Saturday, February 24, 2024

Patrick Rooney wins Vitesse Stortford Classic

Vitesse Stortford champion Patrick Rooney (right) and runner-up Charlie Lee (left)

Quality squash on show in all-English final

Patrick Rooney overcame Charlie Lee to add his name to the list of champions at the Vitesse Stortford Classic.

Last week saw the third year of the event at Bishop’s Stortford Squash and Racketball Club. In an entry that provided a mixture of youth and experience, along with a smattering of local players, the tournament got under way on Monday with eight club members taking on the professionals in the qualifying rounds.

It was a great experience for all those who took part and who did themselves justice – Jake Byrne, Fred Cooke, Will Johnson, Aaron Allpress, Oli Latham, John MacFarlane, Vince Lawrence and Steff Burkwood – although it provided a relatively easy passage for their opponents to the next day’s qualifying finals.

These saw a couple of upsets, with top qualifying seed Brad Masters losing out to Brazilian Vini Rodrigues, and Cambridgeshire’s Rob Dadds emerging victorious from a close 3-2 with Portugal’s Claudio Pinto. The rest of the matches went according to the seeding, with Yuri Farnetti (Italy) and Michael Harris (England) progressing to the main draw.

A large home crowd turned up on the Wednesday to support Club Pro Nick Mulvey (WR 174) as he took on sixth seed Brian Byrne of Ireland. Nick used the home advantage to his favour and played an epic, flowing match to run out a 3-2 winner, taking him through the following night’s quarter-finals.

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In the other first round matches we saw a couple of other upsets, notably Rory Stewart (Scotland) taking out seventh seed Ben Coates (England) and qualifier Harris beating number eight seed Enzo Corigliano (France) 3-1.

Thursday and the quarters were upon us, and Mulvey faced a tough match against number 4 seed and rising star Charlie Lee. Nick started off like a steam train, taking the first game 11-5. However, Charlie found his rhythm and as the exertions of the previous night started to kick in, Nick struggled to get back into the game, leaving Charlie to run out a 3-1 winner.

In the other quarters, number 2 seed Rooney defeated 5 seed Shahjahan Khan 3-1, while top seed Asham Ayaz (Pak) ended Harris’s run with a straight-games victory. In the final quarter, Stewart continued his good form, taking out 3 seed Jamie Haycocks (Eng) in straight games, to set up a semi-final against Rooney.

Semi-final night on Friday saw Ayaz take on Lee and Stewart face Rooney. By a quirk of fate, all of these players are sponsored by the same racket brand, Unsquashable, to the obvious joy of the sponsor! Both matches, on paper, could have gone either way. However, the two young English players started strongly and never looked back, both running out 3-0 winners to set up an intriguing final for Saturday afternoon.

Again, a match, on paper, that could have gone either way, with the two young English players only separated by a few places in the PSA rankings. Rooney started the stronger of the two, building a commanding lead in each of the games. Lee fought back in all of them to make the score closer, but Rooney’s pressurising game and the ability to make fewer mistakes saw him emerge victorious in straight games to take the title.

The final was a credit to the two players, with little interaction with the marker and some top quality squash on display. It provided a real example to the juniors (and adults) watching of how squash should be played, along with some great athleticism and shot making.

Rooney joins previous event winners Charles Sharpes (England) and Greg Lobban (Scotland), and we wish him, along with Charlie Lee, every success for the future as their careers progress. Great to have the next generation of England squash players at the club last week. 

Vitesse Stortford Classic, Bishop’s Stortford, England.

[2] Patrick Rooney (ENG) bt [4] Charlie Lee (ENG) 11-7, 11-6, 11-8

[4] Charlie Lee (ENG) bt [1] Ahsan Ayaz (PAK) 11-4, 11-6, 11-7 (37m)
[2] Patrick Rooney (ENG) bt Rory Stewart (SCO) 11-4, 11-7, 11-8 (35m)

[1] Ahsan Ayaz (PAK) bt [Q] Michael Harris (ENG) 11-7, 11-8, 11-8 (40m)
[4] Charlie Lee (ENG) bt [WC] Nick Mulvey (ENG) 5-11, 11-4, 11-6, 11-7 (42m)
Rory Stewart (SCO) bt [3] Jaymie Haycocks (ENG) 11-5, 11-8, 11-6 (42m)
[2] Patrick Rooney (ENG) bt [5] Shahjahan Khan (PAK) 11-3, 5-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-6 (62m)

First round:
[1] Ahsan Ayaz (PAK) bt Miles Jenkins (ENG) 13-11, 13-11, 11-8 (48m)
[Q] Michael Harris (ENG) bt [8] Enzo Corigliano (FRA) 11-4, 16-14, 9-11, 11-8 (51m)
[WC] Nick Mulvey (ENG) bt [6] Brian Byrne (IRL) 11-6, 9-11, 12-14, 11-6, 11-8 (70m)
[4] Charlie Lee (ENG) bt [Q] Yuri Farneti (ITA) 11-6, 11-5, 11-4 (35m)
[3] Jaymie Haycocks (ENG) bt [Q] Robert Dadds (ENG) 11-3, 11-6, 11-6 (20m)
Rory Stewart (SCO) bt [7] Ben Coates (ENG) 11-3, 11-8, 11-8 (29m)
[5] Shahjahan Khan (PAK) bt [Q] Vini Rodrigues (BRA) 7-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-9 (47m)
[2] Patrick Rooney (ENG) bt Robert Downer (ENG) 11-4, 16-14, 11-2 (35m)

Qualifying finals:
Vini Rodrigues (BRA) bt Bradley Masters (ENG) 5-11, 11-9, 11-2, 11-7 (54m)
Michael Harris (ENG) bt Chris Leiper (SCO) 11-5, 11-6, 11-7 (31m)
Robert Dadds (ENG) bt Claudio Pinto (POR) 7-11, 12-10, 11-7, 16-18, 11-8 (75m)
Yuri Farneti (ITA) bt Taminder Gata-Aura (ENG) 13-11, 11-5, 11-8 (36m)

First qualifying round:
Bradley Masters (ENG) bt Stefan Burkwood (ENG) 11-5, 11-4, 11-6 (19m)
Vini Rodrigues (BRA) bt John Macfarlane (ENG) 11-7, 11-2, 11-4 (15m)
Chris Leiper (SCO) bt Aaron Allpress (ENG) 11-2, 11-3, 11-4 (27m)
Michael Harris (ENG) bt Jake Byrne (ENG) 11-8, 12-10, 11-2 (22m)
Claudio Pinto (POR) bt Vince Lawrence (ENG) 11-7, 11-4, 11-6 (21m)
Robert Dadds (ENG) bt Will Johnson (ENG) 11-4, 11-6, 11-6 (23m)
Taminder Gata-Aura (ENG) bt Oliver Latham (ENG) 13-11, 11-5, 7-11, 11-1 (25m)
Yuri Farneti (ITA) bt Fred Cooke (ENG) 11-1, 11-4, 11-5 (22m) 

Pictures from Bishop’s Stortford Squash Club 


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