Teenage student James Evans achieved a phenomenal victory over full-time professional Robbie Downer in the qualifying competition of the SE Leisure Kent Open.
Playing on his home courts at The Mote Squash Club in Maidstone, 17-year-old Evans stuck to an intelligent game-plan to overcome one of the hardest hitters in the sport, winning 11-7, 11-4, 11-9 in 33 minutes.
Two years ago Downer came close to beating the-then world record of 172mph for striking a squash ball, falling just short at 171mph in a radar gun challenge at The Mote, but Evans was undaunted as he soaked up the pressure.
The Invicta Grammar School student played tight, controlled squash to deny Downer the opportunity to unleash his power game and produced plenty of superb winners at the end of some demanding rallies.
A packed gallery at The Mote roared their encouragement as Evans took the attack to his opponent.
Mixing excellent length shots to the back to the court with tight drops at the front, Evans repeated his win at the same stage of the tournament when he beat another full-time pro in this PSA World Tour event.
He said: “It was such an enjoyable match to play in. That certainly some of the best squash I have ever played and without doubt my best victory. I wasn’t expected to win, so I was able to relax and play my own game.
“It felt like all the pressure was on Robbie and it helped when he made a few mistakes. As number four seed in qualifying, he was probably expecting an easy win. But he obviously got frustrated when I kept getting the ball back.
“It was great to play in front of a packed gallery at my home club, and it was especially nice to have two of my PE teachers from Invicta in the crowd.”
Evans faces Jonathan Geekie in the qualifying finals on Wednesday this evening after the Portsmouth-based Scotsman, a training partner of Downer’s, overcame The Mote’s title sponsor Jonny Powell.
Further Kent interest in the tournament lies with Ben Ford, whose passage to the qualifying finals was assisted by Nottingham’s Chris Fuller withdrawing because of a back injury.
James Earles and Reuben Phillips were both involved in long matches, with Earles beating Dutchman Sebastiaan Weenink and Phillips halting a huge fightback from Ollie Holland before winning in 72 minutes.