Thursday, February 22, 2024

Reigning champion Steve Coppinger makes headlines again

Action on the Charlottesville show court
Action on the Charlottesville show court

Chris Gordon ousted by title holder
By GRANT WHITE in Charlottesville


Charlottesville, VA – The fourth annual Festival of Squash kicked off today with first-round play in the PSA Harrow Charlottesville Open. The live stream was launched at 10:30 am, as defending champion and #2 seed Steve Coppinger (RSA) dispatched Chris Gordon (USA), the lone standard bearer for the stars and stripes.

Not only is Coppinger the reigning champ, he’s also the tour guide to the tourney. His preview of the PSA event is available here on And it’s well worth the read.

Coppinger certainly proved prescient in his selection of the Tamimi/Walker match as the match of the day. Walker opened a 2-0 lead before Tamimi equalized the range of his game to draw even at 2-2. The Qatari star was on fire to start the fifth and pressed quickly to a 6-0 lead.

Walker, however, recaptured the form that he displayed during his 2014 Charlottesville Open title run and patiently sliced Tamimi’s lead to nothing but a 10-10 tie-break. Walker worked a long exchange to his favor, 11-10, and his endurance paid the match-win dividend, as Tamimi buckled a cross-court nick attempt into the tin.

Walker’s victory was one of two upsets on the day, as Arturo Salazar toppled #8 seed Olli Tuominen. It was a close thing for #6 seed Campbell Grayson, though, who clambered back from a 1-2 deficit against unseeded Ben Coleman to take a five-game win and a place in the quarters. The top three seeds, Ryan Cuskelly, Coppinger, and Diego Elias cruised to 3-0 wins in their matches. Adrian Waller and Alfredo Avila also affirmed their seeds in the draw and advanced to the quarters.

The pros will take center stage–McArthur’s four-glass-wall exhibition court (pictured)–through to the finals on Saturday at 7:00 pm. All along the side stages, competition will be equally ferocious, as McArthur’s eight additional singles courts feature two US Squash-sanctioned events in the Festival of Squash Adult Skill Level Championships and the Festival Junior Silver and a round robin doubles event.

Defending Men’s 5.5 champion Mason Blake will look to retain his crown and his place atop the Virginia Squash ladder against a field rife with friendly foes from the squad, as well as his opponent in last year’s finals, Jose Calderon. UVA second year Jarett Odrich is seeded #1 in the draw, with first year Toby Hansford holding the #2 seed.

The Virginia women are strong in the 4.0 and 4.5 women’s draws, where a host of first years will look to claim a first Festival adult singles title. Tara Arya, Sarah Doss, Isabelle Ezratty, and Julia Thompson present a formidable quartet to challenge Virginia’s veteran top seeds, Carey Danforth, Annie Tyson, and Madeleine Mayhew.

The BU17 division looks to be the center piece of this year’s Festival Junior Silver, with an 18-player field.

Play in the adult tourney begins on Friday afternoon with opening round action in the junior event kicking off on Saturday. The full schedule of events is available on the Festival page and our Facebook, Twitter (@UVaSquash), and Instagram (@uva_squash) accounts will be spilling social media ink across your desktop with event updates as they break. In-person or online, we invite you to drink deep and enjoy the 2016 vintage of the Festival of Squash.

Alister Walker in action

Harrow Charlottesville M25, Boars Head, Charlottesville, USA.

First Round:
(1) Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) DEF Henrik Mustonen (FIN): 3-0 | 11-2, 11-8, 17-15
Arturo Salazar (MEX) DEF (8) Olli Tuominen (FIN): 3-1 | 11-7, 15-13, 10-12, 11-5
(5) Alfredo Avila (MEX) DEF (WC) Anthony Graham (ENG): 3-0 | 11-8, 12-10, 11-4
(3) Diego Elias (PER) DEF Nathan Lake (ENG): 3-0 | 11-6, 11-9, 11-7
(4) Adrian Waller (ENG) DEF Eddie Charlton (ENG): 3-1 | 12-14. 11-7, 11-2, 11-5
(6) Campbell Grayson (NZL) DEF Ben Coleman (ENG): 3-2 | 5-11, 11-7, 7-11, 11-6, 11-9
Alister Walker (BOT) DEF (7) Abdulla Al Tamimi (QAT): 3-2 | 11-8, 11-8, 5-11, 5-11, 12-10
(2) Stephen Coppinger (RSA) DEF Christopher Gordon (USA): 11-9, 11-5, 11-9 

Pictures courtesy of UVA Squash


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