Saturday, March 2, 2024

Qualifier George Parker meets Charles Sharpes in Kent final

George Parker and Joel Hinds battle for the middle of the court
George Parker and Joel Hinds battle for the middle of the court

All-England final in Kent showdown 

Qualifier George Parker meets No.2 seed Charles Sharpes in the final of the PSA Challenger 10 Kent Open at The Mote Squash Club in Maidstone, Kent.

The 19-year-old Parker powered past No.6 seed Joel Hinds, producing another high-quality performance to beat a much higher-ranked opponent 11-9, 8-11, 11-5, 11-7 in 48 minutes..

The final will be his sixth match in consecutive days but this young man possesses an extraordinary physique and appears to be taking every match confidently in his stride.

Parker, the world No.135, beat an opponent 48 places above him in the PSA rankings with his blistering pace around the court impressing the packed gallery at The Mote.

Parker, cheered on by a group of travelling fans from Leicester, opened up an early lead in the first game and maintained his advantage all the way through.

Hinds, playing a more methodical game, moved ahead in the middle phase of the second game to draw level.

Parker started strongly in the third game, and enjoyed his most impressive spell of the match as he delivered a succession of dazzling winners.

He maintained that attacking intent at the start of the fourth game and, although Hinds fought hard, Parker displayed impressive maturity to close out the match in style.

It promises to be a phenomenal final with Sharpes also in top form. He and Richie Fallows have had some awkward battles in the past but both showed total commitment to play the ball and some superb rallies ensued.

The key factor in the match was Sharpes’ domination of the left-hand wall. His precision backhand driving kept the ball glued to the sidewall and restricted Fallows’ attacking opportunities.

Sharpes won nine points in a row to win the opening game but Fallows hit back to take the second, dropping just one point from 4-4.

In the third game, Sharpes engineered another eight-point run to move 2-1 ahead.

The fourth game was a titanic battle, and the packed crowd were willing the match to go to a fifth game. Fallows led 9-8, but Sharpes was the more disciplined athlete on the court as he won the final three points.

Sharpes said: “That was a very pleasing victory. It’s always a tough match against Richie and in the past we have had a few messy matches.

“But I thought today was the most free-flowing game we have had ever had. I’m really happy to be in the final.

“We played most of the match on the backhand wall and I felt I did not want to switch because I was having a lot of success there. That frustrated him.

“I am a good length hitter and I was pleased to get the ball in the back corners to reduce his attacking options.”

Fallows’ response was succinct: “ Tin, man.”

PSA Challenger 10 Select Gaming Kent Open, The Mote Squash Club, Maidstone, Kent.

Semi-finals: (Q) George Parker (Eng) beat (6) Joel Hinds (Eng) 11-9, 8-11, 11-5, 11-7 (48 mins)
(2) Charles Sharpes (Eng) beat (4) Richie Fallows (Eng) 11-4, 5-11, 11-6, 11-9 (59 mins)

Pictures by KIM ROBERTS 


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