Thursday, November 30, 2023

Lobb and drop as Richie Fallows springs Kent Open shock

Londoner storms into semi-finals after five-game classic to down flying Scot

By ALAN THATCHER and LEE HORTON at The Mote Squash Club
Pictures by KIM ROBERTS

Richie Fallows celebrates his win. Pictures by KIM ROBERTS
Richie Fallows celebrates his win. Pictures by KIM ROBERTS

RICHIE FALLOWS lit the celebration candles on his19th  birthday cake three days early last night after storming into the semi finals of the Select Gaming Kent Open at The Mote Squash Club in Maidstone.

The European Junior champion from London, the only unseeded player in the last eight, came through a brutal 89-minute barn-stormer with Scotland’s Greg Lobban to set up a showdown with Jonathan Kemp today.

In a thrilling five-game classic, the England-Scotland rivals threw everything at one another in the match of the tournament so far.

Fallows took the first and third games but couldn’t shake off the higher ranked man from Inverness. Lobban, 34 ranking places higher than Fallows at 71 in the world, took resilience to a whole new level as he dug in, retrieved with breathtaking athleticism and forced the match into a decider.

But West Ham fan Fallows is running on full confidence after his first PSA win a fortnight ago in Switzerland and he got over the line with an equally gutsy display in the fifth. The 11-4, 10-12, 11-8, 8-11, 11-3 scoreline told only half the story. The rapturous applause for both players at the end signaled they had witnessed a classic that mixed brutal physical investment with an amazing array of racket skills, with the referees also keen to join in the action..

Afterwards, Fallows conceded he was tired at the end of the fourth but was quick to regain his focus. “As soon as I walked onto the court at the start of the fifth I felt energised, ” he said. “It was a great match and I’m more than happy to have beaten Greg. He’s a terrific player so I’m taking that as another marker of my progress.” 


Kemp reverses the tide against Coleman

Jonathan Kemp, the reigning Kent Open champion playing his farewell PSA tournament, marched into the semi-finals with an imperious, late-night display against the in-form Ben Coleman.

Coleman, with three recent PSA tournament victories under his belt, won a tight first game 11-8, but Kemp typically began playing more solidly once his body warmed up. He opened up a 5-2 lead and maintained his advantage all the way through.

The third game was the deciding battle. And Kemp won it with the occasional, but beautifully timed, reverse angle. So many younger players are coached out of playing this  particular shot that they call it an old man’s shot, or a club player’s shot.

However, if you are a world-ranking professional and you are constantly deceived by it, my advice is to offer a warm round of applause and get on with the game.

Apologies for digressing. Kemp weathered a fierce storm and fought back from 10-7 down to win 15-13. Coleman’s head dropped in the fourth and the winners, and one or two more reverse angles, flowed from Kemp’s racket as he mopped up 11-3 to book his place in the semi-finals.


Harrity hits back to halt Sharpes

Todd Harrity, meanwhile, produced a phenomenal recovery in the fifth game to upset the seedings and knock out No.3 seed Charles Sharpes in another dramatic quarter-final.

The American world No.92 fought back from the seemingly hopeless position of 9-4 down in the fifth game with an astonishing succession of winners. He reeled off seven points in a row as Sharpes, the world No.62, suddenly found his touch drying up.

The match was close all the way through, with Sharpes winning the opening game 13-11 courtesy of two tins from his opponent from 11-11. Harrity won the second 11-8 but Sharpes was in outstanding form as he nailed the third 11-2.

Harrity was far from finished as he won the fourth 11-5. Sharpes dominated the early stages of the fifth and moved from 4-1 to 7-2, then to 9-4.

A place in the semi-finals beckoned but a dramatic swing of fortune occurred as Harrity feathered in a succession of drops and volley drops after some brutal rallies.

Harrity now meets top seed Steve Finitsis in a further examination of his credentials. 


James hits the Dec: Declan James does a double dive against Steve Finitsis
FLOOR SHOW: Declan James does a double dive against Steve Finitsis


James hits the Dec as top seed Finitsis powers on

The challenge of England’s Declan James foundered at the hands of number seed Steve Finitsis, although his defeat could probably be traced back 24 hours.

James, the world number 78, battled through a 92-minute first round affair with Chris Fuller that drained the reserves and left him facing a huge challenge against the super fit Aussie who had spent half the court time disposing of his first round opponent.

Finitsis used his head as much his his court craft to keep the rallies long, the ball tight and errors few as he closed the match out 11-5, 11-7, 11-5 in 42 minutes to set up a semi-final clash with Todd Harrity of the USA.

Select Gaming Kent Open Quarter-Finals:
(2) Jonathan Kemp (ENG) bt (5) Ben Coleman (ENG) 8-11, 11-8, 15-13, 11-3 (48 mins)
Richie Fallows (ENG) bt (4) Greg Lobban (SCO) 11-4, 10-12, 11-8, 8-11, 11-3 (89 mins)
(7) Todd Harrity (USA) bt (3) Charles Sharpes (ENG) 11-13, 11-8, 2-11, 11-5, 11-9 (67 mins)
(1) Steve Finitsis (AUS) bt (6) Declan James (ENG) 11-5, 11-7, 11-5 (42 mins)

(5pm): Finitsis v Harrity.
(6pm): Kemp v Fallows.



Pictures by KIM ROBERTS 

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