Alan Clyne clips Douglas at Princeton Club
By BETH RASIN in New York
Home hopes surrendered in the first round of qualifying for one of the world’s most glamorous international tournaments, the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York.
Four New York City squash clubs – Princeton, Harvard, Yale and the New York Athletic Clubs – were abuzz with the excitement Tuesday evening as they readied themselves to host 32 players from 18 countries competing in the qualifying draw for the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, known affectionately all over the world as the TOC.
The winners receive one the sport’s ultimate rewards, the coveted opportunity to compete in the sport’s most celebrated venue – Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Terminal.
With virtually all of the world’s top players entered in the ToC, qualifying competitors included several players who had already made appearance on the ToC glass court while eight “local” players got to test their mettle against the world’s best. When the dust settled at the end of the evening, the veterans had prevailed.
Brooklyn native Andrew Douglas, fresh off a stunning defeat of the reigning World Junior Champion at the British Open Junior Championships, was first up at the Princeton Club against Alan Clyne.
The high school senior, who had a lot of fans in the stands, was poised and steady, making his opponent work hard to earn the first two games 11-7, 12-10. By the third, the 30-year-old Scotsman’s experience and tenacity carried him to an 11-4 win. Clyne will next face Egypt’s Omar Abdel Meguid who needed just 23 minutes to dismiss Baltimore’s David Cromwell in three games.
One of the evening’s most anticipated matches was Gregoire Marche, ranked 27th in the world, facing off against Ramit Tandon, whose epic victory in the 2016 qualifying against Ali Farag left an indelible impression on the New York squash fans. The match was a true battle with Marche hanging on to win 11-9 in the fifth after 81 minutes on court. The Frenchman’s next competitor had an equally arduous evening. Tsz Fung Yip of Hong Kong needed one hour and 18 minutes to defeat Welshman Joel Makin 7-11, 4-11, 11-6, 11-9,14-11.
Paul Coll, whose end of year victories against several higher seeded players saw him jump from 33 to 20 in the world rankings in the past month, lost little time continuing the momentum with a straight games victory over Arturo Salazar. There will definitely be a Kiwi playing on the glass court as Coll will play fellow New Zealander Campbell Grayson for the right to move into the main draw.
Alister Walker pulled off the evening’s only “upset.” The former full-time touring pro dusted off his racquets to play in his adopted home town and moved into the next round with a 3-0 victory over Qatar’s Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi.
Home hopes were extinguished when Chris Hanson lost 3-0 to Lucas Serme (France) and Chris Gordon went down 3-1 to Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller, who meets Walker in the qualifying finals.
The English flag was carried through by Tom Richards and Adrian Waller following victories over Canadians Andrew Schnell and Tyler Osborne and Declan James, who overcame Pakistan’s Farhan Zaman.
With the world’s leading professionals in town, top seed Mohamed Elshorbagy warmed up with a junior clinic, sponsored by Tecnifibre, at Brooklyn’s Heights Casino club.
J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, New York, USA.
First round qualifying matches results – January 10, 2017:
 Paul Coll (NZL) def. Arturo Salazar (MEX) 11-6,11-4,11-3 35 mins
 Campbell Grayson (NZL) def. Vikram Malhotra (IND) 11-6,11-5,8-11,11-5 43 min
[L] Alister Walker (BOT) def.  Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) 11-2,11-7,11-5 45 min
 Nicolas Mueller (SUI) def. Christopher Gordon (USA) 11-9, 8-11, 11-6,11-4 40 min
 Tom Richards (ENG) def. Andrew Schnell (CAN) 6-11,11-6,14-12,11-3 47 min
 Lucas Serme (FRA) def. [L] Chris Hanson (USA) 11-7,12-10,11-7 43 min
 Alan Clyne (SCO) def. [L] Andrew Douglas (USA11-7, 12-10, 11-4 43 min
 Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) def. (L] David Cromwell (USA) 11-7, 11-2, 11-6 23 min
 Gregoire Marche (FRA) def. [L] Ramit Tandon (IND) 11-5, 11-5, 7-11, 9-11, 11-9
 Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) def. Joel Makin (WAL) 7-11, 4-11, 11-6, 11-9,14-11 76 min
 Declan James (ENG) def. Farhan Zaman (PAK) 11-4,11-4,12-10 41 min
 Leo Au (HKG) def. Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) 11-7,11-6,11-7 46 min
 Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) def [L] Clinton Leeuw (RSA) 11-5,11-9,11-8 34 min
 Adrian Waller (ENG) def. [L] Tyler Osborne (CAN) 11-8,11-5, 11-7- 28 min
 Raphael Kandra (GER) def. Ivan Yuen (MAS) 13-11,12-10,6-11,11-7 57 min
 Cesar Salazar (MEX) def. [L] Faraz Khan (USA) 11-6, 14-12,11-7 31 min
Paul Coll (NZL) v Campbell Grayson (NZL)
Alister Walker (BOT) v Nicolas Müller (SUI)
Tom Richards (ENG) v Lucas Serme (FRA)
Alan Clyne (SCO) v Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY)
Yip Tsz Fung (HKG) v Gregoire Marche (FRA)
Leo Au (HKG) v Declan James (ENG)
Adrian Waller (ENG) v Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) v Raphael Kandra (GER)
First round draw:
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v Qualifier
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) v Max Lee (HKG)
Borja Golan (ESP) v Stephen Coppinger (RSA)
 Marwan Elshorbagy (EGY) v Daryl Selby (ENG)
 Omar Mosaad (EGY) v Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY)
Tarek Momen (EGY) v Qualifier
Fares Dessouky (EGY) v [WC] Todd Harrity (USA)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Diego Elias (PER)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v Qualifier
James Willstrop (ENG) v Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
Chris Simpson (ENG) v Qualifier
 Ali Farag (EGY) v Qualifier
 Simon Rösner (GER) v Qualifier
Saurav Ghosal (IND) v Qualifier
Cameron Pilley (AUS) v Qualifier
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Zahed Mohamed (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of Linda Elriani / Facebook