Men’s top seed Malhotra turns up the heat on Cardenas
By ANNA KIMBERLEY and JAY NASH
England’s Jasmine Hutton has reached the final of the $20,000 Nash Cup PSA Challenger tournament at London Squash and Fitness Club in Ontario, Canada.
She will meet top seed Melissa Alves of France, who overcame the Australian No.8 seed Donna Lobban.
Hutton, from Sussex, finished strongly in each of three tough games to beat Emilia Soini of Finland, with a match score of 11-9, 12-10, 11-8.
The first game started with both players trying to implement their own pace onto the game. Jazz looked to play slightly faster but Emilia did well at the beginning to neutralize her pace mainly using height. She was also very decisive when she was given the opportunity with any loose balls and put Jazz under pressure with accurate straight drops.
However, midway through, Jazz settled down and found her range to take the first. In the second game Jazz continued with hitting good target areas. She made the court big for Emilia and caused her do a lot of work to keep up with the rallies.
Emilia, however, stuck in well and started to use the boast to drag Jazz out of position and looked to pounce on the follow-up. This added variation seemed to throw Jazz slightly and also allowed Emilia to dominate the middle and to have better control. However, Jazz stayed consistent and defended well to sneak the second game by a narrow margin.
In the third game, Jazz seemed to straighten up which worked to limit Emilia’s options. Emilia seemed more comfortable when she was given angles to work with. Jazz took an early lead and went up 7-3 quickly with consistent good straight length and volley drops, but Emilia came back and put in some accurate straight attacks herself.
From being up, and then losing a few points in a row, Jazz seemed to tighten up slightly and made some dicey tins to allow Emilia to get back within a point. However, at the business end Jazz stepped up and was decisive with volleying to take the match 3-0.
Hutton said: “I feel really happy to have come through in three. I felt that I’ve needed to prove myself at this event as I’ve never played any of the opponents I faced this week. I’m happy about how I backed myself, using my physicality, and I’m looking forward to getting a rematch of my first round in 2018 with Melissa.”
The other women’s semi-final became similarly close after Alves dominated the opening game. Lobban tightened up in the second and the rallies became longer. From 5-5, Lobban’s more ambitious attempts failed to come off and Alves sneaked the game to lead 2-0.
The third is tight again. At 5-5, Alves crushes a low burner down the rail and she is up 6-5. Lobban is in trouble as Alves hits a series of winners. Anything leads 9-5 and a stroke gives her match point. Three brilliant shots from Lobban less than an inch above the tin and she’s back in it at 8-10. But a long rally, filled with tight digs, ends with Alves taking the point and the match.
Alves said: “My goal was to play high pace and keep her from her front attack. I aimed to play fast. When she got it going I tried to move in and reset things. Took some chances and felt confident. It was one of my best match since starting on tour.”
Lobban revealed: “I’m happy to be back on court after a long recovery. It’s great to be competing. Getting back to peak form is a process. Each match is bringing me back. Melissa played well and didn’t provide an opportunity for me to get into my game. I looked for a lapse and, to her credit, it didn’t come along. Melissa’s playing really well and I knew it would be a tough match. Prior to a withdrawal this would have been in the first round. A shame it wasn’t in the final.”
In the men’s competition, top seed Vikram Malhotra overcame talented young Mexican Leonel Cardenas 3-1 (7-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-6).
Malhotra made a methodical start but Cardenas, on the other hand, was more dynamic and attempting to creating angles and attacking opportunities. He moved to game ball and Malhotra gifted him the winning point with a volley drop into the tin.
Cardenas led 5-3 in the second when Malhotra appeared to change tactics. He kept Cardenas in the back corners and a huge rally at 6-4 had Cardenas running all over the court. The Mexican visibly tired as Malhotra drew level and then gained control.
Malhotra took the game to draw level and repeated his dominance in the third, Cardenas finishing it for him with a resounding volley into the tin.
The same pattern continued in the fourth, but Malhotra’s dominance was punctuated by Cardenas celebrating the winning of a lengthy rally with a yell of encouragement and a big fist pump. However, he was unable to repeat the experience as Malhotra continued to control the exchanges and moved smoothly into the final.
He meets No.2 seed Auguste Dussourd of France, who triumphed 112-9 in the fifth against No.3 seed Alfredo Avila of Mexico.
PSA Challenger Tour $20,000 Women’s NASH Cup 2019, London Squash & Fitness, London, Ontario, Canada..
 Melissa Alves (FRA) v  Jasmine Hutton (ENG)
 Melissa Alves (FRA) bt  Donna Lobban (AUS) 11-6, 11-7, 11-8 (30m)
 Jasmine Hutton (ENG) bt  Emilia Soini (FIN) 11-9, 12-10, 11-8 (28m)
 Melissa Alves (FRA) bt  Nikki Todd (CAN) 11-3, 11-5, 7-11, 14-12 (32m)
 Donna Lobban (AUS) bt  Enora Villard (FRA) 11-6, 11-6, 11-3 (26m)
 Emilia Soini (FIN) bt [9/16] Cindy Merlo (SUI) 9-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7 (49m)
 Jasmine Hutton (ENG) bt [9/16] Alison Thomson (SCO) 8-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-5 (42m)
 Melissa Alves (FRA) bt [9/16] Eva Feřteková (CZE) 11-4, 11-6, 11-2 (18m)
 Nikki Todd (CAN) bt [9/16] Anna Kimberley (ENG) 11-6, 11-3, 8-11, 11-9 (39m)
 Donna Lobban (AUS) bt Hana Moataz (EGY) 11-4, 11-3, 8-11, 11-8 (30m)
 Enora Villard (FRA) bt [9/16] Cristina Gomez (ESP) 8-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-4 (55m)
 Emilia Soini (FIN) bt [9/16] Marie Stephan (FRA) 11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 11-6 (35m)
[9/16] Cindy Merlo (SUI) bt  Sarah Cardwell (AUS) 6-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-6, 11-4 (43m)
[9/16] Alison Thomson (SCO) bt  Nicole Bunyan (CAN) 6-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-5 (49m)
 Jasmine Hutton (ENG) bt [9/16] Catalina Pelaez (COL) 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 11-6 (32m)
PSA Challenger Tour $12,000 Men’s NASH Cup 2019, London Squash & Fitness, London, Ontario, Canada.
 Vikram Malhotra (IND) v  Auguste Dussourd (FRA)
 Vikram Malhotra (IND) bt  Leonel Cardenas (MEX) 7-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-6 (56m)
 Auguste Dussourd (FRA) bt  Alfredo Avila (MEX) 11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 2-11, 11-9 (67m)
 Vikram Malhotra (IND) bt  Reiko Peter (SUI) 11-6, 6-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-3 (50m)
 Leonel Cardenas (MEX) bt  Christopher Binnie (JAM) 16-14, 11-7, 12-10 (60m)
 Alfredo Avila (MEX) bt  Cameron Seth (CAN) 12-10, 11-9, 11-9 (38m)
 Auguste Dussourd (FRA) bt  Lyell Fuller (ENG) 12-10, 11-7, 5-11, 11-5 (57m)
 Vikram Malhotra (IND) bt [9/16] Alex Noakes (ENG) 11-5, 11-5, 11-3 (30m)
 Reiko Peter (SUI) bt [9/16] Fernando Magdaleno (MEX) 12-10, 8-11, 11-8, 11-5 (49m)
 Christopher Binnie (JAM) bt [9/16] Cory McCartney (CAN) 11-9, 11-1, 11-5 (28m)
 Leonel Cardenas (MEX) bt [9/16] Tristan Eysele (RSA) 11-6, 11-7, 11-8 (33m)
 Alfredo Avila (MEX) bt [9/16] Darosham Khan (CAN) 11-9, 11-3, 11-6 (18m)
 Cameron Seth (CAN) bt [9/16] Noah Browne (BER) 11-4, 11-8, 11-6 (37m)
 Lyell Fuller (ENG) bt [9/16] Ben Coates (ENG) 11-8, 11-6, 11-6 (28m)
 Auguste Dussourd (FRA) bt Guy Davidson (USA) 11-5, 11-5, 11-5 (36m)
Pictures courtesy of Nash Cup