French Trio Advance to Last Eight of Open International de Squash de Nantes
By SEAN REUTHE
Defending champion Gregoire Marche, second seeded Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet and women’s World No.26 Coline Aumard will appear in the quarter-finals of the 2017 Open International de Squash de Nantes after the trio claimed opening day wins on home soil at Les Machines de l’île.
Marche got his efforts to win a third successive PSA M25 title in Nantes off to a winning start after he recovered from a game down to claim a 3-1 victory over Egyptian qualifier Mazen Gamal, taking it 8-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-4 in 45 minutes.
“I think he took his chances tonight, I was a bit flat at the beginning and I was a bit nervous because I knew all of the crowd were cheering for me and I did well the last two years,” admitted Marche.
“I was a bit nervous and I tried to play simple after the first game Even if I didn’t feel great tonight, I had to do my job and play as simple as I could. It all paid off in the end.
“It’s the only big tournament in France, so there aren’t many occasions to play squash in France. I feel like the crowd really supports us and it’s a great place. They take good care of us and it’s great to be here.”
Marche will face the man he beat in the 2016 final – England’s Chris Simpson – for a place in the last four after Simpson marked his return from an eight-month injury layoff with a win against Egypt’s Shehab Essam.
Meanwhile, Castagnet came through an all-French first round clash with Lucas Serme to earn his place in the last eight.
Castagnet, a former World No.6 making his Open International de Squash de Nantes debut, got the better of Serme in the opening two games after attacking well but he looked to be falling physically in the third as Serme halved the deficit.
The 30-year-old recovered though in the fourth to close out the win by an 11-6, 11-7, 5-11, 11-5 margin, setting up a quarter-final fixture with Ben Coleman in the process.
“It’s not easy to play Lucas, he’s such a good friend of mine and we’ve been playing together in the French team for eight years now,” said Castagnet.
“When I checked the draw, I wasn’t happy that I would be meeting him in front of the French crowd. He’s a really talented guy and he’s a fighter. Physically, he’s very strong, so I tried to play a simple game against him.
“It’s only my third or fourth time in front of the French crowd playing a PSA tournament so that’s a great thing for me. Only two French players are still in the [men’s] draw, so hopefully we can play a nice final for the crowd.”
Castagnet will take on England’s Ben Coleman in the next round after Coleman claimed a surprise win over compatriot Declan James, while there were also wins for Egyptian maverick Mazen Hesham, Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller, Qatar’s Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi and Finland’s Olli Tuominen.
Aumard will carry home hopes on her shoulders in the women’s PSA W15 tournament after she got the better of 19-year-old Egyptian Menna Hamed.
It was a physical encounter between the two with the referee constantly being called into action and points going back and forth between them as Aumard eventually prevailed by an 11-7, 11-13, 11-7, 11-6 margin.
“It was a tough first match, so I was ready to fight and we did fight,” said Aumard, who will face Canada’s Hollie Naughton in the quarter-finals.
“To be able to play a PSA tournament in France, I just feel so lucky and I’m very pleased. I would just like to say thank you to Nantes and the whole organisation because without them it wouldn’t be possible and they can be so proud of what they have done because it’s amazing and quite original as well.”
The women’s top seed, World No.22 Millie Tomlinson, is also through to the last eight courtesy of a win over tournament wildcard Julie Rossignol, with a 9-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-3 victory setting up a quarter-final meeting with Malaysia’s Sivasangari Subramaniam.
“I’m really pleased to get through to the next round and more relieved than anything,” Tomlinson said.
“I didn’t start very well but I guess that it’s the first tournament of the season so I was kind of expecting that and she mixed her shots up really well so that caught me by surprise. She was shooting off the serve and things which I’m not used to.”
Second seed Fiona Moverley was also a victor on day one and she will take on Japan’s Misaki Kobayashi for a place in the semi-finals, while Belgium’s Nele Gilis and Egypt’s Nouran El Torky will meet in the other women’s quarter-final.
The Open International de Squash de Nantes quarter-finals take place between September 7-8 and will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world) and Eurosport Player (Europe only).
Results – First Round: 2017 Men’s Open International de Squash de Nantes
 Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt [Q] Mazen Gamal (EGY) 3-1: 8-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-4 (45m)
 Chris Simpson (ENG) bt [Q] Shehab Essam (EGY) 3-1: 11-7, 4-11, 11-8, 11-4 (48m)
Olli Tuominen (FIN) bt  Mohamed Reda (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-7, 14-12 (47m)
 Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt [Q] George Parker (ENG) 3-1: 11-6, 12-14, 11-7, 11-7 (47m)
 Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt [Q] Mohammad Alsarraj (JOR) 3-1: 11-7, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6 (39m)
 Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) bt [WC] Auguste Dussourd (FRA) 3-1: 8-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-4 (41m)
Ben Coleman (ENG) bt  Declan James (ENG) 3-0: 12-10, 11-8, 11-6 (55m)
 Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt Lucas Serme (FRA) 3-1: 11-6, 11-7, 5-11, 11-5 (68m)
Draw – Men’s Quarter-Finals (Top Half): To Be Played September 7th
 Gregoire Marche (FRA) v  Chris Simpson (ENG)
Olli Tuominen (FIN) v  Mazen Hesham (EGY)
Draw – Men’s Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half): To Be Played September 8th
 Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v  Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT)
Ben Coleman (ENG) v  Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)
Results – First Round: 2017 Women’s Open International de Squash de Nantes
 Millie Tomlinson (ENG) bt [WC] Julie Rossignol (FRA) 3-0: 9-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-3 (28m)
[Q] Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS) bt  Rowan Elaraby (EGY) 3-2: 3-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-6 (36m)
[Q] Nouran El Torky bt  Zeina Mickawy 3-2: 11-8, 5-11, 12-14, 11-5, 11-2 (50m)
 Nele Gilis (BEL) bt Hana Moataz (EGY) 3-2: 9-11, 11-3, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7 (59m)
 Coline Aumard (FRA) bt [Q] Menna Hamed (EGY) 3-1: 11-7, 11-13, 11-7, 11-6 (55m)
 Hollie Naughton (CAN) bt Julianne Courtice (ENG) 3-2: 11-4, 7-11, 3-11, 11-9, 11-5 (40m)
 Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) bt Rachael Chadwick (ENG) 3-1: 9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-8 (30m)
 Fiona Moverley (ENG) bt [Q] Alexandra Fuller (RSA) 3-1: 11-8, 11-8, 7-11, 11-8
Draw – Women’s Quarter-Finals (Top Half): To Be Played September 7th
 Millie Tomlinson (ENG) v [Q] Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS)
[Q] Nouran El Torky (EGY) v  Nele Gilis (BEL)
Draw – Women’s Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half): To Be Played September 8th
 Coline Aumard (FRA) v  Hollie Naughton (CAN)
 Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) v  Fiona Moverley (ENG)
Pictures courtesy of PSA