Sunday, February 25, 2024

Josh Masters nick-fest in North of Scotland

Josh Masters waits to attack
Josh Masters waits to attack

Masters meets Egyptian top seed in Aberdeen


We are often told, as we watch the Egyptians dominate the rankings, that too many British players lack flair. 

The Bristol-based Josh Masters is certainly one player who breaks the mould. In the final qualifying round for the Trac North of Scotland Open, he dominated the front of the court, hitting nicks galore, as he beat Joe Green in straight games to reach the main draw.

He meets Egypt’s top seed Karim Ali Fathi, while Green goes through as lucky loser following the late withdrawal of South Africa’s number two seed Shaun Le Roux, who was apparently injured playing PSL for Leicester on Tuesday, when he lost in straight games to Richie Fallows of Duffield.

Ab draw

Qualifying Finals by DAVE IRESON:

[2] Joshua Masters (Eng) vs [6] Joe Green (Eng)
The first game was all about Masters – “nick fest”. It was all over in a matters of minutes. Masters took the first game 11-5. More of the same in the second, Masters going for anything loose. Green made a much better job in this game of straightening up and keeping the ball tight, trying to avoid giving Masters anything to work with, but Masters was relentless in pummelling the ball into the front nicks. Masters takes the second game 11-8. Unbelievable racket skills from Masters in the third – Green all over the court, and Masters finishing every rally with a cross court nick roller. Crowd loving it. Takes the third and match 11-8
Joshua Masters (Eng) bt Joe Green (Eng) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-8 (27min)

[4] Ashley Davies (Eng) vs Tristan Eysele (Rsa)
The first game saw both players start at a really high tempo, with fast and furious hitting and retrieval. Davies’ use of height on the front wall managed to pin Eysele slightly deeper in the court, allowing Davies to step up and take the initiative, playing the ball short. This earned him a two-point cushion in the middle of the game, which he held to close out the first game 11-8.
Eysele started the second at an even higher tempo, and thanks to some outrageous frame work, managed to take the early lead. Davies’ height variation was not quite as good as it was in the first.

However, Davies kept looking to keep it stead at the back and towards the end of the game lifted the ball more, which paid dividend as he managed to edge back ahead taking the second 11-9.
In between the second and the third, Davies was quoted as saying “there’s only so much Lemsip can do”, and sure enough in the third he started to look tired, chasing more of the balls down rather than controlling the play, which coupled with Eysele’s relentless retrieval resulted in some more open play which seemed to suit the South African. It was nip and tuck throughout the whole game, but a couple of back court nicks from the racket of Eysele saw him take it 12-10.

The fourth was all about whether Davies could hang in the rallies long enough to create an opening, or whether he would take the ball short too soon, and try and finish the rally too early. Inevitably this led to some patchy play, with some very controlled rallies where he dominated the middle of the court, followed by some rallies where it was end to end stuff by both players. There was never more than a point between them, but thanks to some accurate drops towards the end, Davies managed to sneak the game and match 12-10.
Ashley Davies (Eng) bt Tristan Eysele (Rsa) 3-1: 11-8, 11-9, 10-12 12-10 (55min)

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[1] Matthew Hopkin (Aus) vs [7] Martin Svec (Cze)
Hopkin starts this game exactly the same way he left off last night, with some cheeky holds, and some casual nicks. His speed and lunging at the front easily outclassing Svec’s more traditional style. Hopkin takes the first 12-10. Into the second and Hopkin really starts to crank up the use of the holds, sending Svec all over the court. Svec, clearly frustrated was attempting some cheeky holds and nicks as well, unfortunately to quote a crowd member they were “a bit ambitious”. Game to Hopkin 11-9.

The third saw the same style of play from Hopkin – all out attack with holds and flicks. However, this game saw a series of errors from Hopkin as Svec looked to glue the ball to the side wall at every opportunity. This straighter tactic served Svec well as he took the third game 11-7.

Into the fourth and some silly squash followed, both players holding and anticipating every shot, which either resulted in a taxi or court sprints! At 9-9 Hopkin did some serious retrieving and suffered a blood injury, and after a short break the match resumed with Svec leading 10-9. When Hopkin returned to the court it was all out attack from both players, however this suited Hopkin’s style more than Svec’s and he closed out the match on the second times of asking taking the fourth 15-13
Matthew Hopkin (Aus) bt Martin Svec (Cze) 3-1: 12-10, 11-9, 7-11, 15-13 (50min)

[3] Mark Fuller (Eng) vs [5] Youssef Soliman (Egy)
In the first game Fuller looked to be carrying an injury as his usual attritional style was nowhere to be seen, instead conceding rallies. An informant in the crowd suggested he was carrying a neck injury from last night. Had the Stallion done some damage?? Soliman took a fairly easy first 11-4.

The second saw a complete change as Fuller looked to completely change his style of play, going for all out attack instead, attempting to finish every rally early. This tactic worked with Soliman struggling to contain this level of sustained attack. Game to Fuller 11-9.

The third and fourth were unfortunately mirror images of the first, Fuller clearly not physically right. He tried hard to slow the pace down, reverting to his own style of lob-drop. However, Soliman was too good, and Fuller’s injury proved to be the critical factor in deciding the outcome of this match. Soliman took the third and fourth 11-3 and 11-5.
Youssef Soliman (Egy) bt Mark Fuller (Eng) 3-1: 11-4, 9-11, 11-3, 11-5 (29min)

PSA M10 TRAC North of Scotland Open.

Qualifying Finals:
Ashley Davies (Eng) bt Tristan Eysele (Rsa) 3-1: 11-8, 11-9, 10-12 12-10 (55min)
Joshua Masters (Eng) bt Joe Green (Eng) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-8 (27min)
Matthew Hopkin (Aus) bt Martin Svec (Cze) 3-1: 12-10, 11-9, 7-11, 15-13 (50min)
Youssef Soliman (Egy) bt Mark Fuller (Eng) 3-1: 11-4, 9-11, 11-3, 11-5 (29min)

1st round:
[1] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) v [Q] Joshua Masters (ENG)
[8] Joshua Larkin (AUS) v [Q] Youssef Soliman (EGY)
[7] Chris Fuller (ENG) v [Q] Ashley Davies (ENG)
[3] Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) v Douglas Kempsell (SCO)
[4] Piedro Schweertman (NED) v [LL] Joe Green (ENG)
[5] Richie Fallows (ENG) v Christopher Binnie (JAM)
[6] Steven Finitsis (AUS) v [Q] Matthew Hopkin (AUS)
[2] Eddie Charlton (ENG) v [WC] Chris Leiper (SCO)




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