Joe Lee makes it an English double in Victoria Open
By SEAN REUTHE
Millie Tomlinson and Joe Lee triumphed in Melbourne to capture the 2016 Victorian Open, PSA W10 and M10 titles, respectively at the Mulgrave Country Club, with Tomlinson claiming the biggest win of her career against World No.19 Dipika Pallikal Karthik in the Women’s final.
Tomlinson has been in stunning form throughout 2016, winning four PSA World Tour titles in addition to building up a 16-match unbeaten run that came to an end in last month’s Bendigo International to Egyptian teenager Hana Ramadan.
But the 24-year-old Englishwoman bounced back in style, exacting revenge over Ramadan in the first round before seeing off South Africa’s Siyoli Waters and sixth seed Mayar Hany to set up a final fixture with Pallikal Karthik, who dropped just a single game, against Megan Craig in the last eight, en route to the final.
Pallikal Karthik made a strong start to the encounter, controlling the early rallies to take a one-game lead. An improved showing from Tomlinson in the second saw the World No.44 battle back to level the scores and both players then took a game each to set up a climactic fifth game decider.
The title looked to be heading in Indian No.2 Pallikal Karthik’s direction after she went 5-0 and then 9-5 up, but a virtuoso fightback from Tomlinson saw her take six points in succession to close out a highly entertaining 6-11, 11-4, 3-11, 11-7, 11-9 victory to win her maiden W10 crown.
“It was definitely a difficult final,” said Tomlinson. “After the first game, I didn’t think I was ever going to win it, but I’m glad that I stayed strong mentally and stayed focused. I think in the first game especially I was overthinking it a bit, so I got a bit nervous and that just made everything fall apart. I think you’ve just got to go back to basics, and make sure you’re getting your length and when you have got your opportunity, you take it in.”
The Men’s final saw top seed Lee go head-to-head with long-term friend and home hope Rex Hedrick after they achieved respective wins over Indian duo Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu and Kush Kumar in the semi-final stage.
Lee, the World No.52, came out on top of a number of long, patient rallies in the opening game to go ahead for the loss of just a solitary point before Hedrick started working his way back into the match in the second game.
However, a hamstring injury sustained by Hedrick after a gruelling rally at 8-4 down saw the number two seed unable to continue, handing Lee his first PSA World Tour title in over two years.
“Of course it’s never the way that you want to win, especially against a good friend like Rex, but I’ll take it,” Lee said.
“I’ve had my share of bad luck along the way as well, so you have got to take it and move on. It’s not nice to be injured, we’ve all been there. I think he has had more than his fair share of trouble with his hamstrings, so hopefully it is nothing too serious and he can be back on court [at the Australian Open] tomorrow, which might be a bit tough for him.
“Hopefully he is doing everything he can to be involved next week, but he has looked after me extremely well this week. He has literally done everything for me and I have been staying with his parents, so he deserves a bit better to be honest.”
Victoria Open, Mulgrave Country Club, Melbourne, Australia.
 Joe Lee (ENG) bt  Rex Hedrick (AUS) 3-0: 11-1, 8-4 ret. (28m)
 Joe Lee (ENG) bt  Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu (IND) 11-8, 11-4, 12-10 (59m)
 Rex Hedrick (AUS) bt  Kush Kumar (IND) 11-5, 11-7, 11-5 (45m)
 Joe Lee (ENG) bt  Arthur Gaskin (IRL) 11-0, 11-8, 11-8 (35m)
 Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu (IND) bt  Evan Williams (NZL) 9-11, 11-2, 11-2, 11-7 (51m)
 Kush Kumar (IND) bt  Reiko Peter (SUI) 10-12, 5-11, 11-3, 11-4, 11-6 (60m)
 Rex Hedrick (AUS) bt  Joel Makin (WAL) 3-11, 14-12, 11-3, 11-3 (75m)
 Millie Tomlinson (ENG) bt  Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) 3-2: 6-11, 11-4, 3-11, 11-7, 11-9 (80m)
 Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) bt Nouran El Torky (EGY) 11-4, 11-4, 11-2 (24m)
 Millie Tomlinson (ENG) bt  Mayar Hany (EGY) 11-3, 12-10, 3-11, 9-11, 11-7 (57m)
 Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) bt  Megan Craig (NZL) 7-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-8 (40m)
Nouran El Torky (EGY) bt  Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) 11-5, 11-6, 7-11, 11-9 (46m)
 Mayar Hany (EGY) bt  Nele Gilis (BEL) 8-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-9 (64m)
 Millie Tomlinson (ENG) bt  Siyoli Waters (RSA) 11-8, 11-6, 11-4 (30m)
Pictures by DAVID MARKS courtesy of Squash and Racketball Victoria