BMO Nesbitt Burns
Ontario Open 2004

04-07 Mar, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

07-Mar, Finals:

[2] Joey Barrington (Eng) bt [1] Mike Corren (Aus)
      10-15, 13-15, 15-8, 15-8, 17-15 (117 mins)
[4] Eman El Amir (Egy) bt [3] Runa Reta (Can)
      9-5, 9-5, 1-9, 9-6 (55 mins)

Barrington battles to title,
El Amir dashes home hopes

Neil Tubb reports from Ottawa

Joey Barrington and Mike Corren, despite having fought savage battles throughout the previous three rounds to end up in the final, provided the sold-out gallery at the Ottawa Athletic Club with a match for the ages. Providing more drama and plot twists than any movie thriller, these two warriors fought each other to a standstill for just under two hours, to the absolute delight of the fans. Full report

The Women’s final featured two young players who were both in search of their first WISPA professional title. Eman El Amir, the talented Egyptian, had shown throughout the tournament her all-round powerful game, featuring both hard drives and volleys to length, as well as the softest of drops. Ottawa’s own Runa Reta also packs a lot of power into a relatively small frame, but also showed fantastic mobility and determination. The contrast promised to provide some great squash, and the fans were not disappointed. Full report

The finalists at the Presentations

BMO Nesbitt Burns Ontario Open 2004
1st Round Fri 5th Quarters Sat 6th Semis Sat 6th Final Sun 7th
[1] Mike Corren (Aus)
15-10, 17-14, 17-14 (44m)
[Q] Robert McFadzean (Usa)
Mike Corren
15-9, 17-15, 17-15 (65m)
Shawn De Lierre
Mike Corren

15-12, 15-17, 15-9, 2-15, 15-8 (80m)

 Alex Stait

Mike Corren

10-15, 13-15, 15-8, 15-8, 17-15 (117m)

Joey Barrington

[6] Shawn De Lierre (Can)
15-8, 15-12, 15-10 (39m)
David Phillips (Can)
[3] Alex Stait (Eng)
15-13, 15-7, 15-8 (35m)
[Q] David Barnett (Eng)
 Alex Stait
15-10, 15-9, 11-15, 15-12 (67m)
Karim Yehia
[8] Karim Yehia (Egy)
15-10, 15-11, 15-10 (33m)
Robin Clarke (Can)
Nicholas Kyme (Ber)
15-10, 15-13, 15-5 (44m)
[7] Ian Power (Can)
Ian Power
15-8, 15-13, 15-6 (55m)
 John Rooney
 John Rooney

5-15, 15-12, 7-2 rtd (calf injury)

Joey Barrington

[Q] Matthew Serediak (Can)
15-8, 15-5, 15-9 (38m)
[4] John Rooney (Irl)
Ashley Flathers (Eng)
15-5, 15-3, 15-10 (38m)
[5] Eric Galvez (Mex)
Eric Galvez
5-15, 15-8, 15-7, 9-15, 15-9 (120m)
Joey Barrington
[Q] Fabian Kalaitzis (Gre)
15-11, 15-10, 17-14 (46m)
[2] Joey Barrington (Eng)
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Men's Qualifying (Thu 4th):

Fabian Kalaitzis bt Patrick Bedore 3-0
Matthew Serediak bt Dane Sharp 11-15, 15-5, 15-12, 15-14
David Barnett bt Bernard Tissot 15-4, 11-15, 15-7, 15-11
Robert McFadzean bt Abdul Razzaq 15-7, 14-15, 15-9, 4-15, 15-4

First Round:
Fabian Kalaitzis (GRE) bt Juan Jose Jimenez (COL) 15-9, 11-15, 15-11, 15-11
Patrick Bedore (CAN) bt Ryan Haider (CAN) 3-0
Matthew Serediak (CAN) bt Brian Ernst (CAN) 15-7, 15-6, 6-15, 15-11
Dane Sharp (CAN) bt Mohammed Nasir Farooq 3-1
Abdul Razzaq (PAK) bt Matt Arkett (CAN) 13-15, 15-12, 12-15, 15-5, 15-11
Bertrand Tissot (FRA) bt Rizwan Farooq (PAK) 3-0
David Barnett (ENG) bt Mike Reid (CAN) 3-0
Rob McFadzean (USA) bt Daniel Sibley (CAN) 15-13, 15-7, 10-15, 15-10

BMO Nesbitt Burns Ontario Open 2004
WOMEN'S DRAW $6k    Draw from WISPA
1st Round Fri 5th Quarters Sat 6th Semis Sat 6th Final Sun 7th
[1] Melissa Martin (Aus)
[Q] Miranda Ranieri (Can)
Melissa Martin
9-3, 9-5, 7-9, 7-9, 9-2 (47m)
Alana Miller
Melissa Martin

9-4, 9-3, 5-9, 5-9, 9-4 (59m)

Runa Reta
Runa Reta

9-5, 9-5, 1-9, 9-6 (55m)

Eman El Amir

[7] Alana Miller (Can)
9-0, 9-2, 9-1 (24m)
Kelly Fowler (Aus)
[3] Runa Reta (Can)
9-2, 9-1, 9-1 (26
[Q] Ashley Clackson (Can)
Runa Reta
9-2, 3-9, 10-8, 10-8 (44m)
Katie Patrick
[8] Katie Patrick (Can)
9-2, 9-2, 10-8 (52m)
[Q] Seanna Keating (Can)
Tara Mullins (Can)
6-9, 9-7, 9-1, 9-7 (56m)
[6] Marnie Baizley (Can)
Marnie Baizley
9-4, 9-5, 9-5 (31m)
Eman El Amir
Eman El Amir

6-9, 9-6, 9-6, 8-10, 9-4 (66m)

Melanie Jans

[Q] Izumi Matsuda (Jap)
9-2, 9-6, 9-1 (21m)
[4] Eman El Amir (Egy)
Kyla Grigg (Can)
0-9, 6-9, 10-9, 9-4, 9-7 (60m)
[5] Olga Puigdemont Sola (Esp)
Kyla Grigg
9-3, 9-4, 7-9, 9-5 (43m)
Melanie Jans
Lauren Polonich (Can)
9-1, 9-7, 9-6
[2] Melanie Jans (Can)
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Women's Qualifying (Thu 4th):
Ashley Clackson (CAN) bt Shauna Flath (CAN) 9-7, 9-4, 9-4
Miranda Ranieri (CAN) bt Helen Kay (CAN) 9-1, 9-2, 8-10, 9-3
Seanna Keating (CAN) bt Neha Kumar (CAN) 9-5, 9-7, 9-4
Izumi Matsuda (JAP) w/o


07-Mar, Finals:
Neil Tubb reports from Ottawa

Barrington Battles to Ontario Title

  [2] Joey Barrington bt [1] Mike Corren 10-15, 13-15, 15-8, 15-8, 17-15 (117m)

Joey Barrington and Mike Corren, despite having fought savage battles throughout the previous three rounds to end up in the final, provided the sold-out gallery at the Ottawa Athletic Club with a match for the ages. Providing more drama and plot twists than any movie thriller, these two warriors fought each other to a standstill for just under two hours, to the absolute delight of the fans.

The two players definitely have different approaches to the game. Corren, the tough Australian, is cut from the Chris Dittmar mold, favouring hard volleys to pressure, followed up with dramatic nicks. Barrington, the serious Englishman, takes consistency on court to new heights, serving notice that in order to beat him, you will have to pay a high physical toll.

For the first two games of the final, however, it looked like Corren was up to the task of beating Barrington at his own game. Barrington, as he’s done the rest of the tournament, kept his drives tight, his errors low, and waited for Corren’s mistakes. Corren decided to rally patiently with Barrington, but at key times in each of the first two games, always found the right short boast or nick that eluded the lightning fast Briton.

Rather than being unnerved by having to come from behind, Barrington returned for the third game looking even more determined. As he had done in his quarterfinal match with Eric Galvez, he actually managed increased the pace of the match when he found himself down. By cutting out almost all mistakes and keeping his drives rail-tight, Barrington’s pressure started to get to Corren, who was slowly beginning to tire. Barrington soon collected the third game.

The fourth game featured more pressure from Barrington, and Corren’s shot selection started to look a little erratic. Instead of waiting for the right moment as he’d done earlier, Corren went short too often, allowing Barrington to stretch him further. Barrington’s defence at this time was inhuman—almost every delicate boast or drop from Corren was returned with a high, flowing lob to the back. Finding himself too far behind after a Barrington run of points, Corren gave up and saved himself for the deciding fifth game.

Here in the fifth, battle was truly joined. A championship was on the line, and neither would budge an inch. Each battled at times with their concentration, and it was point for point almost all the way. Finally Barrington scored a breakthrough, match ball at 14-13, only to have Corren pull him back again. At 16-15, though, Barrington found the squash gods were smiling on him, as he secured his first ever PSA title with a back wall nick.

“To be honest, I welcome that bit of luck (the back wall nick), as I’ve lost big matches on that sort of thing,” said Barrington after the match. “I felt quite good physically going into the third, and so even though I was down two games, I tried hard to get my rhythm and apply more pressure to Mike. In the end, it couldn’t really have been a closer match, but I’m thrilled to have come out the winner.”

El Amir Dashes Home Hopes

  [4] Eman El Amir bt [3] Runa Reta 9-5, 9-5, 1-9, 9-6 (55m)

The Women’s final featured two young players who were both in search of their first WISPA professional title. Eman El Amir, the talented Egyptian, had shown throughout the tournament her all-round powerful game, featuring both hard drives and volleys to length, as well as the softest of drops. Ottawa’s own Runa Reta also packs a lot of power into a relatively small frame, but also showed fantastic mobility and determination. The contrast promised to provide some great squash, and the fans were not disappointed.

Although El Amir admitted before that she’d be a bit nervous for the final, it certainly wasn’t apparent as the first game began. El Amir confidently stepped into her shots from the first point, throwing Reta on the defensive. While she did display some fine touch of her own, Reta never really got settled, and surrendered the game 9-5.

The second game saw El Amir starting to control the rallies even more, but soon some unforced errors started to cancel out her glowing winners. This obviously gave Reta some hope, and Reta worked to find her own rhythm in the match. El Amir still managed to get a nice run of points together to sew up the second game 9-5.

Reta came back on court for the third in a much more focused mood. It was clear that, for all of El Amir’s shotmaking abilities, the Egyptian was vunerable if you could get her off the T and moving around the court. By starting to volley more and using some frontcourt deception, Reta managed to put together her own fine run of points, and secured the third game 9-1.

Where before it looked like El Amir would run away with it, the match now looked like it was up for grabs. Things started to go against Reta, as El Amir’s magic came back, and the Egyptian stormed to 7-2. But, with her coach screaming for her to “Push!”, and the local crowd cheering her on, Reta clawed her way back into the match. Soon it was 6-7, and all looked possible. But Reta had given herself no leeway in getting behind, and with a few flicks of her racquet, El Amir had won her first WISPA title.

06-Mar, Quarter & Semi-Finals:
Neil Tubb reports from Ottawa

Men’s Semi-finals

  [1] Mike Corren bt [3] Alex Stait 15-12, 15-17, 15-9, 2-15, 15-8 (80 mins)
  [2] Joey Barrington bt [4] John Rooney 5-15, 15-12, 7-2 retired (calf injury)

After some tremendous quarterfinal matches, the Ottawa Athletic Club crowds were buzzing with anticipation for the semifinals. Each of the seeded players had duly reached their allotted positions, and now it was time for the toughest players to step forward.

Mike Corren and Alex Stait were familiar with each other’s games, playing in a PSA final in November, which was won by Corren in four close games. Both seemed very confident in the beginning, but it was Corren who looked to be stepping up the pace a notch. Volleying more and hitting better length, Corren was able to force some weak replies from Stait, which he repeatedly slammed into the nick to the delight of the crowd.

Stait returned for the second game with a much better game plan, where he started to use his delightful array of shots to move Corren around the court more. Stait’s high backhand volley drop was a particularly lethal weapon, as were his soft drops on both sides.

With the score at one game apiece, Stait continued his strategy of moving Corren forward, but soon it was causing some major traffic problems. With each player accusing the other of blocking, it was unclear from the gallery who was to blame, making the referee’s job very difficult. After winning the third game in a dogfight, Corren quickly gave up in the fourth, but again the top seed was saving his best for last. Corren returned to simple, disciplined squash to secure the fifth game.

“I just told myself to myself to go back on court and concentrate on my technique and length, and luckily I was able to do that” Corren said afterwards. The Aussie, currently based out of Holland, was unhappy that the match featured so many decisions, but was pleased to have advanced to another PSA final.

The second semifinal started with both Barrington and Rooney playing quite conservative squash. Barrington, it must be said, looked miraculously fresh after his two-hour battle only five hours before. Rooney was the more aggressive in the first, pushing Barrington to all four corners, and slotting in some nice winners to run out the first game quickly.

The second game saw Barrington’s patient game again start to wear on his opponent, who began to make some errors at key moments. What was shaping up to be a fantastic match, though, was cut short when Rooney slipped and fell in the third game. His calf muscle cramped up almost completely, and Rooney had to concede the match due to injury, much to the dismay of the crowd.

Women’s Semifinals

  [3] Runa Reta bt [1] Melissa Martin 9-4, 9-3, 5-9, 5-9, 9-4 (59 mins)
  [4] Eman El Amir bt [2] Melanie Jans 6-9, 9-6, 9-6, 8-10, 9-4 (66 mins)

The women’s semifinals provided plenty of Canadian interest, with both Ottawa native Runa Reta and Canadian #1 Melanie Jans looking to make the final. Jans was first up, plotting her strong length and retrieving game against the shotmaking prowess of Egyptian Eman El Amir. Jans seemed nicely in control early on, with El Amir providing enough tins to allow Jans a comfortable first game victory.

The next two games showed the Egyptian at her best, as she confidently thrashed the ball around the court, forcing Jans to do all the running. El Amir’s shots were breathtaking at times, and she looked to be a sure winner when she ran out the second and third games, and then an 8-0 lead in the fourth.

But nerves seemed to set in at this point for El Amir, and a savvy veteren like Jans can sense these types of openings. Jans stormed back to force a fifth game, but El Amir managed to pull herself together, hit some more glorious winners, and move on to her first WISPA final.

“I couldn’t believe I lost the fourth game, but I just told myself to not think about it, and just go out and concentrate,” El Amir said after what she calls the biggest win of her career.

Ottawa fans came out in full force to cheer on third seed Runa Reta, who was in tough against the gritty Australian top seed Melissa Martin. Considering the occasion, Reta looked remarkably calm, hitting fine length and moving Martin well. Reta’s more consistent play presented her with the first two games, much to the delight of the hometown crowd.

But Martin knew it was very close, so she cut down her errors and started to force Reta to hit more shots. With nerves starting to set in, a few unforced errors started to creep into Reta’s game. Martin’s determination and focus gained her all the momentum, and soon we were moving to a dramatic fifth game. When it mattered, though, Reta was able to regain her composure and put together a fine run of winners, giving her a well-deserved victory.

“This is definitely my biggest win, it feels really good,” Reta said after the match, still beaming. “My coach Heather Wallace told me before the fifth that I’d come too far to give up now, and that helped me to concentrate.” Sunday’s match will also be Reta’s first WISPA final.

  Mike Corren bt Shawn Delierre 15-9, 17-15, 17-15 (65 mins)
  Alex Stait bt Karim Yehia 15-10, 15-9, 11-15, 15-12 (67 mins)
  John Rooney bt Ian Power 15-8, 15-13, 15-6 (55 mins)
  Joey Barrington bt Eric Galvez 5-15, 15-8, 15-7, 9-15, 15-9 (120 mins)

Men’s Quarterfinals
Neil Tubb reports from Ottawa

The top four men’s seeds had some very determined competition Saturday as they had to take on opponents who each really believed they could cause the upset. As the fans had hoped, the result was some fantastic and dramatic moments at the Ottawa Athletic Club.

Top seed Mike Corren took the court against Canada’s best hope in the tournament, sixth seed Shawn Delierre. It was a contrast in styles, as Delierre was always looking to up the pace and go for the winner, where Corren was content to slow things down and wait carefully for his openings. Corren’s patient approach worked well in the first game, but soon Delierre’s range of shots had the Montreal native inching ahead in the second, only to lose it on a few unforced errors. The third followed a similar manner, but Corren managed to always save his best stuff for the key moments, allowing himself to roll out a straight games victory.

The Alex Stait/Karim Yehia match was an equally close affair. Stait, the third seed, came out of the gates very positively, covering the T like a blanket, and his control of the rallies led to a 2 game lead. The third game, however, threatened not to start at all when Yehia cried out for a referee change. The tournament director quickly convinced him to get on with it with the current referee. After Yehia gathered himself well and collected the third game, Stait reasserted his control in the fourth, and booked himself a spot in the semifinals.

The John Rooney/Ian Power matchup was equally aggressive, with neither of the players wanting to yield any real estate in the middle of the court. The first game featured Rooney hitting balls very early and hard, which nullifed Power’s touch and deception. In the second, Power seemed to realize he needed to control the rallies more and started to step forward. The result was some great rallies but also very tense moments as each player thought the other was blocking. After just losing a close second game, Power seemed to lose heart in the third, allowing Rooney a straight games victory.

The final match of the quarterfinals was also the most anticipated. Mexican Eric Galvez had impressed the crowds on Friday with his array of shots and incredible retrieving, but Joey Barrington was certainly going to provide him with a tougher test of his skills. The first game, though, showed Galvez at his best, as he matched Barrington’s steady length game with attacking drops and kills at just the right time.

After losing the first rather quickly, Barrington returned to the court for the second with a steely look of focus that no one could miss. His new game plan was clear—if you’re going to beat me, you’re going to have to kill me. What ensued over the next hour and forty minutes was probably the most punishing squash I’ve seen. Barrington’s grinding discipline and refusal to take any chances simply wore down Galvez, but one had to wonder if the Englishman would possibly have anything left for the semifinals.

Women’s Quarterfinals
Neil Tubb reports from Ottawa

  Melissa Martin bt Alana Miller 9-3, 9-5, 7-9, 7-9, 9-2 (47 mins)
  Runa Reta bt Katie Patrick 9-2, 3-9, 10-8, 10-8 (44 mins)
  Eman El Amir bt Marnie Baizley 9-4, 9-5, 9-5 (31 mins)
  Melanie Jans bt Kyla Grigg 9-3, 9-4, 7-9, 9-5 (43 mins)

The women’s quarters started off in a rather straightforward fashion, as Kyla Grigg was unable to match her shotmaking consistency from the previous round. Playing against second seed Melanie Jans, Grigg’s go-for-broke style was always going to be risky. While Grigg did have some moments, the sharp and conservative play of Jans was too much, allowing the Canadian #1 to progress to the semifinals in four games.

Top seed Melissa Martin showed her experience in quickly taking a two game lead against Alana Miller, who seemed to be lacking a bit of confidence with her tentative play. With a few mistakes by Martin in the third, though, Miller seemed to loosen up, and managed to push the match to a fifth game. But Martin did not panic, and simply tightened up her shots and cut out her errors to quickly win the deciding game.

Egyptian Eman El Amir was a surprisingly easy straight-game winner over former Canadian champion Marnie Baizley. Baizley worked hard in each of the games to push El Amir to the back of the court to take away her touch game, but El Amir always seemed to have the right shot ready when it mattered. El Amir’s confidence rose throughout the match, and she will be a definite threat going in to the semifinals.

Finally, Ottawa native Runa Reta managed to move on to the semifinals as well, but not without a very close scare for the third seed. Fellow Canadian Katie Patrick had great self-belief from the beginning of the match, forcing Reta to scrape and scramble for every point. The closeness of the game score indicate what a battle it was, but in the end Reta was not to be denied in front of her hometown fans.

Neil Tubb reports from Ottawa

All men's seeds safely through
Ottawa’s squash community—many of whom it seemed were taking some extra long “off-site meetings” from work—sizzled with excitement as the main round action got under way. While each of the favoured players duly found their way through to the quarterfinals, it still provided plenty of great squash.

Top seed Mike Corren was first on court against Rob McFadzean, and from the first point forward, his class and athleticism was clearly above what we’d see in the qualifying. That didn’t spell good news for McFadzean, who definitely had to do the lion’s share of running in the match, but he distinguished himself quite well in the process. Corren seemed strangely on edge for such a routine match, arguing with the referee almost from the first call. Nothing wrong with taking your job seriously, I guess.

Speaking of serious, second seed Joey Barrington was all business in his match against Fabian Kalaitzis. There was nothing much to choose between them for the first ten minutes or so, but suddenly Barrington’s length and patience took its toll on the Greek international. Kalaitzis’ athletic gifts were never in question as he made some incredible retrievals, but Barrington still closed out the match in three.

The next two seeds were even more clinical in dispatching their opponents. Third seed Alex Stait complained a bit early on in his match with countryman David Barnet about blocking, but soon decided to let his racquet do the arguing. Stait’s fantastic movement, coupled often with soft drops that seemed to almost hug the front wall, resulted in Barnett doing a lot of chasing without much influence in the rallies. Fourth seed John Rooney worked so hard to quickly win his match with Canadian Matt Serediak that one wondered if he had dinner plans. Serediak gamely tried to push the Irishman, but the result was never in doubt.

The four lower seeds also all won their matches in straight games, but there were definitely some entertaining moments. Eric Galvez of Mexico played like a man possessed. Someone needed to remind him that this wasn’t quite the finals yet, as he threw himself around the court making acrobatic retrievals until Ashley Flathers simply ran out of ideas. It was probably the most impressive performance of the round, and it will be very interesting to see how Galvez fares against the more seasoned Barrington in the quarters.

Canadians Shawn Delierre and Ian Power progressed without too much fuss. Delierre defeated fellow Montreal native David Phillips, who just couldn’t match the inventiveness and scrambling abilities of his opponent. Power came through a testy affair with Bermuda’s Nicholas Kyme, who tried to subdue Power’s hypnotic length and precision with pure brute force. Kyme pushed Power in the second game, but after losing that, and in the process a lot of energy, Power finished off the third in short order.

The final spot went to the Egyptian Karim Yehia, who was just too powerful and accurate for Ottawa native Robin Clarke. Cheered on by the hometown crowd, Clarke pushed Yehia at times, but when it was close, Yehia always seemed to be there with an inch-perfect boast or drop to which Clarke had no answer.

Grigg joins Canadian
Club in women's Quarters

In contrast with the men’s event, the women’s first round action did see a few close matches, and even an upset. It started in a dull fashion, though, when Miranda Ranieri was forced to withdraw from the event for personal reasons, giving the top seed Melissa Martin a walkover.

Second seed Melanie Jans got a decent run in her match with Lauren Polonich, getting to display her array of shots to the crowd. It was a comfortable win that will likely put the Canadian #1 in a good position for the quarterfinals.

Her opponent tomorrow will be Kyla Grigg, who pulled the only upset of the opening round when she came back from the dead to beat Spain’s Olga Puigdemont Sola. You just have to admire Grigg’s approach to the game—a true riverboat gambler, going for her shots at all times. Those shots found the tin too often in the first two games, and together with some very steady play from Sola, Grigg found herself down match point in the third. Her reply to this tense situation was to fire the service return into the nick, close out the game with a few more winners, and go on to beat the fifth-seeded Sola in five.

Former Canadian champ Marnie Baizley had to come up with some fine squash to hold off the challenge of Tara Mullins. Mullins refused to give in and doggedly retrieved Baizley’s shots, which forced Baizley to focus hard to bring home the victory in four. Her opponent in the quarters will be Eman El Amir, who made short work of a somewhat shell-shocked Izumi Matsuda.

Alana Miller and Ottawa’s Runa Reta scored the most emphatic victories of the round. Reta’s control and variety of pace were just far too much for the steady drives of Ashley Clackson, who quickly surrendered the match in three. Alana Miller was even more decisive against a nervous-looking Kelly Fowler of Australia. Miller started the match at a high tempo, volleying whenever possible, and showing some deft touch, all to which Fowler had no reply.

In the final match, Katie Patrick showed some nice flair in beating the very determined Seanna Keating in three straight. Keating showed an incredible fighting spirit, and looked quite content to retrieve all night, but Patrick’s greater range of shots proved too much.

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Ontario Qualifying
Neil Tubb Reports from Ottawa

The final round of qualifying was, I figured, where the real professionals would separate themselves from the amateurs. It was certainly true in the first match, as Fabian Kalaitzis upped the pace early with fine length and displayed shots that were totally MIA in his previous match. Full credit to Bedore, though, who never gave up, and in the end made Kalaitzis work very hard to secure the victory.

Matthew Serediak and Dane Sharp were no strangers to each other, having played through the Canadian junior ranks together. It was shown in their mutual respect, but no quarter was given otherwise in this tense affair. Sharp’s moody shotmaking makes him unpredictable, but Serediak’s patient rallying and fantastic touch in the front left corner allowed the Cornell All-American to progress through to the main round.

David Barnett provided another English representative tomorrow as he found a way through against the determined Bernard Tissot. It was close all the way, but in the fourth game Tissot’s slow-paced approach finally saw him lose influence in the rallies, and Barnett seized the initiative. The final spot went to American Rob McFadzean, who is likely still scratching his head after winning the fifth game of his match over Abdul Razzaq so easily, after he had just lost the 4th game in a similar fashion.

Women's Qualifying:
With only seven women entered in the qualifying, Izumi Matsuda of Japan got the afternoon off while the other six fought it out for the remaining three spots in the main draw.

Ashley Clackson had a rather straighforward victory over tournament director and OAC head professional Shauna Flath. Playing squash at this high level requires a certain level of selfishness in your preparation—something Shauna, in the midst of running this large tournament, was always going to have trouble doing. Clackson gets full value for the victory, though, with some great winners and a very calm attitude.

Miranda Ranieri came out very strong against Helen Kay, winning the first two games quickly, before Kay started to find some great angles and snuck out the third game. Ranieri collected herself, though, and with a very concentrated effort, wrapped up the fourth game and booked herself a spot in the main draw. The third was another all-Canadian affair, with Seanna Keating seeing off the challenge of Neha Kumar 3-0.

Men's Qualifying, First Round:
As the opening round of qualifying got underway, I quickly developed a new respect for sports journalists. It is somewhat difficult to be watching four matches at once and get any real feel for each, but by doing a little running around I was rewarded with some fantastic squash.

The first match up on the showcourt was between Fabian Kalaitzis and Juan Jose Jimenez, with one of the closer encounters of the qualifying rounds. Both took turns throughout the match with the lead, but in the end Kalaitzis’ willingness to take a few chances in the later stages that won him the match. Jimenez is obviously talented though, and it seemed a pity he had to exit so early.

Several young Canadians found their way to the next round with some gutsy performances. Dane Sharp had to work hard to keep his concentration in a difficult match with Mohammed Nasir Farooq. Patrick Bedore won in straight games against a nervy Ryan Haider, and Matthew Serediak showed the power of positive thinking in overcoming a perpetually unhappy but skillful Brian Ernst.

The rest of the spots went to the international contingent. Bertrand Tissot of France quickly dismissed Rizwan Farooq of Pakistan, who was clearly having trouble acclimatising to Canada as he played the first two games in a sweatshirt! Good thing he wasn’t in Ottawa in January. Abdul Razzaq finally wore down the spirited attacking play of OAC pro and all-around good guy Matt Arkett in a very close match. David Barnett showed his professionalism against young Mike Reid, and the final spot when to American Rob McFadzean who overcame Daniel Sibley.

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Top Squash Returns to Ottawa
Neil Tubb reports from Ontario

Top-level squash returns to the Ottawa area this week as the city hosts both a PSA and a WISPA event. Run in parallel with a number of separate national Open, skill level, and age group events, the Ontario Open promises to whet the appetite of even the most diehard squash participants and fans.

On the men’s side, Australian Mike Corren, ranked #40 in the world, is the top seed in a draw that includes some impressive squash talent from around the globe. After a successful 2003 where he collected 3 PSA titles, Corren will have his hands full in Ottawa as he fends off the challenge from several up-and-coming pros and a few wily veterans. Second seed Joey Barrington (ranked #50) is an Englishman whose form has been steadily improving over the past two years, and who will undoubtedly be hungry for his first PSA title. Fellow Englishman Alex Stait (#58) and Irish international John Rooney (#56) round out the top four seeds, and their experience on the world circuit will make them definite threats.

The men’s draw also showcases some of Canada’s best squash talent. Shawn Delierre, Dave Phillips, and Ian Power are among the top ranked domestic players, and each will be looking for valuable PSA ranking points just down the highway from their home base in Montreal. Hometown boy Robin Clarke, only 17 years old, will be looking to make a good impression in front of his many local fans.

On the women’s side, it is another Aussie who is seeded to collect the title. Melissa Martin (world #38), originally from Adelaide but now based in the U.S., is familiar with Ottawa, having just barely surrendered the Ottawa International WISPA event in the fall. Her main challengers are two top Canucks, Melanie Jans (#50) and Runa Reta (#41). Jans, who is now based in Vancouver, has a career win against Martin, and will be looking to add to her already stellar squash resumé. Reta, born and raised in Ottawa, is in the midst of her first full season on the WISPA tour, and will undoubtedly welcome some hometown support. The women’s draw also includes some international flavour, with Eman El Amir from Egypt and Olga Puigdemont Sola from Spain coming to the nation’s capital.

Qualifying is set to begin on Thursday morning. Only a few spots in both the men and women’s draws are up for grabs, and with some qualifiers coming from as far away as Greece and Japan, there are some serious plane tickets that need to be paid for. As the only prize money is in the main draw, more than a few sparks are expected…

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