click on images for larger view No.2
seed Tom Ford claimed his first PSA World Tour title for six months
when he won a thrilling final of the Select Gaming Kent Open against
Welsh outsider Joel Makin.
Ford, a tall left-hander from Cheltenham, took 83 minutes to wear
down an opponent playing his eighth match in 12 days.
Makin, who was runner-up in the Stortford Classic a week earlier,
was on his knees in the closing stages but kept battling through his
obvious exhaustion to lead 9-8 in the fifth game.
Ford, who has developed into a stylish, attacking player, finished
strongly to win the final three points with shots of stunning
accuracy before a packed gallery at The Mote Squash Club in
The contrast in styles created a fascinating encounter with Ford
angling his soft volley drops into both front corners with Makin’s
powerful, physical approach producing some unbelievable retrieving
and plenty of winners of his own.
Both players had battled through punishing, five-game semi-finals,
with Ford beating Peter Creed in 87 minutes and Makin outlasting top
seed Charles Sharpes after 104 minutes of mayhem.
However, they both looked fresh at the start with rallies of 50-plus
shots. Ford led 8-5 in the opening game before No.8 seed Makin
stormed through to win it 11-8. The second and third games were both
settled on tiebreaks and, after almost an hour’s play, Makin led two
games to one.
Ford sensed his opponent was tiring and raced through the fourth
game in six minutes. He was in front all the way through the fifth
game until he reached 8-6, when he lost three points in a row as
Makin made one final, dramatic push, despite finishing many rallies
bent double with fatigue.
Ford’s cool temperament saw him control the final, punishing
exchanges with some precision rallying. He worked his opponent into
every corner of the court to reel in one of the biggest prizes of
his career and his first tournament win since two titles in Canada
A delighted Ford said: “I want to thank a lot of people for running
this superb tournament but the man I need to thank the most is the
resident osteopath, Nick Griffith, who has treated me every day for
an injury to my ribs and helped me to compete.
“Having extras like that available to us means a lot to the players
and we appreciate it very much. It is a tough life on the tour and
sometimes it can be a lonely existence but I have really enjoyed all
the interaction with the Mote members during the tournament.
“It is lovely to play in a proper squash club in front of
knowledgeable and appreciative audiences.
“I want to thank Joel for making the final such a great match and I
felt we both produced some of our best squash on court today.”
when asked how he felt during the fifth game, replied: “I was pretty
tired in the first game, let alone the fifth.
“I am pleased to have put together two good tournaments back to back
and my aim, as always, is to keep improving.”
It was the youngest final in the eighth edition of the Kent Open,
with Ford at 22 years of age and his opponent one year younger.
As Ford raised aloft his trophy after receiving it from title
sponsor Jonny Powell, of Maidstone-based Select Gaming, spectators
agreed that it was the best final in the tournament’s history.
click on images for larger view
Jonny Powell of Select Gaming with champion Tom Ford and runner-up
Tom Ford with osteopath Nick Griffith (check shirt)
click on images for larger view Top
seed and reigning champion Charles Sharpes crashed out of the Select
Gaming PSA M10 Kent Open after a dramatic and often physical contest
with Welsh No.2 Joel Makin (right).
Their semi-final battle lasted 104 minutes, seven minutes less than
an equally unpleasant final of the Stortford Classic last week
contested by the same two players and won by Sharpes.
In contrast, No.2 seed Tom Ford overcame Welsh No.1 Peter Creed in
the opening semi-final in an absorbing match that ebbed and flowed
with brilliant, attacking squash, coupled with astonishing
retrieving in a match that was a credit to the professional game,
with honesty, commitment and sportsmanship in equal measure.
Both matches went to five. Ford protected a 10-6 lead and closed out
the match 11-9 after a late wobble. Makin won 16-14 after Sharpes
wasted a 10-7 lead.
Ford has developed into a flamboyant, attacking player with an
impressive range of attacking shots. Much of his match with Creed
took place in the front half of the court with both players
attempting spectacular winners, which in turn produced equally
(left) won the opening game the hard way. He powered ahead to lead
10-6 but Creed won five points in a row before Ford nailed it 13-11.
He dominated the second, winning 11-6, and the 22-year-old looked to
be heading for a place in the final as he led 7-4 in the third.
However, Creed showed why he is rated one of the best athletes in
the game as he hurled himself around the court, combining some
gut-wrenching retrievals with superb winners.
He won the third 11-8 and took the fourth 13-11 after some fast and
Creed led 5-3 in the fifth before Ford put together a phenomenal
spell of controlled aggression to win six points in a row. After a
couple of tins he closed out the match and booked his first
appearance in a PSA final since November.
He said: “Peter is such a great competitor that I always knew that a
big fight back would emerge at some stage.
“It was a really enjoyable match to play and I love the whole
atmosphere here at the club. It’s great to see the club packed out
every day and the players really enjoy coming here.
“On my last appearance here I only lasted one day but it’s nice to
come back and stay for a bit longer. I am really looking forward to
In a bizarre twist, the second semi-final finished on a conduct
stroke for racket throwing for the second night in a row. Last night
Jaymie Haycocks was punished for his indiscretion after Sharpes had
been awarded a conduct stroke.
This time it was Sharpes who conceded the stroke and launched his
racket towards the front wall after a momentous battle in the fifth
Makin gleefully celebrated the decision. It was an unfortunate end
to a brutal contest. It wasn’t pretty. But it was raw, high-octane
sporting endeavour, compelling drama to the end.
click on images for larger view Peter
Creed and Joel Makin celebrated a Welsh double as they progressed to
the semi-finals at the PSA M10 Select Gaming Kent Open.
Makin took out No.3 seed Richie Fallows and Creed played superbly to
beat talented Australian Matthew Hopkin.
Makin faces top seed Charles Sharpes in a repeat of last week’s
Stortford Classic final which Sharpes won in five games over 111
minutes. Creed tackles No.2 seed Tom Ford.
Both Creed and Makin enjoyed straight-games victories in front of a
packed gallery at The Mote Squash Club in Maidstone, Kent. But there
was a huge contrast in the style and atmosphere of each contest.
Creed’s match was full of entertaining exchanges at the front of the
court and some blindingly brilliant retrieving from both players.
Hopkin led in all three games but Creed finished strongly in each
following match, however, was full of unpleasant verbal exchanges as
Fallows hit the self-destruct button.
His touch play has improved significantly but his temperament is
clearly still a work in progress.
After the match he admitted he was considering his future in the
game and said: “Referees are making it really difficult for me to
play the game. I feel that they are picking on me all the time and
every time I play a backhand drop shot it seems to be a stroke
“I am enjoying my training with England Squash up in Manchester and
I am seeing a sports psychologist to help me deal with this stuff
but it’s impossible when you think referees are treating you like
His opponent, Welsh No.2 Makin, was delighted to win through and
said: “It certainly felt like Richie talked himself into a lot of
trouble. It was a hard, tough first game but he lost his way in the
second when he started getting involved with the referees.
“I just wanted to avoid getting involved in those exchanges and
concentrate on my playing my game. I was pleased with the way I have
been playing for the past few weeks and it’s great when it all comes
a busy night for the referees, Charles Sharpes won through to the
last four when Jaymie Haycocks was conduct stroked on match ball
after throwing his racket at the front wall.
Sharpes was relieved to win in four games and Haycocks admitted: “It
wasn’t the best way to finish the match.” Haycocks had won the first
game and matched Sharpes for long periods of the contest. He added:
“I was playing well in patches but then started hitting a few tins.
It was very frustrating.”
contrast, Tom Ford and Patrick Rooney played superb squash with
hardly a let. All three games were tight as the 18-year-old Rooney
showed how much he is improving as a player.
Ford won 11-9, 11-8, 12-10 and said: “I have seen Patrick on court
at national squads and I am very impressed with the intelligent and
mature way he has developed. He has a good hold and moves the ball
“I have been playing in some discomfort after injuring my ribs and
it hurts if I try to hit the ball hard.”
Joel Makin of Wales continued his excellent run of form by
beating rising Egyptian star Youssef Soliman in the first round of
the Select Gaming Kent Open at The Mote Squash Club in Maidstone.
Makin, who beat the higher-ranked Ben Coleman and Welsh number one
Peter Creed on the way to last week’s final of the Bishop’s
Stortford Classic, ended Soliman’s unbeaten run in UK tournaments
Soliman had followed up his triumph in the British Junior Open
Under-19 competition by winning PSA titles in Aberdeen, Jersey and
After a successful run through qualifying he came up against a
determined opponent who matched his pace and won the contest with a
more disciplined, controlled approach.
While Soliman self-combusted in the fifth, hitting tins, conceding
strokes and arguing with the referee, Makin remained calm to clinch
victory 8-11, 12-10, 11-8, 6-11, 11-3 in 82 minutes, the longest
match of the night.
He said: “I was very pleased with the way I played last week and
kept that form going tonight. I knew his reputation for playing at a
high pace and he has obviously had a good run in recent tournaments.
I felt I contained him well and was happy to play my own game.
“I have been working with my coach Robert Owen for a year and a half
and we are working on lots of different areas. There is no short cut
to improving as a player and I’m working hard in training with a
strong group of players.”
Soliman said: “My leg was hurting me a little bit and I lost focus
in the fifth game. I wasted energy getting involved in discussions
with the referee and started making a few mistakes.”
At times the match grew a little scrappy, with referee Wendy Danzey
forced into making 37 decisions.
Makin will be hunting another major scalp when he meets No.3 seed
Richie Fallows in the quarter-finals. Fallows had a battle on his
hands before he overcame Lyell Fuller 16-14 in the fourth game.
Top seed and reigning champion Charles Sharpes beat Pakistani
qualifier Asim Khan in straight games, although there were several
highly competitive passages of play before Sharpes closed out the
match. In the quarter-finals he faces Jaymie Haycocks, who removed
Ireland’s lucky loser Brian Byrne in four entertaining games.
Haycocks said: “It’s the last tournament of the season, so it’s a
big push from me to try to win it.”
No.2 seed Tom Ford won a hard-hitting all-English battle with Ashley
Davies in four games, although the match threw up a bizarre
scoreline of 12-10, 11-9, 3-11, 11-2.
Davies squandered a game ball in the first and the second was also a
close-run affair. However, Davies powered through the third and was
8-0 up before Ford registered point. The fourth was similar,
although this time Ford reached 10-0 and match ball before Davies
managed to avoid the bagel with two late points.
Davies said: “I have never played a match like it. The third and
fourth were crazy. The first rallies in both games were very long
and whoever won it went on a big run of points. It was so mad. Tom
couldn’t win a point in the third and the same happened to me in the
Ford now meets 18-year-old Merseysider Patrick Rooney, who squeezed
home 3-2 against Ireland’s Arthur Gaskin, who was suffering from
cramp as the match wore on.
Australian Matt Hopkin won his opening match against Chris Fuller
11-9, 11-6, 11-1 in 38 minutes – and that included a 10-minute
stoppage to have a blood injury treated.
He said: “I twisted my ankle at 1-1 in the first game and then
grazed my knee as I hit the floor so had to go off to stop the blood
“When I came back on court Chris won four points in a row but I
managed to focus and get stuck into the game.”
Fuller, renowned for some marathon matches in previous years at The
Mote, was at a loss to describe his rapid exit.
“I don’t know what happened,” he said. “I never really got started.”
It’s not often that four matches produce five winners but that was
the case with tonight’s qualifying finals of the Select Gaming Kent
Open. If that sounds a bit Irish, blame Kilkenny’s finest squash
player, Brian Byrne, who lost a spectacular match against Egyptian
firecracker Youssef Soliman but was then rewarded with a Lucky Loser
slot in the main draw after the withdrawal of the injured Joel
A hip injury forced Hinds to quit, but it turned into good fortune
for Byrne, who battled toe-to-toe with Soliman for 47 minutes before
the Egyptian powered through to a first round tie against the
in-form Joel Makin.
It should be quite a match. Makin beat Welsh number one Peter Creed
and top seed Ben Coleman in last week’s Bishop’s Stortford Classic
before losing a five-game final to the Kent Open’s top seed and
reigning champion, Charles Sharpes, in a battle lasting 111 minutes.
Soliman makes his first appearance at The Mote after a fantastic
first half of 2016. After winning the British Open Under-19 title at
Abbeydale, he won the $10k North of Scotland Open in Aberdeen before
winning two $5k tournaments in Ipswich and Jersey. In all of them he
had to work his way through to the final from qualifying.
The quality of his match against Byrne was worthy of a far higher
status. With shot-making and retrieving of an astonishing quality,
it was hard to comprehend that we were witnessing a qualifying
Soliman won 11-4, 11-9, 11-7 but Byrne earned the title of Mick
Rodriguez for some amazing shots through his legs and behind his
back. His real name then came first out of the pint glass for the
lucky loser draw for a first round tie against number five seed
Soliman and Byrne were first up in the qualifying finals and the
intensity they produced was matched in all three of the matches that
Patrick Rooney is looking in superb form. After starting the
tournament with a bagel (11-0) first game win against Sean Conroy of
Ireland, he followed up with a powerful performance to beat Ondrej
Uherka of Czech Republic. Rooney pulled away from 6-4 to win the
opening game, but let slip an 8-7 lead in the second as Uherka
finished strongly. Rooney then tightened up all aspects of his game
to win the third 11-3 and the fourth 11-5.
Rooney’s reward for his 38-minute victory was a first round clash
with number six seed Arthur Gaskin from Ireland.
Bermudan Micah Franklin and Pakistan's No.2 seed Asim Khan left
everything on court after a 72-minute marathon which could have gone
Khan looked edgy and nervous as he struggled past 39-year-old Mote
Head Coach Chris Tomlinson in the first qualifying round, but here
he demonstrated enormous physical resources to withstand a
determined attack from Franklin.
Khan edged the first game 14-12 and fought back from 7-3 down in the
second to lead 9-8, but Franklin closed out the game 11-9. Khan was
in control throughout the third as Franklin's accuracy deserted him,
and the fourth was almost a carbon-copy of the second as Franklin
played aggressively to lead 8-2 only for Khan to draw level with a
run of six points. Again Franklin squeezed home to take it to five.
From 0-3 down he won four points in a row, but then Khan did the
same. Back came Franklin and at 7-7 it was anybody’s match to win or
Khan’s tight drops were the decisive factor as he won the final four
points to gain a place in the main draw against top seed Charles
Nick Mulvey fought back from two games down to beat top qualifying
seed Joe Green on Tuesday, and almost suffered the same reversal of
fortunes himself as Kent’s Ben Ford recovered from two games down to
take the match to five.
But in another match of high intensity and superb squash, Mulvey
held it together to win 11-8 in the decider after 68 minutes of pure
drama. The 40-year-old Ford recovered from two games down in
impressive fashion to take the match to his opponent with some
Mulvey now meets Welsh number one Peter Creed, the fourth seed, in
the bottom half of the draw.
The Mote’s Head Coach Chris Tomlinson came desperately close to a
stunning victory in the Kent Open Squash Championship.
In front of a packed gallery at The Mote, the 39-year-old Tomlinson
led by two games to love against the number two qualifying seed,
Asim Khan from Pakistan.
The 19-year-old from Lahore was constantly wrong-footed as Tomlinson
stepped up the court and fired in a succession of dazzling winners.
Tomlinson led 7-4 in the third game and was just a handful of points
away from victory. But the enormous effort took its toll and Khan
forced his way back to hold game ball at 10-9. Tomlinson twice drew
level but Khan held his nerve to win the game 14-12. It was a
massive turning point.
The scores were level at the mid-point of the fourth and fifth games
but each time Khan pulled away to clinch victory, with a scoreline
of 8-11, 9-11, 14-12, 11-6, 11-7 after 63 minutes of thrilling
Another Kent legend, Bexley’s Ben Ford, earned a place in the
qualifying finals when he beat The Mote’s Bradley Masters.
Ford, the British over-35 champion, is now one of the country’s
leading coaches and has been working with Masters and his brother,
world No.81 Josh, for several years.
The 19-year-old Bradley won the opening game but the 40-year-old
Ford’s experience and silky racket skills saw him through to face
Nick Mulvey from Hertfordshire.
Mulvey fought back from two games down to beat top qualifying seed
The Mote’s James Evans lost in straight games to Brian Byrne of
Bexley’s Gary Nisbet, winner of the pre-qualifying competition for
local players, went down to Micah Franklin of Bermuda.
Joe Green, top qualifying seed in the Select Gaming Kent Open,
squandered a two-game lead and match-point in the fourth as he lost
to Nick Mulvey at The Mote Squash Club in Maidstone, Kent.
Green, the 21-year-old world No.140 from Watford, looked comfortable
as he took the first two games but failed to finish the task off as
Mullet battled his way back into the game.
Mulvey, the 23-year-old from Bishop’s Stortford, took the third game
and led 7-2 in the fourth before Green strung together a run of
points to reach match ball at 10-9.
However, Mulvey finished the game strongly to win it 12-10 and take
the match to a fifth. This time Mulvey raced into a 7-3 lead and
held his nerve to complete victory in 70 minutes.
The number two seed, Asim Khan from Pakistan, also came close to a
shock defeat as 39-year-old Chris Tomlinson, the Head Coach at The
Mote, played some dazzling attacking squash to build a two-game
Khan staged a phenomenal recovery to win the third game 14-12 and
just edged the final two win 11-7 in the fifth game after 63
Ben Ford, the English national over-35 champion and one of the
country's most outstanding coaches, had to overcome one of his
pupils to enter the qualifying finals.
Bradley Masters, younger brother of world No.81 Josh, took the first
game but Ford’s massive experience and sublime racket skills earned
him a comfortable victory.
Patrick Rooney made it a trio of English winners by beating
Ireland's No.5 seed Sean Conroy, while Conroy's Dublin colleague
Brian Byrne ended the hopes of The Mote's James Evans in straight
No.3 seed Rui Soares of Portugal fell to Andrej Uherka of Czech
Republic after the winner needed a time-out for a bleeding knee.
Egypt's Youssef Soliman sent out a warning to the rest of the draw
with a straight-games win over Emyr Evans, but the young Welshman
played some excellent squash and was far from outclassed.
Micah Franklin of Bermuda ended the hopes of the pre-qualifying
winner, Gary Nisbet, and now meets Khan.