Scots aces lead the way after thrilling night at Inverness
By MICHAEL GREGSON – Squash Mad Highlands Reporter
Round One of the main draw in the Be Personnel Loch Ness Challenger proved a dramatic evening indeed.
A packed Inverness Tennis & Squash Club witnessed North Kessock’s Commonwealth Games hopeful Greg Lobban gain a significant victory over No. 2 seed Egypt’s Omar Abdel Aziz, after the experienced Egyptian retired with an injury.
The young Scot pressurised his higher-ranked opponent with a sustained performance of excellent squash, showing the superb fitness levels he has reached in his successful season as a top-100 pro player, climbing the rankings.
Omar’s injury – which appeared lumbar – came at the end of a hard first game, and disappointed the fans who were enjoying a really competitive match on Inverness’ bright show court.
Solid performances, too, from Steven Finitsis, Zahed Mohamed and Joel Hinds, who played controlled squash to overcome gallant opposition. Joel showed real quality of touch in defeating young Jamie Henderson of Thurso, who put up a good fight against the fluent Englishman.
Zahed’s length was admired by many; and Steve Finitsis’ controlled game, with a deceptively relaxed style, will make him a tough opponent in tomorrow’s quarter-finals. American Todd Harrity pressed Steve enough to make the experienced Australian up the pace to see him home.
Germany’s Raphael Kandra had to overcome a fierce effort by Kevin Moran of Scotland, but the left-hander’s greater variety of shot and sustained quality saw him through, even when faced by a major onslaught in the 4th, when Kevin led 7-2 at one point.
Top seed and Scots No. 1 Alan Clyne had too much intensity and stamina for the talented Londoner Youssef Abdalla. And superior courtcraft ensured Mahesh Mangaonkar’s victory over Englishman Michael Harris, who had pulled the match back to 2-2 with a skilled and determined display.
As Tournament Manager Garry McKay commented: “We were delighted with the quality again today, and are very pleased so many players and supporters are staying and enjoying the club this week.
“The quarter-finals have again set up some intriguing matches, with the excitement of the Scots’ presence and success adding to the feverish but appreciative atmosphere. The Football World Cup, though available, has mostly been second choice for a knowledgeable and enthusiastic crowd.”
BE PERSONNEL LOCH NESS CHALLENGER UPDATE – MAIN DRAW ROUND ONE
Inverness, Thursday 19th June 2014:
(1) Alan Clyne (Sco) bt (Q) Youssef Abdalla (Eng) 11-8, 11-3, 11-5 (37 mins.)
(6) Raphael Kandra (Ger) bt (Q) Kevin Moran (Sco) 11-9, 9-11, 11-5, 11-8 (53 mins.)
(9) Mahesh Mangaonkar (Ind) by (Q) Mike Harris (Eng) 10-12, 11-6, 11-4, 7-11, 11-2 (67 mins.)
(5) Jaymie Haycocks (Eng) bt (11) Arthur Gaskin (Ire) 11-6, 11-5, 13-11 (48 mins.)
(8) Joel Hinds (Eng) bt (WC) Jamie Henderson (Sco) 11-8, 11-4, 11-8 (34 mins.)
(3) Steve Finitsis (Aus) bt Todd Harrity (USA) 11-9, 11-3, 11-9 (42 mins.)
(6) Zahed Mohamed (Egy) bt (Q) Lewis Walters (Eng) 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 (39 mins.)
(10) Greg Lobban (Sco) bt (2) Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy) 11-5 ret. (23 mins.)
Tomorrow’s Schedule for Round 2:
Alan Clyne v Raphael Kandra
Mahesh Mangaonkar v Jaymie Haycocks
Steve Finitsis v Zahed Mohamed
Joel Hinds v Greg Lobban
For more info go to:
http://www.squashness.co.uk/The-Competition.aspx or, on Twitter: @squash_ness.”
Pictures by MIKE GREGSON, ALLAN McKAY and LOUIS JONES