Aussie Finitsis takes over at number one as Egyptian ace fails to get visa to leave Cairo
The Select Gaming Kent Open squash tournament has had to overcome a last-minute drama with top seed Ali Anwar Reda being forced to withdraw because of travel problems.
The world No.41 from Cairo was unable to secure a visa to leave Egypt. This forced a reshuffle of the draw and promoted top seeded qualifier Richie Fallows, the European junior champion who trains at Bexley, into the main event at The Mote.
Fallows, who is coached by Ben Ford, meets Pakistan’s world No.98 Adil Maqbool fresh from winning his first PSA World Tour title in Kriens, Switzerland.
The Kent Open begins on Sunday with a pre-qualifying tournament which pitches eight locals in with the professionals.
Eight days of top-class squash come to a close with the final on Sunday week (June 15).
Australian Steve Finitsis takes over as number one seed with reigning champion Jonathan Kemp at two. Both meet qualifiers in the first round of the main draw.
British Under-23 champion Charles Sharpes, from Surrey, is installed as No.3 seed with Scotland’s Greg Lobban at four.
Sharpes tackles Kent’s wild card Steven London, from Park Langley, while Lobban meets in-form England youngster Tom Ford, who recently won the Pretoria Open in South Africa.
Another English player in form is Essex ace Ben Coleman, who has completed a hat-trick of tournament wins in the past month in Aberdeen, Ipswich and Madrid.
He is seeded to meet Kemp in the quarter-finals. Not only is an all-English showdown on the cards, but a Coleman win would bring down the curtain on a distinguished career for the stylish left-hander Kemp, who has announced his retirement from the PSA Tour at the age of 33.
I am sure Jonathan would love to go all the way and win his final PSA Tour event. He made a lot of friends at The Mote last year and he is a wonderful role model.
He plays with style and a smile and however well he performs we will honour his contribution to the sport with a special presentation.
I have seen Jonathan play in various tournaments all over the world and I will never forget how close he came to beating four-times world champion Amr Shabana in Richmond, Virginia, a couple of years ago.
Select Gaming Kent Open First Round draw (Thursday June 12):
(2) Jonathan Kemp (Eng) v Qualifier
(5) Ben Coleman (Eng) v Qualifier
(8) Adil Maqbool (Pakistan) v Richie Fallows (Eng)
(4) Greg Lobban (Scotland) v Tom Ford (England)
(3) Charles Sharpes (England) v Steven London (Eng)
(7) Todd Harrity (USA) v Qualifier
(6) Declan James (England) v Brad Hindle (Malta)
(1) Steve Finitsis (Australia) v Qualifier
International Academy planned for The Mote’s glass court
The withdrawal of Egypt’s top seed Ali Anwar Reda from the Kent Open coincides with plans for a new international academy at The Mote which could provide a major training base for leading professional players.
The Mote are planning to install an all-glass show court and we hope this will attract a number of leading players to be based at the club.
Egypt is the leading squash nation in the world but many of their players are finding life difficult because of the current political turmoil.
The players suffer from restrictions imposed by the curfews and from difficulties in obtaining visas. Therefore the provision of a European training base would make good sense for many of them.
Informal discussions have taken place with interested parties, and we would be pleased to offer a top-class training facility for the leading English and Egyptian players.
These are the two super-powers of world squash and it would be amazing if we were to have these players based at The Mote.
It would also provide a massive inspiration for our junior members to train alongside some of the world’s leading players.
The glass court would also enable us to take the Kent Open to a new level and stage other major events for television.
KENT OPEN FACT FILE
The Kent Open is celebrating its fifth year as a PSA world-ranking tournament at The Mote.
All four winners so far have used Harrow rackets: Alan Clyne, Chris Ryder, Chris Simpson and Jonathan Kemp.
Club players will also be having a go throughout the week, with Simon Scott happy to demonstrate the technique required to beat 160mph.
The Pre-Qualifying tournament starts on Sunday, with Mote members Adrian Humphries, Darren Heathfield, Matt Hazzard, Paul Newvell, Marcus Robson and Jason Goodayle, joining Canterbury pair Joe Magor and Tom May in a shoot-out with eight pros (including Maidstone’s Bradley Masters).
The two winners go through to the Qualifying Tournament on Tuesday and Wednesday alongside The Mote’s James Evans and Jonny Powell, plus Maidstone’s Josh Masters.
Four qualifiers go through to the main draw. The first round is next Thursday, the quarter-finals on Friday, semi-finals on Saturday and the finals on Sunday June 15.
Total prize money for the Kent Open is 10,000 dollars (roughly £6,000). The winner takes home just under £1,000.
Tournament Referees are Wendy Danzey and Dean Clayton.
The Kent Open features free coaching sessions from the professionals for local juniors each day next week. The sessions start at 4pm from Tuesday to Friday.
A free Ladies Day session starts at 1pm on Saturday week, the day of the semi-finals.
The finals weekend is being billed as the biggest party in squash, with a variety of fun events built into the schedule around the semi-finals and the finals.
A Hangover Doubles tournament will be staged with cash prizes attracting some serious teams from around the south of England.
KENT OPEN SCHEDULE
June 8-9: Pre-Qualifying.
June 10-11: Qualifying competition.
June 12: Main Draw First Round.
June 13: Quarter-Finals.
June 14: Semi-Finals.
June 15: Finals.