Thursday, April 18, 2024

London boys battle for Canary Wharf slot

Sharpes shakes off Aussie challenge – now he has to get past training buddy Waller
By ALAN THATCHER at Wimbledon Rackets and Fitness Club

Marathon finish: Sharpes (left) shakes hands with Finitsis
Marathon finish: Sharpes (left) shakes hands with Finitsis

Charles Sharpes recorded a marathon victory over Australian Steve Finitsis to reach the qualifying finals in the Canary Wharf Classic.

Playing at his home club, Sharpes delighted his supporters at the Wimbledon Rackets and Fitness Club winning 11-13, 11-9, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7.

The match lasted 92 minutes. Before Sharpes clinched victory, two matches had been completed on the adjacent court and players in the third were warming up.

The opening game lasted 26 minutes before Finitsis closed out 13-11. Sharpes trailed 4-0 at the start of the second game before hitting back to win 11-9.

He powered 9-0 ahead in the third before the Australian made the scoreline look more respectable.

At 2-1 and 6-2 up in the fourth the match looked in the bag for Sharpes, but Finitsis hit a stream of stunning winners from all parts of the court to regain the lead.

He edged it 11-9 and led 5-4 in the fifth. In a physical encounter, a crucial spell developed in the middle of the final game. After a succession of lets, Sharpes hit back from 6-7 down and won five points in a row to clinch victory.cwsharpes

Two were gifts as Finitsis struck the tin with a service return and a drop shot, but Sharpes found the back corners at vital moments to engineer a popular victory which puts him in the final shoot-out against Adrian Waller.

A delighted Sharpes said: “It’s always good to play here in front of your home crowd.

“Adrian and I train together nearly every day so we both know each other’s games inside out, so I’ll have to try and produce some shock tactics for him tomorrow.

“Whatever happens it guarantees a Londoner in the main draw, which is a great thing.

“It was a fairly physical match and at the end, as the referee called the score, I suddenly realised how much I was hurting.

“Steve is an experienced pro and he hits some unbelievable shots at times, so I’m just so pleased to have got through.

“It was very close in the fifth, and he held the lead for quite some time, but I managed to hold it together at the end with a good run of points.

“I’m really looking forward to playing Adrian and I hope we can make it a good match for the Wimbledon crowd.”

Tall left-hander Waller powered his way past Ben Coleman and Joe Lee also won in straight games against Lewis Walters before Sharpes clinched victory next door.

Lee meets Luxford St George’s Hill team-mate Ali Anwar Reda in the qualifying finals after his five-game victory over Joel Hinds, which, astonishingly, included an 11-1 win for Hinds in the fourth game.

Jonathan Kemp cleverly engineered a route to victory past young Egyptian Zahed Mohamed, who was clearly not used to the left-hander’s formidable deployment of the reverse angle (this scribe’s favourite shot!).

Kemp matched Hinds with an 11-1 game score, but for the Shropshire Shabana it was part of a winning scoreline.

Kemp meets Leo Au, from Hong Kong, who beat Jaymie Haycocks 3-1 in a high-quality match lasting almost an hour.
Max Lee made it two players from Hong Kong in the qualifying finals after overpowering Steven London 11-4, 11-4, 11-3 in 25 minutes.

Canary Wharf Classic Qualifying semi-finals, Wimbledon Rackets Club:

Adrian Waller (Eng) bt Ben Coleman (Eng) 11-2, 11-7, 11-2 (35 min)
Charles Sharpes (Eng) bt Steve Finitsis (Aus) 11-13, 11-9, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7 (92 min)
Joe Lee (Eng) bt Lewis Walters (Eng) 11-8, 11-8, 11-4 (40 min)
Ali Anwar Reda (Egypt) bt Joel Hinds (Eng) 12-10, 6-11, 11-6, 1-11, 11-7 (45 min)
Leo Au (HK) bt Jaymie Haycocks (Eng) 11-5, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6 (58 min)
Jonathan Kemp (Eng) bt Zahed Mohamed (Egypt) 8-11, 11-7, 11-1, 11-8 (38 min)
Mohamed Abouelghar (Egy) bt Eddie Charlton (Eng)11-7, 4-11, 11-6, 11-9 (44 min)
Max Lee (HK) bt Steven London (Eng) 11-4, 11-4, 11-3 (25 min)

Qualifying Finals, Sunday:
1pm: Waller v Sharpes
1.45pm: J. Lee v Reda
3.30pm: Kemp v Au
4.15pm: Abouelghar v M. Lee

Picture by Patrick Lauson


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