Friday, February 23, 2024

Jonathan Kemp retires on a high with Kent Open win over Steve Finitsis

Stylish left-hander wins second title at The Mote before bowing out

Steve Finitsis is floored in Kempy's Corner at The Mote
Steve Finitsis is floored in Kempy’s Corner at The Mote

Jonathan Kemp brought the curtain down on a distinguished career in impressive style by winning the Select Gaming Kent Open final against Australian top seed Steve Finitsis.

Kemp delighted the packed gallery at The Mote Squash Club in Maidstone with a devastating display of skill as he reeled off a succession of winners into the front corners.

Local fans had renamed the front right area of the court Kempy’s Corner in tribute to his cultured backhand drop shots.

However, he was forced to battle hard throughout the match by his tenacious opponent, who frequently matched Kemp’s quality in that very same corner.

The opening rallies were full of intelligent, patient squash as Kemp built a 9-5 lead. Finitsis then enjoyed a purple patch to lead 11-10 before Kemp regained control to nick it 13-11.

Finitsis, the 32-year-old world No.50 who is based in The Hague, began the second game well to lead 5-2. Kemp drew level at 5-5 and 6-6 but Finitsis won four points in a row to hold game ball. Kemp hit back again to make it 10-10 but Finitsis hit two quick winners to level the match.

Kemp surged ahead in the third to lead 6-2 and then 9-4 and although Finitsis recovered to take four more points, the 33-year-old left hander from Ipswich closed out the game 11-8.

finwallFinitsis (right) won the first three of points of the fourth game constructed a run of six points to move within touching distance of his second Kent Open title. Finitsis fought back to draw level at 8-8 and 9-9, but Kemp won the final two points to win the match and end his career on a positive note.

He said: “Once I had made my decision to retire I almost felt like pulling out of the tournament but I am glad I didn’t. It’s great to go out on a high like this, and I’d like to thank Steve for making it such an enjoyable final. I’m glad it didn’t go to five.”

Finitsis said: “I was trying my hardest to win that match but if I had to lose to anybody I’m glad it was Jonathan. He’s a great player and I wish him all the best in his coaching career. This is a great tournament and all the players are grateful for the way they are looked after.”

After the final, sponsors Select Gaming and Shepherd Neame announced that they would be continuing their financial backing next season.

Select Gaming Kent Open, The Mote Squash Club, Maidstone, Kent, England:

Final: (2) Jonathan Kemp (ENG) beat (1) Steve Finitsis (AUS) 13-11, 10-12, 11-8, 11-9 (60 mins)




Pictures by KIM ROBERTS 

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