Charlie Johnson leads Bay boys into battle with the top PSA pros
By BLAKE RHODES, Squash Mad Correspondent in San Francisco
The 16-player qualifying field for this week’s NetSuite Open will have a local flavor with Gabriel Morgan, Charlie Johnson and Gareth Webber all representing the San Francisco Bay Area, Event Engine, Inc. and the Professional Squash Association announced jointly.
The two-round competition, that takes place Wednesday and Thursday at the Bay, Olympic and University Clubs, will produce the four qualifiers who will advance to the first round of the PSA International 70 NetSuite Open on Friday.
“Squash is continuing to grow in the Bay Area and we’re excited to have local squash luminaries such as Gabriel (Morgan), Charlie (Johnson) and Gareth (Webber) compete in the NetSuite Open,” said John Nimick, a U.S. Squash Hall of Famer and President of Event Engine, Inc., the tournament producer.
Morgan, a 16-year-old Menlo Park native, is the third-ranked U17 player in the U.S. and is currently ranked 343rd on the PSA World Tour. At the age of 14, the Menlo School product became the first junior player from California to become a national champion in his age group.
Morgan fell to Gareth Webber in the pre-qualifying round of the NetSuite Open in 2013. He will face Australia’s Steven Finitis (right) at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday at the Olympic Club. Finitsis was a member of Australia’s Commonwealth Games squash team in Scotland.
He enjoyed a successful end to last season in the UK, finishing runner-up in the Select Gaming Kent Open and winning the Loch Ness Classic in Inverness.
Johnson, who hails from England and is the pro at the Bay Club San Francisco, is ranked 251st on the PSA Tour. He defeated his pupil Morgan to claim the PSA Closed Satellite event of the Tatleaux de Pera Solar Group challenger series at his home club on August 25. Johnson will play Finland’s Henrik Mustonen at 7:15 p.m. on Wednesday on his home court.
Webber, the director of squash at the Los Gatos Squash Club, squares off with Matthew Karwalski of Australia at 5:45 p.m. on Tuesday at the Bay Club. The former Wales national team member has coached Morgan and England’s Chris Simpson, who is the 10th seed in this week’s tournament.
NetSuite Open, Wednesday’s qualifying matches:
· 5:00 pm.: No. 5 Cesar Salazar (Mexico) vs. Italo Bonatti (Guatemala)
· 5:45 p.m.: No. 8 Matthew Karwalski (Australia) vs. Gareth Webber (Wales)
· 6:30 p.m.: No. 1 Olli Tuominen (Finland) vs. Faisal Riaz (Pakistan)
· 7:15 p.m.: No. 3 Henrik Mustonen (Finland) vs. Charlie Johnson (England)
· 4:00 p.m.: No. 4 Campbell Grayson (New Zealand) vs. Shahier Razik (Canada)
· 5:00 p.m.: No. 6. Steven Finitis (Australia) vs. Gabriel Morgan (U.S.A)
· 5:00 p.m.: No.2 Alan Clyne (Scotland) vs. Muhd Asyraf Azan (Malaysia)
· 6:00 p.m.: No. 7 Chris Gordon (U.S.A.) vs. Cody Cortes (U.S.A.)
The winners will play on Thursday at the Bay Club and University for the right to qualify to the first round of the NetSuite Open that take place on Friday.
Pictures from Squash Mad archives