Favorites Dominate in
Semi-Final Play at the
Sweet Home Chicago Open
World No. 5 Palmer, World No.
10 Barker To Meet in Championship Match Tonight At 7:00 p.m.
dried out after the torrential weekend rains, held center stage once
again at 401 N. Michigan Avenue's Pioneer
the top seeds to come through with stellar performances.
met John White's strokework measure for measure in a four-game semi-final
match that pitted friends against one another. "Sure it's hard," Palmer
friends; we trained together this afternoon; we were roommates this weekend;
we're both competitive."
"This is the best I've played since the
Dutch Open," said White who had played a five-game, 115 minute-match against
USA's Julian Illingworth the night before.
exceptionally well in the front of the court,
testing one another with flicks and razor-sharp drops or cross drops.
Palmer now has "the kinks out" of his game and is ready for the finals this
In the second
semi-final match of the evening,
felt the all-glass glass court "rewards good squash.”
"I ran the ball away
from (Ashour) and moved well," Barker
said, describing the keys to his successful win
against Hisham Ashour, who upset Olli Tuominen in Sunday night's
quarter-finals. "I watched his movement patterns and tried to keep him on
his back foot, with
the ball away from him," Barker continued.
Ashour makes his way to the tournament in
Baltimore a fitter, tougher player. Last night, however, he said he "made
silly mistakes with errors just on the top of the tin." Ashour had a chance
to take the match to a fourth game at seven-all in the third, but hit the
tin with a kill, leading to Barker taking the final four points, the match
and his ticket to the finals.
Will up and coming
Peter Barker break through tomorrow night by beating World No. 5
David Palmer? Stay tuned for the final act in this
Chicago drama which begins at 7:00 p.m. at Championship Court. The winner
walks away the champion
of the inaugural Sweet Home Chicago Open.
David Palmer and John White Advance to the
Semi-Finals, Along With Hisham Ashour and Peter Barker
U.S. Player Illingworth Upset By John White
The rain on Saturday in
broke an all-time, one day rainfall record of seven inches.
Flash flood advisories continued on Sunday,
which forced the quarterfinals indoors at Lakeshore Athletic Club’s Illinois
Center location for the
Sweet Home Chicago Open. Spirits were not dampened, however,
because the pros put on a spectacular display of talent including one
Number two seed
Peter Barker played measured, moderately paced squash, moving
effortlessly around the court beating
Canada’s Shahier Razik in 39 minutes.
Barker forced Razik side to side; up and down the court with ease, playing
what some might call ‘’classic‘’ squash. London-based Barker was very
pleased with his performance, “I played a traditional English game; strong
and determined,” Barker quipped after the win. “I thought Peter played very
solid tonight," Razik stated. "There were no openings.” Razik was slow to
start each game. Like many North American-based pros, Razik is using this
event and the next in Baltimore as a warm up to the World Open Squash
Championships in Manchester.
If the Barker vs. Razik match
up was classic, what followed were four games of rock’em, sock’em squash
between David Palmer and Daryl Selby, with the first and third ending in a
tie-breaker. The three ref system, in place during the quarter-finals, was
Dead nicks and cross court
volley nicks were just some of the shots in both player’s arsenal. In the
first, Palmer repeatedly found the tin on multiple forehand boasts. Then
Palmer’s error rate dropped in the second, as he won the next two leaving
Selby shorthanded after 91 minutes of play.
Every U.S. fan in the audience
hoped that they had come to watch USA’s Julian Illingworth slay giant John
White throughout the first 114 minutes of the best match of the night.
Illingworth won the second and fourth games staying steady throughout. “It
was frustrating, fun and scary playing him,” a philosophical Illingworth
admitted as he analyzed the match.
Illingworth normally plays an
attacking style, but said, “I had to play more defensively since John
attacks well, and if I’d won the third, I would have won the match.”
Illingworth played the ball straight and at a moderate pace much of the
match, taking White’s attacking game away. “At 7-all in the fifth I hit the
tin, and at 9-all was another big error.” Illingworth lost after 115
minutes of play.
White, not willing to pass the
baton to the next generation, felt there were “short balls I didn’t read
well that caught me off guard. Julian played well in the fourth. I give
him full credit.”
In the final match of the
evening, sixth seed Hisham Ashour varied the pace successfully against third
seed Ollie Touminen to win in four. Helsinki’s Touminen, who prefers
playing a fast-paced game, was hampered by Ashour’s constant directional and
pace changes. Ashour upset the seedings and earned a berth in the semis.
Semi-final action is planned
outdoors on the glass court Monday evening, pitting fellow Aussies
David Palmer against John White on the top half of the draw
and Hisham Ashour against Peter Barker on the bottom.
Sweet Home Chicago Open Matches Moved Indoors
Postponed Quarter-Finals Begin Tonight
at Lakeshore Athletic Club
organizers of the Sweet Home Chicago Open have announced that, due to
continued inclement weather, tonight's quarter-final matches will be moved
from the all-glass court at Pioneer Court, 401 N. Michigan Avenue, to
Lakeshore Athletic Club - Illinois Center, 211 N. Stetson.
The tournament was postponed
by one day when organizers determined yesterday that heavy rains in Chicago
through this evening would prevent use of the all-glass court.
semi-finals are expected to be played Monday evening and the Championship
match on Tuesday evening in the glass court.
Seeds Prosper Indoors
In Chicago Open
Rainfall on the second day of main draw action in the first USA squash event
to be held outdoors led to play in the Sweet Home Chicago Open in
Chicago being transferred to the indoor courts at the city's
Lakeshore Athletic Club.
An all-English clash was first up on the second day of first round play in
the $30,000 PSA Tour event as second seed Peter Barker faced
US-based qualifier Mark Heather. Left-hander Barker kept the ball
tight to the walls throughout to beat the University Club of Chicago’s Head
Pro 11-5, 11-6, 11-9.
The 24-year-old world No12 now faces Shahier Razik, the fifth seed
from Canada who beat English qualifier Shaun le Roux 11-5, 11-6,
"I was fortunate to win in three," conceded the Egyptian-born 30-year-old
from Toronto. "The court plays dead so I went in short when I could."
Of his quarter-final opponent Barker, Razik added: "I’ve never played him
before. He’s a lefty and a solid player which will be a little trickier.
I’m looking forward to it."
Egypt's Hisham Mohd Ashour, the sixth seed, beat Stephen Coppinger
11-6, 11-7, 11-9 - but the South African qualifier said he never felt
relaxed against Ashour. "I couldn’t play my game. If I made a mistake or
hit a loose shot, he was there for it," admitted the 6’ 6” Coppinger.
Ashour now faces third seed Olli Tuominen after the Finn beat
Canadian Shawn Delierre 12-10, 11-3, 11-6.
Tuominen, who prefers playing on the glass court, said: "Playing on the
panel court, the ball comes quickly off the front wall," referring to the
indoor court construction at Lakeshore. "The ball is deader on the glass
court, so it’s easier to put in a kill shot.
"I made a few errors in the first game then felt more comfortable in game
two," added the Finn.
Top Seed Palmer Marches Into Chicago Quarters
David Palmer claimed his anticipated place in
the quarter-finals of the
Sweet Home Chicago Open after despatching
wild card Alain Osman Mudeen in straight games in the opening round
of the $30,000
PSA Tour event in
Palmer, the reigning
champion, worked the 17-year-old from the Cayman Islands up and down the
court to win the first match of the evening. Palmer looked relaxed testing
the side walls with boasts to see how the all-glass court in the open air
played. It was to his liking.
Mudeen, who studies at the American School
in Cairo, kept up with Palmer – but, after the match, admitted: "I'm not a
British Open champion just yet," referring to Palmer's multiple wins.
Palmer will take on Englishman
Selby for a place in the semi-finals after the No7 seed from Essex beat
Arthur Gaskin 11-9, 11-8, 11-5.
John White, Head Coach at
Franklin and Marshall College and ranked 19 in the world, showed patience
and skill defeating Egyptian-born
Yasser el Halaby who, while
attending Princeton University from 2002-2006, won the intercollegiate
championships an unprecedented four times in a row.
However, that accolade alone was not enough
to stop White from winning in four games.
"The court takes a good length," said the
US-based Scotsman after his 11-8, 11-7, 6-11, 11-9 victory. "It sticks to
the sidewall so my drops were working tonight."
White now has a rest day before facing the
USA's number one player
Julian Illingworth on Saturday. Now ranked
38 in the world, eighth seed Illingworth continued his run up the ladder by
Liam Kenny 11-4, 11-7, 11-5.
Qualifying Success For Heather In Sweet Home Chicago Open
More than 18 months
since last playing on the international squash circuit, Englishman Mark
Heather claimed an unexpected place in the main draw of the inaugural
Sweet Home Chicago Open after fighting back from 2/1 down in the
qualifying finals of the $30,000 PSA Tour event in Chicago,
It was under the
watchful eyes of the venerable Chicago Tribune building, the historic
Wrigley Building and the brazen newcomer on the block Trump Tower,
that the final qualifying matches were staged in the Sweet Home Chicago
Open, the first squash tournament in the USA to be held outdoors.
President and CEO of Zeller Realty Group, hosted the event in his
‘front yard’: the Pioneer Court plaza at 401 North Michigan
Avenue. The Chicago River formed the fourth side of the square where
the McWil all-glass court took centre stage. Chicago, a hopeful
Olympic city for 2016, never looked better.
“It’s great to see it
all come together tonight,” said tournament organizer Imran Nasir
from the Lakeshore Athletic Clubs. “It’s been a collective effort; a real
spirit of collaboration between the many squash groups and clubs in and
US-based Mark Heather,
who ‘retired’ from the PSA at the beginning of the year and no longer has a
world ranking, recovered from the deficit against Rob Sutherland to
beat the world No95 from Wales 11-7, 8-11, 3-11, 11-3, 11-8 in 67 minutes.
But fellow Englishman
Shaun le Roux survived the longest battle to secure a place in the
main draw, needing 85 minutes to topple Australian Ryan Cuskelly
9-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-9.
Yorkshireman Le Roux
faces Canada’s fifth seed Shahier Razik in the first round, while
Heather takes on compatriot Peter Barker, the No2 seed.
the reigning British Open champion who is now based in Boston, is
seeded to win the 24th title of his career in Chicago, and begins
his ‘open air’ campaign against wildcard opponent Alain Osman Mudeen,
from the Cayman Islands