Egypt and Ramy Ashour Rule [email protected] III
AGATE Results for Showdown @ Symphony III, Saturday, September 15, 2012
Ramy Ashour (Egypt, #4) def Nick Matthew (England, #2)
11-9, 11-5 (23 mins)
James Willstrop (England, #1) def Amr Shabana (Egypt, #6)
11-5, 11-7 (23 mins)
Amr Shabana (Egypt, #6) def Nick Matthew (England, #2)
11-6, 11-5 (19 mins)
By COLLEEN TURNER in Boston
Boston has been very, very good to Ramy Ashour! The fleet of foot, aggressive player has won all three Showdown events.
This year’s Showdown @ Symphony kicked off in great style at Boston’s venerable Symphony Hall. Ramy Ashour faced World No. 2 Nick Matthew in the evening’s first match. Borrowing from the running world, Ashour’s style of play is more like a sprinter compared to Matthew’s marathon-like approach. The engaging Egyptian ran hard through the first game, up as high as 4-1. But Matthew played it steady, bringing it to 4-5 after three solid points, including an ace that left Ashour reeling. Matthew looked good bringing the score to 9-all, but Ashour was not to be denied. First game to Ramy, 11-9. The second game moved quickly, featuring a 4 point run by Ashour to bring the score to 9-5. That would be all England saw before falling 11-5. Match to Egypt.
The second match of the night pitted a very fit, sixth ranked Amr Shabana against the current World No. 1, James Willstrop. Not surprisingly, Willstrop took the match 2-love. But make no mistake, Shabana’s play had a spark to it that the scores don’t necessarily reflect. The lanky Willstrop ruled the court in general, making Shabana earn each and every point. And on several occasions, Shabana executed strokes of near perfection. But there is a reason Willstrop is number one…he is that good. Both games (11-5, 11-7) and match to England.
Intermission featured a tribute to Sam Magruder, a longtime squash player, fan and former Mass. Squash Racquets Association president, who passed during a summer night’s league match (score: 7-7). His son, Will, proudly announced donations to Showdown’s official charity, SquashBusters, have already topped $6,000.
Now it gets interesting. True, winning [email protected] is all about bragging rights, but event creator John Nimick’s format for this year’s competition served up fun with a capital F. The third match of the evening pitted Matthew and Shabana. Despite well over a 40 minute wait between matches, Matthew came out solid. But having warmed up with Willstrop, Shabana was on fire. He took the first game 11-6. Matthew, always a solid player, was cool in his execution, but had a heck of a time trying to warm up. Even after the first game, Shabana continued to dominate, easily going up 7-love before giving up his first point. Getting back into the groove, Matthew grabbed four quick points, but the smoking hot Shabana was in amazing form. Egypt leads Showdown, two matches to one.
The final match of the evening saw two quasi cooled down competitors take the floor. Given Ashour’s love of a quick, short format, it’s no surprise he came out swinging. Both men were sharp, matching each other point for point until Willstrop asserted his presence with authority. Ashour eked out several more points, but he couldn’t equal Willstrop’s methodical march to victory, 11-7. In game two, Ashour “squeaked” his way to a victory, 11-7. England and Egypt in knots.
By virtue of winning the first game, Willstrop opted for a 3-point tiebreaker to determine the evening’s winning team. And though all four matches offered fine squash, the tiebreaker was the evening’s highlight. Willstrop and Ashour were playing hard and for keeps. The rallies were fast and furious, as well as the perfect cap to yet another exciting night of smashing squash at the legendary Symphony Hall in Boston.