Sunday, July 14, 2024

Lobban meets Hinds in Aberdeen final

Greg Lobban controls the forehand wall
Greg Lobban controls the forehand wall

Greg Lobban and Joel Hinds make it a Scotland-England final in Aberdeen
By DAVE IRESON – Squash Mad Correspondent in Aberdeen


Scotland’s Greg Lobban powered into the final of the North of Scotland Open in Aberdeen with a superb performance against Spain’s Carlos Cornes. 

In the final he will meet England’s Joel Hinds, who clawed his way back from a desperate position in the fifth game to beat another Spanish opponent, Alejandro Garbi Caro, who had earlier beaten top seed Eddie Charlton.

Alenjandro looked like his legs were quite tired in the first, not really able to put any purchase on the ball when he was stretched at the front of the court. Joel looked to exploit this, boasting and dropping the ball into the front of the court to test the Spaniard’s movement. Joel took the early advantage doing this and took the game 11/5.

In the second game was a complete reversal of the first. Alejandro was looking to get up the court and take the ball on the volley. Joel’s length and width was not as good as it was in the first, and some loose balls allowed Alejandro to take advantage – playing some nice straight drops from deep in the court. Alejandro took the second game 11/4.

In the third game Joel started like he finished in the second not hitting good enough length and width, however looked to be getting back into it midway through the game, however some poor decision making from the referees denied Joel some blatant strokes, Alejandro clearly standing on the ball in the front corners.

This frustrated Joel and Alejandro closed out the game 11/7. So much better from Joel in the fourth. Solid length and width, no errors, taking the ball short at the right moment, and most importantly wasn’t getting involved with the referees. Takes the game 11/3. Its amazing how subtle the margins are in a squash match, but how sometimes the smallest of things can make all the differences.

The fifth game was a real battle of how could play the best length and or attacking shots. The referees were making the worst mess possible of any interference in the front left, and frustration was clearly building in Joel – he was getting no luck at all.

The most amazing thing was that the smallest of things (whatever it was – motivation, a lucky nick / good shot), that cause his focus to remain and claw his way back into the game from 9/5 down to take the game and match 11/9.

[7] Carlos Cornes Ribadas (Esp) vs [2] Greg Lobban (Sco)
Last night when Greg was giving Nathan Lake a bit of a lesson in “tempo” Carlos had to walk away. Unfortunately for him Greg started the first the way he played the last against Nathan last night. Volleying every ball possible. Carlos didn’t seem to have answer. Greg won the first 11/3. Carlos was really struggling to make any impact. Even when he seemed to be in control of a rally, Greg’s relentless commitment to get the ball back just left Carlos staring into the crowd, searching for answers. Unfortunately there were none. Greg won the second 11/4. In the third Carlos decided to just go for it hitting 3 winners at the start of the game. Greg just kept up the high tempo and broke him down. Carlos looking pretty despondent – he just couldn’t get the ball off Greg’s racket.

Quarter Finals:
[1] Eddie Charlton (Eng) vs Alejandro Garbi Caro (Esp)
The referees had a good start to this match making some great decisions early on – encouraging both players to play the ball. There were minimal decisions after this which allowed some good free flowing squash. Would be remiss not to mention Eddie’s apparel – great set of tights!! Eddie’s forehand hold forced Alejandro to need Rainbow City Taxi’s several times during the game, which was ultimately the difference. Charlton won the first 11/7. In the second game despite seeming to be in control of the majority of rallies, Eddie made several unforced errors, which gave Alejandro a few cheap points. Although Alejandro managed to sneak the game 11/9, Eddie looked to have put a lot of work into his legs in the process. In the third game Eddie kept the game reasonably attritional – not attacking too much, and lobbing from the front to keep the rallies going. The seemed to pay some dividend as he forced several errors from Alejandro as well as earning several strokes. Game to Eddie 11/9. In the fourth game Alejandro looked to be tiring, but seemed to play a ridiculous number of outright winners off the very last string of the racket. Garbi took the game 11/4. The final game saw the Spaniard continue his run of “last string” winners picking up some great shots, just managing to get the ball on the front wall. In the end Eddie ran his socks off to get back every ball, but Alejandro’s attacking play was too accurate – winning the final game 11/6. Garbi won 3-2 7/11 11/9 9/11 11/4 11/6 (68 mins).

[5] Joel Hinds (Eng) vs Mohammed Elgawarhy (Egy)
In the first game Joel seemed to be trying to keep the ball on the Egypitian’s backhand, given that his forehand has caused so much devastation over the last couple of days – this seemed to work in the early part of the first game, going 4-0 up. However he struggled to stick to this for the whole game, and every time he put the ball on the Egyptian’s forehand he got punished. Couple that with some excellent countering from Elgawarhy’s racket and the Egyptian sneaked the first game 13/11. The second game was better from Joel – he managed to nullify the attacks from Elgawarhy by keeping the ball off his volley, and playing at a fast enough tempo that stopped the Egypitian attacking. This strategy set up some good opportunities for him to use his own holds and flicks at the front, and in doing so took the second game 11/4. The third game was a similar story to the first game – too many balls to the forehand of Elgawarhy were giving away some cheap points. Joel was working the ball better into the front of the court earning some reward but in the end a couple of errors from Joel was the difference. Elgawarhy took the third 11/9. Joel looked to increase the tempo in the fourth taking the ball as early as possible and volleying a lot more, and this looked to tire Elgawarhy, who made 6 unforced errors in the game. Joel taking it 11/5. The fifth game saw Joel once again increase the tempo, and look to break down the Egyptian – Elgawarhy now looking tired. Sure enough Elgawarhy’ play got loose, and Joel took full advantage racing to a 10/5 lead. An inexplicable decision from the referees at match ball saw Joel almost completely loose concentration, however he managed to convert on his 3rd game ball closing out the game 11/7. Hinds won 3-2 11/13 11/4 9/11 11/5 11/7 (56 mins).

[4] Piedro Schweertman (Ned) vs [7] Carlos Cornes Ribadas (Esp)
The first game was over really quickly. A string of winners coming from the racket of Cornes, taking the game 11/4. The second saw a much more solid approach from the “Iceman”, hitting much straighter and not giving Cornes as much opportunity to feed from. Schweertman won the second 13/11. The third, fourth, and fifth game were all very similar, both players trying to hit good enough length to get in front, and both trying to get in front and volley the ball onto each other’s backhand. Carlos was “chancing his arm(s)” with the referees, and looking to change their decisions at every opportunity. In the fifth game Carlos got 3 point lead, and was able to maintain it despite a spirited effort by Piedro to get back into the game. Cornes won 3-2 11/5 11/13 4/11 11/9 11/8 (68 mins).

Nathan Lake (Eng) vs [2] Greg Lobban (Sco)
The first half of the first game saw Greg play at tempo forcing Nathan onto the back foot with every shot taking a quick 10-5 lead. Nathan managed to claw back a couple of points before Greg played an outrageous dying length between his legs to take the first game 11/7. The second game saw more of the same. Greg looking to take the ball as early as possible – a mammoth rally at 4-0 and Greg looked to have completely burst Nathan. A spirited comeback saw Nathan get back to 5 but in the end the damage was done. Greg taking the second game 11/5. Yup… damage done in second – Nathan looked a bit “hurt locker”. Pace was far too high in the third and Nathan just couldn’t go with it. A Spiers (3 wall nick boast roller for those who aren’t from Aberdeen) to finish the game, Greg taking the game 11/0. Lobban won 3-0 11/7 11/5 11/0 (33 min).

Round 1:
[1] Eddie Charlton (Eng) vs Tom De Mulder (Bel)
The first game was all about Eddie’s length. He lifted the ball with great accuracy over the volley of De Mulder. Tom was constantly pinned in the back corners and really couldn’t inflict much damaged. Eddie occasionally chipped in a “working boast” but it was not really required. Eddie took the first game 11/2. In the second the height and length on Eddie’s drives dropped off and it allowed De Mulder to get in front. Notably there was a lot more interference in this game and the referees were called on in this game due to a lot balls landing around the service box area with not enough pace to get through to the back of the court. A few crucial decisions at the end of the second game swung it in De Mulders favour, taking it 13/11. The third game saw Eddie’s length back to normal. He either lifted the ball or hit the ball slightly more crisply to ensure the ball was coming through to the back of the court. This allowed him to get in front and start playing to the front of the court. One huge rally in which Eddie had De Mulder on a string preceded a flurry of errors from De Mulders racket. Eddie closed out the game 11/5. In the fourth game Eddie seemed to start the game really positively – driving the ball well, and taking the ball short and doing some real damage. Not sure whether he had a lapse in concentration, but all of a sudden he found himself at game ball down. De Mulder took the fourth 11/8. By the fifth game De Mulder seemed to be in some physical discomfort and in places seemed to be cramping. Eddie took full advantage of this taking the ball short wherever possible, and hitting the ball hard to the back to make De Mulder’s movements harder. Coupling this with some excellent holds on his forehand Eddie took control of the fifth eventually taking it 11/7. Charlton won 3-2 11/2 11/13 11/5 8/11 11/7 (68 mins).

[6] Lance Beddoes (Nzl) vs Alejandro Garbi Caro (Esp)
This first game in this match was in stark contrast to the last match. a much higher tempo and fast paced game. Beddoes went behind in the early part of the game – his shots not quite finding the corners, however he steadied midway through the first game, but Garbi held onto his lead closing out the game 11/9. In the second game Beddoes started the game better – hitting his targets from the word go. The created some good opportunities at the front for Lance Beddoes to use his holds and flicks and this had Garbi in all sorts of trouble at the start of the game. Garbi tightened up his play in the latter half of the game, but the lead Beddoes had made was too great. Beddoes won the second 11/6. In the third game Beddoes was just too keen to take the ball into the front of the court, and in doing so left the ball at the front in positions where Garbi could use some holds and flicks. This careless front court play allowed Garbi to stay in front and closed out the game 11/9. In the fourth game Beddoes was much more disciplined about taking the ball short, waiting for an opportunity rather than forcing it. Some good countering at the front allowed him to use his holds and flicks, putting a good amount of work into the Spaniard. Beddoes took the fourth 11/5. In the last game both players were struggling to clear the ball properly and the referees were being increasingly called on to make decisions. At 7-9 down Beddoes picked up a ball which was clearly good (but off the frame). Garbi appealed the decision and the 3 man referee system decided the ball was not up. This seemed to spur Beddoes on and he saved 3 match balls to get back to 10-10. A clear “fish” at 11-10 up and a dodgy refereeing decision handed the game and match to Garbi 12/10. Garbi won 3-2 11/9 6/11 11/9 5/11 12/10 (75 mins).

[5] Joel Hinds (Eng) vs Sanjay Singh (Mas)
The first game was littered with errors and winners. Both players making a series of mistakes, and also hitting several outright winners. Compared to the first two matches of the day this was a surprisingly short game. In the end Joel made slightly fewer errors than the young Malaysian, taking the first game 11/5. The second game started at a really high pace that continued throughout the game. Both players volleying the ball at every opportunity. It was great to see that despite the high pace both players playing every ball. Singh won the game 11/9. In the third it looked like the fast paced game was taking its toll on Singh – now scrambling to get every ball back. Joel was content to push the balls into all four corners to make him do more and more work. This strategy worked, Joel taking the fourth game 11/6. In the fourth game Singh was now visibly tiring. This allowed Joel to start taking advantage of this – playing the ball with great accuracy into the front right forcing cross court after cross court which he stepped up and volleyed. Joel won the game 11/9. Hinds won 3-1 11/5 9/11 11/6 11/9 (36 mins).

[3] Ben Coleman (Eng) vs Mohammed Elgawarhy (Egy)
Maybe Ben was feeling a little bit of pressure as the defending champion, and in the first game didn’t seem to be comfortable on the court, going 6-1 down. Perhaps his opponent played a part is in this – not afraid to use the front part of the court and punished Ben for any loose ball. Ben eased his way into the game but Elgawarhy’s lead was too great, taking the first game 11/6. In the early part of the second game Ben hit much straighter, limiting the ability of Elgawarhy to take the ball short, and as a result he took an early 4/0 lead. He then opened up the court with some loose cross court which Elgawarhy pounced on. At 9/7 down Ben once again straightened up his play reeling off 4 better rallies taking the game 11/9. The third game was a nick fest from Elgawarhy’s racket, hitting winner after winner, taking the game 11/1. The last two games were pretty tight but very messy with a lot of decisions required from the referees. A short summary of the last two games would be that Ben got a “bit unlucky” by some of the decisions. Elgawarhy won 3-2 11/7 8/11 11/1 9/11 11/7 (61 mins).

[4] Piedro Schweertman (Ned) vs Douglas Kempsell (Sco)
The first game was a really high tempo, both players hitting the ball “crisply” to the back of the court. One spectator descried Schweertman as a “solid unit” with a pretty devastating forehand volley. Dougie struggled to keep the ball away from his forehand in the first but managed to do enough retrieval to just edge the first 11/9. The second game was better from Dougie. He managed for the most part to keep the ball away from Schweertman’s forehand volley. This earned him the reward of a game ball and he converted on the first attempt, taking the game 11/9. The third completely got away from Dougie as he didn’t find any length and width at all and was constantly on the back foot losing the game 11/3. The fourth game was a pretty similar story to the third game. Dougie didn’t look comfortable with his length and width, and was consistently over hitting and under hitting his drives and once again going behind pretty quickly. Schweertman took the fourth 11/4. Dougie got increasingly frustrated with his play in the final game and as a result dragged the referees into the game. Schweertman “Iceman” kept his cool and closed out the game 11/6. Schweertman won 3-2 9/11 9/11 11/3 11/4 11/6 (74 mins).

[7] Carlos Cornes Ribadas (Esp) vs Matias Tuomi (Fin)
Players traded early blows in the first game, and the only thing to choose between then was one or two errors from Matias’ racket towards the end of the first game. Carlos just sneaking 11/9. In the second game Carlos hit some stunning winners and outrageous top spin drops. This flurry of winner and deceptive racket skills saw him move ahead slowly, taking the game 11/5. Carlos’s pace was relentless in the third game volleying every ball causing Matias to stretch with every shot, taking the final game 11/4. Ribadas won 3-0 11/9 11/5 11/4 (32 mins)

[8] Khawaja Adil Maqbool (Pak) vs Nathan Lake (Eng)
The boy Maqbool certainly has skills! Some wonderful touches on the forehand caused Nathan to do a lot of dynamic movement in the first game, however Nathan was managing to pick everything up that Maqbool threw at him, and this retrieval caused a few errors from the racket of Maqbool, Nathan taking it 11/6. The second game started much like the first – Maqbool’s racket skills causing Nathan to have to move all over the court, however in this game the spring had slightly gone out of Nathan’s legs, and he looked ever so slightly slower at the front of the court. Maqbool took the second game 11/7 thanks to a couple of glorious cross court nicks. Into the third and Nathan seemed to be tiring slightly, which meant his shots were becoming less and less accurate, setting up either easy balls for Maqbool to put away, or handing him strokes through loose play. Maqbool took the third 11/8. It was now Maqbool that was looking tired at the start of the fourth game. Nathan tried to keep the ball as tight as possible to deny him the chance to use his racket skills – and was visibly frustrated every time he played a loose cross court. Some sublime touches from both players were the only way that either of them were winning rallies. At the end of the fourth it was Nathan’s skills with an unbelievable cross court drop shot, followed up by a boast “taxi” that won him the game 14/12. The fourth game saw some unreal touch and retrieval from both players – almost every rally was end to end squash. In the end Nathan’s slightly superior retrieval was the difference, winning the fifth game 11/8. Lake won 3-2 11/6 7/11 8/11 14/12 11/8 (60 mins).

[2] Greg Lobban (Sco) vs James Earles (Eng)
The final match of the (long!) evening saw Greg Lobban take on James Earles. The first game saw long intense rallies with Greg looking to take the ball early and increase the tempo at every possible opportunity, this inevitably forced a loose shot from the racket of Earles which Greg punished each time. Greg won the first 11/5. The second game followed the same pattern, Greg looking to get on the ball as early as possible, and James doing everything he could to weather the storm. Once again Greg punished every loose ball with some clinical finished at the font to take the game 11/7. Same story in the third. James ran out of ideas on what to do and his margin for error became lower and lower – eventually making several errors towards the back end of the game. Greg won the third 11/5. Lobban won 3-0 11/5 11/7 11/5 (38 mins).

Qualifying Finals:
[4] Mohammed Elgawarhy (Egy) vs [5] Jan van den Herrewegen (Bel)
In the early part of the first game Herrewegen seemed to be blown away by the number of nick attempts from the racket of the young Egyptian, going behind by 5 or 6 points. A few errors crept in due to the amount of front court play, but the Egyptian managed to close out the game. The second game was a more drawn out affair with multiple lets, largely due to Elgawarhy causing himself problems by going short so much when it wasn’t on then struggling to recover the next shot. A few careless balls into the front at critical moments handed Herrewegen the second game. In the third game Herrewegen played some really clever squash. Kept the ball very tight, and didn’t give Elgawarhy anything to feed off. This paid dividend as it forced several errors from the racket of the Egyptian. In the fourth game it looked like Herrewegen was tiring. A few errors started to creep into his game and Elgawarhy clearly noticed this and upped the tempo, taking the ball in short at every opportunity, taking the fourth 11/9. Herrewegen looked increasingly tired in the fifth and as a result the Egyptian took a 10-2 lead. Despite a spirited comeback to 10-7 the damage was already done. Elgawarhy Elgawarhy (Egy) won 3-2 11/9 9/11 6/11 11/9 11/7 (59 mins).

[6] Arthur Moineau (Fra) vs Tom De Mulder (Bel)
So the first game = block and let fest… not much else to say. The second games was worse. More blocks and more lets. Nothing good to report about. The third game looked to have started more cleanly, but half way through the blocking and interference started again. At the end of the match both players refused to shake hands, there was some after discussion and it got a bit heated. Not really what the spectator wants to see. De Mulder won 3-0 11/7 11/3 12/10 (44 mins).

[1] Matias Tuomi (Fin) vs [7] Ben Grindrod (Nzl)
This match was a much more acceptable spectacle than the previous match. Good clean play with both players making every effort to get to the ball. The first two games were nip and tuck with not much to decide between the players. In the third and fourth game Matias’ solid length and width and relentless retrieval seemed to be the difference managing to just pull away at critical moments. Tuomi won 3-1 11/6 5/11 11/8 11/6 (51 mins)

[2] Nathan Lake (Eng) vs Bernat Jaume (Esp)
Nathan looked sharp throughout every game, Looking to take the ball early on the volley and punish anything loose at the front by getting onto the ball early and holding it wherever possible. Bernat didn’t really seem to have an answer. He tried to get as many balls back as he could and hung the rallies for as long as possible, but the result was only ever going to go one way. As Bernat tired Nathan looked stronger. Lake won 3-0 11/9 11/7 11/4 (43 mins)

Qualifying Round 1:
The opening match of the day saw Scotland’s Chris Shinnie take on Mohammed Elgawarhy (Egy). The Egyptian took early control by hitting a combination of solid lofted length with outrageous flurries of winners. Chris was advised by coaching personnel to avoid fighting fire with fire and instead focus on more conservative squash. This seemed to paid dividend as Shinnie managed to claw his way back into the second and in the third managed to earn himself two game balls in the third before a couple errors allowed the game to run away 15/13. Elgawarhy won 3-0 11/6 11/5 15/13 (20 mins).
The second match of the day featured local Mike Black (Sco) playing the young and up and coming Jan van den Herrewegen (Bel). In the first game Mike did not look comfortable and went 6-0 down. Once Mike got a point on the board he looked more settled and managed to ease his way into the game. In the second Mike started more positively but still managed to go 6-0 down before getting a point on the board! The third was closer at the start partially due to some excellent use of all of the racket by MIke, but Jan had put enough work into Mike’s legs in the first two games to make him tire twards the end of the third. Herrewegen won 3-0 11/7 11/1 11/5 (19 mins).
The third match of the day saw ASRC’s Chris Leiper take on France’s Arthur Moineau. The first game was saw Chris make a series of uncharacteristic errors towards the end of the first game to throw away a 4 point lead. The second was more positive from Chris with less errors in the game, however some careless boasts allowed Arthur to get in front and played some deft drops shots in the front left. The third was more solid by both players and the rallies were slightly longer. Some classy frame work from Arthur allowed him to sneak a lead towards the end of the third game, eventually managing to close it out on his third match ball. Moineau won 3-0 11/8 12/10 11/9 (28 mins).
In the fourth match of the day Kevin Moran (Sco) took on Tom De Mulder (Bel). The first game was a let fest with the Belgian clearly getting in the way of the Scot. In the second game the referee decided to take a stronger stance on the deliberate interference, but for inexplicable reasons the referee seemed hell bent on penalising the Scot awarding a stroke against for a simple let, and a let decision for a blatant stroke. This harsh treatment seemed to distract Kevin as he lost the second game 11-1. The third saw Kevin come back much more composed, and he narrowly lost the third thanks to a couple of lucky nicks. Early in the fourth game saw an inevitable heavy collision at the front of the court, with Tom looking to be the worst off. Despite this he managed to hold on until the end of the fourth. De Mulder won 3-1 6/11 11/1 11/9 11/4 (50 mins).
The first match of the evening session was between Matias Tuomi (Fin) and Phil Nightingale (Eng). The first game saw the referee repeatedly call Tuomi “Tuominen”, but was pretty nip and tuck all the way through. Matias eventually snuck ahead at the end. The second game saw Phil come on with a clear game plan to play to Matias’ forehand, however Matias was simply sublime in the deep back hand nailing multiple straight drops straight in the nick, taking the second game with relative ease 11/3. The third game saw more of the same although this time Matias was finally being called “Tuomi” by the referee. Tuomi won 3-0 11/9 11/3 11/4.
The next match up pitted ASRC’s Gavin Sutherland (Sco) (aka “Stallion” and Grampian Squash’s Player of the Year) against Ben Grindrod (Nzl). Gavin started the first positively hitting solid length, but in the latter half of the game Ben’s engine was a bit too strong for the “Stallion”. The second game was pretty similar to the first with Gav competing well in the early parts of the game, but just fading slightly in the latter half. Gav started the third with some tight work down the backhand side, and some very fair play from Ben gave Gav the early lead. However a very similar pattern emerged in the third, Ben running away with the third. Grindrod won 3-0 11/5 11/5 11/6.
The penultimate match of the evening was Lyell Fuller (Eng) vs Bernat Jaume (Esp) in what was on paper the closest match of the first qualifying round. There was never more than a point in it until 7-7 when some untidy play by Bernat handed Lyell a few strokes to take the game 11/7. Lyell started hitting the ball much tighter in the second game which again forced some loose shots from Bernat – giving away several strokes in the early stages of the second game. Despite an early lead the tenacious Bernat kept plugging away and managed to claw his way back to 10-10 and then sneak the second game. After that Lyell struggled with Bernat’s attritional style, and Bernat took the next 2 games. Jaume wins 3-1 7/11 12/10 11/6 11/7 (53 mins).
In the last match of the evening Jamie Henderson (Sco) was up against Nathan Lake (Eng). Last year when Nathan played this even he was returned from a period of injury. He return to Court 7 at ASRC certainly showed his potential as he swiftly took the first game 11/7.
The second game was more competitive with Jamie’s length and width improving, but he still struggled to get in front of Nathan, eventually losing the second 11/9. In the third game a couple of errors proved critical as Nathan managed to edge ahead at key moments taking the third game and the match. Lake won 3-0 11/7 11/9 11/8 (37 mins).

Results title (i.e. First Round):

Semi-finals: Joel Hinds (England) beat Alejandro Garbi Caro (Esp) 3-2 11/4 3/11 8/11 11/3 11/9 (68 mins)
Greg Lobban (Scotland) beat Carlos Cornes (Spain) 3-0 11/3 11/4 11/6 (35 mins).

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