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Knight Prevails as Top Seed

rocprosquash2016 - final2

(Match report by Robert Valdovinos)
Kiwi World No. 80 Martin Knight surged past Belgian World No. 109 to capture the title of the 2016 Rochester Pro-Am. This was the first time that players from New Zealand and Belgium were represented in the final. Jan van der Herrewegen found success throughout the tournament by dictating the pace of the games, but today he could not help but watch as Martin Knight took control of the match.

In the first, Martin and Jan used similar tactics, using a combination of length and consistent attacking to win long points. The longest rally in the first came at 5-2, as Martin took at 6-2 lead with a tin by Jan.

The 2016 finalists with  tournament director Oscar Lopez

The 2016 finalists with tournament director Oscar Lopez

Martin capped the first game, with a no-look shot to the opposite side of the court. In the second, it appeared as though Jan’s lengthy matches throughout the week had tired his legs. Martin used this to his advantage and frequently took him to the back of the court with a consistent barrage of lob shots. Martin took the second with a score of 11-5.

Coming into the third, the split crowd cheered both athletes and encouraged them to give it their best in what could potentially be the last game of the tournament. In the third, Jan found himself again on the defensive, but managed to keep pace during the early part of the game.

With full confidence and a relaxed style of play, Martin Knight sealed his first Rochester Pro-Am Championship with a decisive 11-5 score. He joins an illustrious roster of past Rochester ProAm champions and we look forward to watching these guys soar up the rankings in the months and years to come.

Posted in 2016

Top seeds through to the final

Match reports by Robert Valdovinos
Martin Knight bt. Clinton Leeuw (11-7, 6-11, 8-11, 11-2, and 11-5) in 109 minutes 

Martin Knight of New Zealand defeated Clinton Leeuw of South Africa in five games to advance to the final of the Rochester Pro-Am. Martin entered the first semifinal as the favorite having won his first two matches in a dominant fashion against Supreet Singh and Josue Enriquez. Today, Clinton pushed Martin to five games in what turned out to be a marathon of match. The first set the tone for the rest of the games, as both players remained timid on their attacking and looked for their opponent to commit unforced errors. Martin took the first, but Clinton came back firing on all cylinders for the second. Clinton changed the pace of the game by going on the offensive and used a couple of nick shots to propel him to a win in the second. The third, remained closed through its entirety but Martin’s consistency proved to be the difference. In the fourth, both competitors appeared to tire, but it did not impede both players from pushing their bodies to the limit. Clinton used Martin’s frustration to take the fourth and extend the match. With momentum on his side, Clinton looked to upset Martin, but the #1 seed regained his momentum and beat Clinton to secure a spot in the final

Jan van den Herrewegen bt. Lewis Walters (11-8, 8-11, 11-7, and 15-13) in 67 minutes

The second semifinal of the night saw Jan van den Herrewegen of Belgium dispatch Lewis Walters of Jamaica in four games to punch a ticket to tomorrow’s final. The first game was close from the go and saw Jan take advantage of a couple of tins from Walters to take an early lead in games. Fortunes turned in the second as Walters found success with his backhand and a more offensive style of play. However, Jan van den Herrewegen increased the pace of the game in the third to come out ahead to the tune of 11-7. With a ticket to the next round clearly in sight for Jan, he found the extra energy to eliminate Lewis Walters in extra points. Jan will compete in the final tomorrow against Martin Knight in a battle between the top two tournament seeds. 

Posted in 2016

Quarterfinals complete

(Match reports by Robert Valdovinos)

Martin Knight bt. Josue Enriquez (11-2, 11-7, and 11-5) in 36 minutes
In another dominant display by the #1 tournament seed, Martin Knight beat Josue Enriquez in straight games to advance to the semifinals of the Rochester Pro-Am. The first game used a steady dose of drop shots to quickly beat the Guatemalan in 10 minutes of play. The second game was closer but did not end with a different result, Martin put Josue under a ton of pressure to finish the job at 11-7. Martin was a model of consistency during the third, using his length to put Josue under duress and used his precise shots to earn his points. It was an all-around great evening for Martin.

Clinton Leeuw bt. Thoboki Mohohlo (11-13, 11-4, 11-7, 7-11, and 11-9) in 57 minutes
In a battle between two similar styles, Clinton proved to be a better player by beating Thoboki in four games to meet Martin Knight in tomorrow’s semifinal. The first game remained close throughout its entirety as both players used a variation of squash techniques to take it to extra point, with Thoboki surfacing as the winner of the first game. In an act of true sportsmanship, Thoboki sailed a serve eight feet over the side wall, after the referee called a questionable let at 10-7 game ball for Thoboki. In the second, Clinton showed why he was the favorite coming into the match, he jumped to a quick lead and never looked back. The third followed a similar pattern, Clinton started to cut a majority of Thoboki’s shots to increase the tempo of the game, he won 11-7. In the fourth, Thoboki took the court by storm with his confidence and used a series of string of points to sneak out a close win at 11-7. These two excellent players brought all their intensity to the fifth game, as Clinton narrowly beat Thoboki with the help of an unforced error to cap his night.

Lewis Walters bt. Faraz Khan (11-6, 11-7, and 11-6) in 44 minutes
Being the last player with roots to the University of Rochester and with the home crowd on his side, Faraz Khan fell in three games against Lewis Walters of Jamaica. In the first, Faraz seemed to smack the ball with mighty strength, but Lewis worked him around the T and continued to bring the ball to the back to of the court. Faraz did not put pressure on Lewis and fell at 11-6. The second saw Faraz pull closer to Lewis as he built an early lead, but could not continue the pressure. He lost focused and even worse, lost 11-7 in the second. The third saw Faraz change his technique a bit, but Lewis’ outstanding length against the wall proved fatal. Lewis Walters beat Faraz Khan at in the fifth to advance to the semifinals.

Jan Van Der Herrewegen bt. Jesus Camacho (15-13, 8-11, 11-9, 7-11, and 11-9 ) in 122 minutes
The longest match of the day included again Jesus Camacho who fell in 5 games to the No. 2 seeded Jan Van Der Herrewegen. The match started with both players testing each other’s game with long rallies in the back of the court. After over 20 minutes of the first game, Van Der Herrewegen managed to close the game at 15-13 after having two game balls. Camacho came back on court with a more aggressive style which paid off and put the Mexican tied at 1-1. In the 3rd and 4th game both players were very cautious and pushed the game to its first 90 minutes of play. In the 5th Camacho seemed to have his confidence up and started going for winning shots of his volleys but a string of errors and a couple of what it seemed to be “harsh calls” put him down to 10-8. Camacho took an injury break to clean up blood from his right hand before coming back on court and scoring one more point. Van Der Herrewegen kept a fast tempo and closed the game with a tight ball on the forehand side that Camacho could not return. Today, Van Der Herrewegen will face Lewis Walters in the semifinals.

Posted in 2016

Main Draw Round 1 Action

Match reports by Jesse Cramer/Robert Valdovinos, photos by Paul Schwartz.

Lewis Walters bt. Aqib Hanif 12-10, 11-6, 11-6 in 35 minutes
In the first match of the main draw of the Rochester ProAm 2016, Lewis Walters dispatched Aqib Hanif in three straight games.
The match didn’t start smoothly for Lew. Aqib was moving well from the first serve, while Lew struggled a bit to get in a rhythm. Sprinkle in four nicks from Aqib—some intentional, some not—and the Pakistani built a commanding 8-2 lead. Slowly but surely, Lew began to scrape back. A massive point at 8-5 ended with Aqib attacking a loose drive, but clipping the tin. What could have been a momentum-ending 9-5 lead instead became a nervy 6-8. And Lew kept up more good quality, fighting to 9-9, and then 10-10. Two tins in the next two rallies gave Lewis a comeback 12-10 first game.
The next two games saw Lewis finding all four corners of the courts, establishing a strong position on the T, and expressing himself with a true variety of pace and tactic. In his own words, “I started stepping up a bit more, moving [Aqib] around until he was out of position. Once that happened, I felt like I couldn’t lose.” Indeed, Lew steadily won both games 2 and 3 by scores of 11-6.

mainrd1 - yanezjesusJesus Camacho bt. Mario Yanez (9-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9, and 11-7) in 117 minutes
In what was the most anticipated match of the evening and an all-Mexican showdown, Jesus Camacho came back from being down 1-2 to beat Mario Yanez in a battle of attrition. Before the match, you could hear whispers among the crowd as they speculated on the length of the match, everyone joked about how it would last at least two full hours. It turned out that they were not too far off, as it turned into a marathon of game at 117 minutes. The first match filled the stat sheet and ended in Mario’s favor at 11-9. Both of these competitors looked to wear out the other, but it did not seem to work. Jesus came back in the second with a series of kill shots to even things at one. The third match followed the same rhythm of the first, with cross court nicks coming in bunches for Mario. He smelled blood in the water and looked to close this match in four, but Jesus’ resilience flashed as he took a commanding 10-5 lead. Mario made a strong push 9-10 and had the audience at its feet, however it was not enough, Jesus finished him with a drop shot. Coming into the fifth, Jesus exuberated confidence and beat Mario 11-7 to beat his compatriot. What a match, one thing is for certain, we hope to see these two fellas duke it out again soon.

Josue Enriquez bt. Albert Shoihet (11-6, 6-11, 5-11, 11-9, and 11-7) in 54 minutes
In a close one, Josue Enriquez of Guatemala beat Albert Shoihet of Canada in a five setter to advance to the next round of the Rochester Pro-AM. The first began as a close contest, but a string of unforced errors by Shoihet propelled Josue to victory in the first. However, the following two games belong to the Canadian as he regained his confidence with a series of precise drop shots to turn the tables and take a 2-1 lead. At that point the match shifted momentum for one last time. Josue narrowly beat Albert in the fourth to tie things up. Josue carried himself into the fifth with swag and did not disappoint, he beat Albert in five to earn a place in the quarterfinals of the tournament.

mainrd1 - knightMartin Knight vs. Supreet Singh (11-4, 11-3, and 11-3) in 27 minutes
In the quickest match of the night, #1 tournament seed Martin Knight dispatched Supreet Singh in three games. The match was very fast paced from the start, as Martin worked Supreet’s legs and ran him around the court. Martin’s strategy worked from the go, he was cutting every ball and put pressure on Supreet with no unnecessary risk. It was a very solid game by Martin, he kept Supreet behind him throughout the match and clinched a spot in the quarterfinals within thirty minutes.

Thoboki Mohohlo bt. Diego Gobbi (11-7, 9-11, 11-4, and 11-3) in 36 minutes
Thoboki’s quickness marked the difference against Diego tonight’s duel for a spot in the quarterfinals. Diego’s frustration and lack of focus played a large role in the final result of the match. All three of the games that Thoboki won, were aided by at least a string of six consecutive points. Thoboki was in full control throughout the match and deservedly the winner of this match.
mainrd1 - thobokimainrd1 - moholomainrd1 - mohologobbi

mainrd1 - farazahmadFaraz Khan bt. Ahmad Azibidi (11-6, 4-11, 11-9, and 11-9) in 39 minutes
Faraz has competed in the Rochester Pro-Am several times, but has never gone past the first round of the main draw. Two years ago in this exact stage, he lost to Ahmad, but tonight the tables turn. Faraz used his outstanding footwork to tire out Ahmad and end the match in four. The last game was the most competitive fueled by long rallies against the rail, but Ahmad’s fitness seemed to let him down. At times, it appeared that Ahmad would question a call to the referee, only to extend the break between points to catch his breath. Tomorrow will be Faraz’s first appearance in the quarterfinals of the tournament, where he will look to mark his place in history at his alma mater.

mainrd1 - leeuwgeekieClinton Leeuw bt. Jon Geekie (11-9, 11-1, and 11-3) in 29 minutes
In arguably the most dominant performance of the night, Clinton took care of Jon in a quick match at the Peter Lyman Squash Center. The first game was the most competitive between the two, though it was clear that Clinton had the advantage as his points came from kill shots, as opposed to Jon’s, which came from unforced errors on Clinton’s part. In the second, Clinton carried his momentum from the first to win ten quick points to ultimately win 11-1. The third remained eerily similar, led by several shots to the tin by Jon. Tonight, the crowd was clearly on Jon’s side, but he was unable to capitalize on that advantage.

mainrd1 - adamjanJan Van Den Herrewegen bt. Adam Perkiomaki (10-12, 11-7, 13-11, and 11-8) in 61 minutes
With the home crowd behind Adam Perkiomaki, he got off to a strong start. Both players found their length and attacked throughout the first game. Jan had three game balls but was unable to capitalize, Adam put his head down and only needed one game ball to stun #2 seed Jan. The Belgium ended up winning the next three games, but Perkiomaki did not go down without a fight. He nearly pulled away with a win in the third, but Jan’s determination could not be beat.

Posted in 2016

Qualifying complete

Match reports by Robert Valdovinos

Mario Yanez bt. Ryosei Kobayashi (11-6, 11-4, and 11-5) in 29 minutes [plays Jesus Camacho]
After meeting in the semifinals of the 2016 CSA Individuals Championships, University of Rochester teammates faced off once again with a chance to earn a spot in the Main Draw of the 2016 Rochester Pro AM. Over the past three years, Ryosei and Mario have traded countless matches, but tonight Mario went home a winner. In the first, Mario took a commanding lead at 5-1, but Ryo came back and tied it at 5 all. However, unlike his usual self, Ryo did not have that fire in his eyes and seemed to give up at times, culminating in a win for Mario. The first point of the second game was followed the biggest applause of the tournament so far, with a ridiculous rally filled with sneaky shots. Ryosei won that point with a hit out of a volley into the nick. That point turned out to be the highlight of the night for Ryosei. Mario continued his great play with an arsenal of cross court nick and did not look back, he closed the match in three games.

Ahmad Alzabidi bt. (7-11, 11-7, 12-10, 9-11, and 11-2) in 50 minutes [plays Faraz Khan]
Ahmad Alzabidi will play in the Main Draw of the tournament after beating Ismail Hafez in five games. The start of the match was marred by unforced errors on both parties, Ismail won the first game with his excellent soft touch and volleys. Disputed call seemed to be a theme for Alzabidi once again, however he came roaring back and won the following game with a lot of sudden drop shots. Ismail came back to post a win in the third game, but it was not enough. In the last two games, Alzabidi looked focused and dominant, it was evident that he was not going to let Ismail win the match.

unnamedSupreet Singh bt. Tomotaka Endo (9-11, 11-2, 8-11, 18-16, and 11-8) in 44 minutes [plays Martin Knight]
With the audience on Tomotaka’s side, the newly crowned University of Rochester captain nearly captured the match in four games, but Supreet came back from four Tomotaka match points to ultimately win at 18-16 in the fourth game. Supreet won the fifth game to earn a coveted spot in the Main Draw. In the first game, Tomotaka won a close game with a questionable no let call, which Supreet did not agree. In the second, Supreet was zoned-in and tied up the match at 1-1. In the third, Tomotaka took advantage of a series of unforced errors by Supreet and was highlighted by an outstanding rally at 8-8, which ended with a boast by Tomotaka. He did not look back and won the third. The fourth game was a marathon, culminating with a Supreet win at 18-16 after a total of six game points. In the final game, Supreet showed the same determination he displayed in the second game and beat Tomotaka in a decidedly fashion.

Aqib Hanif bt. Fernando Magdaleno (6-11, 11-5, 12-10, 8-11, and 11-9) in 62 minutes [plays Lewis Walters]
In an exciting five game match, Aqib Hanif booked his ticket to the Main Draw by beating Fernando Magdaleno. The match started off on Fernando’s side as he breezed through the game and hardly broke a sweat. Aqib looked sluggish, but recovered to take the second game. The third game featured a prolonged injury break, as Fernando bled from a finger. Aqib seized the opportunity and recovered from a Fernando game point to win the third at 12-10. Similar to the third game, the fourth saw back and forth between the two opponents, but this time it was Fernando who capitalized. The fifth game proved to be most intense, as both players chirped at the referee’s calls. Aqib won six quick points at the early stages of the game to propel him to a close 11-9 win.

Posted in 2016

Qualifying Round 1

Match reports by Robert Valdovinos, photos by Paul Schwartz

qf1 - tundeyanezMario 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.

qf1 - kobayashiRyosei 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.

qf1 - cordellAhmad 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.

qf1 - takaTomotaka 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.

qf1 - fernandoitalo2Fernando 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.

Posted in 2016