ball for the Aussie. After a series of lets, a reverse boast from Zac sent Asyraf the wrong way, and the comeback was complete. Zac Alexander wins a drawn out thriller, 12-10 in the fifth.

Todd Harrity bt. Peter Creed (11-8, 11-7, 11-5) in 45 minutes
Fast players and fast play defined the early goings of the second semi-final match. The crowd was enthralled by Peter skittering and scuttling about the court, while Todd’s fast reactions across the T kept Creedy under pressure. Still, the squash was even, and the players fought to 6-6. A few tight lengths in a row gave Todd a crucial two point advantage, and he continued tight play to secure three game balls. Although Creedy saved the first, Todd converted the second. First to Harrity, 11-8.
Todd continued his strong play into the second, and Peter couldn’t maintain his class from the first. A 4-1 lead grew to 8-2, as Todd vollied Peter into the back of the court time and again. Creedy fought back to 6-9, then 7-10, but the hole was too deep. The second goes to Todd, 11-7.
More pressure to start the third from Todd. 3-1, 5-2, 6-3 to Todd. Even when Peter anticipated a shot, Todd was too wide, or too tight, or too low. At 9-4 down, Creedy released his emotions towards the heavens, a culmination of his frustration. A stroke gave Todd six match balls. Peter saved the first, but Todd converted the second. Game and match to Harrity, 11-5.

And so the stage is set for tomorrow…will Zac be the second Australian to become the next Rochester ProAm Champion (following in the footsteps of his countryman Ryan Cuskelly in 2009) or will Todd become the first American to claim the title in the 13 year history of the event. We find out tomorrow at noon Eastern time. Live streaming action at

Posted in 2014

Quarterfinals complete

Court 1 (Recorded Stream) –

Court 2 (Recorded Stream) –

Muhd Asyraf Azan bt Ahmad Alzabidi 9-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-7
Zac Alexander bt Aqib Hanif 11-2, 11-7,12-10
Todd Harrity bt Lewis Walters 13-11, 11-9, 11-4
Michael McCue v Peter Creed bt Michael McCue 11-4, 14-12, 11-5

Photos by Paul Schwartz:

Match reports by Karan Mehrotra:

Muhd Asyraf Azan (MAS) bt. Ahmad Alzabidi (JOR): 3-1 (9-11; 11-7; 11-7; 11-7)

The first game started with both players hitting some solid shots all around the court. Crucial mistake by Asyraf opens a window for Ahmad at 9-7. He converts it at 11-9. Ahmad is 1-0 up! The second game starts with a string of let calls. Some close but great calls by the referee and display of good basic squash puts Asyraf in a 4-2 lead. Ahmad turns it on and plays some attacking squash to level it at 6-6. In the midst of several let calls, the Malaysian keeps up the attack on Ahmad and closes the game at 11-7. Third game begins with Asyraf using his brilliant touch to race to an early 4-1 lead. Ahmad counter attacks and forces 3 tins from Asyraf to level it 6-6. Asyraf concentrates on tight basic squash to march in a 9-7 lead and keeps his calm to seal the 3rd game 11-7. The fourth starts with some past paced action from both players and remain equally matched at 6-6. This is Asyraf shows his class to take an important 9-7 lead. Can the tall Jordanian come back now to keep his hopes of staying in the match alive! Asyraf has different plans and takes a lead at 10-7 to give him 3 match balls. Asyraf converts by forcing a tin off Ahmad to take the match 11-7 in fourth. Asyraf is through to the semis!

Todd Harrity (USA) bt. Lewis (ENG): 3-0 (13-11; 11-9; 11-4)
The first game begins with some clean fundamental squash from both players tied at 3-3. Great exhibition of skills all around the court! Persistence by Lewis pays off and he advances into an early lead at 6-4. But Todd uses his great touch at the front of court and makes a comeback! Todd now leads 9-8 as we head into the business end of the first game. And we’re tied 10-10. Some great hitting by Todd and he clinches a thriller at 13-11. The second game begins with mistakes by Todd in the front corners giving Lewis a small early lead of 3-2. Great rallies by both players and they are locked in 6-6. Back-to-back errors by Todd and Lewis goes into a sizeable lead at 9-6. Todd stages another quick comeback and ties at 9-9. An unforced error by Lewis gives Todd a gameball and he converts it quickly to wrap up the second at 11-9. The third game starts with Todd in full control now. Killer drop shots by Todd and mistakes by Lewis puts Todd in command at 7-4. Impressive and aggressive squash by Todd gives him his first matchball at 10-4 ….and he converts it!! Todd wins 3-0. Great match of squash!

Posted in 2014

First Round Action

Match reports by Jesse Cramer, Photos by Paul Schwartz:

Asyraf Azan bt. Cameron Stafford (6-11, 11-7, 11-7, 13-11)

DSC_9859First round of the Rochester ProAm, and the number 1 seed Asyraf faced off the against the potentially fatigued qualifier Cameron Stafford. The first started out with Asyraf looking rather unconcerned, and Cameron jumped out to a 5-0 lead in less than 90 seconds. The crowd, suffice to say, was speechless. Asyraf did settle down eventually, and pulled back to 4-7 after some basic, clean squash. But a couple of tins and some soft Caymanian hands drove Cameron to 10-4 up, and he converted the third game up with a thunderous nick off the serve. 11-6 to Cameron, 1-0 up.
The second game started with a visibly more focused Asyraf, as he pushed Cam deep into the court time and again, and then capitalized with a soft touch up front. Although Asyraf jumped out to a quick 6-2 lead, Cam fought back to 5-6, but a few tins gave Asyraf another big lead at 9-5. Although Cam fought to 7-9, Asyraf played a couple well-constructed rallies to win the game 11-7. One all.
The third starting with Asyraf in control at 4-1 up, but Cameron drew level at 4-4. A few points traded back and forth until Asyraf gained a crucial two point lead at 8-6, and the 9-7. A stroked then gave Asyraf three game balls at 10-7 up. A straight backhand kill secured it for Asyraf, winning the third 11-7.
In the fourth, it appeared that Asyraf was in control, but a few unforced errors gave Cameron a 5-3 lead, which he quickly turned into 7-4. But back came Asyraf, tying the game at 7-7. But Cameron refused to be beaten, scrambling around the court and picking up winners, eventually winning the rallies himself; 9-7 to Stafford. But two correct no lets brought Asyraf back to 9-9, and the atmosphere grew tense. A stroke gave Asyraf his first match ball, but a wonderful volley length from Cam resulted in a no let, and the tie-break ensued. After a straight nick winner from Cameron, Asyraf put together two solid rallies to gain a 12-11 lead. After a lengthy rally, a cross-court fade from Asyraf hit its second bounce before Cam could pick it up, and the fourth game and match go to Asyraf, 13-11.

Recorded stream – Alzabidi vs Bukhari, Alexander vs Leong, Harrity vs Khan, McCue vs Kobayashi:

Ahamd Alzabidi bt. Hamza Bukhari (11-9, 11-2, 8-11, 9-11, 11-7)

This match saw big (Ahmad) vs. small (Hamza) in a wonderful clash of styles. Hamza played clean and smooth, while Ahmad played hard and fast. Both players found common ground, however, when it came to asking “Why?” to the referee. Back and forth they went to 5-5, before Ahmad was able to string together a few drops and nicks to take him to 8-5. But back came Hamza, keep the pace steady and clean to 8-8. Discussion ensued, both lawyers…err, players…making their cases to the referee. Back and forth, Ahmad eventually putting together a few clean shots to get to 10-9 up. And an unforced tin from Hamza gave Ahmad the first, 11-9.
The second started with Ahmad controlling the pace through volleying every ball possible, keeping Hamza at the back of the court. Just like the first, both players felt compelled to plead with the judge…sorry, referee…to prove their respective cases. But overall, Ahmad controlled the pace with his volleys, and finished the rallies with touch and flicks, building a 7-1 lead. Although Hamza managed to put together a few good rallies, Ahmad’s pressure and touch proved too much, winning the second 11-2.
Hamza came out much more settled in the third, and steadily built a 4-1 lead. Ahmad clawed back to 3-5 down, and then the pain ensued; argument after argument, neither player happy with the other’s movement nor the ref’s decisions. C’mon fellas, the ball should be your focus. Decision after decision, an injury timeout finally had to be taken for the referee, as his hand was cramping from all the let calls. Hamza managed to put together a few rallies to take a 9-5 lead. Although Ahmad fought back to 8-10, a stroke gave Hamza the game, 11-8. 2-1 overall to Ahmad.
Should I mention that the fourth was contentious? I’m just a man with a keyboard and an opinion, but this is the dark side of squash. Nobody minds the occasional player comment, but this kind of squash is what every fan fears. It’s hard to write about the rallies when the crowd is focused on the players’ commentary. But, you squash enthusiasts, I’ll do my best. Hamza started out the stronger of the two, but Ahmad started hitting his shots and fought back to 9-9. But a down-the-middle cross court shot drew a stroke against Ahmad, and Hamza found himself with a game ball to force a deciding fifth game. A tin from Ahmad ended it; 11-9 to Hamza, 2-2.
Ahmad started out strong in the fifth, forcing loose shots and tins out of Hamza to take a 4-0 lead. But Hamza climbed back to 5-7, taking advantage of some tinny play from Ahmad. A stroke followed by a dead roller gave Ahmad a 9-5 lead, and it appeared as though the match was his to lose. A hoooooold-straight drive gave Ahmad a 10-5 lead, as Hamza couldn’t find his balance to retrieve the deceptive shot. Although Hamza clawed a couple game balls back, Ahmad pulled it out 11-7.

Aqib Hanif bt. Mario Yanez (11-13, 11-5, 5-11, 11-2, 11-4)

First things first, is that Wael el Hindi playing in capri pants?! No, it’s the ever-so-smooth Aqib Hanif. Good squash was played from the first, but Hanif was applying a bit more pressure than Mario, and the scoreline favored Aqib 6-4. But Mario fought back to 7-7, retrieving Aqib’s best shots and returning pressure of his own. A beautiful jumping cross-court nick brought Mario to 9-9, and the pressure was on. The two traded points to 10-10, and then a wonderful hold-hold-length gave Mario his first game ball. Although he couldn’t convert at 11-10, Mario got another game ball at 12-11, and converted with a dying forehand length. 13-11 and 1-0 to Yanez.
Aqib started the second much more determined, and quickly built a 5-1 lead, using tight length and soft touch to force Mario into unforgiving positions. Unfortunately, Mario had no good answer, and Aqib found himself 10-2 up. Although Mario was able to save three game balls, the lead was insurmountable, and Aqib pulled even with an 11-5 second game win.
Mario carried his late game momentum into the third, and pushed Aqib around the court time and again, finishing the rallies wonderfully to the tune of a 6-1 lead. Aqib fought back to 4-6, but Mario kept pushing the pace and forced some errors to go up 9-4, before winning the game 11-5. Yanez up 2-1.
Mario could not hold his form going into the fourth, finding the tin too many times. Aqib took advantage to build a 6-2 lead. Mario simply couldn’t come back, and the game went to Aqib 11-2. Two games all.
The fifth game started out tight, but Aqib began to pull away, as it appeared the qualification rounds began to show in Mario?s legs. A 5-2 lead quickly grew to 10-4. Try as he might, Mario could not come back, and Aqib converted his first game ball to win 11-4.

Zac Alexander bt. Leroy Leong (11-4, 11-3, 11-4)

From the first point, Zac asserted himself on the T and refused to let Leroy gain any semblance of control. Zac?s 5-0 lead grew to an 11-3 victory.?The second picked up where the first left off, Zac controlling the T, the pace, the points. Although more competitive, Zac still won with a fair margin, 11-4.
The third, again, saw the tall Aussie dominating play, leaving no openings for Leroy to make any headway. The third to Zac, 11-3.

Lewis Walters bt. Thomas Brinkman (11-13, 11-1, 11-6, 11-4)
DSC_9906Back and forth they went. 3-1 turned into 3-5 into 7-6, as neither Lewis nor Thomas could establish and maintain a lead. Sure enough, they found themselves at 11-11 after 15 minutes of wonderful squash. But at 12-11 up, Thomas played a wonderful straight flick that had even the fans going to wrong way. First game to Brinkman, 13-11.?The second saw a turning of the tides. Lewis came out like a bat out of hell, dominating the pace and taking full advantage of too many Brinkman tins. The second goes quickly to Walters, 11-1.?Lewis carried his good play into the third, going up 3-1, then 5-2, then 8-4. Try as he might, Thomas could not close the gap. Although he did get to 6-8 down, Brinkman eventually succumbed to Lewis?s pressure. The third to Walters, 11-6.?Although Thomas was applying pressure, his finishing shot found the tin too much. Lewis, meanwhile, was playing error-free squash and gained a 6-1 lead. More steady play from Lewis, some fancy tins from Thomas, and the match was all but over. Thomas saved a few match balls, but Lewis finally converted to win the game and match 11-4.

Todd Harrity bt. Shahjahan Khan (11-9, 11-6, 11-8)
DSC_9904Hard and straight from Todd. Smooth and steady from Shah. This match saw clean hitting and clean play. Shah suffered through Todd?s early pressure, and built himself a nice 7-3 lead. But Todd fought back, making nary a mistake, to 7-8, and then 8-9. A tin leveled to two, 9-9, and a tight drop from Todd gave him a game ball at 10-9. After a lengthy rally, Todd pinned Shah in the back, and Shah couldn?t dig it out; 11-9 to Todd. In the second, Todd began to establish his physical superiority, moving Shah around and dominating the T. After falling behind 5-0, Shah managed to string a few points together, coming back to 4-6. But it wasn?t enough. Todd regained control to go up 9-5, and then 10-6. Shah scrambled to stay in the game, but his back-wall boast clipped out of court, and Todd pulled out the second game 11-6 to gain a 2-0 lead.
The third saw more of the same, with Todd asserting himself a bit more than Shah. But after Todd gained a 8-5, Shah came back to make it 8-8, and the crowd was excited. A lengthy rally ensued, only to end in…an accidental back-wall nick, 9-8 to Todd. The next rally was even lengthier, only to end in…another back-wall nick, 10-8. Todd converted his first match ball on a beautiful backhand volley drop, winning the third and the match 11-8.

Peter Creed bt. Chris Binnie (11-7, 11-2, 11-3)

DSC_9954Creedy is used to playing against bigger opponents, but not many as big as Chris Binnie. The crowd loved the contrast, but sadly for Chris, they usually choose David over Goliath.?The squash was even and clean at the start, Creedy gaining a slight 6-4 advantage. Peter was playing the tighter of the two, but was also making more errors, allowing Chris to stay close. Everyone appreciated some great sportsmanship from Chris when he agreed to play a let (even though he was given a stroke) at 6-8 down. Creedy won the point, and turned what could have been 8-7 into 9-6. Chris could not come back, and Peter won the first 11-7.
Creedy continued his strong play into the second, picking up all of Chris?s best shots and returning some quality of his own. Clearly, he?s hiding some power in his beard…or his leg tattoo…or maybe his Alfafa hair-do. 3-0 turned into 7-1, Peter completely in control. If one thing is true, Creedy knows how to construct a rally. At 10-2 up, the game was all but won, and Creedy?s tight drop shot sealed the deal. 11-2 to Creed, 2-0 up.
Too much speed, too much Creed. Even with a few unforced errors, Peter continued to control the pace and the scoreline in the third. The pressure from Chris in some rallies seemed insurmountable, but Peter scrambled and absorbed, drawing wordless smiles from the awestruck fans. Game and match to Creed, 11-3.

Mike McCue bt. Ryosei Kobayashi (11-8, 11-13, 11-6, 12-10)

Two youngsters faced off in this first round match, with Rochester freshman Ryosei Kobayashi taking on Canadian (relative) newcomer Mike McCue. Mike took advantage of some loose play from Ryo early on, and built a strong 6-3 lead. Ryo managed to put a couple points together, but Mike still held on, up 8-5. Never say die, and Ryo fought back to 8-9 down, and the crowd grew edgy. But it wasn?t quite enough, and Mike held on to win the first, 11-8.?
Ryo appeared fatigued coming into the second, and Mike took full advantage, steadfastly building an 8-4 lead. But a two solid rallies and two tins brought Ryo back to 8-8, anyone?s game. Back and forth, 9-9. And then Ryo anticipated a cross-court and played a perfect length, securing his first game ball, 10-9 up. After a couple dubious lets, Mike managed to save it, 10-10. Then Ryo?s turn to save a game ball, 11-11. A tight drop gave Ryo another game ball, and then CLAP OF THUNDER, Ryo smashed a straight drive too hard, too low for Mike to pick up. The second to Kobayashi, 13-11.
Cheeky, Kobe. That was just cheeky. Ryo was pleasing the crowd while fighting for points, but it was Mike that gained a 3-1 lead. Some early scrappiness turned into downright contention, as Mike wasn?t happy with Ryo?s movement nor the calls he was getting. Squash on, gents, and Mike gained a 6-4 lead. A lucky (unlucky?) nick, followed by a tin gave Mike a commanding 8-4 lead. Mike wouldn?t relinquish, winning the game 11-6.?
Mike started the fourth determined to end the match, but Ryo had other ideas. Despite falling behind 3-1, Ryo hit some magical shots to take the lead 5-3. Not too fast, Ryo, as Mike made it 6-6. Back and forth to 8-8, and then 9-9. Ryo kept attacking, but Mike defended like a Spartan. Finally, Mike forced a tin out of Ryo to get a match ball, but KOOOOOOBE, Ryo hit a rolling nick to force the tie break. Another steady rally from Mike, 11-10. Finally, Mike squeezed Ryo too tight on the backhand wall, winning the game and match 12-10.

Posted in 2014

And your qualifiers for 2014 are…

Cameron Stafford (CAY) bt. Neil Cordell (ENG) 11-4, 12-10, 11-9
Ahmad Alzabidi (JOR) bt. Luke Butterworth (ENG) 11-8, 11-6, 11-4
Ryosei Kobayashi (JAP) bt. Chris Hanson (USA) 3-0
Mario Yanez (MEX) bt. Bradbury Thompson (USA) 12-10, 11-4, 11-2

Match reports by Jesse Cramer:
Cameron Stafford bt. Neil Cordell (11-4, 12-10, 11-9)
Just a couple months ago, these two trained a bit at Cameron’s home club in South Sound, Cayman Islands. Tonight they met again, but on Neil’s home court at the University of Rochester. In the knock up, it was clearly evident that Cameron had recently spent significant time in the island sun, while Cordell had just emerged pasty-white from his months-long study session in the snowy caverns of the University of Rochester library.
The match started out quickly for Cameron, as he used hot ball tactics to jump out to a 8-2 lead before Neil could find his length and width. Too little, too late, as Stafford won the first 11-4.
The second was much more steady for Neil, as he used basic play to wear down Cameron. But Cameron fought to 7-7, never letting Neil get too comfortable on the T. Back and forth rallies took the boys to 9-9, and then 10-10. Cameron earned a game ball at 11-10, and an ever-so-glancing tin from Neil gave the second and a 2-0 lead to Stafford.
Again in the third, Cameron jumped out to a quick lead, finding himself up 6-1 after only a few minutes. Hard and low, again and again; that was Cam’s tactic. But back came Neil, and matters got exciting with Neil 9-10 down. Unfortunately, Neil played a slightly loose shot that Cameron anticipated, and there was no option but to award the stroke to decide the match. Stafford wins the third 11-9.

Ahmad Alzabidi bt. Luke Butterworth (11-8, 11-6, 11-4)

This qualifying final saw the two 24-year olds turning the squash court into a conspicuously small space. Tall lads with a long reach, the two looked like pterodactyls across the T. The first game was marked with a steady dialogue between the players and ref, but squash must carry on. Some harried, early nerves took the players to 6-6. Ahmad won a massive rally to take the 7-6 lead, and carried that momentum to take the game 11-8.
The second started where the first ended; back and forth squash, sprinkled with curious glances at the referee. Ahmad squeezed a few errors and strokes out of Luke, building a 7-4 lead. A couple beautiful rallies extended that lead to 9-5, then 10-5, as Ahmad found the nick with relative ease. A Buttery tin at 6-10 down gave the second to Ahmad, up 2-0.
Ahmad continued his good play into the third, moving Luke to all four corners on his way to a 7-1 lead. Luke managed to settle down a bit, but it wasn’t enough, as Ahmad won the third 11-4.

Mario Yanez bt. Bradbury Thompson (12-10, 11-4, 11-2)
Run, Rabbit, run. This match saw some classic Mexican and American styles; hard hitting, long rallies, and a diagnosable phobia of taking the ball in short. No, fans, you aren’t watching a conditioned deep game. The players traded points to 9-9 in the first, nothing between them. Brad earned the first game ball at 10-9 up, but could not convert. Mario got the next at 11-10, and promptly squeezed a tin out of Brad. First game to Yanez, 12-10.
In the second, Mario began to show his All-American class. Great shots, great speed, and steady length. A 5-1 lead quickly grew to 10-3. After Brad saved the first game ball, Mario played a beautiful Finnish boast (see: Hameed Ahmed) to win the second 11-4.
The third picked up where the second left off. Yanez controlled the pace, played some skillful shots (including a Selby between-the-legs volley winner), and won the game and match going away, 11-2 in the third.

Ryosei Kobayashi bt. Chris Hanson (20-18, 11-9, 11-8)
This match could’ve taken place at the Collegiate Squash Individuals, as both Hanson and Kobayashi are recent All-Americans. Instead of battling for pride and namely titles, tonight they fought for a spot in the main draw of the Rochester ProAm.
A few early errors from Ryo gave Chris a 6-2 lead. But Ryo settled down, using some classic Kobe trickery to pull level at 7-7. It wasn’t the cleanest squash, as both players found themselves unhappy with the ref at various moments. A blood injury paused play at 10-10. Chris earned a game ball, but Ryo found magic in his racquet and rolled a forehand-crosscourt nick. They then traded a few game balls, but neither could convert. 14-14. Amazing dives, great nicks, but neither players could win more than 2 points in a row, and they kept trading game balls to 18-18. One cross-court nick from Ryo, 19-18. Another! 20-18, first game to Kobayashi in amazing fashion. How do you say “yallah” in Japanese?!
The second saw more flair from Ryo, and more steady strength from Chris. Ryo found himself 7-5 up, and had an amazing scrambling rally to get an 8-5 lead. Some tiiiiiight play from Chris brought him back to 7-8, including one point ending after a Pilley-sized whiff from Ryo. Another contentious rally, and Hanson had tied it up at 8-8. But two tins from Chris in the next three points proved crucial, as Ryo won the tight second game 11-9.
In the third, Ryo quickly built a 4-0 lead. Although physical fatigue might have played a role, it looked as if the mental strife of losing two such close games might have caused more harm to Chris than any amount of sprinting. Yet, he regained his focus, noticeably slowed down the pace, and fought back to 5-5. But a nick off the serve, followed by two strong rallies, gave Ryo an 8-5 lead that he would not relinquish. Chris fought off two games balls from 6-10 down, but Chris found the tin after a physical rally to give Ryo the game and match, 11-8.

The scoreline might read 3-0, but both players and all the fans felt as if they had just gone through a five-game thriller; well played to both competitors!

Posted in 2014

2014 Qualifying Under Way In Rochester

First night of qualifying off to a flying start with all three University of Rochester locals moving into the next round…

Cameron Stafford (CAY) bt. Omar Sobhy (USA) 11-8, 12-10, 11-8
Neil Cordell (ENG) bt. Adam Perkiomaki (USA) 11-4, 11-5, 8-11, 2-11, 11-8
Luke Butterworth (ENG) bt. Adnan Gul (PAK) 11-4, 11-4, 11-2
Ahmad Alzabidi (JOR) bt. Faraz Khan (USA) 11-9, 11-8, 11-3
Ryosei Kobayashi (JAP) bt. Sergio Lopez (MEX) 11-6, 13-15, 8-11, 11-6, 11-8
Chris Hanson (USA) bt. Mike Lewis (USA) 11-1, 11-1, 11-4
Bradbury Thompson (USA) bt. Victor Manuel Garcia Ramirez (MEX) 12-10, 11-5, 11-4
Mario Yanez (MEX) bt. Jonathan Maloney (ENG) 11-9, 11-7, 8-11, 11-4

Photos by Paul Schwartz:

Match reports by Jesse Cramer:

Neil Cordell (ENG) bt. Adam Perkiomaki (USA) 11-4, 11-5, 8-11, 2-11, 11-8

The first match-up of the night saw two Rochester boys face-off, with recent graduate Adam Perkiomaki facing current team captain Neil Cordell. Neil started off completely in control. The pace was relatively slow, and that allowed Neil to keep it tight and dominate the T. Perko struggled to get in front, and it was a matter of time until Neil pulled away, winning the first two game with relative ease.
Perko was a new animal though starting in the third. He stepped up the court, quickened the pace, volleying anything within reach. Sure enough, openings began to crop up in the front of the court, and Perko took full advantage. Cordell looked like a New York City tourist, needing one taxi after another to retrieve Perko’s holds and flicks (sorry Neil). And with the change in momentum, Perko won the third and fourth. 2-2.
The fifth started off slow and awkward. After couple decent Cordell rallies, a couple tins, and a couple fluke shots, Perko found himself down 6-0. Although Adam never stopped fighting (he came back to 6-8 and 8-10), Cordell would not relinquish his lead. The fifth goes to Cordell 11-8, and the Rochester captain wins the match.

Ahmad Alzabidi (JOR) bt. Faraz Khan (USA) 11-9, 11-8, 11-3

Former University of Rochester #1 Faraz Khan returned to Rochester hoping to cause some damage, but the young and talented Ahmad Alzabidi had other ideas. The first started out relatively evenly. Khan’s game plan, per usual, was to move Alzabidi around the court while retrieving every shot possible. Alzabidi, meanwhile, attempted to blow Khan off the court with constant hard-hitting, domination of the T, and soft hands up front. Although it appeared Khan might pull it out at 8-6 up, Alzabidi put together a string of good rallies to come back and pull it out.
In the second, Alzabidi got out the an early 5-3 lead, but it appeared he might be feeling it physically; at the very least, he was doing more running than Khan. Despite a noticeable dip in speed, Alzabidi managed to maintain his lead through a change in tactic. Rather than hard-and-low pressure, Alzabidi began to lob/drop Khan and won the second to go 2-0 up.
The third began in a promising fashion, with the two players trading points back and forth. But Alzabidi quickly turned 3-all into 8-3, and the match was all but over.

Luke Butterworth (ENG) bt. Adnan Gul (PAK) 11-4, 11-4, 11-2

A clash of styles was glaringly apparent, as Butterworth used traditional English tactics to control the game, while Gul used any loose shot—and even some tight ones—to attack the front of the court. Although the match started out in a promising fashion, it quickly became apparent that Butterworth’s game plan was going to be more effective. For every time that Gul put Butters under pressure, there were 5 loose attacks that resulted in Luke having time and options in the front. And once the attacks started to fail, Gul ended up doing much more running than preferred.
Soon, the match turned into a comfortable, controlling Butterworth against a scrambling, tired, but still attacking, Gul. Unless you’re Ramy Ashour, scrambling and attacking is a tall task; this match was case-in-point. Butterworth cruises to a 3-0 victory.

Ryosei Kobayashi (JAP) bt. Sergio Lopez (MEX) 11-6, 13-15, 8-11, 11-6, 11-8

In this match, the young Rochester freshman Ryosei Kobayashi faced off against the experienced pro Sergio Lopez. The match started off with Ryo showing the crowd how to attack on his own home courts, and Lopez had a hard time keeping up. Steady play from Ryo, combined with some untimely tins from Sergio, gave Ryo the first game in without much trouble.
But Sergio found his length in the second, and the competitors went back and forth all game, much to the pleasure of the crowd. Everyone thought Ryo had gained a 2-0 lead after asking for a let (read: stroke) at 11-10 up, but the ref maintained consistency from earlier in the match, called a let, and the boys played on. Sergio fought off another game ball at 11-12, lost one of his own at 13-12, but finally converted and won the second 15-13.
Sergio used that momentum to gain an early lead in the third, and Ryo found the tin a few too many times. Sergio wins the third.
Although the forehand is usually Ryo’s strength, Sergio’s straight forehand kill was causing Ryo a lot of grief. In the fourth, Ryo came out with a new game plan: don’t hit to Sergio’s forehand. Ryo created opening after opening by pinning the ball in the back backhand corner, and Sergio could not respond. Soon, Sergio was scrambling all over the court, and Ryo won the fourth game pulling away.
The fifth was tense, and the boys fought back and forth to 8-8, neither gaining more than a two-point lead. At 8-8, Ryo squeezed a loose shot out of Sergio, and deposited a overhead-backhand directly into the cross-court nick. Too bad a roller still only counts as one point! At 9-8, the ref again showed his consistency. After telling the players time and again to play all balls possible, he gave “no let” (and rightly so, in my humble opinion) to give Ryo two game balls, 10-8 up. Ryo only needed one, scrambling around the court to retrieve three attacks from Sergio before the fourth attack clipped the tin.
Kobayashi wins a thriller, 3-2.

Posted in 2014