Thursday, July 25, 2024

Local hero Josh Masters books place in Kent Open quarter-finals

Josh Masters is dragged towards the side wall by Edmon Lopez   Picture by KIM ROBERTS

Lopez loses out in five-game thriller
By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor


Local hero Josh Masters battled through a severely testing first round encounter with Spain’s Edmon Lopez to reach the quarter-finals of the Select Gaming Kent Open, presented by First Business Finance, at The Mote Squash Club in Maidstone.

Number four seed Masters trailed by two games to one after losing a third-game tiebreak, but regained his focus to dominate the fourth.

Lopez started strongly in the fifth and, at 5-3, things looked dangerous for Masters. However, in front of a supportive home crowd, he put together a phenomenal spell of controlled, attacking squash.

Lopez was sent from corner to corner as Masters stepped up the pace and slotted a succession of high-quality winners to win the match in 70 minutes, the longest first round tussle by some margin.

Josh Masters works his opponent around the court

In the quarter-finals Masters meets Danish number one Kristian Frost, who ended the hopes of talented Portuguese qualifier Rui Soares, who had played so well to win his qualifying final the previous evening that many Mote members were backing him to spring a few surprises. However, Frost produced a disciplined display to win in straight games.M

The top three seeds, Joel Makin, Todd Harrity and Richie Fallows, all advanced without dropping a game.

Makin and Fallows achieved quick victories over wild card Daniel Poleshchuk and Ondrej Uherka respectively, while Harrity labored in mid-match against Miles Jenkins.

Harrity led 8-1 in the second game but a lapse of concentration and confidence allowed Jenkins to hit back and hold game ball at 10-9. Jenkins was enjoying an impressive spell but Harrity managed to finish strongly to win it 12-10.

He was ahead all through the third game and clinched it 11-6. He now meets Austrian number one Aqeel Rehman, who saw off England’s Mark Fuller 3-1 in 47 minutes.

Adam Murrills impressively overcame Pakistan’s Asim Khan in straight games and meets Fallows for a place in the semi-finals.

Two English hopes fell by the wayside as qualifier Connor Sheen made too many mistakes against Jan Van Den Herrewegen, blowing an 8-1 lead in the first game, while Mark Fuller lost a sporting and entertaining encounter against Austria’s Aqeel Rehman.

Select Gaming Kent Open, presented by First Business Finance. The Mote Squash Club, Maidstone, Kent, England.

(Thursday June 15):
(1) Joel Makin (Wal) v (WC) Daniel Poleshchuk (Isr) 3-0: 11-4, 11-2, 11-4 (22m)

(6) Jan Van Den Herrewegen (Bel) v (Q) Connor Sheen (Eng) 3-0: 11-8, 11-3, 13-11 (36m)
(5) Adam Murrills (Eng) beat Asim Khan (Pak) 3-0: 11-4, 11-3, 11-7 (31m)
(3) Richie Fallows (Eng) beat (Q) Ondrej Uherka (Cze) 3-0: 11-3, 11-6, 11-7 (25m)
(4) Joshua Masters (Eng) beat Edmon Lopez (Spain) 3-2: 11-7, 4-11, 10-12, 11-3, 11-6 (70m)
(8) Kristian Frost (Den) beat (Q) Rui Soares (Por) 3-0: 11-7, 11-9, 11-6 (50m)
(7) Aqeel Rehman (Aust) beat Mark Fuller (Eng) 3-1: 11-5, 4-11, 11-7, 11-9 (47m)
(2) Todd Harrity (USA) beat (Q) Miles Jenkins (Eng) 3-0: 11-4, 12-10, 11-6 (40m)
(Friday June 16)
(1) Joel Makin (Wal) v (6) Jan van den Herrewegen (Bel)
(3) Richie Fallows (Eng) v (5) Adam Murrills (Eng)
(4) Joshua Masters (Eng) v (8) Kristian Frost (Eng)
(2) Todd Harrity (USA) v (7) Aqeel Rehman (Aut)

Player Interviews by Annabel Williamson

Adam Murrills
What worked well for you today?
I feel, in general, I played really well today. My game was working just how I like it to. My opponent is very strong and skilful, so I knew I needed to keep him contained, to make sure he didn’t let any of his good killers loose.

My legs felt good today, so I was able to move really well around the court, getting to a lot of my opponent’s shots. It was a good match for both of us, and it was made better as I didn’t really give away that many cheap points, except for a couple in the third game.

How do you feel you worked after going 2-0 up?
I tried to keep concentration, as I know this is crucial to have a good match. However, after going 8-4 up, I gave away a few cheap points, that I shouldn’t have done, which meant that I was now only 8-7 up. However, I regained concentration, and didn’t drop another point, to win the match 3-0.

Are you looking forward to the rest of the tournament?
Yes. I really like this club, and I look forward to playing on the show court tomorrow for the next round. All the players seem quite nice, and I hope to go far in this tournament.

Richie Fallows
What worked well for you today?
Today I was fortunate to feel really sharp, so I was able to attack the ball really well, meaning I was ending the rallies. As well as this, I felt I had good movement around the court, enabling me to reach some of his good shots. I was also able to kill the ball more than him, which worked to my advantage, and worked well for this match.

What was your game plan?
I know that my opponent is confident on playing long rallies, continuously throwing up the ball for a very long time, without making mistakes. Therefore, my plan today was to shorten his rallies, making him feel uncomfortable with the shorter rallies, and using his shorts to play winners from.

Are you looking forward to the rest of the tournament?
Yes- everyone here seems so nice, the club and the courts, which means it is nicer to play. Last year I lost in the semis, therefore this year, I plan to go one step further then hopefully win.

Kristian Frost
What went well for you today?
Before the match, I felt slightly nervous and apprehensive for the match to come, however this released about half way through the second game, which meant I felt more free. I am happy with the result, and I think a 3-0 victory will give me confidence for the rest of my matches, which will be really good. I felt like I was moving well around the court, picking up my opponents shots.

Where there any challenging factors for you today?
I found the court, especially due to playing on court 2, quite stuffy, and there wasn’t a lot of air circulation. This made it hard, as it was really hot, therefore I was feeling a bit uncomfortable while in the match.

Are you looking forward to playing for the rest of the week?
I have played here twice before, and I am glad I am returning again. I like this club, and I hope to go really far in this competition. If I do, I think it will give me a confidence boost for next season.

Jan van den Herrewegen
What went well for you tonight?
I made sure that I kept my head, after the mishap in the first game. I didn’t panic, I just waited for his good spurt to pass, as I knew he probably couldn’t keep up his amazing play for the whole match. I felt I was moving around the court well, and when I got to the ball, on the whole, I was hitting it really well.

What happened in the first game?
Unfortunately in the first game, I went 8-1 down. I feel like I lost concentration slightly, however I believe that Connor was having a really good start to the match. I got my head together, and he started making more mistakes, and then I managed to pull it back, and win the game. I made sure for the rest of the match that I didn’t lose concentration, as I didn’t want the added pressure of having to make a come back!

How do you feel about the courts?
I really like this club, here at The Mote. It is my first time at this tournament, and I hope to return next year, if possible. I like the court I played on tonight, however it was slightly difficult, because it was really hard to get a good length, due to it being so hot. I look forward to the rest of the week, with hopefully many more good matches to come.

What worked well today?
I was quite fortunate in that my opponent did a lot of the work for me today. He didn’t seem too interested in having long rallies, and he made a number of mistakes, which was to my advantage

How do you feel for the rest of the tournament?
Last year I played in this tournament, and I lost in the final, at the last hurdle. Therefore, this year, I hope to get there again, but hopefully be victorious this time.


Pictures by KIM ROBERTS


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