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6 Semi Finals
Egypt & England To Contest World Final In France
Top seeds Egypt and England will contest Saturday's WSF Men's World Team Squash Championship final in France for the second time in a row after surviving dramatic semi-finals before a packed and exuberant crowd at the Palais Des Sports in Mulhouse.
After defending champions Egypt recovered from a match down to beat former champions Australia 2/1 in the first semi, second seeds England overcame hosts France in a tense contest which ended almost two hours after midnight.
31 nations are competing in the 24th edition of the championship which is being staged in France for the first time in its 46-year history - at two venues, the Espace Squash 3000 Centre and the Palais Des Sports where, for the first time, play is taking place simultaneously on three ASB all-glass showcourts spectacularly lined up side-by-side.
The session began with favourites Egypt facing Australia, the fourth seeds. Underdogs Australia took the lead after close-fought battle in which Australian number one Cameron Pilley, ranked 13 in the world, recorded his career-first victory over world No5 Karim Darwish, winning 12-10, 14-16, 12-10, 11-9 in 74 minutes.
But Omar Mosaad, a world championship debutant, struck back for the defending champions, beating Australia's comeback hero David Palmer 11-13, 11-6, 11-9, 11-9 in 80 minutes.
Egypt maintained the momentum when Tarek Momen, (right) a last-minute addition to the team squad and also a championship first-timer, fought back from a game down to beat Ryan Cuskelly 3-11, 11-6, 11-5, 7-11, 11-5 in 67 minutes.
After his opening win, Pilley said: "There are only three Egyptians I hadn't beaten - Ramy, Shabana and Darwish - so now it's two. I've got close a couple of times before - but I'm now much more confident with my fitness and stamina.
"I'm playing really well - probably in the best form of my career. I've been working on things recently - mainly on my strengths rather than my weaknesses. That was probably one of the best wins of my career.
"In general when you wear an Aussie jersey, it helps you punch above your weight. When you're out there you're doing it for Australia.
"Being number one above David is a bit weird. Throughout my career I have always looked up to him. Having David's presence lifts the team - it's such an honour having him around."
Mosaad, who revealed that he had been ill earlier in the week and unable to eat anything for a whole day, said after his win over Palmer: "It was a big match - everybody knows that David was world number one and a two-time world champion. It was hard today. I lost to him 3/0 last time we played - in fact I have never beaten him or taken a game off him before.
"When Karim lost the first match I tried to say to myself that the match starts now, not from 1/0 down. The first was a hard game and I made too many mistakes. Winning the second game was very important for me and for Egypt, because it brought Egypt back into the match."
A downcast Palmer said: "I gave it my best - I was disappointed not to be able to close it out after Cam's great performance. But all credit to Omar, he hardly made any mistakes the whole match."
Momen was overwhelmed to have led Egypt into their sixth world team final since 1999: "It must be the most important match I've ever played - but I'm still not able to grasp the fact that I'm in the world team championship!
"I was nervous watching Karim's match, but when I went on court for mine I didn't feel that nervous - and I think I suffered as a result.
"In the break after the fourth game, my coach told me to step it up a notch and reduce the errors.
"Being in the final is an amazing feeling - I just hope we can win the trophy for the third time."
Egyptian coach Mohamed Medhat Morsi added: "I was pessimistic when Karim went down as we know what a great player Palmer is. But once we had the decider, I was sure that Tarek would win."
Passion and squash excellence were of the highest order in the opening match of the second semi when local hero Gregory Gaultier, (left) the world No2, faced English rival Nick Matthew,(left) ranked two places lower (both pictured below). This was the pair's 35th encounter since meeting in the world junior championships 15 years ago - and the Frenchman was 5/2 ahead in meetings so far this year.
It was a titanic battle between two giants of the game - both used to playing each other on the PSA World Tour, but this time proudly representing their countries. With a capacity crowd cheering each French point won, Gaultier took the opening game.
But as the match progressed, with the pair exchanging games to take the match into a decider, both players suffered with cramp - Gaultier seemingly barely able to walk at 9-6 up in the fifth. Matthew maintained his composure, however - fighting not only the opponent but the vociferous crowd - and closed out the marathon encounter 5-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-5, 12-10 after two hours and 18 minutes!
"I've certainly never played a match before when both players have suffered severe cramp," said the England number one. "At one point, I felt as if I'd been hit by the bullet of a sniper but, though the crowd were totally against me, I assume that it didn't actually happen! Afterwards I maybe got lucky when he was affected by it more.
"But just look at the passion when playing for your country!
"I expected the crowd to be against me of course - it was the loudest crowd I've ever played before.
"I'm so delighted for my team as the last couple of times I haven't done it for the team. The last few points were tough as I had to get the balance between adrenaline and being calm."
After the passion of the French crowd subsided temporarily, it was time for veteran Frenchman Thierry Lincou,(right) the 37-year-old former world champion, and world No3 James Willstrop (right)to take to the court. The had met 20 times before, with the head-to-head record finely poised at 10 wins apiece - the most recent being in Lincou's favour in the European Team Championships.
Willstrop opened up a two-game lead but Lincou refused to give up - winning the third and forging a 7-4 lead in the fourth. Both visibly tired as the end of the match approached - but the Yorkshireman clawed back the deficit and, on his third match-ball, finally put England into the final with an 11-3, 11-8, 7-11, 13-11 victory.
"The French pushed us all the way," said an emotional Willstrop to the event MC afterwards. Referring to the opening match, the 29-year-old told the crowd: "It was one of the finest matches you'll ever see, for athleticism and skilfulness - it was a match which this fantastic venue deserved, and the crowd deserved. It was a fantastic encounter."
As the clock approached 2am, Willstrop was asked how the late hour affected him: "Squash players are used to schedules over-running so we know what to expect.
"It's such a big win, to beat the French - but tomorrow's another day and we need to prepare ourselves for the final."
Germany survived two of the longest matches of the tournament to beat India 2/0 and earn a place in play-off for sixth place - guaranteeing the highest finish the team has ever recorded. World No12 Simon Rosner followed up his straight games defeat to Australian Cameron Pilley 24 hours earlier by twice coming from behind to beat India's number one Saurav Ghosal 3-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-8, 11-7 in 91 minutes before left-hander Raphael Kandra stemmed a fight back by Harinder Pal Sandhu to beat the Indian number two 11-9, 14-12, 5-11, 3-11, 12-10 in 84 minutes.
"It's unbelievable - we were bronze medallists for the second time in the recent European Championships and now, six weeks later, we are in the top six of the world," said German team manager Oliver Pettke. "Simon was really down after his match against Australia yesterday and we all tried to lift him - so we were really pleased with his performance today. That was a very important win for him.
"This is good for German squash. This generation of players is one of the best we have ever had - Simon has pushed everyone and we now have other players doing well on the world tour."
History was made at the Espace club where Colombia beat event newcomers Botswana in a play-off for the 21st - 24th places. 14-year-old Theo Pelonomi became the youngest player ever to compete in the championships when he represented Botswana in the tie, losing 11-3, 11-6 to Colombian Andres Vargas in the dead rubber.
"I am happy being here - I can learn lots of things," said schoolboy Pelonomi. "I wasn't nervous about my match because I knew that the guy was better than me so I just tried to enjoy it."
Botswana number one Alister Walker, the recently-crowned All-Africa champion who is ranked 15 in the world, added: "It's all been such an experience for him, I don't think he probably realises what an honour it is to put himself and his country into the records books.
"Coming here gave us the chance to make an amazing statement. He was a tennis player and switched to squash - so when he goes home and meets up with his friends they are bound to be envious of what he has done.
"And now the team is playing for 23rd place in the world championship in its first year - it's an achievement of which we are very proud," concluded Walker.
Semi-finals (all ties played in team order 1, 2, 3):
EGYPT bt  AUSTRALIA 2/1
ENGLAND bt  FRANCE 2/0
8th place play-offs:
SOUTH AFRICA bt  MALAYSIA 2/1
12th place play-offs:
SCOTLAND bt  USA 2/1
16th place play-offs:
FINLAND bt  MEXICO 2/1
20th place play-offs:
[17/20] NETHERLANDS bt [21/24] ARGENTINA 2/1
24th place play-offs:
[17/20] COLOMBIA bt [21/24] BOTSWANA 3/0
28th place play-offs:
[25/28] CZECH REPUBLIC bt [25/28] POLAND 3/0
31st place play-offs:
[21/24] AUSTRIA bt [29/31] NAMIBIA 2/0
Top Four Nations Reach World Semis For Fourth Time In a Row
Egypt, England, Australia and hosts France will contest the semi-finals of the WSF Men's World Team Squash Championship for the fourth time in a row after surging through today's quarter-finals of the biennial event being staged in France for the first time in its 46-year history.31 nations are competing in the 24th edition of the championship at two venues in Mulhouse - the Espace Squash 3000 Centre and the Palais Des Sports where, for the first time, play is taking place simultaneously on three ASB all-glass showcourts spectacularly lined up side-by-side. Favourites Egypt, looking to become the first nation since 1987 to win the title three times in a row, brushed aside eighth seeds India 2/0.
Karim Darwish, the world No5 making his seventh successive appearance in the championship, defeated Harinder Pal Sandhu 11-7, 11-4, 11-2 - then world number one Ramy Ashour (left) recovered from game-ball down in the fourth to beat top-ranked Indian Saurav Ghosal (both pictured below) 11-7, 11-9, 4-11, 13-11 in just over an hour."It's my seventh time in a row in these championships and I am pleased to win today to put Egypt into a strong position in this tie," said 31-year-old Darwish. "There are a lot of problems back in Egypt - if we win it's the least we can do for our country to make the people happy. It would be great for our people.
"To be the captain of Egypt in the most successful era for squash in our country makes me very proud. It is one of my dreams to hold the trophy for the third time."
After clinching victory for Egypt on the centre court in the hot Palais Des Sports, Ashour said: "The conditions out there were incredibly tough - it was exhausting physically and mentally. It felt like my 758th match of the year! It took me a long time to warm up.
"I really wanted to play Saurav today - I knew it would be a good game. I definitely lost a lot of calories.
"Everybody in the team is playing really well - we came here to win. The people back home are rooting for us big time - and we want to win it for them."
When asked about the sport's Olympic ambitions, Ashour added: "We are doing so much work to show the IOC how good our sport is - glass courts, great venues, etc. 90% of the tournaments on the calendar are wonderful. Every squash player should be proud of what they are producing. I just hope the IOC will give us a chance."
After coming so close to taking the world's top player the full distance, Ghosal said: "Ramy is so unbelievably good - and at the same time so random. That's what makes him so special.
"I was about 8-4 up in the second and should have won it. But the trouble with Ramy is that he can reel off points so quickly - and that's what he did. "I played really well in the third and he dropped off a bit towards the end. In the fourth Ramy had match balls at 10-8 - then I had a game ball at 11-10. But he played a great shot to win the match.
"But I'm very happy with my performance - even though disappointed not to take the second," added the UK-based world No20. "I'm not saying I could have won it - but I would like to have taken it to a fifth.
"It's like playing a world championship home from home as Mulhouse is the team I play for in the French league - so it's always good to be back here. But it's the first big tournament I've played in France - it would be good to have a PSA tournament here. I love France."
Egypt, winners of the title three times since 1999, will now face eight-time champions Australia. The fourth seeds beat Germany, the No6 seeds, 2/0. In fourth successive victory this week after coming out of retirement, former world champion David Palmer (Right) beat rising German star Raphael Kandra 11-9, 11-4, 13-11 - before squad number one Cameron Pilley held off a spirited challenge by Simon Rosner to upset the higher-ranked German 11-3, 14-12, 11-5.
A rejuvenated Palmer said after his win: "I felt good in the first two games but, all credit to him, he came back - he just didn't give up. He's a flashy kind of player - some incredible shots but also some errors.
"I haven't been in second gear yet," added the 36-year-old. "And I didn't want to use it today. But it's going to be tough tomorrow."
A delighted Australia team manager Byron Davis added: "We've played extremely well this week - I'm really happy with the way the team has come together. We've been improving every day and look forward to playing Egypt tomorrow."
Hosts France, the third seeds, will meet their stiffest challenge of the tournament so far when they take on former champions England in the other semi-final. Second seeds England faced tournament dark horses South Africa, and beat the No7 seeds 3/0. World No3 James Willstrop put the team in the driving seat after defeating South African number two Shaun le Roux 11-7, 11-6, 11-8. Fellow Yorkshireman Nick Matthew (Left) then stepped up to take out Stephen Coppinger, South Africa's highest-ranked player for more than two decades, 11-4, 11-4, 11-7. In the best-of-three dead rubber, Daryl Selby beat veteran Rodney Durbach 11-7, 11-6.
"South Africa weren't just here to make up the numbers - they are capable of playing above their ranking and we treated them with respect they deserved," said Matthew, the world No4. "Especially Steve - he's improved a lot recently.
"It was really important for me to win today as I've had a couple of rest days - in preparation probably to play the best two players in the world - and I didn't want to let the team down after what they've done to get us here.
"It's set us up nicely for the semis - where we expect to play France in front of a partisan crowd, which will be brutal! We're all experienced players - James and I both have around a hundred caps each for England - so we play the opponent, not the atmosphere. We've both won a couple of world teams - even though a long time ago now!
"I've only really lost two matches in six championships since 2003 - and I'm proud of that record.
"It's a brilliantly-run tournament - and we want to win it."
France rounded off the evening by conquering Malaysia 3/0. Thierry Lincou (Right) led the way by beating Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan 11-6, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7 before local hero Gregory Gaultier defeated Malaysian number one Ong Beng Hee 11-6, 11-6, 11-5 to take France into the semis.
The packed crowd wanted more - and watched third string Gregoire Marche beat Sanjay Singh 11-3, 11-3 in the best-of-three dead rubber.
Gaultier, the world's second highest-ranked player, was delighted to be involved with this historic championship: "It's great to play in front of a home crowd. We don't have many events in France - and when you see the quality of this event you are very happy. I am very proud that my country has staged an event like this - I know the Federation has been working on it for more than a year, and they are really looking after the players.
"I don't feel any pressure - it's a pleasure to be playing for my country. I have been playing for so many years that I feel I am experienced and mature enough to deal with the pressure.
"Being in the semis is good for the team - we are seeded three so we have done what we were expected to do. Everything is now a bonus - and we are going to try and grab a win."
In the play-offs for 9th-16th places, former champions Pakistan upset New Zealand 2/1 to ensure a significantly improved finish after last year's shock 21st place.
"We are here to restore pride in squash in Pakistan squash after our lowest ever finish last time," said Pakistan coach Jamshed Gul. "I am proud of my young team for this win today and now we can look forward to playing for a place in the top 12.
8th place play-offs:
12th place play-offs:
16th place play-offs:
20th place play-offs:
24th place play-offs:
28th place play-offs:
32nd place play-offs:
Quarter-finals (all ties played in team order 2, 1, 3)
EGYPT bt  INDIA 2/0
David Palmer bt Raphael Kandra 11-9, 11-4, 13-11 (45m)
Cameron Pilley bt Simon Rosner 11-3, 14-12, 11-5 (51m)  FRANCE bt  MALAYSIA 3/0
Thierry Lincou bt Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan 11-6, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7 (52m)
Gregory Gaultier bt Ong Beng Hee 11-6, 11-6, 11-5 (42m)
Gregoire Marche bt Sanjay Singh 11-3, 11-3 (16m)  ENGLAND bt  SOUTH AFRICA 3/0
James Willstrop bt Shaun le Roux 11-7, 11-6, 11-8 (38m)
Nick Matthew bt Stephen Coppinger 11-4, 11-4, 11-7 (33m)
Daryl Selby bt Rodney Durbach 11-7, 11-6
9th - 16th place play-offs: CANADA bt  HONG KONG CHINA 2/1
Dane Sharp lost to Leo Au 11-4, 4-11, 6-11, 10-12 (60m)
Shawn Delierre bt Max Lee 11-5, 12-10, 11-5 (52m)
David Letourneau bt Cheuk Yan Tang 11-1, 11-5, 11-5 (32m)  PAKISTAN bt  NEW ZEALAND 2/1
Farhan Zaman bt Evan Williams 13-11, 11-6, 11-4 (29m)
Nasir Iqbal lost to Martin Knight 4-11, 13-15, 10-12 (53m)
Farhan Mehboob bt Paul Coll 11-5, 11-7, 11-4 (31m)  USA bt  MEXICO 2/0
Gilly Lane bt Cesar Salazar 11-7, 12-10, 4-11, 11-3 (46m)
Christopher Gordon bt Arturo Salazar 11-6, 11-4, 11-9 (33m)  SCOTLAND bt  FINLAND 2/1
Greg Lobban lost to Henrik Mustonen 13-11, 7-11, 11-3, 9-11, 9-11 (61m)
Alan Clyne bt Olli Tuominen 11-7, 11-5, 12-14, 10-12, 11-9 (60m)
Douglas Kempsell bt Matias Tuomi 8-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-5 (45m)
17th - 24th place play-offs:[17/20] KUWAIT bt [25/28] JAPAN 3/0
Ammar Altamimi bt Yuta Fukui 11-6, 11-7, 11-7 (30m)
Abdullah Al Muzayen bt Shinnosuke Tsukue 11-8, 11-9, 11-8 (30m)
Yousif Nizar Saleh bt Ryosei Kobayashi 11-6, 11-9 (18m) [17/20] SWITZERLAND bt [21/24] IRELAND 2/1
Reiko Peter bt Brian O'Brion 11-9, 11-9, 11-8 (47m)
Nicolas Mueller bt Arthur Gaskin 12-10, 11-3, 15-13 (39m)
Patrick Miescher lost to Steve Richardson 11-8, 6-11, 8-11 (33m) [17/20] NETHERLANDS bt [21/24] BOTSWANA 2/0
Sebastiaan Weenink bt Lekgotla Mosope 11-7, 11-7, 11-8 (31m)
Laurens Jan Anjema bt Alister Walker 9-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-5 (50m) [21/24] ARGENTINA bt [17/20] COLOMBIA 2/1
Robertino Pezzota bt Erick Herrera 11-6, 11-6, 11-7 (42m)
Hernan D'Arcangelo lost to Miguel Angel Rodriguez 10-12, 9-11, 11-7, 12-14 (54m)
Leandro Romiglio bt Bernardo Samper 11-0, 11-6, 11-2 (29m)
25th - 31st place play-offs:[29/31] RUSSIA bye [29/31] KENYA bt [25/28] VENEZUELA 2/0
Hartaj Bains bt Miguel Mendez 11-6, 11-6, 11-1 (20m)
Kenneth Mwangi bt Gabriel Teran 11-6, 11-1, 11-7 (22m) [25/28] POLAND bt [29/31] NAMIBIA 2/1
Marcin Karwowski bt Norbert Dorgeloh 11-4, 11-8, 11-13, 11-9 (36m)
Wojtek Nowisz lost to Marco Becker 11-13, 13-15, 8-11 (46m)
Przemyslaw Atras bt Andrew Forrest 11-8, 12-10, 8-11, 11-8 (58m) [25/28] CZECH REPUBLIC bt [21/24] AUSTRIA 2/1
Petr Martin bt Jakob Dirnberger 11-6, 11-7, 11-8
Ondrej Ertl lost to Aqeel Rehman 11-9, 9-11, 3-11, 6-11 (53m)
Daniel Mekbib bt Andreas Freudensprung 11-6, 11-0, 11-3 (22m)
South Africa & Germany Storm Back Into World Top Eight
31 nations are competing in the 24th edition of the biennial event which is being held in France for the first time. Action is taking place at two venues in Mulhouse - the Espace Squash 3000 Centre and the Palais Des Sports where, for the first time, play is taking place simultaneously on three ASB all-glass showcourts spectacularly lined up side-by-side.
Seventh seeds South Africa, who finished in an all-time low 13th position in the previous championship in 2011, despatched Finland, the ninth seeds and one-time bronze medallists, 2/0. Stephen Coppinger, the Cape Town-based 28-year-old who boasts a career-high world No16 ranking, beat seasoned Olli Tuominen (both pictured in action below), a veteran of eight world championship campaigns, 11-5, 11-7, 11-9 before third string Clinton Leeuw defeated Matias Tuomi 11-4, 15-13, 11-9.
"It means so much for us to get into the top eight," said South Africa coach Richard Castle. "It's really difficult when you're out of the main group and just fighting for those lower play-off places.
"But we had to beat those Finnish guys - they don't just give you the games.
"Steve is our captain and gave us a great start - he won 3/0, but it was a very tough match. Steve reaching an all-time ranking high is great for us - in fact, what he has done is quite phenomenal and I don't think South Africa have quite realised what he's achieved. Shaun (le Roux) is playing superb squash and is also at a career-high."
South Africa will now face former champions England for a place in the last four. The second seeds, led by world No3 James Willstrop, knocked out British rivals Scotland 3/0.
"Steve can handle anyone in the top 20," added Castle. "We're looking forward to playing England as the pressure will be on them."
Two years on, the focussed sixth seeds today defeated New Zealand 2/1. World No12 Simon Rosner led the assault, beating Campbell Grayson 13-11, 2-0 (ret.) - and team-mate Jens Schoor clinched victory by outplaying 23-year-old Kiwi Evan Williams 11-5, 11-5, 11-5. New Zealand gained some consolation when Martin Knight beat Raphael Kandra in the best-of-three dead rubber.
New Zealand played the tie in uncharacteristic white kit, forced to forgo the traditional 'All Black' Kiwi attire in favour of the higher-seeded Germans - who also play in black!
"It's unbelievable," said German manager Oliver Pettke of his team's success. "I cannot find words to express my feelings.
"Last year we finished in ninth position, but were later raised to eighth when one team was disqualified - but this time we have reached the quarter-finals by right. It was very impressive for me to see the team get to the quarters like this - I am really happy. In fact, I think it is one of the best results we have ever had.
"Having the last championship in Paderborn was very special for us - none of us will ever forget it - but now we have to just focus on our playing.
"Tomorrow we expect to meet Australia and we are really looking forward to it."
Their opponents will indeed be fourth seeds Australia, 3/0 victors over Pakistan. It was the most glamorous tie of the day - between the two greatest world team championship nations of all, who hold 14 titles between them and have contested three finals.
Cameron Pilley led the way in an hour-long tussle, beating the Pakistani number one Nasir Iqbal 11-5, 11-3, 5-11, 11-6. Ryan Cuskelly put matters beyond Pakistan's reach by crushing left-hander Farhan Mehboob 11-9, 11-3, 11-6, before David Palmer added another significant victory to his post-retirement tally when he overcame Farhan Zaman 11-9, 11-7.
"We have a lot of respect for Pakistan and there is a lot of history between our two countries," said Australian coach Rodney Eyles. "But when it comes down to it we're just here to win the tournament and today's win takes us nearer that goal.
"But we had to be very alert for Pakistan today," added the former world No2. "Ryan played a hell of game - the lad he played is very skilful, but he neutralised him well.
"I couldn't be happier with the way the guys have prepared for these championships."
Favourites Egypt, bidding to become the first nation since 1987 to win the title three times in a row, eased to a 2/0 win over 15th seeds Canada. Ramy Ashour, the world No1 undefeated on the PSA World Tour for 41 matches over more than a year, beat Dane Sharp 11-6, 11-9, 11-8 before Tarek Momen sealed victory with an 11-6, 11-8, 11-8 defeat of David Letourneau.
Egyptian coach Mohamed Medhat Morsi said later: "All these wins are important to us - even when the challenges are not high - because it gives us confidence.
"Every day is important to us - we have had four days and we have three to go. Every day we all get together and set a plan which we are all involved with - it makes no difference that we have a world number one and number five in our squad."
Egypt will take on India, the No8 seeds.
"The boys are ready for the battle," continued world No38 Morsi. "We have tough opponents in the next round. India are one of the countries coming up in squash.
"It's my first time coaching the men's team - I first coached the women in 2010 when we won the world title for the first time, and have been involved with the juniors since then. But, when I was a player, I played with all the players in this team on the Tour."
India beat Asian rivals Hong Kong 2/1. "We were very confident going into this match," said Indian national coach Cyrus Poncha. "Being our Asian counterparts, we know their standards well.
"Our first goal was to get into the top eight. We've got a tough one in Egypt tomorrow."
Malaysia will provide further Asian interest in the quarter-finals after beating USA 2/0. Ong Beng Hee, the 33-year-old Malaysian number one celebrating his tenth successive appearance in the championships, put his team ahead with a 7-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-8 defeat of US champion Christopher Gordon.
Muhd Asyraf Azan was too strong for US debutant Dylan Murray in the following match, but had to fight back from a game down to overcome the 18-year-old from New York 8-11, 12-10, 11-2, 11-8.
"Chris and I played in the pools last time and I beat him then so I felt confident," said Beng Hee later. "We finished fifth last year, but this year we don't have Azlan (Iskandar) so it will be difficult to achieve the same this time. We expect to meet France next, but it will be hard to beat them."
On playing his 10th successive worlds, Beng Hee added: "It's a little bit depressing truthfully as people keep mentioning it! It gets harder all the time, especially with all these young players coming through!
"But the more I play in this event, the more special it becomes - and I am very proud to still be able to play number one for my country.
"If my body holds out, I hope to continue playing for some time - and especially in next year's Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, both of which are very important for Malaysia.
"My main remaining goal is to win an individual medal at the Commonwealth Games - a bronze would be fine! Next year is going to be huge."
It took just ten minutes to open up the lead when Mexican number one Arturo Salazar was forced to concede the match after just one game to national hero Gregory Gaultier, the world number two from Aix-en-Provence, due to illness. Third string Gregoire Marche sealed France's win with an 11-3, 11-3, 11-5 victory over Eric Galvez - and, in the best-of-three dead rubber, the crowd were treated to another home win as Mathieu Castagnet beat Arturo's twin brother Cesar Salazar 11-8, 11-6.
16th place play-offs:
24th place play-offs:
31st place play-offs:
Last 16 round (all ties played in team order 1, 3, 2):
EGYPT bt  CANADA 2/0
INDIA bt  HONG KONG CHINA 2/1
AUSTRALIA bt  PAKISTAN 3/0
GERMANY bt  NEW ZEALAND 2/1
MALAYSIA bt  USA 2/0
FRANCE bt  MEXICO 3/0
SOUTH AFRICA bt  FINLAND 2/0
ENGLAND bt  SCOTLAND 3/0
17th - 31st place play-offs:
[17/20] KUWAIT bye
[25/28] JAPAN bt [29/31] RUSSIA 3/0
[17/20] SWITZERLAND bt [25/28] VENEZUELA 3/0
[21/24] IRELAND bt [29/31] KENYA 3/0
[21/24] BOTSWANA bt [29/31] NAMIBIA 2/1
[17/20] NETHERLANDS bt [25/28] POLAND 3/0
[21/24] ARGENTINA bt [21/24] AUSTRIA 2/1
[17/20] COLOMBIA bt [25/28] CZECH REPUBLIC 2/0
Botswana Boast World Championship Breakthrough
"Our first championship - and our first win," exclaimed the exuberant Botswana number one Alister Walker as he stepped off the court after winning the decider against Poland on the second day of qualifying in the WSF Men's World Team Squash Championship in France.
Both Poland and Botswana are making their debuts in the 24th edition of the biennial event which is being held in France for the first time. Action is taking place two venues in Mulhouse - the Espace Squash 3000 Centre and the Palais Des Sports where, for the first time, play is taking place simultaneously on three ASB all-glass showcourts spectacularly lined up side-by-side.
Lekgotla Mosope put Botswana ahead with an 11-1, 11-4, 12-10 victory over Marcin Karwowski, but Pole Lukasz Stachowski fought back, beating Koketso Ntshebe in four games to level proceedings.
It then took just 22 minutes for Walker, the US-based world No15, to despatch Poland's top-ranked Wojtek Nowisz 11-7, 11-2, 11-5 to clinch victory.
"It will definitely be good for squash in Botswana and will help us get recognition from the relevant bodies," said Botswana Squash President TK Rabasha afterwards. "It will give them an appreciation of what squash can do for the country. And hopefully it will help us attract sponsors.
"Ali encouraged us to be here - and I'm glad we came."
Walker, who developed his squash first in England, then in the US, added: "I used to play in juniors with most of the team so we know each other well and get on well."
The fourth member of the squad is 14-year-old Theo Pelonomi, surely one of the youngest player ever to compete in the championship!
"Theo is very talented young boy who started playing tennis, but switched to squash as soon as he was introduced to it," added President Rabasha. "We hope he will benefit from exposure to squash at this level."
Third seeds France faced Pakistan on the centre court at the end of the day, and forged a 3/0 win over the former champions to extend their leadership of Pool C. Thierry Lincou and Mathieu Castagnet earned straight games wins over Farhan Zaman and Farhan Mehboob, respectively, world No2 Gregory Gaultier beat Nasir Iqbal (both pictured below) 11-8, 11-8, 11-5 to maintain the hosts' clean sheet.
"I'm very pleased overall with the team's performance - they did the job," said French national coach Renan Lavigne. "We have a lot of respect for Pakistan, which is why we put out our strongest team - we wanted to play with the top three to show that we were up for a big match.
"Thierry gave us a great start and Mathieu put in a good performance - Farhan has great racket skills and is certainly top 20 material.
"One thing that really touched me was that the Pakistan players wanted to get their pictures taken with our players," added the former world No17. "Yet years ago, when I was playing, it would have been the other way round. That was quite significant.
"We're aiming for at least a top three position - but it would be great to win the title for the first time, especially at home. But we know we have strong opposition - we just have to take it one match at a time."
The top two seeds Egypt and England also posted 3/0 wins. Playing at the Espace Centre, defending champions Egypt beat Scotland, while second seeds England defeated 15th seeds Canada on the centre court in the Palais des Sports.
"It's the first time on the glass court - and the major objective was to win, of course, but also to get a good run out on the court," explained England national coach Chris Robertson.
"It's probably not unusual to see our players struggle in the first games as they get used to the court after playing at the club yesterday."
England's world No3 James Willstrop put the team ahead with a 19-minute 11-6, 11-8, 11-6 defeat of Canadian Dane Sharp. Both he and team-mate Nick Matthew are celebrating their sixth successive appearances in the event.
"This year's event is particularly special for me as I have had a long association with the Mulhouse club in the French league," said Willstrop. "I know a lot of people here and Thierry Jung has put a lot into this event - he's a massive squash fan.
"This is an exciting event that doesn't come around that often so it's good to make the most of it. And the set-up here is almost revolutionary - I've never seen anything like it before, with three glass courts side-by-side.
"It's squash moving forward, proving that it can do things in different ways - something other sports can't do."
Seeded eight and nine, respectively, India and Finland were sure to be giving their all in their Pool H clash. But impressive performances by Ramit Tandon, Mahesh Mangaonkar and Saurav Ghosal saw India record a decisive 3/0 victory.
"I am delighted with the performance and result today," said Indian national coach Cyrus Poncha. "Ramit was a class act, Mahesh was solid and Saurav was simply superb. Overall it was a solid team effort."
In one of the longest ties of the day, sixth seeds Germany beat USA, the No11 seeds, 2/1. Raphael Kandra put Germany ahead when former US champion Julian Illingworth was forced to concede the match through injury after the third game. A sparkling performance from retired US pro Gilly Lane against Jens Schoor saw the underdogs draw level.
But a focussed bid by Simon Rosner saw the German number one beat Christopher Gordon 7-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-7 to give the sixth seeds their second win of the championship.
"We expected it to be hard - and I feel sorry for Julian with his injury - but we are happy with the outcome," said German team manager Oliver Pettke. "It was a tie we needed to win and it's probably made it easier for us in the second round. But now we have to do well against the Czechs."
The only upset of the day took place in Pool G where 25/28 seeds Japan beat Austria, seeded in the 21/24 group, 2/1.
qualifying round - Pool A (all ties played in team order 2, 3, 1):
[17/20] KUWAIT bt [29/31] KENYA 3/0
[17/20] COLOMBIA bt [29/31] NAMIBIA 3/0
[17/20] NETHERLANDS bt [29/31] RUSSIA 3/0
[21/24] BOTSWANA bt [25/28] POLAND 2/1
[21/24] IRELAND bt [25/28] CZECH REPUBLIC 2/1
[25/28] JAPAN bt [21/24] AUSTRIA 2/1
[21/24] ARGENTINA bt [25/28] VENEZUELA 3/0
RESULTS: WSF Men's World Team Championship, Mulhouse, France
Lincou Leads Hosts France To Opening World Championship Win
Distinguished veteran Thierry Lincou, the former world number one and world champion from France who is making his tenth successive appearance in the biennial WSF Men's World Team Squash Championship, led the hosts to a confident 3/0 win over Netherlands in today's first qualifying rounds of the 24th staging of the event since 1967.
The championships are being held across two venues in Mulhouse - the Espace Squash 3000 Centre and the Palais Des Sports where, in front of a packed and partisan crowd, France took centre stage on one of three ASB all-glass showcourts spectacularly lined up side-by-side for the first time (see picture below).
Second string Lincou took just 35 minutes to overcome Dutchman Sebastiaan Weenink 11-2, 12-10, 11-3 before French number one Gregory Gaultier battled for 61 minutes to quash the challenge of eight-time Dutch champion Laurens Jan Anjema 12-10, 4-11, 12-10, 11-3 to confirm the French win. Third string Mathieu Castagnet made it a clean sheet by beating Marc ter Sluis 11-4, 11-3, 11-7.
After retiring from the PSA World Tour last year, 37-year-old Lincou made an impressive comeback at last month's European Team Championships, chalking up five wins out of five, including the scalp of England's world No3 James Willstrop.
"I really got back into shape for the Europeans - that was really the tournament for me to show myself and my team-mates how good or bad I was for a few matches," said the Boston-based Frenchman. "And it worked pretty well, I feel.
"It was good to be back with my friends - and I'm happy to keep this going here."
When asked how to describe his feeling about competing in every world team championship since 1995, Lincou said: "My longevity makes me feel really proud - I feel really good and I hope that my fitness at my age will be an inspiration for the guys.
"I think it's because I love the game - that's what keeps me going. I want to keep re-living the moment - it's unique!"
Australian David Palmer was another former great making an international comeback in Mulhouse. Like Lincou, 36-year-old Palmer is also a former world number one and world champion - and gave fourth seeds Australia a solid start against Switzerland with an 11-9, 11-7, 11-3 win over 3/0 Reiko Peter.
"I didn't know much about my opponent, but the boys gave me some background," said the US-based Aussie number two. "I must admit I was a bit nervous, a bit edgy on there - but once it started I felt more comfortable and got into a groove half way through the second.
"It was important to get the team off to a good start - and take a little pressure off Cam."
Team-mate Cameron Pilley went on to beat the highest-ranked Swiss player of all-time Nicolas Mueller 11-6, 8-11, 11-3, 11-9, before fellow New South Welshman Ryan Cuskelly wrapped up a 3/0 win for the team.
But Ong Beng Hee, the Malaysian number one who shares Lincou's tenth successive championship appearance achievement, was not so fortunate in his 2013 campaign opener. Fifth seeds Malaysia took on championship debutants Botswana, seeded in the 21/24 group.
Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan put Malaysia into the lead with an 11-6, 11-4, 11-5 win over Lekgotla Mosope - but minnows Botswana fought back when squad number one Alister Walker, ranked 15 in the world, beat Beng Hee in straight games.
In the decider, experienced Muhd Asyraf Azan needed just 18 minutes to beat tournament first-timer Koketso Ntshebe 11-3, 11-4, 11-6 to give Malaysia a 2/1 victory.
Top seeds Egypt were given a stern test by Kuwait before beating the 17/20 seeds 3/0. Omar Mosaad, one of two members of the squad making his world championship debut, beat Kuwaiti Ammar Altamimi 11-9, 11-4, 11-5 before former world number one Karim Darwish resisted the challenge of Kuwait's top-ranked Abdullah Al Muzayen 11-9, 11-7, 11-8.
"It was my first match of the tournament, which is always a bit special, so it was good to get a win," said 31-year-old Darwish after beginning his seventh world teams campaign. "Abdullah is one of the most gifted players on the Tour - one of the up-and-coming players - and we know him well as he comes to train with us in Egypt.
"It's great to play for my country for the seventh time in the worlds - it makes me very proud."
But a major upset looked on the cards when 18-year-old Kuwaiti Yousif Nizar Saleh twice led Tarek Momen, a late addition to the Egyptian squad despite boasting a world No10 ranking. Momen ultimately prevailed 7-11, 11-5, 10-12, 11-5, 11-5 after 61 minutes.
"Yousif played really well and took me by surprise," explained the 25-year-old from Cairo afterwards. "He is so quick and good with his racket - I really struggled. And I had no idea he was only 18!
"But I wasn't expecting to be here - and took a 10-day vacation straight after the British Open," Momen continued. "This was my first match since playing Greg Gaultier in Hull.
"We had to change the ball as the first was really bouncy - but then the second was totally the opposite, all of which was quite challenging. But I thought I played well enough to win."
Teenager Saleh was understandably delighted with his performance: "I am very happy to have played that well - it was my first match against a top ten player. I did my best - but I didn't expect to win two games!
"I hope I can continue to play well for my country over the next few days - but my focus is on next month's world juniors in Poland and I hope this will be good training for that.
"It's certainly the best match of my life so far," continued the world No 129. "I want to thank the Kuwait Federation for helping me. I want to be the best player in the world."
The long opening day finished with a thriller when eighth seeds India were forced to fight back from a match down to beat 21/24 seeds Argentina. It was outsider Robertino Pezzota who rocked the boat when the 30-year-old ranked 159 in the world recovered from 2/1 down to beat Indian number two Harinder Pal Sandhu - ranked almost 90 places higher - 11-9, 2-11, 6-11, 13-11, 11-6 in a 99-minute marathon.
It was midway through the match that all the lights in the venue failed, leaving the three glass courts in complete darkness.
"I was really focussed on this match as we felt we had a chance - and needed to win at two and three," said Pezzota, from Rosario. "We don't play regularly on glass courts so that took some getting used to.
"I didn't play well in the second and third games, but came back strongly in the fourth, and saved two match balls before winning it 13-11 - just before all the lights in the arena went out!
"It was close to five-all in the fifth - then I raced away to win 11-6.
"It's my third time in the world teams - but that was certainly my biggest win.
"Living in Argentina, we're so far away from where the best squash is played, so it's difficult. I've always thought I've been a good player, but it's only recently - with funding from the government - that I have been able to play more tournament, and get some good results."
Qualifying rounds - Pool A:
SCOTLAND bt [29/31] KENYA 3/0
CANADA bt [29/31] NAMIBIA 3/0
PAKISTAN bt [29/31] RUSSIA 3/0
NEW ZEALAND bt [25/28] POLAND 3/0
USA bt [25/28] CZECH REPUBLIC 3/0
HONG KONG CHINA bt [25/28] JAPAN 3/0
FINLAND bt [25/28] VENEZUELA 3/0
9 Jun, Day 1 Report
D Australia v Switzerland
G Hong Kong v Japan
E New Zealand v Poland
F USA v Czech Republic
A Egypt v Kuwait
G South Africa v Austria
H Finland v Venezuela
A Scotland v Kenya
E Malaysia v Botswana
F Germany v Ireland
C France v Netherlands
C Pakistan v Russia
H India v Argentina
B Namibia v Canada
B England v Colombia
10 Jun, Day Two Report
B England v Canada
F Ireland v Czech Republic
B Colombia v Namibia
G Austria v Japan
D Australia v Mexico
E Botswana v Poland
F Germany v USA
H Argentina v Venezuela
H India v Finland
G South Africa v Hong Kong
C Netherlands v Russia
11 Jun, Day Three Report
F USA v Ireland
H Finland v Argentina
A Egypt v Kenya
A Scotland v Kuwait
B England v Namibia
B Canada v Colombia
G South Africa v Japan
D Mexico v Switzerland
F Germany v Czech Republic
H India v Venezuela
C France v Russia
G Hong Kong v Austria
C Pakistan v Netherlands
E Malaysia v Poland
E New Zealand v Botswana
12 Jun, Day Four:
Last 16 and 17/31 knockout
13 Jun, Day Five:
Quarter-finals and playoffs
14 Jun, Day Six:
Semi-Finals and playoffs
15 Jun, Day Seven:
Final and playoffs
Palmer 'Excited' To Be Back In World Teams Action In France
On the eve of the 24th staging of the WSF Men's World Team Squash Championship in France, distinguished Australian David Palmer admits that he is 'excited' to be representing his country again almost two years after retiring from the game.
The 36-year-old from New South Wales, now based in Orlando, USA, led Australia to world team championship title success in 2001 and 2003, then into the final in 2007, and to bronze medal position in 2009 and 2011 - only losing six times in 26 appearances to date. On the PSA World Tour, Palmer reached 55 finals and claimed 27 titles - including four British Open and two World Championship trophies.
"I'm excited to be here," said Palmer, overlooking the three ASB all-glass showcourts at the Palais Des Sports in Mulhouse, where 31 nations will compete for the premier title in team squash.
"I felt it was right to make the decision to retire when I did - there were lots of reasons, mostly family - but it didn't mean that I would never play for Australia again, whether it's this event or the Commonwealth Games," said the former world number one.
Since retiring from the international circuit after the 2011 World Championship in Amsterdam, Palmer has played on the Legends tour - but mostly concentrated on coaching in Orlando. Since working with Palmer, South African number one Stephen Coppinger has become the highest-ranked player from his country for more than two decades and Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez has become the second highest-ranked South American ever.
"It's fun to back amongst these guys - although I'm still involved with some of them, coaching Steve, Miguel and team-mate Matt (Karwalski)."
Palmer is the Australian number two, behind world No13 Cameron Pilley - with Ryan Cuskelly and Matthew Karwalski, ranked 27 and 57, respectively, in the world, completing the squad.
"It's important for the team to do well, for funding, etc, so I was glad to be given the chance. I think I can add value and win some one-off matches. I always think of Cameron as being young, but he's 30 now - and he's rightly leading the team, in good form after a great British Open.
"I'm also glad that Rod (Eyles) is back - he's still got so much passion for the game and is a great coach. He's got so much experience and is a great motivator, especially for the younger guys.
"Playing for Australia means everything to me - and it's unfortunate in squash that we don't get many opportunities to do this, except for the worlds and the Commonwealth Games. We had a great training session in my old base at Herentals last week - and when Rod handed over the team tracksuits to first-timers Ryan and Matt, it was a really special occasion.
"Even though I'm still heavily involved with squash, it's great to be back at this event. Whilst Egypt, England and France are the obvious top three nations, we're here to play up to our position by making the semis."
The first ever staging of the men's world team championship in France comes just a week after the sport was shortlisted by the IOC for consideration for the 2020 Olympic Games.
"I've been around since we first started trying to get into Olympics in Sydney, but there is no question that this has been the most professional campaign," said Palmer. "It's good to see everyone come together in this one - before the players weren't really involved.
"Ramy (Ashour) and Nicol (David) have been great ambassadors - the whole presentation has really looked professional. If we don't make it, at least we can look back and say we gave it our best chance.
"I might not be able to play in the Olympics, but could be involved in a coaching capacity - but somebody like Matt could play in it.
"It would mean such a lot for the game. And if I think of some of the kids I'm coaching in the US, I think 'you could be in the Olympics'!"
The 24th WSF Men's World Team Championship gets underway tomorrow (Sunday) at both the Espace Squash 3000 Centre and the Palais Des Sports, with the final taking place on Saturday (15 June).
Defending champions Egypt are seeded to retain the title after a projected final meeting with former champions England in what would be a repeat of the 2011 final.
full pool line-up is as follows (with seeding in brackets):
Gaultier Going For Historic Home Dream
France's top-ranked squash player Gregory Gaultier is hoping to fulfil a life-long dream when he leads his country in next week's WSF Men's World Team Championship on home soil in Mulhouse.
Hosting the championship for the first time in its 46-year history, France is seeded to reach the semi-finals - but, buoyed by a new world number two ranking, Gaultier is hoping to take his team to the final for the third time since 2003, and strike gold for the first time.
"It's going to be nice to have the home support for once as we always play away," said the 30-year-old on the eve of his eighth successive world team championship campaign since 1999. "I'm looking forward to be playing in Mulhouse as it is really close to where I started playing squash and I have all my family there."
Gaultier has enjoyed a distinguished career on the PSA World Tour - notching up 23 titles from more than 50 final appearances and becoming the first Frenchman to win the British Open.
"I think a team event is nicer than what I am used to on the Tour, which is quite a lonely life. You play for your country and for your friends as well - but the preparation is the same in terms of having to get ready to compete and get the win for the team and yourself," explained the former world number one.
The French squad will include Gregoire Marche and Mathieu Castagnet, ranked 29 & 30 in the world, respectively - and will be boosted by the return of Thierry Lincou, the 37-year-old former world number one and world champion who retired from the international circuit last year.
"Having Thierry in the team is a big bonus," said Gaultier. "He is really experienced and is a role model for everyone."
Gaultier has represented France with distinction in the world team championship - playing 34 times, with success in all but eight matches.
"Winning the world teams title would be a dream," said the squad number one. "We failed twice in the finals but had a lot of good times and memories playing for France. Everybody will be up for it."
With success in the Swedish Open in February and runners-up berths in both the Tournament of Champions in New York and the British Open last month, Gaultier is enjoying an excellent runs of form.
"I've been trying to get back to the top for a while - being back at number two is good, but number two is not my favourite number," added Gaultier. "Ramy (Ashour) has been the best this year, but I keep working hard to be able to get some wins in future and be back at number one.
"I've been playing well and am full of confidence."
The 24th WSF Men's World Team Championship will be held from 9-15 June in Mulhouse, at both the Espace Squash 3000 Centre and the Palais Des Sports - where action will take place on three all-glass showcourts, with stunning presentation assured.
Defending champions Egypt are seeded to retain the title after a projected final meeting with former champions England in what would be a repeat of the 2011 final.
The full pool line-up is as follows (with seeding in brackets):
A:  EGYPT,  SCOTLAND, [17/20] KUWAIT, [29/31] KENYA
Egypt Seeded To Win Fourth World Team Title
Defending champions Egypt are seeded to retain the WSF Men's World Team Squash Championship title next month after a projected final meeting with former champions England in what would be a repeat of the 2011 final.
Teams from 31 nations - with representation from all five continents in the top sixteen alone - will contest the biennial championships which will be held in France for the first time in the event's 46-year history.
The 24th WSF Men's World Team Championship, hosted by the Fédération Française de Squash, will be held from 9-15 June in Mulhouse, at both the Espace Squash 3000 Centre and the Palais Des Sports - where action will take place on three all-glass showcourts, with stunning presentation assured.
With a squad featuring four players from the PSA world top ten - led by world number one and world champion Ramy Ashour - Egypt are firm favourites to win the title for the third time in a row, and the fourth time since 1999.
However England - led by world No2 Nick Matthew and also including fellow Yorkshireman James Willstrop, the world No4 - will be determined to make up for the disappointment of the 2011 defeat in Germany by taking the title for the fifth time since 1995.
Hosts France, runners-up in 2009 and led by world No3 Gregory Gaultier, are the event's No3 seeds, while record eight-time champions Australia are the fourth seeds.
Botswana and Poland will be making their first appearances in the championship.
The full pool line-up is as follows (with seeding in brackets):Pool A:  EGYPT,  SCOTLAND, [17/20] KUWAIT, [29/32] KENYA Pool B:  ENGLAND,  CANADA, [17/20] COLOMBIA, [29/32] NAMIBIA Pool C:  FRANCE,  PAKISTAN, [17/20] NETHERLANDS, [29/32] RUSSIA Pool D:  AUSTRALIA,  MEXICO, [17/20] SWITZERLAND Pool E:  MALAYSIA,  NEW ZEALAND, [21/24] BOTSWANA, [25/28] POLAND Pool F:  GERMANY,  USA, [21/24] IRELAND, [25/28] CZECH REPUBLIC Pool G:  SOUTH AFRICA,  HONG KONG CHINA, [21/24] AUSTRIA, [25/28] JAPAN Pool H:  INDIA,  FINLAND, [21/24] ARGENTINA, [25/28] VENEZUELA