French champion feels at home
By SEAN REUTHE
Title holder Gregoire Marche sealed his place in the quarter-final of the Open International de Squash de Nantes on home soil after the Frenchman came out on top of a one-sided affair against England’s Richie Fallows at the Cité Internationale des Congrès.
The 26-year-old Marche, who is ranked 39 places above Fallows in the World Rankings, started quickly and controlled proceedings throughout the 33-minute clash, with his impressive retrieval ability and deft touch at the front of the court in full flow as he powered to an 11-5, 11-2, 11-4 triumph.
“I love this tournament. I won it last year, so obviously I like the place,” said Marche. “It’s nice, it’s at home, so the crowd is amazing. They know squash, they know how to play, so it’s good to feel it.
“I was expecting a closer match, but I think I played well from the beginning. I was pretty intense with my hitting at the beginning of each game and I was really happy with the way I hit the ball tonight. I was surprised because I went 6-2, 7-2 up in each game, so I think it made the match easier.”
Marche is set to face experienced Finnish campaigner Olli Tuominen in the next round after the 37-year-old managed a superb come-from-behind victory over Germany’s Jens Schoor.
Tuominen looked to be heading towards an early exit from the tournament after a lacklustre start to the match saw him go 2-0 down against a dominant Schoor.
But the former World No.13 used his vast 18 years of experience to good use as he finally found his rhythm, taking the next three games without reply to seal a 7-11, 2-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-6 triumph.
“It was a very tough fight, a very close game,” said Tuominen.
“I just tried to get myself together and get my game going. I was making a lot of mistakes and not getting the ball to the back, just basic mistakes of the game. Luckily, I got a bit better in the third, but it was still a struggle to the end.
“I had to focus a lot and, of course, being 2-0 down there is a lot of tension because you’re under pressure.”
Welsh qualifier Joel Makin came up with the day’s biggest upset as he bridged a 33-place World Rankings gap to defeat United States No.1 Todd Harrity.
Makin, 21, advanced through qualifying without dropping a game and he continued his fine form into his match with Harrity, beating the World No.49 in straight games to reach the quarter-final.
“I haven’t seen too much of him [Harrity] before,” Makin said.
“I knew how I wanted to play, I wanted to make it very tough and tried to keep the error count down. At the start, he was on top quite a lot, getting in front of me and volleying. I started to take it in a bit more and I was happy with how I played in the end.”
Top seed Daryl Selby was also in action on day one, eliminating fellow Englishman Jaymie Haycocks to set up a last eight meeting with Makin. Selby was pleased with his performance, especially one flying overhead volley into the nick.
Qualifying for the inaugural Women’s tournament also came to an end, with Marina de Juan Gallach, Charlotte Delsinne, Cindy Merlo and Julianne Courtice all progressing to the main draw.
De Juan Gallach will take on Laura Pomportes in round one, while Delsinne is pitted against England’s Rachael Chadwick. Merlo and Courtice, meanwhile, are set to lock horns with Tessa ter Sluis and Enora Villard, respectively.
2016 Open International de Squash de Nantes.
Men’s First Round Results (Top Half):
 Daryl Selby (ENG) bt [Q] Jaymie Haycocks (ENG) 3-0: 12-10, 11-4, 11-5 (38m)
[Q] Joel Makin (WAL) bt  Todd Harrity (USA) 3-0: 12-10, 11-8, 11-5 (48m)
 Olli Tuominen (FIN) bt Jens Schoor (GER) 3-2: 7-11, 2-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-6 (60m)
 Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt [Q] Richie Fallows (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-2, 11-4 (33m)
Men’s First Round Draw (Bottom Half):
 Tom Richards (ENG) v Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND)
Ben Coleman (ENG) v  Karim Ali Fathi (EGY)
 Declan James (ENG) v [Q] Christophe Andre (FRA)
[WC] Geoffrey Demont (FRA) v  Chris Simpson (ENG)
Women’s Final Qualifying Round Results:
 Marina de Juan Gallach (ESP) bt  Paulina Krzywicka (POL) 3-0: 11-1, 11-5, 11-6 (18m)
 Cindy Merlo (SUI) bt  Marion Romba (FRA) 3-0: 11-1, 11-3, 11-0 (15m)
 Julianne Courtice (ENG) bt  Emma Custance Baker (ENG) 3-0: 11-3, 11-0, 11-1 (14m)
 Charlotte Delsinne (FRA) bt [L] Laura Paquemar (FRA) 3-1: 11-9, 8-11, 11-8, 12-10 (40m)
Women’s First Round Draw:
 Chloe Mesic (FRA) v Nia Davies (WAL)
[Q] Marina de Juan Gallach (ESP) v  Laura Pomportes (FRA)
 Tessa ter Sluis (NED) v [Q] Cindy Merlo (FRA)
[WC] Sarah Mekhalfi (FRA) v  Hana Ramadan (EGY)
 Enora Villard (FRA) v [Q] Julianne Courtice (FRA)
Marta Latorre Ramirez (ESP) v  Nadia Pfister (SUI)
 Rachael Chadwick (ENG) v [Q] Charlotte Delsinne (FRA)
Elise Romba (FRA) v  Alexandra Fuller (RSA)
Pictures by Jérôme Folliot courtesy of PSA