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PSA: Walker wins in Dayton

Alister Walker in action. Picture by PATRICIA LYONS

Walker Stops Butt In Dayton

14 November 2011

RESULTS: PSA International 25 EBS Dayton Open, Dayton, Ohio, USA

[2] Alister Walker (BOT) bt [Q] Yasir Butt (PAK) 11-4, 14-12, 11-4 (48m)

Botswana’s second seed Alister Walker brought Yasir Butt‘s glorious run in the EBS Dayton Open to an end when he beat the Pakistan qualifier in the final of the PSA World Tour International 25 squash event in its eighth year at theDayton Squash Center in Dayton, in the US state of Ohio.

The gallery was packed a full 40 minutes before the start of the championship match. Tournament promoter Charlie Johnson, a classically-trained trumpet player who plays professionally with area symphony orchestras when not coaching squash, played the national anthem of both Pakistan and Botswana as the spectators eagerly anticipated the beginning of the match.

Butt took the opening three points, but Walker struck back to reel off five in a row before closing out the first game.

“Game two of the championship match was a different story and the pivotal game of the match,” said Johnson. “With the large crowd cheering great rallies and winning shots from both players, the pair traded points back and forth until the score was tied at ten-all.

“In the opening rally of the tie-break, both players attacked and retrieved punishing lengths with dogged determination but a crucial cross-court kill from Butt found the tin as the strings in his racquet broke on shot. Walker went up 11-10 but was denied the win as Butt stretched to reach every length that Walker through at him trying to get the ball past him.

“The torturous play from both players, attacking, driving, moving each other around the entire court was furious and feverous over the next four points as they traded rallies to 12-all,” Johnson continued. “All through the match, Walker had been mixing attacking power from both sides with incredibly tight control on the slower paced back-hand drives and drops when faced with potential problems – and it paid off in these last two rallies of the second game: the point won to go up 2/0 at 13-12 in the game was a back-hand drop that was painted on the wall.”

Butt fought hard in the third but it was Walker who emerged triumphant after 48 minutes, winning 11-4, 14-12, 11-4.

In the awards ceremony, Butt was gracious in defeat and congratulated Walker for his strong performance. He thanked the sponsors and promoter Charlie Johnson for a fabulous event that gave him the opportunity to showcase his talent, and he attributed his strong showing this week to the work he’s put in with his coach and trainer at home, Zahid Butt, and Ajaz Azmat with whom he’s trained recently in New York.

After accepting the winner’s trophy, Walker also thanked the sponsors and promoter Charlie Johnson for bringing PSA squash back to Dayton after a three-year lay-off – and said he felt honoured to have his name added to the trophy that includes some of the greatest players of the modern game: Peter NicolJohn WhiteRamy AshourThierry Lincou, and Karim Darwish.

The win marks 29-year-old Walker’s fourth PSA World Tour title success, but his first since February 2009.

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