Another shock KO at Weybridge
By SEAN REUTHE
South African qualifier Stephen Coppinger bridged a 16-place World Rankings gap to upset World No.8 Omar Mosaad as the first round action at the 2016 Channel VAS Championship at St George’s Hill, PSA M100 tournament drew to a close in Weybridge.
The opening day of the tournament saw three of the four matches go the way of the lower-ranked player – with World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy being the biggest casualty after he lost to Daryl Selby – and Coppinger looked to be following suit after an error-strewn performance from Mosaad saw the World No.24 go two games ahead.
Former World No.3 Mosaad managed to vary the range of his hitting though in the third and fourth games to restore parity, but the errors on his backhand side in particular handed the momentum back to Coppinger in the decider, and he pressed on to take it 11-8, 11-9, 6-11, 6-11, 11-3 in 77 minutes.
“I think today I was far, far more relaxed than I normally would be,” said Coppinger.
“Normally, I would be looking to really push the pace and just throw everything at it from the word go. I think that actually helped because I didn’t feel like I was going for high risk shots.
“It’s been a good season so far, so I’ve been fairly confident with my game. I’m just looking forward to the rest of tournament and long may it last. Every day is a bonus.”
Former World No.1 James Willstrop also got his tournament off to a successful start after the Yorkshireman defeated Swiss qualifier Nicolas Mueller in straight games.
Willstrop was appearing at the event just four days after losing out to bitter rival Nick Matthew in the final of the AJ Bell British Squash Grand Prix in Manchester, but showed no signs of fatigue as he dictated the tempo in the early exchanges, finding all four corners with his pinpoint accuracy to unsettle Mueller’s rhythm and go a game ahead.
Mueller responded with an attacking brand of squash in the second as he looked to play the ball into the front corners, but Willstrop pushed through to victory, before coming out on top in a high-quality third game to seal the win by an 11-7, 11-9, 11-8 margin.
“I backed up alright, if I can play Nicolas and win 3-0 against him, then it’s a promising start,” said Willstrop, who will play Coppinger next.
“I’ve done my best over the last couple of days to get away from the squash court, keep the body moving and I’m doing everything I can to keep it healthy.
“It feels like I’ve done a decent job, and I’ve got to keep looking after it because it is a bit heavy to play back-to-back tournaments like that, but I was ready for it. I would much rather it was tough and back-to-back than being out early, so it’s good.”
Elsewhere, World No.6 Marwan ElShorbagy ensured that he didn’t follow his brother out of the tournament after he came through against defending champion Chris Simpson in four games.
The 64-minute battle was a high-quality fixture, with both players trading blows in an absorbing encounter that saw few unforced errors and consistent line hitting throughout, and it was the man from Alexandria who recovered from a game down to claim a 10-12, 11-8, 11-7, 11-4 victory.
“I was really looking forward to being on court today, I like this venue, especially because my sponsors [Channel VAS] are sponsoring this event,” said ElShorbagy.
“Every match that I play now is going to be tough and you have to prepare mentally for each match. I’m really happy to get the win today.”
World No.11 Tarek Momen set up a mouthwatering quarter-final clash with ElShorbagy after he defeated tournament wild card and local hero Joe Lee to dash home hopes at the St George’s Hill Lawn Tennis Club.
“From the very beginning, I knew that I wasn’t going to play a regular match, I knew that he would be a very tough opponent for me,” said Momen. “He played really well today.”
PSA M100 2016 Channel VAS Championship at St George’s Hill, Weybridge, Surrey, England.
First Round (Bottom Half):
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Chris Simpson (ENG) 3-1: 10-12, 11-8, 11-7, 11-4 (64m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt [WC] Joe Lee (ENG) 3-1: 11-7, 11-9, 10-12, 11-4 (64m)
 James Willstrop (ENG) bt [Q] Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 3-0: 11-7, 11-9, 11-8 (43m)
[Q] Stephen Coppinger (RSA) bt  Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-2: 11-8, 11-9, 6-11, 6-11, 11-3 (77m)
Quarter-Finals (to be played Saturday December 10th):
Daryl Selby (ENG) v Saurav Ghosal (IND)
[Q] Paul Coll (NZL) v  Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 James Willstrop (ENG) v [Q] Stephen Coppinger (RSA)
Pictures courtesy of PSA