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Family fortunes favour Lobbans again as they reach Edinburgh finals

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Donna Lobban reaches the Edinburgh final

Donna foils Fuller as Greg sinks Selby – now for Courtice and Gawad in the finals
By STEVE CUBBINS – Squash Mad Correspondent

Husband and wife Greg Lobban repeated their extraordinary heroics in the semi-finals of the Edinburgh Squash Club Open. Donna battled back from two games down to see off South African Alexandra Fuller and Greg took 96 minutes to beat five-times champion Daryl Selby.

Yesterday Donna was two-love up and held off a comeback from top seed Emily Whitlock to win in five games. Today she was two-nil down to fourth seeded South African Fuller and fought back to win in five!

Fuller controlled the first two games 11-8, 11-6, her pacy hitting and smooth movement keeping Lobban off balance and unable to impose herself on the match.

The Aussie started the third strongly and started to find her range, reducing the deficit 11-5 and leading the early stages of the fourth. Fuller levelled at 8-all but Lobban moved ahead again, levelling the match 12-10 on her third game ball and urging the crowd on as she left the court – not that they needed any such encouragement.

The fifth was nervous, neither player managed to get ahead as the lead changed hands. It was Fuller who edged ahead from 9-all to earn a match ball, but three points in a row for an emotional Lobban and she was through to the final 12-10 in 57 minutes.

She said: “Dramatic or what – you’d think I love the drama, but I’d much rather win easily! She was playing amazing in the first two games, but maybe I was playing her game too much. I think I did a good job of playing my game after that. It was effective but I had to work hard to stick to it. It was a great match, tough one to win.

“Greg joked last night that me putting him through the wringer before his match obviously worked and that I’d have to do it again. I don’t think he saw it coming, but he got his wish!”

Second seed Julianne Courtice reached her second ESC Open final in three years as she overcame long time adversary Rachael Chadwick in four games. Chadwick was ahead throughout the first, taking the lead 11-9 and was 9-7 up in the second before a run of four points put Courtice level.

It was plain sailing after that as Courtice took the third 11-4 and eased through the fourth against a dispirited opponent 11-2, reaching the final in 38 minutes.

She said: “That second was much needed, if I’d lost that it would have been a real battle,” said Julianne. “But to get to level pegging gave me the confidence to push ahead in the third.

“I’ve only played Donna once on PSA, and lost 3-2, but she’s had some real battles here so far. I hope I can give her another one tomorrow and get the crowd going again, and maybe on my side!”

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The first men’s semi-final went the distance as second seed Karim Abdel Gawad locked horns with 3/4 seed Joel Makin. The Egyptian was in charge in the first, taking the lead 11-6, but Makin struck back to take the second and third, both 11-8.

If Gawad was going to reach the final he’d need to win a second consecutive five-setter, and that’s just what he did, delighting the crowd with his silky skills as he took the last two games, both 11-6.

“Tough, and tough again! I flew to London, played a PSL match in Birmingham, flew to Scotland for a five setter yesterday, I didn’t expect that I’d be able to last long against Joel today, but I was happy with my squash and my performance.

“The crowd here are beautiful, and the great thing about this court is that you feel like you’re playing in the middle of the crowd. Looking forward to playing the final on it tomorrow.”

Having despatched Paul Coll yesterday, Greg Lobban looked like he was going to do it again as he powered into a two game lead over 3/4 seed Daryl Selby 11-6, 11-5, and with the Englishman looking the more fatigued of the two as the third game started, another three-nil seemed to be on the cards.

But Daryl isn’t a five-time ESC Open champion for nothing, and he dug in as only he can, making every rally tough and at times earning a breather as he questioned referee John Massarella’s decisions – not an opinion, after one exchange he admitted “I need a rest!”

Neither player could score a run of points now, and the next three games were an exhibition of court craft and sheer determination. Daryl saved one match ball in the third and two more in the fourth, taking them both 13-11.

There was no letup in the fifth, as Daryl eked out a 7-3 lead only for Greg to fight back to 8-all, then 9-all. The last two points went Greg’s way and he lifted him arms into the air as reached the final for the second time in three years.

“That was very tough out there. So happy to win in five. Daryl is such a battle hardened competitor and even at 2-0 up I knew I couldn’t relax.

“He played the right game and fought his way back into the match very well. I tried to stay as calm as possible when I was 7-3 down in the 5th and trusted my ability to work my way back into the decider and thankfully managed to win the last point.

“Donna has been doing her best to emotionally drain me by battling through to win in five games herself the last few days but she definitely gave me the inspiration I needed to keep pushing tonight.”

There followed a presentation to long-time tournament supporter and five-time champion Daryl,in which he was awarded life membership of the club.

The finals start at 3pm today (Sunday).

More pictures on the tournament site: www.edinburghopensquash.com

Edinburgh Sports Club Open 2020, Edinburgh Sports Club, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Men’s Semi-Finals:
[2] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 3-2 [3/4] Joel Makin (Wal) 11-6, 8-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-6 (76m)
[5/8] Greg Lobban (Sco) 3-2 [3/4] Daryl Selby (Eng) 11-6, 11-5, 11-13, 11-13, 11-9 (96m)
Women’s Semi-Finals:
[5] Donna Lobban (Aus) 3-2 [4] Alexandra Fuller (Rsa) 8-11, 6-11, 11-5, 12-10,12-10 (57m)
[2] Julianne Courtice (Eng) 3-1 [6] Rachael Chadwick (Eng) 9-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-2 (38m)

Pictures by STEVE CUBBINS courtesy of ESC


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