Pre-final clash earns winner a wild card into next year’s main draw at Canary Wharf
By Alan Thatcher, Squash Mad Editor
The Canary Wharf Squash Classic has added a novel feature to this year’s final day programme – an on-court shoot-out between two rising English stars to win a coveted wild card place into the main draw of next year’s tournament.
Ben Coleman and Lyell Fuller are the lucky lads chosen by Tournament Director Tim Garner, who is expecting fireworks on the glass court before the main final on Friday, March 27.
He said: “Qualifying tournaments are a brutal part of every major squash event, with young players desperate to reach the main draw. As well as picking up some extra prize money, their main focus is on gaining ranking points.
“Climbing through the rankings is a tough process for players, and every tournament organizer is always inundated with requests for local spots in qualifying and the wild card in the main draw.
“The competition for places is so intense that this year we decided to make a special feature of it and have two very deserving players fight it out for real on the glass court before the final.”
His shoot-out opponent, Fuller (right), is a 19-year-old from Devon, ranked 164 in the world, who is now based in London as he bids to make a major breakthrough in the senior game.
The two players met in the final of the Croydon Open in December and Coleman won a tough match in straight games. He said: “Lyell had a fantastic run to get through to the final.
“He’s quickly improving but I managed to stay ahead of him throughout that match and I was playing well. I never gave him many chances, which was nice.
“At Canary Wharf, I expect him to try and dictate the game against me from in front, but my task is to stop that from happening.”
Coleman added: “The shoot-out is a great idea and Lyell and I are very grateful to the Canary Wharf organisers for making it happen.
“Qualifying for big events can be tough because to start with you usually get drawn against a top-seeded player if you make it through.”
Fuller said: “I’m looking forward to playing on the glass court in front of a big crowd at the East Wintergarden.
“I have never been to Canary Wharf before but I have grown up watching it on SquashTV every year. It looks like a great event so I’m looking forward to experiencing it.”
As for his tactics against Coleman, he added: “That’s a secret, but I’m going to try my hardest, keep to my processes and enjoy the experience.”
CANARY WHARF HEAD-TO-HEAD FOR THE 2016 WILD CARD
Born: April 13, 1991
Lives: Chelmsford, Essex
Height: 6ft 1in
Current World Ranking: 70
Highest Ranking: 68 (June 2014)
Home club: Coolhurst, London
Coach: Paul Carter
Recent form: Winner of Atlanta Open, Bexley Open, Castellana Open (Madrid), Ipswich Open, North of Scotland Open. Runner-up: Open de Paris.
Born: October 22, 1995
Height: 6ft 2in
Current World Ranking: 166
Highest Ranking: 166 (February 2015)
Home club: Devon and Exeter
PSL: Virgin Active Surrey Health and Rackets
Coach: Jonny Harford
Recent form: Semi-finals of the Open du Gard (Nimes, France), Chateau Arnoux Open (France), quarter-finals of the Israel Open. Reached third round of the World Junior Championship.
Pictures by STEVE LINE (WWW.SQUASHPICS.COM)