Breakthrough win for rising England star
By MICHAEL CATLING in Madeira
Rising English star Patrick Rooney enhanced his growing reputation after coming from behind to shock third seed Edmon Lopez Moller and claim his maiden PSA title in a five-game thriller at the Madeira International Squash Tournament.
Rooney, who was 19 last week, was competing in his first PSA final but showed few signs of nerves as he twice fought back to force a decider at the Onda Revital Club in Caniço, Portugal.
A three-minute injury break for Lopez in the middle of the fifth game threatened to disrupt Rooney’s momentum, but the reigning European Junior Under-19 champion remained composed to prevail 6-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-6, 11-8 in this PSA M5 event.
“I knew it was going to be a tough and really physical battle, but I’m just glad I was able to keep the same intensity and level of concentration all the way through the match. It’s the perfect way to end the season.”
The result completes a memorable week for the Merseyside-based teenager, who knocked out top-seed Shehab Essam and fellow countryman Adam Auckland on his way to the final.
The Spaniard, meanwhile, was left to reflect on another missed opportunity after losing in the final of the Raanana Squash Center Festival in Israel last month.
“I saw a really good opportunity to win this week when Carlos [Cornes Ribadas] got knocked out in the first round,” admitted Lopez. “I am happy to reach the final but it’s just a shame that I was so close to victory again. I am still young so I hope that I will get plenty more opportunities to win my first PSA title.
“Physical fitness is normally my biggest strength so it’s annoying that it let me down today. I thought I played really well but Patrick just played better than me. I have to be realistic and I can’t really make any excuses.”
The lengthy rallies in the opening exchanges ultimately proved pivotal to the outcome as the match quickly developed into a war of attrition.
Little separated the duo in the opening two games and with the scores locked at one-all, Rooney changed tactics by taking the ball short at every opportunity to counteract Lopez’s incredible court coverage.
The strategy seemed to have the reverse effect initially as Lopez capitalised on a number of tinned drops to win the third game. In a repeat of the second game, however, Rooney returned reinvigorated in the fourth and reeled off a succession of nicks to force a decider.
The back-and-forth nature of the match continued in the final game as Rooney overturned a 3-0 deficit to edge ahead 6-4.
The following point added to the drama as Lopez, who had been battling an ongoing wrist injury coming into the tournament, rolled his ankle trying to retrieve a drop shot. A three-minute injury break ensued but the stoppage only prolonged the agony for a weary-looking Lopez as Rooney moved to within a point of victory.
It seemed only fitting that the final point should end on a gruelling rally, and so it proved when Rooney converted his first championship ball after Lopez’s backhand drop clipped the tin.
PSA M5 Madeira International 2016
Patrick Rooney (ENG) bt  Edmon Lopez Moller (ESP) 3-2: 6-11 11-8 7-11 11-6 11-8 (68m)
Patrick Rooney (ENG) bt  Shehab Essam (EGY) 3-0: 11-7 12-10 11-4 (28m)
 Edmon Lopez Moller (ESP) bt [Q] James Peach (ENG) 3-0: 11-6 11-6 11-5 (31m)
 Shehab Essam (EGY) bt  Emyr Evans (WAL) 3-0: 12-10 11-8 11-1 (28m)
Patrick Rooney (ENG) bt [Q] Adam Auckland (ENG) 3-1: 11-7 7-11 11-4 11-6 (37m)
 Edmon Lopez Moller (ESP) bt [Q] Luke Parker (ENG) 3-0: 11-4 11-9 11-5 (23m)
[Q] James Peach (ENG) bt Claudio Pinto (POR) 3-1: 11-8 6-11 11-3 11-9 (46m)
 Shehab Essam (EGY) bt [Q] Pascal Gomez (ESP) 3-0: 11-8 11-8 11-2 (32m)
 Emyr Evans (WAL) bt Kyle Finch (ENG) 3-0: 11-8 11-6 11-7 (59m)
[Q] Adam Auckland (ENG) bt  Sean Conroy (IRL) 3-1: 11-7 8-11 11-8 11-2 (43m)
Patrick Rooney (ENG) bt  Rui Soares (POR) 3-2: 11-6 6-11 9-11 11-3 11-3 (41m)
 Edmon Lopez Moller (ESP) bt [WC] Pedro Damaso 3-0: (POR) 11-5 11-5 11-2 (23m)
[Q] Luke Parker (ENG) bt  Ben Coates (ENG) 3-0: 13-11 12-10 11-6 (27m)
Claudio Pinto (POR) bt  Sam Gould (USA) 3-0: 11-4 11-3 11-4 (25m)
[Q] James Peach (ENG) bt  Carlos Cornes Ribadas (ESP) 3-1: 11-13 11-4 12-10 11-8 (49m)
Final Qualifying Round:
 Pascal Gomez (ESP) bt  Matthew Broadberry (ENG) 3-0: 11-9 11-8 11-3 (36m)
 Adam Auckland (ENG) bt  Owain Taylor (WAL) 3-0: 11-5 11-3 11-7 (32m)
 James Peach (ENG) bt Michael Conroy (IRL) 3-0: 11-6 11-3 11-1 (19m)
Luke Parker (ENG) bt  Sam Ellis (ENG) 3-1: 11-9 5-11 11-9 11-8 (39m)
First Qualifying Round:
 Pascal Gomez (ESP) bt [L] Ricardo Sardinha (POR) 3-0: 11-4 11-5 11-3 (13m)
 Matthew Broadberry (ENG) bt [L] Alfredo Felicidade (POR) 3-0: 11-3 11-2 12-10 (19m)
 Adam Auckland (ENG) bt [L] Jorge Monteiro (POR) 3-0: 11-1 11-6 11-4 (19m)
 Owain Taylor (WAL) bt [L] Luis Tavares (POR) 3-0: 11-1 11-2 11-6 (16m)
Michael Conroy (IRL) bt  Roshan Bharos (NED) w/o
 James Peach (ENG) bt [L] Ricardo Santos (POR) 3-0: 11-2 11-6 11-6 (19m)
Luke Parker (ENG) bt  Tess Jutte (NED) 3-1: 9-11 11-7 11-8 11-5 (47m)
 Sam Ellis (ENG) bt [L] Goncalo Miranda (POR) 3-0: 11-3 11-5 11-6 (17m)
Pictures by MICHAEL CATLING