TOP SEEDS CLASH IN SE LEISURE KENT OPEN FINAL
PSA World Tour Challenger 10 SE Leisure Kent Open, at The Mote Squash Club, Maidstone, Kent.
(1) Adrian Waller (Eng) beat (WC) Joel Hinds (Eng) 11-9, 11-3, 11-2 (40 mins)
(2) Jonathan Kemp (Eng) beat (3) Joe Lee (Eng) 9-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-4, 11-5 (55 mins)
Top seeds Adrian Waller and Jonathan Kemp meet in the final of the SE Leisure Kent Open.
Waller powered past wild card Joel Hinds in straight games but Kemp had to battle for almost an hour to subdue a phenomenal challenge from No.3 seed Joe Lee
Londoner Waller withstood a fierce fightback from Hinds in the opening game. Hinds was game ball down at 10-6 but produced a sustained spell of attacking squash to reach 9-10 before Waller clinched it on a flat-nick volley-kill off the serve.
The Birmingham-based Hinds looked a little subdued during the second as a confident Waller powered through for the loss of just three points.
The third was even more one-sided as Hinds was clearly running on empty. After two intensely physical victories in the opening rounds against No.4 seed Henrik Mustonen and Yorkshire qualifier James Earles, his lack of recent match play was clearly evident against a superbly honed athlete like Waller.
Waller said: “I had a good start to the match but Joel found his rhythm, gradually making the game frantic. At 10-9 up, I hit a crosscourt volley nick to win the game. That gave me confidence for the next game.
“In the next two games, I found a better height of the shot to get the ball to the back of the court, pinning Joel into the corners. That gave me more opportunities and I put together a good run of points. I felt I didn’t drop concentration or make many errors, maybe just one or two.
“I’m playing Jonathan in the finals and although we’ve travelled and toured together. I don’t recall us playing a competitive match. I know what to expect. He always give 110 per cent.”
The final promises to provide a fascinating contrast in styles.
The extravagantly talented 32-year-old Kemp had to hit back from two-one down in games to beat rising Surrey star Lee.
From 4-4 in the fifth game, Kemp unleashed a succession of dazzling winners, striking nick after nick to nullify a quality performance from Lee.
Kemp admitted: “At 4-4 I thought I ought to start going for a few winners and it paid off. Believe me, that was Plan Z. Joe played extremely well and didn’t give me the opportunities to attack.
“He is very good at the counter-drops and lobs, which neutralises my game.”
Lee said: “I was just two or three minutes away from a top-30 performance. I felt fairly comfortable throughout the match but Jonathan produced a spell of unplayable shots.
“People say he might not be the fittest player in the game but you’ve got to be incredibly strong to step up the court like he did in the fifth and attack in the fashion.
“He is one of the best players I have ever come across for attacking shots. He is also a very fair player but I lost focus early in the fourth and fifth games.”
The Kent Open is sponsored by SE Leisure, Craft Insure, Shepherd Neame, The Mote Squash Club and Harrow Sports.