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PSA Kent Open: Chris Ryder wins marathon final

Chris Ryder and runner-up Max Lee with their Kent Open trophies. Picture by Kim Roberts

30 May 2011

2011 PSA Challenger 10 Kent Open, Maidstone, England

[1] Chris Ryder (ENG) bt [2] Max Lee (HKG) 11-9, 16-18, 11-9, 8-11, 11-4 (121m)

In the longest recorded match of his career, England’s top seed Chris Ryder overcame Hong Kong’s Max Lee in a marathon final to win the Kent Open title at The Mote Squash Club in Maidstone.

The world No.38 from Leamington Spa won the PSA World Tour Challenger 10 event trophy 11-9, 16-18, 11-9, 8-11, 11-4 in a brutal battle lasting 121 minutes.

The second game alone lasted 34 minutes before Lee clinched it 18-16 to level the match at one game all after almost an hour’s play.

Ryder was ahead all the way through the opening game and held game ball at 10-8 in the second before Lee launched a phenomenal comeback. The 30-year-old held six game balls but Lee, 23, responded positively each time to delight the packed gallery at The Mote Squash Club as he clinched the tiebreak.

Second seed Lee led 4-2 in the third game and the crowd sensed a surprise was on the cards. But Ryder’s solid technique and fitness helped him to draw level at 6-6 and he finished strongly to close out the game 11-9.

The fourth game followed a similar pattern, but in reverse. Ryder led 4-2 and then 8-7, when Lee left the court for treatment on a cut knee.

When he returned after a nine-minute break he won four points in a row to win the game.

Lee was unsettled by a “No Let” call early in the fifth game when he felt he should have been awarded a stroke. His concentration lapsed and Ryder raced through the game to reach match ball at 10-2. Lee responded with two points but then tinned a tired-looking drive to give Ryder the title.

This was Ryder’s second title at the club, having won the inaugural Mote Classic two years ago before the tournament was upgraded to a PSA World Tour event.

“The match lasted more than two hours and at times it was brutal,” explained Ryder after collecting the sixth Tour title of his career, but his first for a year. “Physically I felt good all the way through although my left leg was hurting at times. When Max had to go off to treat his knee that seemed to help it calm down, so I’m pleased about that.

“I love playing here at The Mote and still haven’t lost here yet. The courts play well and the players all appreciate the way they are looked after here.

“It’s great to hear that the tournament may be growing next year. I look forward to coming back, as I am sure all the players do.”

Leo Au, the Hong Kong qualifier who powered his way through the draw to reach the semi-finals, was awarded the Wonga Mzimba Sportsmanship Shield in memory of the popular Mote Squash Club member who died on court during Club Night three weeks ago.

The two semi-finals were contested between English and Hong Kong players, with Ryder ending Au’s phenomenal run and Lee beating former British Under-23 champion Joel Hinds, from Birmingham.

There was home success in the UK Racketball Series event hosted by The Mote on Saturday, with Kent squash champion Ted Jeal, from Bromley, winning the final.

Several of the PSA professionals who had been knocked out of the main competition stayed on to enter the racketball tournament.

Finland’s No.4 seed Henrik Mustonen, who suffered a shock defeat to Au in the first round, picked up a racketball racket for the first time and reached the final after beating the top seed, Tom Phipps, from Oxford.

During the week Mustonen was one of a group of players who tried to beat the world speed record in squash, 172mph held by John White of Scotland.

With the radar gun set up on the glass-backed showcourt at The Mote, Mustonen struck  166mph and Sussex qualifier Robbie Downer came desperately close to the record  – and shattering the glass – when he hammered the ball at 171mph.

A new world record for racketball was set with a speed of 138mph set by Ant Garratt.


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