Lee thanks Peter Barker for surge in form
By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor
Joe Lee withstood a phenomenal fightback from Richie Fallows as a trio of Englishmen made it through from the qualifying finals into the main draw of the Canary Wharf Squash Classic.
Lee looked to be cruising as he dropped just five points in the opening two games and seemed on course for a straight-games victory before Fallows suddenly upped his game.
The 20-year-old from Stratford, east London, powered back into contention as he rediscovered the form that helped him to knock out the top qualifying seed, the experienced Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema, the previous day.
Fallows won the third and fourth games and it was desperately close all the way through the fifth before Lee finished strongly to win 11-1, 11-4, 9-11, 7-11, 11-9 in 68 minutes.
His reward is a place in the first round against the flying Frenchman, Mathieu Castagnet, whose incredible retrieval against Daryl Selby in Chicago last week became an internet sensation.
The 26-year-old Lee, the world No.62 from Weybridge, said: “The first two games were so good and it’s always difficult to handle when your opponent suddenly responds. I don’t think I did anything wrong but Richie definitely stepped up the pace.
“At 9-9 in the fifth it’s anybody’s game, and I did just enough to win. It’s nice to play someone different (after two draws against Selby) and I hope the crowd will be on my side.”
Lee acknowledged the improvement in his game since spending time on court with Peter Barker, the former world No.5 who retired before Christmas to take up a coaching position with England Squash.
Lee added: “I think my game has improved significantly after working with Peter. I like to play in a rhythm and he has helped me to see more options and introduce a little more variety into my play.”
Selby himself is a crowd favourite at the East Wintergarden and he opens proceedings tomorrow (Monday) evening against Declan James, who came through qualifying without dropping a game, largely thanks to an error-strewn performance from Josh Masters.
James said: “I have been working with my coaches to get to the next level of my game really. I was pretty consistent with my squash, but matches were too long. I try and be more severe now, but it’s a long process. It’s a work in progress, and it won’t happen overnight. I need to have the confidence to do the new things I’m trying to implement. It takes time with the new me.
“I’m happy to qualify. It’s quite a relief, really. And I’m really looking forward to playing Daryl on the glass court.”
Completing a trio of English qualifiers was Charles Sharpes, who battled his way through a physical encounter with Finnish veteran Olli Tuominen.
He said: “I know how good Olli is across the middle of the court. He is exceptionally dangerous in various areas of the court, and you have to work hard to get the ball past him.
“I felt I kept my discipline pretty well and although there were a few decisions there was nothing bad going on out there.
“It’s great to reach the main draw again and I am looking forward to going back to the East Wintergarden.”
Sharpes meets Germany’s No.2 seed Simon Rosner, while Egypt’s Mohamed Reda, who beat Robbie Temple in straight games, has been drawn against Australia’s Cameron Pilley.
Reda, who looked faster and fitter, revealed his game had improved since returning from the USA to be based at the Wadi Degla Club in Cairo. He said: “I returned to Egypt in July for family matters. I truly enjoyed the American experience, but I was coaching more and more, not playing enough tournaments, and my rankings dropped to around 80 something.
“Being back in Cairo has been great for my family. My wife is very happy to have the support of our families to raise our son Ali. And I have to thank Karim Darwish and Wadi Degla for welcoming me. I got back into shape, I won three tournaments last year, and my ranking has gone up again.”
Canary Wharf Squash Classic PSA M70
Qualifying finals, Wimbledon Racquets Club, London, England
(4) Mohamed Reda (Egy) beat Robbie Temple (Eng) 11-2, 11-6, 11-5 (34 mins)
(6) Charles Sharpes (Eng) beat (3) Olli Tuominen (Fin) v 11-7, 6-11, 11-3, 11-8 (60 mins)
(2) Declan James (Eng) beat Josh Masters (Eng) 11-8, 11-6, 11-8 (39 mins)
(5) Joe Lee (Eng) beat Richie Fallows (Eng) 11-1, 11-4, 9-11, 7-11, 11-9 (68 mins)
FIRST ROUND DRAW (Top Half) Monday March 7th.
(1) Omar Mosaad (Egypt) v Chris Simpson (England)
(7) Daryl Selby (England) v (Q) Declan James (England)
(8) Borja Golan (Spain) v Ben Coleman (England)
(4) Marwan Elshorbagy (Egypt) v Fares Dessouki (Egypt)
FIRST ROUND DRAW (Bottom Half) Tuesday March 8th:
(3) Mathieu Castagnet (France) v (Q) Joe Lee (England)
(5) James Willstrop (England) v Paul Coll (NZ)
(6) Cameron Pilley (Australia) v (Q) Mohamed Reda (Egypt)
(2) Simon Rosner (Germany) v (Q) Charles Sharpes (England)
Pictures by PATRICK LAUSON
Images can be purchased from www.patricklausonphotography.co.uk