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 Tournament of Champions
19-25 February, New York, $75k

Final:

Ricketts's Win Ends Long Wait

New York, NY – Anthony Ricketts ushered in a new era for the Bear Stearns Tournament of Champions as he defeated Thierry Lincou in a riveting five game championship match on the glass court at Grand Central Terminal. The Australian displayed the same controlled aggression and attacking game in the finals as he had displayed all week in knocking off three higher seeded players to get to the final. It was a seesaw battle, in which the players moved each other to the four corners of the court throughout the match but it was Ricketts who had the physical stamina to stay on the attack in the fifth game.

  “I am excited and relieved,” said Ricketts. “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.” It was the first major championship of the 24 -year old Australian’s career and it also marked the first time in seven years that the men’s title was not taken by Peter Nicol of England or Jonathon Power of Canada, each of whom was eliminated in quarterfinal play.

After losing the first game in overtime, Lincou came on strong on the second game, jumping to a 5-1 lead that he never relinquished. The third was another seesaw battle back and forth with Ricketts ending up on top, 11-9.  In the fourth, the lead changed hands on almost every point. At 5-3, Lincou ahead, the players moved the ball to every corner of the court, each scrambling to make seemingly irretrievable shots until Lincou was able to attack a short ball in the right front corner. Ricketts made a flying leap in a desperate attempt to get his racquet on the crosscourt forehand and ended up face down on the floor as the standing room only crowd jumped to its feet roaring with appreciation.  The world champion gave up only two more points, winning the game 11-6.

In the fifth, Ricketts immediately tinned two balls and it looked as though Lincou, known for his consistency and stamina, might have the upper hand.  But, just as he had all week, Ricketts pumped himself up, and reeled off six straight points to take a commanding 8-2 lead.  Lincou was now scrambling to stay in the match and down 5-9, moved the ball again to every corner of the court. Finally an opening on the forehand was driven past Ricketts and it looked as though the game might again go down to the wire.

It was not to be as Ricketts played patient squash waiting for his openings, of which he was able to take full advantage - first with a volley nick winner at 10-6 and then a nick forehand to take the game at 11-7.

“He was really hungry tonight,” said Lincou. “I had to play two or three more attacks than usual on every point because he is in such great physical shape.”  For Ricketts, the victory was especially satisfying, coming just six months after his return to the tour after an eighth month hiatus due to knee surgery. Tournament of Champions trophy in hand, Ricketts said, ”This is a big moment for me.”   

Vanessa Atkinson of the Netherlands defeated Linda Elriani of England in three games to take the women’s championship.  Elriani, who had played great tactical squash in her earlier round victories, was kept deep in the court by the Dutchwoman’s length.  Atkinson took an early lead in each game, and although Elriani was able to close the gap in the middle of each game, the world champion was able to step up and close out each game.

“It was nerve wracking to come here and play as world champion,” said Atkinson who was playing in her first tournament since winning in her first world championship in December. “I am more relieved than anything else.”

 

World Champion Vanessa Atkinson comes through to win the TOC title.

 

Ricketts pumps himself up in the fifth game.

Official Website
 

 

Tournament of Champions 2005
19-25 February, New York, $75
 
First Round
Sat 19th Sun 20th
Seond Round
Mon 21
Quarters
Tu 22nd/ Wed 23rd
Semis
Thurs 24th
Final
Fri 25th
[1] Thierry Lincou (Fra)
11/2, 11/8, 11/4 (34m)
[Q] Renan Lavigne (Fra) 
 Thierry Lincou
11-10, 11-5, 7-11, 11-8
(56 m)
Mohammed Abbas
Lincou
8-11, 11-0, 7-2 withdrew injured (35m)
Matthew
Lincou
9-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-9  (65 m)
Palmer
Lincou

11-10
(2-0),
7-11,11-9,
6-11, 11-7 (89m)

Ricketts

[15] Mohammed Abbas (Egy)
11/8, 11/6, 11/5 (38m)
Simon Parke (Eng)
[7] Nick Matthew (Eng)
11/4, 11/5, 11/7 (30m)
[Q] Hisham Mohd Ashour (Egy)
Nick Matthew
7-11, 11-6, 11-2, 11-7 (61 m)
Alex Gough
[13] Adrian Grant (Eng)
8/11, 11/4, 12/10, 6/11, 11/6 (72m)
Alex Gough (Wal)
[4] David Palmer (Aus)
10/12, 13/11, 11/6, 11/8 (69m)
Mark Chaloner (Eng)
David Palmer
11-9, 11-7, 11-5
(44 m)
Wael El Hindi
Palmer
11-9, 4-11,
11-9, 4-11, 11-10
(2-0) (93m)
Power
[14] Joe Kneipp (Aus)
11/8, 12/10, 7/11, 9/11, 13/11 (89m)
Wael El Hindi (Egy)
[6] Jonathon Power (Can)
11/3, 11/4, 11/8  (42m)
[Q] Rodney Durbach (Rsa)
Jonathon Power
11-1, 11-5, 11-7
(34 m)

Dan Jenson
[11] John White (Sco)
11/9, 11/8, 8/11, 11/9 (75m)
Dan Jenson (Aus)
[Q] Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned)  11-3, 11-9, 11-7 (41m)
 
[10] Anthony Ricketts (Aus)
Anthony Ricketts
6-11, 12-10, 11-2,
9-11,
11-10  (2-1)
(78 m)

James Willstrop
Ricketts
7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 6-11, 11-8 (80 m)
Nicol
Ricketts
11-4, 2-11, 11-9, 11-6  (45m)
Shabana
Azlan Iskandar (Mas) 
 8-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-6 (53m)
[5] James Willstrop (Eng)
[Q] Peter Barker (Eng) 
11-6, 11-8, 8-11, 11-8  (69m)
[16] Ong Beng Hee (Mas)
Peter Barker
9-11, 11-4, 11-3, 11-5
(51m)

Peter Nicol
Shahid Zaman (Pak)
11-4, 11-3, 11-1 (31m)
[3] Peter Nicol (Eng)
[Q] Bradley Ball (Eng)  12.00
 9-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-10 (3-1)     ( 48m)
 
[9] Amr Shabana (Egy)
Amr Shabana
11-7, 6-11, 11-6, 11-6  (52 m)
Olli Tuominen
Shabana
11-6, 11-9,
11–10 (2-0)
(38m)
Beachill
Olli Tuominen (Fin) 
4-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-8 (49m)
[8] Karim Darwish (Egy)
[Q] Cameron Pilley (Aus) 
11-9, 14-11, 11-8 (59m)
[12] Graham Ryding (Can)
Graham Ryding
11-6, 11-8, 11-8 (46m)
Lee Beachill
[Q] Mohammes A Hafiz (Egy)  11-5, 11-4, 11-5  ( 22m)
[2] Lee Beachill (Eng)


Qualifying Finals (Fri 18):

Renan Lavigne
(Fra) bt  Ahmed Hamza (Usa)   11-6, 11-6, 11-3 (58m)
Mohammed Hafiz (Egy) bt Ben Gould (Eng)  12-10, 8-11, 11-4, 11-6 (42m)
Bradley Ball (Eng) bt Ben Garner (Eng)   10-12 , 11-3, 11-6, 12-10 (47m)
Hisham Mohd Ashour (Egy) bt Phillip Barker (Eng)  11-8, 11-13, 11-6, 11-7 (50m)
Peter Barker (Eng) bt Joey Barrington (Eng)   1-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-7 (75m)
Cameron Pilley (Aus) bt  Shahier Razik (Can)  11-6, 11-4, 11-6 (53m)
Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned) bt Stephane Galifi (Fra)  11-6, 11-9, 11-4 (46m)
Rodney Durbach (Rsa) bt Alister Walker (Eng)  11-6,11-6,10-12,8-11,12-10 (73m)

Tournament of Champions 2005
19-25 February, New York, $43
  
First Round
Mon 21st
Quarters
Tue 22nd/Wed 23
Semis
24th Thu
Final
Fri 25th
[1] Rachael Grinham (Aus)
9-2, 9-2, 9-10, 9-0 (34 m)
Stephanie Brind (Eng)
Rachael Grinham
9-0, 9-3, 9-5 (37 m)
Jenny Tranfield
 
Rachael Grinham
9-1, 9-6, 1-9,
9-3 (50m)
Elriani
Elriani
9
-6, 9-5, 9-5  (40m)

Atkinson
[7] Jenny Tranfield (Eng)
w/o
Tania Bailey (Eng) 
[3] Natalie Grinham (Aus)
9-5, 9-1, 9-7 (34 m)
Annelize Naude (Ned)  
Natalie Grinham
9-4, 2-9, 9-10, 9-7, 9-5 (80m)
Linda Elriani
[5] Linda Elriani (Eng)
9-4, 9-1, 9-4 (40 m)
Shelley Kitchen (Nzl) 
Pamela Nimmo (Sco)
9-3, 9-7, 5-9, 9-2 (52 m)
[8] Vicky Botwright (Eng)
Vicky Botwright
9-1, 9-4, 6-9, 9-1 (50m)
Jenny Duncalf
Vicky Botwright
9-6, 9-1, 9-6  (39m)
Atkinson
Jenny Duncalf (Eng)
10-8, 2-9, 3-9, 10-9, 9-1 (53 m)
[4] Natalie Grainger (Usa)
Alison Waters (Eng)
6-9, 9-3, 1-9, 9-3, 9-4 (32m)
[6] Rebecca Macree (Eng)
 Rebecca Macree
9-1, 3-9, 9-7, 3-9, 9-4 ( 66m)
Vanessa Atkinson
Fiona Geaves (Eng) 
9-7, 7-9, 9-1, 9-2 (52 m)
[2] Vanessa Atkinson (Ned)


Qualifying (Sat 19/Sun 20):

Finals:
[1] Stephanie Brind (ENG) bt [5] Latasha Khan (USA)  9-1, 9-1, 9-1  (15m)
[3] Pamela Nimmo (SCO)
bt [2] Carla Khan (NED)   4-9, 10-9, 10-9, 9-7 (62m)  
[7] Alison Waters (ENG)
bt  [4] Laura Lengthorn (ENG)  9-3,9-8, 9-6  (46m)
[2] Annelize Naude (NED)
bt Rebecca Botwright (ENG)   9-7,9-6, 9-6    ( 53m)

First Round:
Stephanie Brind (Eng) bt Runa Reta (Can)                        9/3 9/4 9/6
Latasha Khan (Usa) bt Lily Lorentzen (Usa)                       9/6 9/6 9/3
Pamela Nimmo (Sco) bt Lauren Briggs (Eng)                     9/0 9/4 9/1
Carla Khan (Pak) bt Shabana Khan (Usa)                         9/4 9/0 9/2
Alison Waters (Eng) bt Line Hansen (Den)                         9/6 9/0 9/0
Laura Lengthorn (Eng) bt Kasey Brown (Aus)                    9/7 9/2 9/3
Becky Botwright (Eng) bt Dominique Lloyd-Walter (Eng)    9/7 10/8 9/7
Annelize Naude (Ned) bt Katie Patrick (Can)                     9/0 9/4 9/4

Reports

Semi-finals:

Confident Lincou Eliminates Palmer

New York, NY - Confidence was the name of the game in the men's and women's semifinal matches at the Bear Stearns Tournament of Champions.  Top seed Thierry Lincou, in the night's first match, demonstrated the mental strength and consistency that has made him the game's #1 ranked player and the reigning world champion.  The Frenchman reached his second Tournament of Champions final in three years with a four game victory over third seed David Palmer on the glass court at Grand Central Terminal. Lincou got off to a slow start, losing the first five points of the match and the first game. "Even though I got off to a slow start, I was positive," he said. "I was willing to do what I needed to in order to win the match."
 
In the second game, the Frenchman jumped to an 8-3 lead, having found a self-described balance between "patience and attacking."  Palmer, on the other hand, was not imposing himself in this match the way he had en route to the semifinals.  Perhaps the most telling point of the match was at 8-3 in the second game when Lincou attacked a short ball off a weak boast from Palmer. The Frenchman turned around in surprise after realizing that Palmer was still in the back of the court having made no effort to cover Lincou's shot.  
Even though he wasn't on form, the Australian had his chances in the third and fourth games, taking a mid-game lead in both.  But Palmer could not sustain the lead against the reigning world champion. "Maybe I am more confident in myself after winning the world championship," said Lincou.  "Even when I am down, I feel that I can put it together."
 
In the fourth, Palmer was ahead 9-5; Lincou hit a perfect slow boast that dropped just out of Palmer's reach and then scraped a pickup off a hard hit low reverse.  Three consecutive tins by Palmer gave Lincou the match victory and a berth in the championship finals.   
 
Lincou's opponent in the finals will be 10th seed Anthony Ricketts of Australia who defeated 9th seed Amr Shabana.  The crowd was thrilled in the first game when Shabana displayed the shotmaking that, when he is on, is the best in the game. The Egyptian came out blazing and won the game in short order, 11-4.  But Ricketts turned right around and won the second 11-2.
Shabana jumped to an early lead in the third, but couldn't sustain it.  Down 9-10, Shabana appeared to hit a perfect drop to tie the game and send it into overtime. Ricketts protested that the ball was down, but the referee called the ball good. Ricketts kicked the ball to the front of the court away from Shabana and the crowd booed its disapproval. Shabana, thinking that the disapproval was directed at him, conceded the point, giving Ricketts the game. Too many tins in the fourth from Shabana was all Ricketts needed to lock up his first Tournament of Champions final appearance.
 
"I was lucky today that Shabana's shots were finding the bottom side of the tin, rather than above it," said Ricketts after the match.
 
The most impressive match of the evening belonged to 33-year-old tour veteran Linda Elriani of England who played near perfect squash in defeating world #1 Rachael Grinham.   The previous night Elriani had defeated Grinham's sister Natalie in the quarterfinals with similar tactics - lob deep and attack short.  "I got a bit of confidence with my win in the quarterfinals," said Elriani.
 
The same strategy worked in the semifinals. Top seed Grinham, one of the fastest players on the women's tour, just could not cover the court quickly enough in the face of Elriani's high lobs followed by attacking drop shots. " At first, I thought, she can't possibly play that well two days in a row," said the top seed. "But she did- everything she hit was perfect."  
 
After winning the first two games, Elriani abandoned the lob and lost the game. "After the third, I thought, just get back to your game plan," said the Englishwoman. Get back to her game she did, and with a 9-3 fourth game win, earned a place in her first Tournament of Champions final.
 
Elriani will face second seed Vanessa Atkinson of The Netherlands who eliminated England's Vicky Botwright in three games. Like Lincou, Atkinson
(right and left of photo) has a newfound confidence after winning her first world title at year-end. "The big difference for me is that I stay calm and don't get annoyed when things aren't going on well on court." The new attitude stood Atkinson in good stead when she faltered slightly in the third game, falling behind 0-6. Atkinson stayed focused and played her way back to win the game and secure the victory. Asked to look ahead to the finals, the Dutchwoman said, "I am not flying off until Saturday night so hopefully I'll have something to celebrate before I leave."

 

Quarter-finals: Day 2

Beachill and Nicol Crash  

Defending Champion Nicol Loses to Ricketts; Second Seed Beachill is Ousted by Shabana at the Bear Stearns Tournament of Champions

New York, NY – There will be a new champion at the conclusion of Friday night’s finals at the Bear Stearns Tournament of Champions. Playing gutsy, aggressive squash, tenth seed Anthony Ricketts
(right of Picture) of Australia eliminated three time and defending champion Peter Nicol of England in the last of the men’s quarterfinal matches on the glass court in Grand Central Terminal.  The 80-minute match was a classic confrontation of offense vs. defense at the highest level of play; Ricketts attacking the ball at key moments in the match and Nicol retrieving balls from every corner and angle of the court.   

 The defending champion started well, displaying the deft footwork, strategic play and quick racquet that made him the game’s dominant player for last seven years. After winning the first game 11-7, and with a big lead in the second, Nicol appeared to be in control of the match. But Ricketts was just getting started. “ I felt that I was playing within myself and keeping a reserve,” he said.

 The fiery Australian stepped up his play and nabbed the second game 11-8.  Again in the third, Nicol jumped out to a big lead. Down 1-5, and then 4-8, Ricketts attacked the ball and moved it corner to corner. An uncharacteristic error at 9-8 by Nicol tied the score. A forehand winner by Ricketts gave the Aussie game ball; a stroke call by the referee in Rickett’s favor gave him the game.

 The three-time champion who occupied the #1 spot in the game for 60 months since 1998 was unbowed; he reasserted himself in the fourth and won the game 11-5. By this time, the capacity crowd was buzzing at the anticipation of a do or die fifth game and they were not disappointed.  Down 3-5, Nicol literally flung himself to every corner of the court to chase down Rickett’s missiles, at one point diving to the floor, making the return, getting back on his feet and hitting a forehand winner past Rickett’s racquet.  The crowd jumped out of their seats roaring with appreciation for the supreme effort and skill displayed by both players. Nicol followed with a perfect lob to tie the score.

 Ricketts stepped up again and jumped to a 9-5 lead. Nicol dug deep, continuing to move to every corner of the court and cutting and floating the ball to put Ricketts out of position and off pace. It looked as though a sixth semifinal appearance was within reach.  At 8-9, Nicol serving, Ricketts hit a backhand crosscourt nick that died before Nicol could get to it. The Aussie closed out the match 11-8, ensuring that a new name will be engraved on the championship trophy. “He was incredibly gutsy and he really stepped up,” said Nicol of his opponent after the match.   

 In the semifinals, Ricketts will play the other upset maker in the men’s draw, ninth seed Amr Shabana. “This was the second best match I have ever played,” said the winner. “I went for my shots and they worked.”  After explaining that his best match was against the same opponent, England’s Lee Beachill, just three weeks ago in the Chicago, Shabana said, “ He is such a solid player, I didn’t think that I could beat him that way again.”

 But the Englishman had very little in the way of a response for Shabana’s shotmaking.  “I thought he was nervous,” said Shabana of his opponent, “and I tried to take advantage of that.”  Whether it was the memory of their last confrontation or just a bad night on the court, Beachill could not find a single answer to counter Shabana’s devastating shot selection. In less than 40 minutes, Beachill’s hopes for a Tournament of Champions had evaporated in a 11-6, 11-9, 11-10 9 (2-0) loss.

 In the women’s draw, #1 seed Rachael Grinham made short work of Englishwoman Jenny Tranfield, even though the world # 1 wasn’t thrilled with her play. “I’m glad I got that out of the way,” said Grinham.  “I didn’t feel that I played my best, but I still managed to win.”

 Grinham will not be meeting sister Natalie in the semifinals; she was eliminated by wily tour veteran Linda Elriani in five games. “I didn’t play my best,” said Grinham,” but then, Linda didn’t let me play my best. She really kept the ball deep or high in the lights, which really made it difficult to see the ball.”

 Down 1-2 in games and 4-7 in the fourth, Elriani used height and depth to keep her championship hopes alive. After the match, Elraini was flabbergasted when told that she had been that far down in the fourth.  “A year ago, I would not have been able to win the match if I had been that far down,” said the Englishwoman. “But I have done some really good training over the past several months and I am feeling confident.”

 

Quarter-finals: Day 1

Palmer Takes out Power in Thriller

New York, NY - Fourth seed David Palmer of Australia moved one step closer to the Bear Stearns Tournament of Champions title when he eliminated four-time titleholder Jonathon Power in overtime in the fifth game their quarterfinal match.  It was a masterful display of squash from both players on the glass court in Grand Central Terminal, marked by multiple changes of tempo and momentum, not to mention an intensity of focus that held the capacity crowd in its thrall.   

 “When he’s on a roll, he’s the best player in the world and there’s not much you can do to beat him,” Palmer said of Power. “But he doesn’t seem able to sustain it these days for an entire match.” Palmer’s strategy was to ride out Power’s shot making streaks and seize every open ball.  It was a seesaw battle; Palmer winning the first and third games and Power the second and fourth.

 In the fifth, Palmer seemed to be taking charge as he seized a 9-6 lead, but a tight backhand winner from Power sent Palmer sprawling to the floor in a desperate attempt to make a return, galvanizing the pro-Power crowd. A tin by Palmer evened the score at 9 all; the next point was carefully controlled play that forced Palmer to cover the four corners of the court until he ran out of room, giving Power a match ball.

 But the Australian was not about to give anything away. “The last few times we played, I have won the match because he has made mistakes,” said Palmer. “So I was going to chase every ball down.” Even the din of construction above Grand Central could not disturb Palmer’s focus. A low backhand that Power could not return above the tin put the deciding game into overtime. A backhand drop shot winner gave Palmer match ball; a Power forehand drop shot into the tin gave Palmer the match.  

 Palmer’s opponent in the semifinals on Thursday evening will be top seed Thierry Lincou who looked like he was going to have his hands full when 24-year-old Nick Matthew won the first game of their quarterfinal match. But a collision between the two players at the end of the first game triggered a back spasm in the young Englishman who couldn’t mount much of a defense in the second game, losing it 11-0.  Matthew tried playing the third, but shook hands with Lincou down 2-7 in the third.

 The #1 seed, although happy to move into the semifinals, was disappointed not to have more time on court in his quest to reach his second ToC final. “I haven’t played a lot since the end of the year.  I am still trying to get my rhythm and pace back and find the right balance of aggression and being relaxed on court.”   

 The #2 seed in the women’s draw, Vanessa Atkinson, had her hands full with veteran Becky Macree.  “I was hoping to get off the court with a three game victory,” said the reigning world champion. “ But it was not to be as the always tenacious Macree made Atkinson go the distance and win in five games to get into the semifinals.

 “Relieved and happy,” was Vicky Botwright’s description of how she felt upon defeating compatriot Jenny Duncalf in the other women’s quarterfinal match. “This will be my first semifinal in a big tournament.”

 Even though she dropped the third game, the outcome never really seemed much in doubt as Botwright played steady and composed squash.   Duncalf, who had eliminated the third seed Natalie Grainger the day before, was impatient, trying for too many winners before establishing good length on the ball.  

 Asked how she was going to prepare for her inaugural semifinal appearance in a major tournament, Botwright smiled, “I am not giving away any secrets.”

Round 2:
Ricketts and Duncalf Score Upsets
New York, NY – The best was saved for last at the conclusion of second round of play at the Bear Stearns Tournament of Champions when fifth seed James Willstrop and tenth seed Anthony Ricketts squared off in the evening’s final match at Grand Central Terminal.  The pairing had been much anticipated by the knowledgeable fans who waited until 10 PM to see the match many predicted would be the best of the night  –and they were not disappointed.  Australia’s Ricketts, who describes himself as still on the comeback trial after being off the tour for eight months last year, went into the match believing himself to be the physically stronger of the two players. Willstrop was playing with confidence of a young man who had risen from 13 to 5 in the world rankings in just over a year’s time.

 Using the stylish and accurate shotmaking that is becoming his trademark, Willstrop looked quite comfortable as he won the first game.  Ricketts came back in the second and third by moving his opponent from corner to corner, attacking open balls and trying to speed up the tempo of play – more than once he served before his opponent was ready to receive the ball.  In the fourth, Willstrop displayed true grit as he dug deep to retrieve shots that seemed just beyond his reach until they came off his racquet and pulled him back into the point, eventually winning the game.

 The 21-year-old Englishman then jumped to a 5-1 lead in the deciding game, and seemed in full control of the match.  But Ricketts kept the pressure on and chipped away to even the match at five all.  “I never felt out of out,” Ricketts said. “I thought he’d have to make some errors eventually because he had been working so hard just to get to that point in the match.”   

 The crowd moved ever closer to the edge of their seats as Willstrop surged ahead by two points and Ricketts closed the gap- first at 7-5 then at 9 – 7.  An error by Ricketts gave Willstrop a match ball at 10-9, but he hit a forehand tin.  At 10 all, both players tenaciously kept the ball tight on the backhand.  “At that point all I thought was, I’ve got to keep that ball tight on the rail, ” Ricketts said.  He did, and gave himself a match ball, but Willstrop hit a winner to even the match yet again.  One more tin from Willstrop, followed by a stroke awarded to Ricketts by the referee, and the Australian was into the quarterfinals.

 Rickett’s quarterfinal opponent will defending champion Peter Nicol, who got off to an inauspicious start when he lost the first three points on strokes awarded by the referee to his opponent, qualifier Peter Barker who won the first game, 11-9.  “I wasn’t moving freely, but I was hitting the ball well,” said Nicol. “Once I relaxed, I started moving better.” Better movement coupled with Nicol’s textbook technique spelled the end of Barker’s presence in the championships as Nicol easily won the next three games.    

 Earlier in the evening, ninth-seeded Amr Shabana credited a piece of gum with turning around his match against Finland’s Ollie Tuominen when the match was tied at one all.  Having battled a cold for several days, Shabana was finding it hard to breathe on court. “A piece of gum made me forget the tightness in my chest,” he said.  Shabana won the next two games to make into the quarterfinals where he will take on #2 seed Lee Beachill, who dispatched Canadian Graham Ryding in three games with ease and efficiency.  

 Four-time titleholder Jonathon Power would very much like a fifth title – and he kept his title quest alive with a 34 minute victory over Australia’s  Dan Jenson.  His opponent will be Australian David Palmer who did not have much difficulty with Egypt’s Wael El Hindi. The first match on Tuesday evening will be top seed Thierry Lincou, who defeated Mohammed Abbas, against 24-year-old Nick Matthew, who took out veteran Alex Gough.

 In the women’s draw, unseeded Jenny Duncalf eliminated third seed Natalie Grainger. After winning a close first game, Duncalf dropped the next two.  “Natalie was playing pretty well at that point-she was hammering me,” Duncalf remarked.  The Englishwoman kept her cool, though.  She saved match ball in the fourth, winning the game 10-9, and moving onto easily win the deciding game 9-1.  Duncalf’s quarterfinal opponent will be England’s Vicky Botwright who defeated qualifier Pamela Nimmo.  Top seed Rachael Grinham spent just over a half hour on court in her victory against Stephanie Brind.  Next up for the #1 seed is seventh seed Jenny Tranfield, who received a walkover when Tania Bailey withdrew because of an upper respiratory infection.
 

Round 1: Day 2:

Beachill on Mission
They were men on a mission this afternoon and evening on the glass court at Grand Central Terminal as the first round of play in the Bear Stearns Tournament of Champions was completed.  Second-seeded Lee Beachill was the most focused of the lot - it took him just 22 minutes to send qualifier Mohamed Hafiz of Egypt packing.  "I am feeling quite good," said the man who is England's best player these days and whose consistency over the past year earned him a #1 spot in the rankings this past October. "I feel that I have trained well and that I'm taking advantage of that in match play."
 
Beachill will next take on Canada's Graham Ryding who defeated qualifier Cameron Pilley in three hard fought games. "It was little tougher than I expected," said Ryding. "I am pretty happy to get that under my belt."
 
Three-time and defending ToC champion Peter Nicol delighted the capacity crowd with a clinical display of technique, focus and determination as he eliminated Pakistan's Shahid Zaman in 31 minutes of play. Nicol, who until this past October had been world #1 for all but 15 months out of the past five years, had lost to Zaman twice in practice and once in an exhibition.  "When I play the first three or four points of a match the way I did tonight," said Nicol, "I know it is going to be a good night for me."   There was no doubt as to who owned the court; perhaps no point was more telling than at 5-0 in the third game as Nicol chased three consecutive balls that appeared out of reach; Zaman finally hit the ball into the tin in his increasingly frustrated efforts to put the ball away.   
 
Ninth seed Amr Shabana gave up the first game to qualifier Bradley Ball.  "He is a hard hitter and I didn't have my feet under me in the first game," said Shabana. "But I kept my cool and stayed focused." The Egyptian secured the match in overtime in the fourth.  Shabana's countryman, Karim Darwish was not so fortunate; the eighth seed was taken out of the championships by Finland's Ollie Tuominen. "Darwish is very talented in the front of the court so I wanted to get him to the back of the court and make him nervous," the winner said after the match.
 
Fifth seed James Willstrop, who made a noteworthy debut at the 2004 Tournament of Champions with a quarterfinal finish, secured his place in the second round with a workmanlike victory over Mohd Azlan Iskandar. Willstrop will next meet Australia's Anthony Ricketts, who stopped the talented young Dutchman, qualifier Lauren Jans Anjema. "I lost my confidence a bit early in the year and it feels good to have it back," said Ricketts. "And I really like playing for the New York crowd- they are noisier than most of the crowds we play for and that really gets the energy up."
 
The biggest upset came at the very end of the night when qualifier Peter Barker upended 16th seed Ong Beng Hee of Malaysia.  The young Englishman played a poised game, hitting the ball to good length and forcing his opponent to the back of the court. Barker, asked what it was like to win on the court in Grand Central on his very first trip to New York City, needed just one phrase to sum it up -"Mind blowing."

Feb. 19
Round 1: Day 1:

Gough upsets Grant in TOC Opener

"I can put my feet up for a couple of days now," said England's Nick Matthew on winning the opening match of the 2005 Bear Stearns Tournament of Champions at Grand Central Terminal.  The 24-year-old, who has risen to #7 in the rankings from #13 a year ago, needed only a half hour to dispatch qualifier Hisham Azour and will play his next match on Monday afternoon.  

Matthew's opponent in the second round will be veteran Alex Gough of Wales, whose match with 13th seed Adrian Grant of England provided the most drama in the afternoon session of play. The seasoned Gough took advantage of a run of errors by his younger opponent in the third and fifth games to secure an appearance in the second round. "This is a particularly satisfying to win  as I haven't made it past the first round in the last couple of years," said Gough.
Also moving into the second round is Egypt's Mohammed Abbas who eliminated England's Simon Parke in three games. Top seed and reigning world champion Thierry Lincou was similarly efficient in defeating countryman Rene Lavigne in three games.
The evening session of play got off to a rollicking start as Dan Jenson of Australia played an attacking game to eliminate last year's finalist John White of Scotland in a 75 minute match.  "I was on my heels for much of the match," said a disappointed White, who plans on moving to the US in the near future. "I really thought I had turned it around in the third, but I just couldn't get moving the way I wanted."   
It was standing room only for New York fan favorite and four-time titleholder Jonathon Power who defeated South Africa's Rodney Durbach without much fuss. "I like playing here," said Power, the mercurial Canadian whose emotional and creative play has always appealed to the New York fans. "The New York crowd is one of the few that really understands me."   
It was the very last match of the night that provided the most drama as Egypt's Wael El Hindi and Joseph Kneipp battled each other and the referees in a match that was decided in overtime in the fifth.  "I took my revenge back," said an exultant El Hindi, who had lost to Kneipp in their only previous meeting, a fifth game overtime finish at the British Open.
El Hindi, who saved six match points after being down 6-10 in the fifth game, had to battle his own nervousness as well as Kneipp's tenacious play.  "I just tried to hit the ball to the wall, and then as I won a few points, he got nervous," El Hindi said as he reviewed the end of the match. After tying the score at 10 all, EL Hindi hit a drop shot into the tin to give Kneipp one more chance to win the match.  A no let call from the referee, who ruled on 35 let calls in the fifth game alone, tied the score at 11 all. El Hindi seized the moment by stepping up the pace on the ball and hitting two winning crosscourts to finally close out the match after 88 minutes of play.

Feb 18, 2005

New York, NY – South Africa’s Rodney Durbach was the last man standing on court today in the men’s qualifying draw for the Bear Stearns Tournament of Champions. In the last match of the night, Durbach eked out a 12-10 win in the fifth game over England’s Alistair Walker, after 73 minutes of play. Durbach will play four-time titleholder and New York fan favorite, Jonathon Power of Canada, Saturday night on the glass court in Grand Central Terminal.
England’s Peter Barker also prevailed in a 75-minute marathon match against countryman Joey Barrington and earned a spot in the main draw against the 16th seed, Ong Beng Hee of Malaysia. The game’s hottest player in recent weeks, Laurens Jan Anjema of the Netherlands, defeated Frenchman Stephane Galifi and will take on tenth seed Anthony Ricketts of Australia in main draw play on Sunday evening.


Bear Stearns Tournament of Champions Qualifying Draw results:

Cameron Pilley (AUS) def. Shahier Razik (CAN) 11-6, 11-4,11-6  53 mins

Peter Barker (ENG) def. Joey Barrington (ENG)  11-13, 11-9,11-8, 11-7  75 mins

Rene Lavigne (FRA) def. Ahmed Hamza (EGY)  11-6, 11-13,11-6,11-3  58 mins

Mohamed Hafiz (EGY) def. Ben Gould (ENG)  12-10, 8-11,11-4,11-6  58 mins

Bradley Ball (ENG) def. Ben Garner (ENG)  12-10, 8-11, 11-6, 11-3  47 mins

L.J. Anjema (NED) def. Stephane Galifi (FRA)  11-6,11-9,11-4  46 mins

Hisham Ashour (EGY) def. Phillip Barker (ENG)  11-8, 11-13, 11-6, 11-7  50 mins

Rodney Durbach (RSA) def. Alistair Walker (ENG)  11-6,11-6, 10-11, 8-11, 12-10  73 mins

 

19th Feb

Draws Set for Bear Stearns Tournament of Champions

Draws Set for Bear Stearns Tournament of Champions Reigning World Squash Champion Thierry Lincou and Rising Star Nick Matthew Lead Off First Round of Play at Grand Central Terminal.

Rising star Nick Matthew of England, who has risen to #5 in the world rankings from #21 just over a year ago, will play the leadoff match against a qualifier in the first round of play at the Bear Stearns Tournament of Champions on February 19 at Grand Central Terminal. Immediately following Matthew on court will be current world #1 Thierry Lincou, France’s first world champion.  Jonathon Power of Canada, a record four-time titleholder of the Tournament of Champions, will begin his run at a record fifth title during the evening session of play on February 20.   

2003 World Champion Amr Shabana of Egypt will kick off match play on Sunday, February 21 followed by current world #2 Lee Beachill of England.  Defending champion Peter Nicol of Scotland, who until this past October had sat atop the world rankings for all but nine months of the past five years, will begin his quest for a fourth title in evening play on February 21.  Following Nicol on court will be young gun James Willstrop of England.  The 21-year-old was a quarterfinalist at the 2004 championships and is #8 in the world rankings.

Reigning world champion Vanessa Atkinson of the Netherlands will be first on court in the women’s opening round of play at 1:00 on Monday, February 21 at the Yale Club when she plays tour veteran Fiona Geaves of England.  World #4 Natalie Grainger, originally from South Africa and now representing the United States, will play England’s Jenny Duncalf.  The Grinham sisters of Australia, world #1 Rachael and world #3 Natalie, will each take on a qualifier en route to potential semifinal encounter.