When the trophy was finally presented after four days
of feverish activity at Colets Health and Fitness Club in Surrey, it was
local boy Tom Richards who proved the value of young legs by beating Simon
Parke in straight games in the final.
Richards, 21, from Weybridge in Surrey, had played
eight matches in six days before the match with Parke, but it was Parkes
legs that gave out first out. Richards had beaten Nial Rooney and Shaun
Larue in the qualifying rounds of the Irish Open, then knocked out the
American number one Julian Illingworth in the first round, before being
beaten by John White in the quarters. After a rushed flight back to Surrey,
Richards knocked out Obaid Jahan Khan and Stacy Ross on Friday, then
polished off Steve Meads and Peter Marshall on Saturday.
The semi-final again Marshall had been a really hard
slog going the full five games with Marshall running out of gas in the fifth
to lose 11-1.
Its really hard going in these tournaments, playing
two matches a day, Marshall commented. But I lost the tie-break in the first
game. I think If I had won that first game, I could have hung in to win, he
said after the 70-minute match.
In the other semi-final, Simon Parke, now 35 years
old, had a very easy time as Scott Handley put up a token fight in losing
11-8, 11-4, 11-4. This was welcome relief to Parke who had a monumental
five-game match against Ben Ford in the quarters, fighting back from two
games down to win.
The final showed just how much Richards has matured in
the last two years. The former stroppy teenager now plays a very mature game
with little sign of the tantrums that he used to have. He played exactly the
right tactics against Parke, keeping the pace high and moving Park around
the court, constantly using the boast to take Parke to the front of the
court and then driving him to the back.
Parke was world number three eight years ago and 25
years of experience at the top levels can more than make up for his
advancing years, but despite some wonderful recoveries and bursts of great
speed, he was unable to counter the relentless attack that Richards mounted
over the three games. After 50 minutes of breathtaking pace, Richards
emerged the 11-5, 11-6, 11-6 winner to deservedly take the winners cheque
RICHARDS SHOWS YOUTHFUL
From Martin Bronstein, in Thames Ditton,
When asked about his punishing schedule over the last
week, Richards replied:
Ive been waiting to feel bad this whole tournament,
but it hasnt happened, I feel quite good. My plan was to plays as fast as I
can, because Simon never gives up. My boasts are usually not very good, but
today they were working so I kept using them to move him around.
Danny Lee, who has coached Richards from the age of 4,
was there to give advice between games, was delighted with his protégés
It was a mature performance and he kept the high pace
and a good shot selection, throughout the match. The only area that needs
improving is fine tuning his shots when he has his opponent out of position,
said Lee, who still works with Richards.
Simon Parke said that he was very impressed with his
He stuck in there all the way. Hes now keeping off the
tin and not making so many errors. Hes tough to play.
RICHARDS ON A RUN
Tom Richard continued his run of form when he
knocked out Stephen Meads in the quarterfinals of the Colets LandInvest
Homes Open this afternoon. The 21-year old from Surrey, who was sideline for
nine months last year because of injury, has quickly got back to form over
the last four months and expects to jump up 20 places from his present
ranking of 86 when the new rankings come out at the end of April.
Meads won the first game but from then on in it was a
case of diminishing returns as the strong, very fast Richards took control
to win the next three games. Richards will now face former world number two
Peter Marshall, who retired from the circuit eight years ago after a
six-year battle with Chronic Fatigue Sydndrome. Marshall. Now playing for
fun, knocked out top seed Chris Ryder in straight games.
Marshall’s close friend, Simon Parke, (they came up
from the junior ranks together to move into the world’s top ten), had a much
harder time, losing the first two games to Ben Ford before battling back to
take the next three games. This was a reverse game plan for Ford who
yesterday had to fight back from two games down against Eddie Charlton.
Parke will now face Scott Handley who put an end to
the giant-killing run of Adrian Waller, a junior who was the lone qualifier
left in the draw. Handley won in four and, playing on his home court, should
give Parke a tough time in tonight’s (Saturday) semifinals.
RICHARDS RUSHES HOME TO VICTORY
From Martin Bronstein, in Thames Ditton, Surrey
Tom Richards, the Surrey prospect for
world stardom, played John White in Dublin on Thursday night and 24 hours
later was on court in Thames Ditton, Surrey, playing Stacey Ross. Richards
has moved smoothly from top junior to a coming presence on the senior
circuit, notching up good wins and even making the final of the Brazil
tournament. As a qualifier he made the quarters of the Irish Open and
although he lost to John White, he managed to take a game from one of the
most gifted players of the last two decades.
“I”ve always wanted to play White -
he’s unique, there’s nobody like him. For the first game I didn’t see the
ball, but then I got into it. I don’t like losing but I enjoyed that
match,” he said after his second match of the day in the Colets Open.
It was a tight schedule, getting a
morning flight from Dublin – which was delayed - and just making it on to
the court by five minutes. Despite the rush, Richards cruised to a 3/0
victory over the hard hitting Obaid Jahan Khan in the first round and then
had a six hour breather before facing the talented veteran Stacey Ross in
the second round.
Ross was once the most talented junior
in Britain and a Surrey star; so it was the old facing the new. They put on
the best match of the day, an exhibition of precise shotmaking, superb
length and marvellous finesse at the front of the court.
Ross started quickly, led 6-0 but
Richards got into his stride and pulled level: they exchanged points all the
way to 12-12 before Ross put two points together to win 14-12.
Richards ran to a quick lead in the
second game and Ross decided not to chase the game and gave away the last
The third game was another very tight
contest, and seemed to grow in intensity - and speed – neither player
wanting to go 2/1 down. This time it was Richards who won the tie-break
12-10 to get that important lead. The fourth game was still tight but the
rallies got shorter as Ross began to feel the pace and looked for the
winners at the slightest loose ball. At 9-9 Ross could have still won it had
his winners avoided the tin, but Richards played safe, kept the rallies
going and merged the 11-9 winner, his first ever victory over Ross. He will
now face another veteran, Steve Meads in the quarters.
WALLER UPSETS VAIL
Adrian Waller, still a junior, showed
his potential by knocking out Tim Vail in the second round. Waller started
well to take the first game, Vail got up to speed to take the next two
games, but lost the fourth 11-4 giving Waller the impetus to go into the
fifth game with confidence and maintain his supremacy. He will now meet
Scott Handley in the quarters. David Barnett made Handley work for his
victory in their second round match which was played at a cracking pace. But
Colets is Handley’s home from home – he has played for the first team for
almost a decade, and knew the court well.
PARKE AND MARSHALL REACH QUARTERS
They were the best of friends from
junior days so it was strange to see them back in a tournament. Simon Parke
and Peter Marshall are both well into their 30’s, both retired from the pro
circuit, but still capable of playing at a very high level. The touch,
anticipation, movement and determination are still evident. Tim Garner took
a game off Parke but had no answer to Parke’s range of shots and lightning
reaction. Peter Marshall had less trouble in beating a young Ryan Thomson
and will now face the top seed Chris Ryder in the quarters. Ryder had a
walkover when Joel Hinds withdrew because of an injury.
Parke’s quarter-final opponent
will be Ben Ford, who scraped through in five games against a very
determined Eddie Charlton who took the first two games 11-3, 11-8 and looked
as though he had the very experienced Ford beaten. But Ford used all his
experience to turn the match around -smashing a racket in the process – to
win the final three games.
FULL FIELD FOR REDUCED COLETS OPEN
From Martin Bronstein, in Thames Ditton, Surrey
Colets Open, which has been growing year by year over the last three years,
took a hit this year as one of the sponsors, a mortgage specialist, was
forced to pull out due to the decaying mortagage and financing markets.
LandInvest Homes stepped in at the last minute to keep the tournament
alive, albeit at £5,000 level.
mostly unknown names, the standard in the qualifying was high as young sturdy
arms thumped the ball with incredible speed. Top among the bazookah
warriors was Obaid Jahan Khan, a step brother of the great Hiddy Jahan who
some observers still regard as the hardest hitter of all time. Hiddy,
approaching 60 (or more?) is very much an elder brother to the 21 year old
Obaid. But the family trait of trying to break the ball and the front wall
with one single shot is very much in evidence.
slim Obaid winds up the ball hits the front wall with a thunderous crack.
Obaid is not too worried where the ball ends up, he seems to feel if he
hits it hard enough long enough he will prevail. Jamie Matthews put up a
great fight against this onslaught of black buckshot and held his own deep
into the tie-break only to lose 19-17. Obaid treats humility with the same
sort of disdain that he dishes out to the ball, and if he ever gets the
sponsorship to join the PSA circuit, could easily take on the mantel of
once worn by Anthony Hill. Nevertheless, watching him play is an
entertaining way to spend an hour and he eventually took his 3/0 victory to
earn a place in the first round against Tom Richards, the up-and-coming
young Englishman who knocked out Julian Illingworth of the US in the
Open. Richards was due to play John White tonight (Thursday);
beats White, Jahan Khan will have a free ride into the second roundl. If
Richards loses, he will have to try and get from Dublin to Thames Ditton on
Friday in time for a noon match.
Rooney pulled out at the last minute creating a lucky loser spot which went
to the youngest player in the tournament, 15 year old Nicholas Hopcroft, a
local junior who is expected to move to the upper echelons of European
junior squash in the coming years. Today he lost to Adrian Waller, who, with
Danny Lee, tops the under 19 lists in the UK.
is Chris Ryder with the old warhorse Simon Parke as second seed. They could
both be given a tough test by Scott Handley and Ben Ford when it gets down
the quarters and semis. Peter Marshall could knock the lot of them off the
court if his fitness holds up.