Welsh ace halts super Soliman
By ALAN THATCHER
Joel Makin of Wales continued his excellent run of form by beating rising Egyptian star Youssef Soliman in the first round of the Select Gaming Kent Open at The Mote Squash Club in Maidstone.
Makin, who beat the higher-ranked Ben Coleman and Welsh number one Peter Creed on the way to last week’s final of the Bishop’s Stortford Classic, ended Soliman’s unbeaten run in UK tournaments this year.
Soliman had followed up his triumph in the British Junior Open Under-19 competition by winning PSA titles in Aberdeen, Jersey and Ipswich.
After a successful run through qualifying he came up against a determined opponent who matched his pace and won the contest with a more disciplined, controlled approach.
While Soliman self-combusted in the fifth, hitting tins, conceding strokes and arguing with the referee, Makin remained calm to clinch victory 8-11, 12-10, 11-8, 6-11, 11-3 in 82 minutes, the longest match of the night.
He said: “I was very pleased with the way I played last week and kept that form going tonight. I knew his reputation for playing at a high pace and he has obviously had a good run in recent tournaments. I felt I contained him well and was happy to play my own game.
“I have been working with my coach Robert Owen for a year and a half and we are working on lots of different areas. There is no short cut to improving as a player and I’m working hard in training with a strong group of players.”
Soliman said: “My leg was hurting me a little bit and I lost focus in the fifth game. I wasted energy getting involved in discussions with the referee and started making a few mistakes.”
At times the match grew a little scrappy, with referee Wendy Danzey forced into making 37 decisions.
Makin will be hunting another major scalp when he meets No.3 seed Richie Fallows in the quarter-finals. Fallows had a battle on his hands before he overcame Lyell Fuller 16-14 in the fourth game.
Top seed and reigning champion Charles Sharpes beat Pakistani qualifier Asim Khan in straight games, although there were several highly competitive passages of play before Sharpes closed out the match. In the quarter-finals he faces Jaymie Haycocks, who removed Ireland’s lucky loser Brian Byrne in four entertaining games.
Haycocks said: “It’s the last tournament of the season, so it’s a big push from me to try to win it.”
No.2 seed Tom Ford won a hard-hitting all-English battle with Ashley Davies in four games, although the match threw up a bizarre scoreline of 12-10, 11-9, 3-11, 11-2.
Davies squandered a game ball in the first and the second was also a close-run affair. However, Davies powered through the third and was 8-0 up before Ford registered point. The fourth was similar, although this time Ford reached 10-0 and match ball before Davies managed to avoid the bagel with two late points.
Davies said: “I have never played a match like it. The third and fourth were crazy. The first rallies in both games were very long and whoever won it went on a big run of points. It was so mad. Tom couldn’t win a point in the third and the same happened to me in the fourth.”
Ford now meets 18-year-old Merseysider Patrick Rooney, who squeezed home 3-2 against Ireland’s Arthur Gaskin, who was suffering from cramp as the match wore on.
Australian Matt Hopkin won his opening match against Chris Fuller 11-9, 11-6, 11-1 in 38 minutes – and that included a 10-minute stoppage to have a blood injury treated.
He said: “I twisted my ankle at 1-1 in the first game and then grazed my knee as I hit the floor so had to go off to stop the blood flowing.
“When I came back on court Chris won four points in a row but I managed to focus and get stuck into the game.”
Fuller, renowned for some marathon matches in previous years at The Mote, was at a loss to describe his rapid exit.
“I don’t know what happened,” he said. “I never really got started.”
Hopkin meets Welsh number one Peter Creed in the quarter-finals ater the Welsh number one beat qualifier Nick Mulvey in three well contested games.
Select Gaming PSA M10 Kent Open. The Mote Squash Club, Maidstone, Kent, England.
(1) Charles Sharpes (Eng) beat (Q) Asim Khan (Pakistan) 11-6, 12-10, 11-8 (45 mins)
(5) Jaymie Haycocks (Eng) beat (LL) Brian Byrne (Ireland) 11-8, 8-11, 11-6, 11-9 (45 mins)
(8) Joel Makin (Wales) beat (Q) Youssef Soliman (Egypt) 8-11, 12-10, 11-8, 6-11, 11-3 (82 mins)
(3) Richie Fallows (Eng) beat Lyell Fuller (Eng) 11-3, 10-12, 11-6, 16-14 (47 mins)
(4) Peter Creed (Wales) beat (Q) Nick Mulvey (Eng) 12-10, 11-7, 11-7 (39 mins)
Matthew Hopkin (Aus) beat (7) Chris Fuller (Eng) 11-9, 11-6, 11-1 (38 min)
(Q) Patrick Rooney (Eng) beat (6) Arthur Gaskin (Ire) 5-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-4, 11-8 (69 mins)
(2) Tom Ford (Eng) beat Ashley Davies (Eng) 12-10, 11-9, 3-11, 11-2 (46 mins)
Quarter-Finals (Friday May 27th 2016. Starts 5.30pm)
(1) Charles Sharpes (Eng) v (5) Jaymie Haycocks (Eng)
(3) Richie Fallows (Eng) v (8) Joel Makin (Wal)
(4) Peter Creed (Wal) v Matthew Hopkin (Aus)
(2) Tom Ford (Eng) v (Q) Patrick Rooney (Eng)
Pictures by KIM ROBERTS