Day ONE: English quartet progress on People’s Sunday

Day ONE : People’s Sunday

The 2019 Citigold Wealth Management Canary Wharf Squash Classic began today with an action-packed programme at the East Wintergarden, eight matches on the menu which began at lunchtime.

Today’s eight winners go through to the second round, where the top eight seeds lie in waiting. Second round ties will be spread over Monday and Tuesday before the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Play throughout this stage of the tournament will feature best of three scoring. Best of five comes in for the semi -finals and final on Thursday and Friday.

There were four English winners amidst today’s mixture of short and long matches, all enjoyed by a capacity crowd. Read on for the details

Sunday Lunch

Alan Thatcher reportsWillstrop wins Sunday Opener 

James Willstrop (Eng) 2-0 Mazen Hesham (Egy)      11-9, 11-7 (29m)

James Willstrop and Mazen Hesham treated a full-house lunchtime crowd to an entertaining opening match at the 2019 Citigold Wealth Management Canary Wharf Classic.

Willstrop won 11-9, 11-7 in 29 minutes after managing to contain the flair and flamboyant stroke play of his Egyptian opponent.

After clinching a place in the second round against Ryan Cuskelly, Willstrop revealed how worried he was about Hesham working his way back into the match.

“The problem with him is that you know however far you are up, 10-5 or 8-4 or whatever it is, you just know it doesn’t mean anything with him because he hits three or four winners, like he does on a regular basis, then you’re losing those points.

“I was very aware of all that and I’m just glad that I managed to get that last point because it was getting tough. He’s playing all the attacking stuff, so I needed to stop him doing that.

“With the best of three format, it gives me a bit if cushioning on my physicality, which can struggle a little bit in five games. Because it’s only two or three games, I was happy to keep going down the wall a little bit.

“I don’t very often fist pump, but walking into this [atmosphere] this morning, I don’t want to stop doing this job. It’s an incredible thing to walk into this atmosphere, and Tim Garner and everyone behind this makes it an incredible event.

“I want to be here tomorrow and play again in that atmosphere. This doesn’t happen by accident, and what a great crowd. It’s become one of the top events on the tour, and it’s certainly one of my favourites.”

James Willstrop

Quick for Kandra 

James Willstrop (Eng) 2-0 Mazen Hesham (Egy)      11-9, 11-7 (29m)

Raphael Kandra made quick work of his first appearance here at the East Wintergarden, beating Adrian Waller 11-2, 11-2 in just 16 minutes.

It was the shortest match in Canary Wharf history and the second quickest in a best-of-three format employed by the PSA.

Kandra was in devastating form, attacking at every opportunity and finishing rallies with precision.

He revealed that he was overwhelmed by the welcome from the Canary Wharf crowd.

 “Before I went on court today, it was such a great atmosphere when James [Willstrop] and Mazen [Hesham] played and it was the first match of the tournament.

“It was packed, and I was so pumped to perform well because I’ve not had a good couple of months. I tried to play my best and it worked out today.

“I think I speak for both of us when I say that it was so equal in Detroit [where Waller won a 3-2 at the Windy City Open]. We tried to leave everything on the court, and in the end Adrian won 11-7 in the fifth.

“We’ve been so close throughout the last couple of years and I wanted revenge today. I’m looking forward to performing another time on this court and let’s see how it goes against Tarek.

“He [Tarek] performed so well at the Worlds, he beat [defending Canary Wharf Classic champion] Mohamed ElShorbagy and he’s so on top of his game at the moment. I’ve never beaten him, I’ve played him a few times recently and I try to get better every time.”

Raphael Kandra

Golan downs Pilley 

Borja Golan (Esp) 2-1 Cameron Pilley (Aus) 11-8, 6-11, 11-8 (65m)

Borja Golan produced a solid display to squeeze home against fellow veteran Cameron Pilley.

The two 36-year-olds battled for 65 minutes before the Spaniard finished strongly to book a place in the second round against top seed Mohamed ElShorbagy.

Pilley led 6-3 in the third game before Golan began working the ball to the back of the court and extending the rallies.

Pilley contributed to his own demise by hitting too many boasts into the tin.

“I’ve known Cameron since we were juniors. We’ve been playing for 17 years. We’re now both 36 and we’re good friends.

“Best of three is even harder, you have to be alert to every ball, the pressure is even higher, the nerves are higher, but we play in front of such a good crowd, it’s only the first round and it’s full.

“I think I just realised that I was playing too much to the front and I wasn’t doing enough damage to Cameron, he was very accurate to the front, so I tried to put the ball into the back corners, tried to make it more physical and waited for his mistakes.

“He made a few more than me today and that made the difference in a few points.

“At the moment, I just want to enjoy this victory, recover well and tomorrow I will start thinking about the match, but tomorrow I will just relax and enjoy this win. Tomorrow is very important to me.”

Borja Golan

Declan scraps past Lobban 

Declan James (Eng) 2-0 Greg Lobban (Sco) 11-8, 11-5 (31m)

Declan James overcame what he described as “a scrappy start” to power past Scotland’s Greg Lobban to book a second round tie against Marwan ElShorbagy.

James finished the opening game with more purpose and control and then dictated play throughout the second.

Lobban responded with a flurry of points when on match ball down but the gap was too wide for a realistic comeback.

“I think we both started pretty nervously and there was a bit of traffic in the middle.

“I think that was because there were a few nerves and we weren’t quite hitting through the ball, that’s why it got a little bit scrappy. The end of the first was crucial really, I managed to find my basics and was able to put away a couple of shots at the end.

“I managed to carry on that concentration in the second because I knew that Greg was going to come out and throw everything at me. Fortunately, I got into a good lead and, while I had a bit of a wobble at the end there, I’m glad to get over the line.”

Declan James

Selby recovers to deny George 

Daryl Selby (Eng) 2-1 George Parker (Eng) 5-11, 11-6, 11-6 (52m)

Daryl Selby fought back after losing the opening game to an impressive George Parker, who played positively throughout and produced moments of devastating power.

Selby, though, kept calm despite one or two collisions in mid-court and began to dominate longer passages of play, managing both the pace and placement of the ball.

The third game looked even for a while but Selby used his experience to control the crucial phase of proceedings.

In the end it looked comfortable, but Parker showed enormous potential and relished the bear-pit atmosphere of a real Canary Wharf battle.

 “I knew it would be [tough], George is a phenomenal athlete, a phenomenal player and, to be honest, he is only getting better.

“Every win I can get against him I cherish now because, and I have told him many times before, I think he is going to go to the top. He has a few things that he is always working on, but I am happy to beat George to be honest, it was a tough draw.

“[I wasn’t] happy with the first game. I am still struggling with this best of three format, in terms of getting going. I am old and still not learning as I should be. George got off to a fast start, and it is always tough when you are 1-0 down, but I am really happy with the way I played in the last two games. I feel like I played really good squash, and I kept my composure from 6-3 down to win 11-6.

“That is all it takes, a little bit of experience, and I have to use that now because it is an asset, it is one of my strengths. I am just happy to win.”

Daryl Selby

Matt ends Sam’s wildcard shot 

Mathieu Castagnet (Fra) 2-0 [wc] Sam Todd (Eng) 11-6, 11-1 (17m)

Mathieu Castagnet showed what a class act he is when he deliberately served into the tin while holding match ball at 10-0.

The Frenchman had successfully negotiated a potential first round minefield against the young wild card, who had the crowd roaring loudly after every point.

Sam Todd was outplayed in the second game, for sure, but was only millimetres away from converting a number of intended winners.

Castagnet knew he had faced a very impressive opponent who he tipped to become England number one in the future.

“He surprised me to be honest. I used to train with the French players, the under 13s, 15s and 17s and the quality of his shots were just amazing.

“When he is better physically, and he is more focused on his gameplan and more solid, he is probably going to be an English No.1, for sure.

“My favourite moment [of 2016] was when I hit the counter drop and Mosaad hit himself and I said to be myself, ‘okay, this is going to be a stroke’. [The referee] gave me the stroke so that moment will be in my head all my life.

“Maybe I switch off from that time. These are my biggest memories so far.”

Mathieu Castagnet

Tom Richards (Eng) 2-0 Alan Clyne (Sco)               11-4, 12-10 (29m) 

Richards was pleased with his physical condition after two trans-Atlantic trips in the past fortnight.

“I certainly felt like I was moving well, and although I can’t speak for Alan, it felt like he was moving well as well, so yeah, [it was] hard work.

“I had the Worlds in Chicago, came home for a few days and then back out to Toronto and then back a few days ago. Sleeping patterns are a bit out of whack, but it is what I am used to. I guess it is the same for everyone, so it is fine.

“I think for one or two matches, [dealing with jet lag] is fine. Squash isn’t a long sport, you’re not playing for hours. You would hope that you can concentrate for an hour and a half, however sleep deprived you are.

“I guess, if you have four or five days, with four or five matches, then that’s where it would get tough.”

Joel Makin (Wal) 2-0 Gregoire Marche (Fra)               11-5, 11-7 (32m)