Diplomatic Pilley eyes Australian Open title
He’s the new world-wide ambassador for the picturesque Clarence Valley in northern New South Wales, but Yamba’s Cameron Pilley is eying off even more glory at next week’s Australian Open in Canberra.
Twice a runner-up at Australia’s premier squash tournament, Pilley is heading into the Open full of confidence after training the house down during an off-season spent at his European base in the Dutch city of The Hague.
Pilley has been working alongside Dutch number one LJ Anjema and fellow Australian Steve Finitsis and said he was feeling in top shape ahead of the Australian Open.
“I had a great off-season of training and I will have had two weeks in Australia sharpening up before Canberra,” he said.
The 29-year-old had possibly his most disappointing 12 months of his career last season as a combination of bad draws and poor results resulted in a fall of six places on the world rankings to number 20.
“I had a look at my past seasons and you know, I hadn’t really had a bad season in my whole career, so last year was my worst results wise,” he said.
“I drew the short straw with the draw in quite a few tournaments which was very annoying, but there were a couple of other losses that I wasn’t really happy with.”
Pilley will play a qualifier in the first round and then could have to play a trio of Egyptians – Omar Abdel Aziz, third seed Omar Mosaad and top seed Ramy Ashour – if he wants to make a third Australian Open final.
“I don’t mind playing Egyptians, I have a decent record against them,” he pointed out.
“If it goes according to seedings, Omar Mosaad in the quarter-finals will be my big match as he’s third seed and I’m fifth seed.
“But it’s the first tournament of the season for a lot of the guys and some will be ironing the wrinkles out.
“I generally play well in the first tournament, but there are some players who play great practice matches in training but find their first competitive match a different kettle of fish.
“It should be an interesting tournament.”
The Australian Open gets underway on the all-glass court at Canberra’s Royal Theatre on Monday.
Seth springs surprise in qualifying
Queensland’s Sunil Seth stunned New Zealander Chris Lloyd as the first round of qualifying for the HI-TEC Australian Open began in Canberra on Sunday.
Playing the first match of the day, world number 321 Seth outplayed Lloyd, a player ranked 178 places above him, to win in four games 11-9, 11-8, 5-11, 11-7.
Seth spent over a year in England in 2011-12 and has only recently moved back to Australia to play on the Australian Squash Tour.
He said the move back had unsettled him, which had resulted in a series of disappointing results, and he said his win over Lloyd was just the tonic he needed.
Seth was in control for most of the first two games, jumping out to big leads and holding off fight backs from the New Zealander as Lloyd struggle to cope with his pace around the court.
Seth suffered from nerves in the third game as Lloyd lifted, but he recovered to take the fourth relatively comfortably.
“I haven’t won a lot of matches lately, there’s been a lot of change coming back home from England – I’m just trying to get used to it again,” Seth said. “But finally I’ve won a match so I’m just happy that I won.”
He said he became nervous in the third as he thought about the win.
“Because I’ve lost so much this year I got a bit nervous and started doubting myself,” he said.
Seth now takes on Adelaide’s Justin Beard, who crushed Brisbane’s Josh Stack-Masula 11-4, 11-6, 11-6.
The two Scotsmen in action, Greg Lobban and Kevin Moran both enjoyed straight games wins, Lobban over Japan’s Ben Takamizawa-Harris 11-7, 11-7, 11-5 and Moran over dangerous Egyptian Tarek Salah Shehata 11-9, 11-7, 11-6.
Moran played Shehata in the NSW Open in Sydney and said he knew what to expect heading into their match Saturday.
“I’m feeling more relief than anything because I played him in Sydney and I just beat him 3/2 and it was really tough.” Moran said.
“I was just looking to take the experience away from that match and work out a game plan. I managed to do that and I’m happy to get the win — because I played him before I knew exactly what to do against him.”
Moran has a second difficult match on Sunday against Argentina’s Gonzalo Miranda, who impressed in his 11-9, 14-12, 11-5 win over New Zealand’s Joseph Watt.
“It was a tough draw, one of the toughest draws that I could have had,” Moran said about playing Shehata and Miranda.
“It doesn’t get any easier tomorrow. I played Gonzalo in Tasmania and I lost quite a close match three-love. But there’s no pressure on me tomorrow, all the pressure’s on him.”
Evergreen South Australian Mike Corren, who recently joined the Australian Institute of Sport, overcame Korean Song Young Kim 11-4, 11-6, 10-12, 11-6 to set up a qualifying final against Lobban.
Corren was in outstanding touch in the first two games only for Song to storm back and win the third in a tiebreak.
But the 38-year-old used all his experience to dominate the Korean in the fourth and take the match in 36 minutes.
“I’ve had a very, very difficult six weeks injury-wise and it’s good to get through a match relatively pain-free, it’s a good result,” he said.
“Some really positive things have happened to me with the AIS, I couldn’t be happier, I almost feel like a kid in a lolly shop.
“I’m trying new things when I play because I’m still trying to get better as a player and now I have the back-up and resources to make that happen.
“It’s just going to take time but it’s definitely heading in the right direction.”
Former touring professional Aaron Frankcomb showed he’s lost little since leaving the tour when he disposed of West Australian Matthew Bridle 11-1, 11-2, 11-0.
The Tasmanian, who now is head pro at the Willoughby club in Sydney, was in total control as he moved into a clash with local favourite Josh Larkin.
“I don’t really have any pressure on me, I am relaxed,” he said. “Obviously now not being a full time player my expectations aren’t the same as they were.
“The pride is still there, I’m not going to deny that, but at the same time I’m just going out there and enjoying it now, every time I walk on court now I want to enjoy it, rather than be too tense or think ‘I have to win this match’.
“If I play well, at the end of the day it will come. Of course it would be great to qualify for the Australian Open but at the end of the day it’s not the be-all and end all for me. If I go out there and play well, I give myself a chance.”
Other winners included top ranked qualifier Dick Lau from Hong Kong, popular New Zealander Kashif Shuja, recent Tasmanian Open winner Aqeel Rehman of Austria and Australian duo Jamie McErvale and Nathan Stevenson.
Dick Lau (HKG) bt Tom Calvert (AUS) 11-2, 11-2, 11-9 (18 mins)
Paul Coll (NZL) bt Luke Sims (AUS) 11-0, 11-7, 11-7 (24 mins)
Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) bt Lance Beddoes (NZL) 11-6, 11-9, 11-5 (36 mins)
Aqeel Rehman (AUT) bt Josh Southwell-Nobbs (AUS) 11-6, 11-9, 11-8 (35 mins)
Gonzalo Miranda (ARG) bt Joseph Watt (NZL) 11-9, 14-12, 11-5 (40 mins)
Kevin Moran (SCO) bt Tarek Salah Shehata (EGY) 11-9, 11-7, 11-6 (39 mins)
Josh Larkin (AUS) bt James Skiffington (NZL) 11-4, 11-7, 11-5 (22 mins)
Aaron Frankcomb (AUS) bt Matthew Bridle (AUS) 11-1, 11-2, 11-0 (15 mins)
Kashif Shuja (NZL) bt Daniel Wright (AUS) 11-6, 11-2, 11-1 (19 mins)
Nathan Stevenson (AUS) bt Daniel Jones (AUS) 11-1, 11-2, 11-7 (16 mins)
Sunil Seth (AUS) bt Chris Lloyd (NZL) 11-9, 11-8, 5-11, 11-7 (42 mins)
Justin Beard (AUS) bt Josh Stack-Masula (AUS) 11-4, 11-6, 11-6 (14 mins)
Evan Williams (NZL) bt Rhys Dowling (AUS) 11-2, 11-7, 11-4 (21 mins)
Jamie McErvale (AUS) bt Wes Cusick (AUS) 11-8, 11-1 11-5 (26 mins)
Greg Lobban (SCO) bt Ben Takamizawa-Harris (JPN) 11-7, 11-7, 11-5 (21 mins)
Mike Corren (AUS) bt Song Young Kim (KOR) 11-4, 11-6, 10-12, 11-6 (36 mins)
HI-TEC to sponsor the Australian Squash Open
The Australian Open Squash Championships are proud to announce HI-TEC Sports as the major sponsor of the 2012 HI-TEC Australian Open.
The HI-TEC Australian Open in Canberra will showcase world class squash, with over 100 of the best men and women competing to be the champion of this historic and prestigious title. The event will be played on the CSR Viridian Centre Court, an all-glass squash court in the Royal Theatre that allows spectators to see the action through the glass walls, whilst innovative technology ensures that to the players the walls appear solid and opaque.
HI-TEC is the leading manufacturer of specialised squash shoes and are intending to make major new product announcements during the HI-TEC Australian Open in Canberra.
“Our talented, world class athletes need the best possible shoes to ensure they can compete at the highest level. HI-TEC shoes have the best reputation for both grip on the wooden floors and support to keep players injury free. The HI-TEC sponsorship is a great match with the event where the extremes of grip and support will be needed.” said Gary Hampson, Tournament Director.
HI-TEC is one of the world’s largest specialised sport and hiking shoe manufacturers, employing over 500 people and generating global sales in excess of US$250 million. HI-TEC has a long history of support for sporting championships and world class athletes. They are well-known for supporting the British Open in the early 1990s and are the current sponsors of the World Champion Nick Matthew from England. This month will see the company launch new products and make a bold move into a new non-shoe, product range for squash.
“The HI-TEC Australian Open in Canberra in August provides HI-TEC with a great platform to make major new announcements and launch a completely new product. While the attention of the squash community in Australia and around the world is focused on Canberra, our sponsorship helps us get to those who are most likely to want to improve their game and buy HI-TEC equipment.” said Steve Walton, Australian Distributor for HI-TEC Squash.
In addition to sponsoring the HI-TEC Australian Open, HI-TEC Squash will become the ‘Official Shoe of Squash Australia’ and will sponsor the National Junior Rankings. All three sponsorships confirm HI-TEC’s commitment to the sport of squash in Australia.
“We welcome HI-TEC into the Australian Open and Squash Australia families. They are a well known and long term provider of high quality footwear for squash,” Squash Australia CEO Gary O’Donnell said.
About the Australian Squash Open
Held in Canberra from 13-19 August, the Australian Squash Open is a major world tour event for both men and women. Over a hundred of the world’s top players will compete to have their names engraved on the historic trophies alongside greats like Heather McKay and Geoff Hunt. Ramy Ashour, the Egyptian magician and the most exciting young player on the world tour to defend his title from 2011. He will be joined by the women’s world number one, Nicol David from Malaysia who is also hoping to defend her title and add the Australian Open to her recent World and British Open crowns.
Play begins with qualifying matches at the Woden Squash Centre from Saturday 11 August and then moves to the Royal Theatre of the National Convention Centre in the CBD of Canberra from Monday 13 August.
Play will be held in the comfort of the Royal Theatre on the CSR Viridian Centre Court and supported by the Australian Open Shop showcasing new sporting equipment and some special presentations on Saturday afternoon between semi-finals before the finals on Sunday 14 August.