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Saturday, April 17, 2021

PSA: All-English semi-finals in SE Leisure Kent Open

Alan Thatcherhttps://squashmad.com
Founder of World Squash Day, Squash Mad and the new Squash 200 Partnership, building clubs of the future. Founder of the Kent Open and co-promoter of the St. James's Place Canary Wharf Classic. Author and Public Speaker.

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Adrian Waller digs out a good length against Chris Ryder. Picture by KIM ROBERTS
Adrian Waller digs out a good length against Chris Ryder. Picture by KIM ROBERTS

PSA World Tour Challenger 10 SE Leisure Kent Open, at The Mote Squash Club, Maidstone, Kent.

Quarter-Finals:

(1) Adrian Waller (Eng) beat Chris Ryder (Eng) 14-16, 11-4, 11-6, 11-8 (76 mins)

(WC) Joel Hinds (Eng) beat (Q) James Earles (Eng) 11-4, 15-13, 13-11 (45 mins)

(3) Joe Lee (Eng) beat Yann Perrin (France) 11-5, 11-4, 3-0 retired (23 mins)

(2) Jonathan Kemp (Eng) beat Declan James (Eng) 11-2, 11-9, 11-7 (22 mins)

By ALAN THATCHER

Top seed Adrian Waller withstood a fierce onslaught from former champion Chris Ryder to reach the semi-finals of the SE Leisure Kent Open.

Waller’s 76-minute victory  ended Ryder’s unbeaten record at The Mote Squash Club as the match developed into a compelling, physical and hugely entertaining quarter-final battle.

Ryder, twice a Kent Open champion at The Mote, winning marathon finals against Aaron Frankcomb and Max Lee, was clearly up for the fight against an opponent nine years his junior.

The opening game lasted 25 minutes and Ryder forced his way back from 6-2 down to take the lead at 10-9. Waller hit back to hold the upper hand and Ryder saved two game balls before clinching the tiebreak 16-14.

The effort clearly took its toll as Ryder succumbed 11-4 in a 10-minute second game. Ryder suffered a hand injury at the start of the third game but returned to the court after a three-minute injury break.

Waller managed to stay in front throughout to win it 11-6 and the fourth followed a similar pattern with rallies that demanded an enormous physical investment from both players.

From 8-8 the crowd were willing Ryder to take the match to five, but it was Waller who finished in decisive fashion.

Waller meets Joel Hinds in the last four after the 25-year-old wild card from Birmingham subdued gritty Yorkshire qualifier James Earles.

Joel Hinds (right) battles with James Earles. Picture by KIM ROBERTS
Joel Hinds (right) battles with James Earles. Picture by KIM ROBERTS

The hard-hitting Hinds dominated the opening game but the second and third were full of brutal rallies as Earles retrieved with incredible speed and shared the spoils at the front of the court.

It was hugely entertaining squash for the packed gallery and even though Hinds is always a popular visitor to The Mote, many were willing Earles to extend the match as long as possible.

Seeing two athletes slug it out in this fashion produces the purest form of sporting combat and Hinds was mightily relieved to leave court with a 3-0 win under his belt.

Ironically, after so many punishing rallies, the match-winning shot was a miscued backhand drop shot that spun down off the front wall and died in the front left corner with Earles stranded.

Quick victories for Jonathan Kemp and Joe Lee made it an all-English line-up in the semi-finals.

Stylish No.2 seed Kemp dominated play throughout to overwhelm Declan James in 22 minutes, while Lee was on the way to a similar victory when his opponent Yann Perrin fell heavily and retired with a hamstring injury.

Watching national coach Chris Robertson will have been pleased to see four English players win through, with two pulsating semi-finals in prospect.

The Kent Open is sponsored by SE Leisure, Craft Insure, Shepherd Neame, The Mote Squash Club and Harrow Sports.

Semi-finals:

4pm: Kemp v Lee.

5pm: Waller v Hinds.

Yann Perrin lies injured against Joe Lee. Picture by KIM ROBERTS
Yann Perrin lies injured against Joe Lee. Picture by KIM ROBERTS

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