Youngest player meets the oldest in Grand Central shoot-out
By BETH RASIN in New York
The youngest player in the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions draw will face off against the oldest when 19-year-old Diego Elias goes head-to-head with 35-year-old Nick Matthew, the 2012 ToC titleholder, in first round play.
Displaying a maturity beyond his years, the Peruvian teenager held fast in his 84-minute, five game victory over Scotland’s Greg Lobban in their qualifying final at The Yale Club.
Both players played patient, error-free squash, with long rallies punctuated by drop shots. In the end, the 2014 Junior World Champion was able to push just enough harder to earn his second trip to the ToC main draw.
Ramit Tandon and Clinton Leeuw, who both registered massive five-game upset victories in the first round, are regular training partners and faced each other in the ToC qualifying decider. Asked about playing his training partner, Tandon said: “Practice is practice and this match especially was different. Both of us really wanted to get to the glass court in Grand Central – because of that I was a little nervous to be honest.”
The 2015 Columbia University graduate pushed past the nerves to win in four games and earn his first trip to what he calls “the dream court” where he will battle reigning world champion Gregory Gaultier on Friday.
France’s Gregoire Marche prevailed in 74 minutes and four games over New Zealand’s Campbell Grayson to make his way into the first round against Leo Au of Hong Kong.
Lucas Serme of France dispatched Egypt’s Mohamed Abouelghar in commanding fashion and will next face Egypt’s “The Hammer of Thor” Omar Mosaad, who comes into the ToC with his highest ranking of world #4.
Serme and Au share the distinction being the brother half of sibling duos whose sisters Annie Au and Camille Serme, respectively, are also competitors in the main draw.
For the first time in many years, Pakistan will have two contenders in the ToC main draw. Nasir Iqbal prevailed over Scotland’s Alan Clyne and Farhan Zaman eliminated England’s Declan James. Iqbal plays Ryan Cuskelly of Australia on Friday and Zaman takes on Hong Kong’s Max Lee on Thursday.
Raphael Kandra of Germany and Adrian Waller of England claimed the last two qualifying spots, with Waller meeting top seed Mohamed Elshorbagy (right) in the first round.
J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions Second Round Qualifying Results (Wednesday Jan 6)
Adrian Waller (ENG) def. Mohd Ali Anwar. Reda (EGY) 11-8,11-5 11-4 (64min)
Ramit Tandon (IND) def. Clinton Leeuw (RSA) 11-5, 11-7, 7-11, 11-5 (50 mins)
Diego Elias (PER) def. Greg Lobban (SCO) 11-8,8-11,4-11,11-4, 11-3 (83 mins)
Raphael Kandra (GER) def. Alfredo Avila (MEX) 11-5, 11-7, 11-5 (53 mins)
Farhan Zaman (PAK) def. Declan James (ENG) 11-2, 8-11,11-8, 11-4 (49 mins)
Nasir Iqbal (PAK) def. Alan Clyne (SCO) 11-4, 11-6, 10-12,11-7 (62 mins)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) def. Campbell Grayson (NZL) 11-9, 11-6, 7-11, 11-9 (74 mins)
Lucas Serme (FRA) def. Moh’d Abouelghar (EGY) 11-9, 11-2, 15-13 (43 mins)
Schedule of Play, Thursday, January 7:
Men’s First Round – Grand Central Terminal:
Noon: Cameron Pilley (AUS) v. Tarek Momen (EGY)
12:45 [Q] Lucas Serme v.  Omar Mosaad (EGY)
2:00 Max Lee (HKG) v. Q Farhan Zaman (PAK)
2:45 Nicolas Müller (SUI) v. [Q] Raphael Kandra (GER)
3:30 Leo Au (HKG) v. [Q] Gregoire Marche
6:00  Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v. [Q] Adrian Waller
6:45 Borja Golan (ESP) v.  Miguel Rodriguez
7:30  Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v. Stephen Coppinger (RSA)
Women’s Qualifying – First Round
5:30 Cheyna Tucker (RSA) v. Reyna Pacheco (USA)
6:15 Nicole Bunyan (CAN) v. Deon Saffery (WAL)
5:00 Maddie O’Connor (CAN) v. Mariam Metwally (EGY)
5:45 Hollie Naughton (CAN) v. Nada Abbas (EGY)
6:30 Alexandra Fuller (RSA) v. Olivia Blatchford (USA)
7:15 Tanvi Khanna (IND) v. Olivia Fiechter (USA)
6:15 Alison Thomson (ENG) v. Sina Wall (GER)
7:00 Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL) v. Nadiia Usenko (UKR)
12:15 Nikki Todd (CAN) v. Olivia Fiechter (USA)