Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Mighty Mo motors to second Toronto title

Elshorbagy shakes Shabana in Cambridge Cup showdown
By CHRIS HOLLOW – Squash Mad Toronto Correspondent

cammoamMohamed Elshorbagy overcame Amr Shabana in straight games to win his second Cambridge Cup title in Toronto last night.

The draw complete, the fans in the building, the time that we were all waiting for was here: Finals Night!

After being treated to an entertaining 7/8 match won by Peter Barker over Cam Pilley, the battle for the title of Cambridge Cup champion was set to unfold.

The usual suspects could be found in their regular seats along the glass; long-time tournament supporters Joe Mercurio, Vance Cooper and Mike Campobassis.

They were here to see a rematch of last year’s electric final between the old and new guards of Egyptian squash as Amr Shabana and Mohammed Elshorbagy were to battle out for the right to hoist the Cambridge Cup (again).

The match started with a bang. Shabana slotted a cross-court winner from the back left corner that never went above knee height to go up 1-0. And that would be about as good as it got for him on this evening. It was all downhill from there, as they say.

Obviously a bit beat-up from his long five-gamer against Laurens Jan Anjema, he came out a step slower than his young counterpart.

He fell behind quickly to 7-2, where Elhorbagy would give a sign of things to come with a beautifully constructed rally that would eventually flat-foot Shabana on the tee as the defending champion feathered in a backhand straight drop from just in front of the tee. The game would end 11-4 Shorbagy in just eight minutes.

Elshorbagy jumped out to 3-0 in game two on an air-tight straight forehand length that Shabana couldn’t claw off the glass-back in the deep blue ocean that is the Cambridge Club back-right corner of the glass court.

Elshorbagy raced out to a 7-3 lead at which point Shabana looked skyward and mumbled “Thanks LJ”, crediting yesterday’s opponent for his heavy legs. Game two to Shorbagy 11-3.

Shabana would do his best to stay in the fourth. At 2-1 up, it was the first lead he’d had since 1-0 in game one. Seemingly answering the call of the Cambridge faithful urging him on, he’d keep it close all the way up.

“I’m doing my best,” he replied. He earned a game ball at 10-9 but a determined Elshorbagy refused to let up on the elder statesman. 10-10 went to 11-10 and, despite a valiant effort by Shabana on match ball, Mohammed Elshorbagy finished him off 12-10 to win in straight sets. In joining Ramy Ashour as the only two-times Cambridge Cup champion, he would deny Shabana entry to the same club.

In closing, Shabana promised to train even harder and keep the heat on the youngster 11 years his junior.

Thanks to all our sponsors, Merrill Lynch Bank of America, Cooper Mediation, Bar Mercurio, City Stone and Polar Securities for their continued support of this great event. See you in 2015!

By MURRAY JANS at Georgetown Racquet Club

For a 3rd year in a row, the Georgetown Racquet Club, was pleased to hosta match in the Cambridge Cup tournament. This year it was the third-fourth place play-off match and the competitors were Borja Golan (3rd seed and #6 in world) vs Laurens Jan Anjema (LJ) (7th seed and # 16 in world).

LJ had a significant upset win in the first round, defeating the number one seed Greg Gauthier (world #1). Borja defeated the #6 seed Simon Rosner. The players have met several times in the past, with Borja securing the edge in their series. An enthusiastic crowd came out to watch some stellar squash.

True to form, Borja played the match with surgical precision. With utmost patience, he executed precise drops that refused to rise more than centimeters above the floor and responded to LJ’s hard-driving shots with soft hands and incredible gets.

Borja has a reputation for holding both his forehand and backhand shots, making him one of the most deceptive players on the tour. Even under pressure from LJ, Borja was able to execute volleys with immaculate precision keeping the pressure on LJ. Though close, Borja squeaked the first game.

LJ came out swinging in the second. His amazing, lightning-quick reflexes allowed him to play with flair and bravado on most of his shots. His quick, flat drive gave Borja little time to retrieve the shot. Though the game was even closer in score, Borja was able to fight back and take the second game.

Somehow LJ found new energy for the third game. He kept the error count down, used his reach to take every microsecond off Borja’s shots. His lobs were flawless, keeping Borja in the backcourt and then with amazingly soft hands, found many nicks. LJ took the third game.

With renewed determination Borja was focused and dedicated his concentration to make a shots tighter, deeper and shorter. Famous for his quickness and balance, he was not only able to retrieve shots, he made them almost impossible to return. With new rhythm, holding his shots until the last moment and then snapping his returns, he forced just too many errors from LJ taking the fourth game 11-8, and the match.

These players espoused the values of true competitors, respecting each other’s shot-making abilities, skills and strategies … they did not attempt to gain points from unnecessary let calls. Each one would go out of their way to play the ball when they could have easily called for lets and, in many cases, granted a stroke. Their focus, dedication and sense of humor on the court were appreciated by the whole audience.

Though they had to get back to the wind-up dinner at the Cambridge Club, they kindly fielded many questions from the audience, giving the attendees an idea how intense they train to perform at the highest levels possible.

Many thanks for to Shahier Razik for arranging the Tournament and allowing the GRC to host this 3 /4 match.

By  Jonathon Madruga
Play-off for fifth-sixth place: Simon Rosner beat Gregory Gaultier 3-2
What a match! Gaultier, coming off a Championship in the Windy City, testing out Rosner’s patience early, which was a test that Rosner aced in the end.
The pace was high and the gets unbelievable. Pick-ups from everywhere and Gaultier managed to orchestrate a jumping through legs shot while he was at it followed by a well warranted roar from the crowd in the first.
Rosner took the second and third in phenomenal fashion. Dying length with jumping nicks from the forehand and backhand thrown in for flavour. 
Gaultier battled back taking the fourth in true grinder’s fashion with flashes of the seven days of pro squash setting in.
Rosner closed it out in the fifth 12-10 with Gaultier not trying to give an inch. A roll-out nick off Rosner’s forehand and the match was over by the worthy German victor.
Classy match from the start with ooohs and aaahs from the crowd throughout. Amazing to watch and a great treat once again for the Cambridge Group of Clubs hosting squash royalty.
Pictures by Ian Watson and Cambridge Club


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