Danny Lee lifts St George’s Hill prize fund to $100k
By Alan Thatcher, Squash Mad Editor
World number one Mohamed Elshorbagy leads a star-studded field competing in the $100K Channel VAS Championship which will take place on the all-glass court at the prestigious St George’s Hill Club in Weybridge, Surrey, from December 6-12.
With an increase in prize money on the previous event, the Channel VAS Championship will become the second biggest squash event to be held in Europe this year.
The tournament will feature 16 of the world’s top male squash players including World number 1 El Shorbagy, number 4 Omar Mosaad , Marwan El Shorbagy, the world number 7, and Tarek Momen (ranked 9). These players make up four of the top six Egyptians who are currently the dominant nation in international squash.
Top British hope in the draw is former World number one James Willstrop, who has climbed back to number 11 after a career-threatening injury required a hip operation following the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, where he was runner-up to England team-mate Nick Matthew.
Willstrop will be joined by last year’s champion, Chris Simpson, a regular training partner in Harrogate and currently ranked 20 in the world. Simpson is one of several top-class squash players to have emerged from the island of Guernsey.
He is joined by another former British champion, Daryl Selby, currently ranked 19 in the world, who is in the form of his life, reaching the last 16 of the world championships having just won in Macau.
The event will also display an impressive array of international talent including the reigning Canary Wharf champion, Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet (WR12), the spectacular retriever Miguel Angel Rodriquez from Colombia (WR 8), Borja Golan (WR15) the highest-ranked player to emerge from Spain, and Hong Kong Open semi-finalist Max Lee (WR17). The Wild Card is Joe Lee (no relation), who is working hard to improve his current world ranking of 47.
Joe, who has played at the host club since he was a small boy, completes the line-up of 12 players who automatically enter the main draw.
These 12 will be joined by four qualifiers from the qualifying tournament which takes place on December 6-7.
The qualifying tournament is also impressively strong, with several big names including Indian number 1 Saurav Ghosal, top South African Steve Coppinger, Frenchman Gregoire Marche, New Zealand number 1 Paul Coll, and stunning acrobat inside the four walls of a squash court, and Swiss number 1 Nicolas Mueller.
Local interest, apart from wild card Lee, will centre around Tom Richards, the England international who has been ranked as high as number 12 in the world. Tom has also played at St George’s Hill since he was two years old.
England junior number one Charlie Lee 18, brother of Joe Lee and also a lifelong club member, will also be competing in qualifying alongside 19-year-old Matthew Broadberry, another impressive local who is currently studying at Nottingham University.
Tickets priced from £10-£45 are available from Ticketmaster http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/ChannelVASSquash
The St George’s Hill Club is a prestigious members club set in beautiful grounds on the world famous St George’s Hill estate. The club has some of the finest grass tennis courts in England and is one of only two clubs in the UK with an all-glass show court.
The court has a capacity of 230 which is small for a $100K PSA World Tour event but it’s sure to be full to the rafters with fans who will provide an electric atmosphere for the players.
Bassim Haidar, the chairman of Channel VAS, is an enthusiastic player at St George’s Hill and it was his dream to bring the world’s to players to the club.
The event was conceived by promoter and club professional Danny Lee, a former world top 30 player who ran a smaller tour event with Channel VAS’s support last season.
Mr Haidar was keen for the tournament to grow and, along with raising the profile of his company, he has decided to donate all proceeds from ticket sales to CLIC Sargent, a charity which helps support children with cancer and their families.
Mr Haidar’s daughter Talia has suffered from leukaemia for several years and has been helped by CLIC Sargent. She presented last year’s winner trophy to Guernsey’s Chris Simpson.
The tournament will be televised worldwide by Squash TV, which broadcasts in more than 80 countries. In Europe, live coverage will be provided on Eurosport player.
For further details of the tournament please contact Danny Lee on [email protected]
The tournament is a major event on the PSA World Tour calendar.
The event has a Facebook page http://m.me/ChannelVASSquash
Twitter: @StGgeSquash and @DannyLeeSquash
Pictures courtesy of Patrick Lauson (www.patricklausonphotography.co.uk), Steve Line (www.squashpics.com) and PSA