Tom wins Battle of Britain dream draw in San Francisco
By BETH RASIN AND NATHAN CLARKE
Tom Richards won a Battle of Britain qualifying clash with Scotland’s Alan Clyne to book a dream draw in the first round of the NetSuite Open in San Francisco with mercurial Egyptian Ramy Ashour.
Richards won 5-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-6 in just under an hour and will be looking forward to sharing the court with a man, who, like himself, has suffered his fair share of injury stresses over the past year.
Richards and Clyne treated the fans to classic squash, as both players hit pinpoint shots to all corners of the court. Tight rails and front corner drop shots were countered with lobs that dropped into the rear corners with no pace. Clyne drew first blood, taking the first game 11-5.
Unbowed, Richards settled into a rhythm and took the second 11-8 to even the match. The third was a relentless contest and Richards was relieved to squeeze home 12-10.
The workload involved in those brutal rallies took its toll first on the Scotsman, who started to fade at the end of the third and Richards closed out a decisive fourth game to earn his place in the main draw.
With a place in the NetSuite Open draw the winner’s reward, the competitive intensity was fierce and the players were fired up in all of today’s final qualifying matches at the University Club and the Bay Club-San Francisco.
Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly, who plays and trains in New York City, eliminated the highest-ranked player in the qualifying draw when he overcame Alister Walker in three games and now meets Mathieu Castagnet of France.
Cesar Salazar of Mexico defeated Dutchman Laurens Jans Anjema, also in straight games. Salazar now faces world No.4 Miguel Angel Rodriguez in what is sure to be a fast and furious first round encounter.
Two-time US Intercollegiate champion Ali Farag and 25-year-old Gregoire Marche provided the spectators with drama and excitement as the players seized upon every opportunity to attack and chased down seemingly ungettable shots throughout their spirited and sporting match.
After an hour and ten minutes of full-throttle play, the 23-year-old Egyptian emerged victorious when the Frenchman ran out of gas in the fifth game.
In the women’s draw, England’s Fiona Moverley was the first to stake her claim to a main draw spot with a nailbiting five-game victory over top-seeded qualifier Coline Aumard. Moverley started strong, winning the first game 11-5, but the Frenchwoman roared back to grab the next two.
Moverley played her way back into contention by denying Aumard the opportunity to hit any angle shots, cutting off her attacking game. Using the high, crosscourt lob especially effectively, the 28-year-old Englishwoman evened the match at two all, and hung on for an 11-9 fifth game win that brings a first round clash with No.2 seed Sarah Jane Perry.
England’s Millie Tomlinson upended higher-ranked Irishwoman Aisling Blake in a hard-fought, four-game match in which the two women played similar attacking and physical games.
In the end, the 23-year-old from Duffield made fewer errors, hit tighter shots and was ultimately more determined to get to the ball and into the main draw against compatriot Victoria Lust.
New Zealand’s Amanda Landers-Murphy stifled a late third game surge from American veteran Latasha Khan to earn her spot in the main draw. Pakistan’s Maria Toorpakai Wazir, who now resides and trains in Canada, dispatched Nouran El Torky of Egypt in four games to claim the women’s main draw final spot against Line Hansen of Denmark.
NetSuite Open, San Francisco, USA.
PSA M100 Qualifying Finals:
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt  Alister Walker (BOT) 3-0: 11-7, 11-6, 11-4 (44m)
Ali Farag (EGY) bt  Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-2: 6-11, 11-7, 10-12, 11- 8, 11-3 (70m)
 Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) 3-0: 12-10, 11-7, 11-3 (32m)
Tom Richards (ENG) bt  Alan Clyne (SCO) 3-1: 5-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-6 (56m)
PSA W25 Qualifying Finals:
Fiona Moverley (ENG) bt  Coline Aumard (FRA) 3-2: 11-6, 2-11, 5-11 11-4, 11-9 (55m)
Maria Toorpakai Wazir (PAK) bt  Nouran El Torky (EGY) 3-1: 6-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-4 (41m)
Millie Tomlinson (ENG) bt  Aisling Blake (IRL) 3-1: 5-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-7 (48m)
 Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL) bt Latasha Khan (USA) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 12-10 (24m)
NetSuite Open PSA M100, First Round:
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v Mazen Hesham (EGY)
Simon Rösner (GER) v Mike Lewis (USA)
Peter Barker (ENG) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)
 Miguel A. Rodriguez (COL) v [Q] Cesar Salazar (MEX)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) v [Q] Tom Richards (ENG)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v [Q] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
James Willstrop (ENG) v Nicolas Müller (SUI)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v [Q] Ali Farag (EGY)
NetSuite Open PSA W25, First Round:
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) v Samantha Teran (MEX)
Kanzy El Defrawy (EGY) v Tesni Evans (WAL)
Line Hanson (DEN) v [Q] Maria Toorpakai Wazir (PAK)
 Dipika Pallikal (IND) v Olivia Blatchford (USA)
 Habiba Mohamed (EGY) v [Q] Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL)
Victoria Lust (ENG) v [Q] Millie Tomlinson (ENG)
Nicolette Fernandes (GUY) v WC Reyna Pacheco (USA)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v [Q] Fiona Moverley (ENG)
Pictures courtesy of NetSuite Open