Match reports by Robert Valdovinos, photos by Paul Schwartz
Mario Yanez bt. Babatunde Ajagbe in 44 minutes (11-7, 11-6, and 11-9)
With his endless energy, University of Rochester #1 Mario Yanez dispatched Babatunde Ajagbe in three games to claim a spot in the qualifying draw. In the first game, Mario built a quick lead to the tune of 5-2 with a flurry of point-ending cross court shots. Babatunde remained composed to tie it up at 8-8, but Mario’s boasting and cross-court shots proved quite effective. The first game ended with a shot straight to the tin in Mario’s favor. The second game started off in a similar fashion, as Mario built a significant lead to 9-3. Babatunde’s determination helped him chip away points to make it 6-9, but it was not enough, Mario scored two quick points to jump to gain a two game advantage. The third game proved to be most competitive of the three, as the two players traded points back and forth throughout the much. However, Babatunde appeared to slow down and began requesting an assortment of lets and strokes from the referee. At one point the referee suggested he “stop fishing,” Mario took advantage of the situation and closed out for strong win.
Ryosei Kobayashi bt. David Haley in 75 minutes (11-9,11-8, 5-11, 7-11, and 11-8)
Sporting a mix of Team Japan and University of Rochester Squash gear, CSA Individuals finalist Ryosei Kobayashi exuberated confidence and delighted the hometown fans with a thrilling five game win. While the display of trick shots and long rallies certainly kept the audience at the edge of their seats, the match was marked by excellent sportsmanship by both parties. Ryosei started off in complete control of the match, with an arsenal of shots, he won the first game in a orderly manner. In the second, David’s frustration was noticeable as he tinned a number of shot and fell to a 0-2 hole. However, David adjusted accordingly and won the next two games, while dominating the T. Entering the fifth game, both competitors flashed smiles and seemed poised to make it to the next day. In final game, Haley mounted an early lead of 4-1, Ryosei roared back to tie it up at 6-6. Haley followed back by winning the next couple of points, but Ryosei made a move and never looked back.
Ismail Hafez bt. Le Roy Leong in 32 minutes (11-5, 11-7, and 11-5)
With an excellent combination of power and grace, Ismail Hafez dispatched Le Roy Leong in the third qualifying match of the day. Ismail’s excellent forearm and play against the wall made the difference for the Egyptian.
Supreet Singh bt. Oscar Lopez Hidalgo in 45 minutes (8-11, 11-5, 11-3, and 11-8)
This match saw University of Rochester assistant coach and local favorite Oscar Lopez Hidalgo go against Supreet Singh of India. Oscar took the first game by retrieving what seemed to be all of Singh’s shots and returning even better ones. Singh caught wind of Lopez’s playing style and began attacking at a higher pace. With the support of the crowd, Lopez managed to stay competitive in the next three games, but could not close and fell in four games to Supreet.
Ahmad Alzabidi bt. Neil Cordell in 46 minutes (12-10, 11-7, 9-11, and 11-9)
In recent Rochester tournaments, Ahmad has made a point of dispatching UR players and today was no different. Tonight marked what could be the last official match of Neil Cordell’s illustrious career at the Lyman Squash Center. The four-time CSA All-American and University of Rochester captain fell to Ahmad Alzabidi in four tight games. Ahmad’s intensity was on full display as he frequently argued multiple points with the referee throughout the match. In the end Ahmad put a string of great plays to end Neil’s momentum and captured the final game. While we don’t know if Neil Cordell will return for future Rochester Pro AM tournaments, one thing is for certain he left a lasting legacy for the University of Rochester Squash program.
Tomotaka Endo bt. Thomas King (11-6, 14-12, and 11-9) in 39 minutes
The match began with audience whispers of the “Let’s go Endo” chant that is now a staple among the Rochester squash community. Tomotaka did not end up needing the chant in its full-blown state as he progressed to the qualifying final with three strong games. Tomotaka got off to a fast 8-3 start and remained composed to win the first game with a score of 11-6. The second, went back and forth and ultimately ended in a 14-12 win in favor of Tomotaka. With Tomotaka up 7-5, match play was briefly suspended with an apparent injury to Thomas’ hamstring. Thomas came back and managed to pull the game even at 9-9, however it was not enough as Tomotaka claimed the next two points and punched his ticket to the qualifying final.
Aqib Hanif bt. Dan Bergin (11-8, 11-8, 8-11, 7-11, and 9-11) in 59 minutes
In what turned out to be the most competitive match of the evening, Aqib Hanif edged out promising young Welsh, Dan Bergin in a high intensity match. Aqib started off slow in the first match and Dan had no problem taking advantage of the situation. In the second, Bergin continued to show flair on the court, while Aquib started to play at the tempo of the match. Bergin won the second in an orderly manner. The third game saw a shift in momentum, as Aqib jumped to a 9-3 lead, Bergin fought back but it was not enough, the beginning of Aqib’s rise had already begun. The last two matches were controlled by Aqib as Bergin struggled to cope with his emotions. The final matched proved to be a nail-biter, as Bergin came back from match point at 10-5 to make it 9-10, though it was not enough as Aqib showed patience to win with two consecutive points.
Fernando Magdaleno bt. Italo Bonatti (11-4, 11-8, and 11-8) in 36 minutes
In a strong showing, Fernando Magdaleno took care of Italo Bonatti in three quick games. Fernando’s quickness and energy was apparent from the get go as he coasted to a 11-4 win. The following two matches lasted a bit longer, but the story line did not change, Magdaleno was in full control and won by same score of 11-8 to make it to the qualifying finals.