Schoolboy Evans roars past Rory
By ALAN THATCHER
Maidstone schoolboy James Evans sprang a major surprise by overpowering number five seed Rory Pennell in the first qualifying round of the SE Leisure Kent Open.
The 16-year-old Evans won 11-5, 6-11, 11-7, 11-6 after 37 minutes of accomplished, intelligent, attacking squash against a 6ft 3in full-time professional nine years his senior.
Playing on his favourite court at his home club, The Mote, Evans quickly found a good length, moving the more experienced Pennell out of his comfort zone.
Evans volleyed solidly at every opportunity and his drops paid dividends in the front left corner.
The Oakwood Park pupil retrieved superbly in the opening game and his confidence grew as he opened an early lead and maintained his discipline to win it 11-5.
Pennell countered in the second and from 5-5 he closed out the game 11-6.
However, Evans battled through a physically demanding third game to produce a decisive breakthrough. From 5-3 down he hit back to draw level at 7-7, and matched his outstanding retrieval with some superb winners to clinch the game 11-7.
His confidence boosted, Evans opened up an early lead in the fourth game and although Pennell enjoyed a run of points to hit back from 2-5 down to 6-7, Evans again finished strongly.
His reward is a place in the qualifying finals against Pakistan’s hard-hitting Adil Maqbool, who registered 162mph on the radar gun this week.
Evans was joined in the qualifying finals by Kent team-mate Steven London, from Park Langley, who beat Hertfordshire’s Charlie Johnson 11-8, 11-7, 11-5.
London won through to meet Dubai-based Englishman Alex Preston, who won a close match against Kent county player John Brewer, who plays for Sittingbourne club Rodmersham.
Evans’ Mote team-mate Jonny Powell, the tournament title sponsor, enjoyed his experience against qualifying No.2 seed Declan James, a fast-rising England international who moved Powell to every corner of the court as he powered to a straight-games victory.
Canterbury club champion Joe Magor lost to French professional Antoine-Camille Petrucci in straight games after injuring his calf early on.