Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Ryan Cuskelly wins biggest tour title

Ryan Cuskelly and fellow left-hander LJ Anjema in the Ontario final
Ryan Cuskelly and fellow left-hander LJ Anjema in the Ontario final


Aussie Ryan ends LJ’s run in Canada
By MIKE McCUE – Squash Mad Correspondent in Canada

Ryan Cuskelly claimed the biggest PSA tour title of his career today, beating higher seeded LJ Anjema 3-0 in the final of the Northern Ontario Open. But the scoreline hides the fact that this phenomenal battle lasted 78 minutes.

Anjema was favoured coming into the match, having reached the final without dropping a game or spending more than an hour on court.

However, Cuskelly came out with the same pace and dogged retrieving that saw him through two tough matches against Alister Walker and Cesar Salazar. This was a rare all-lefty battle, which meant play was primarily happening down the right wall; an odd sight in pro squash!

22429_10205317319071388_7301236275415227993_nBoth players deserve credit for maintaining a relatively free-flowing brand of squash, which is sometimes difficult when two southpaws face off.

The capacity crowd of over 100 expected the Dutchman to overcome a first game deficit, as he had done in every one of his previous matches. However, after trading lucky winners to reach 10-all, Cuskelly hit a crisp backhand drop and converted his second game ball when Anjema tinned an ambitious drop of his own.

The Australian maintained a small lead throughout the second game, neutralizing Anjema with lobs and counterdrops.

LJ was earning himself good positions by hitting penetrating length, but could not find the required severity in attack to get Cuskelly out of rhythm.

At 9-6 up, Ryan took a short break for a blood injury to his knee. This seemed like an opportune time for Anjema to make his move, but he was still unable to unseat Cuskelly and soon the underdog was 2-0 up.

Sensing a possible 3-0 final (for the fourth consecutive year!), spectators got behind Anjema in the third game. Although he was left flat-footed several times, LJ finally began to mount a comeback at 4-7 down.



The action became even tighter and more deliberate as he tried to up the pace and test Cuskelly physically.

With both players beginning to fatigue slightly, Cuskelly held strong and eventually closed out a lengthy final game without ever letting Anjema within striking distance.

An extremely impressive performance from the 27-year-old Australian, who showed a marked improvement from last year’s quarter-final loss here.

Clearly intent on taking the ball earlier, harder and with more attacking intent, he beat three quality opponents in convincing fashion.  

Northern Ontario Open (PSA International 25), Sudbury, Canada:

(5) Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt (3) LJ Anjema (NED) 12-10, 11-7, 11-8 (78 mins)

Pictures by  MEGHAN McCUE


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