Karim Ali Fathi tops high-quality Aberdeen draw
By MIKE HEGARTY – Squash Mad Scottish Correspondent
Now into its third year, Aberdeen Squash and Racketball Club will once again host the TRAC Oil and Gas North of Scotland Open, returning in PSA M10 form from March 29 to April 3.
Thanks to support from our headline sponsor, the tournament was able to be registered on the PSA calendar over a year in advance. This guaranteed a prime position in the calendar and this has shown in the unbelievably high standard of entries received.
The top seed for the event is Egypt’s World No 43 Karim Ali Fathi. His tactically un-Egyptian, Darwish-esque approach to the game saw Karim recently gatecrash the third round of the 2015 PSA World Championships.
He downed Peter Barker and upset the spectacular Fares Dessouki in an 83-minute, five-game win before his run ended at the hands of eventual World Champion Greg Gaultier.
Second seeded Shaun Le Roux is seeking to go one better than in 2015 when he suffered the very narrowest of 3-1 defeats to Daryl Selby in the final of Scotland’s ‘other’ tournament, the BSPA Edinburgh Open, going down 10-12, 10-12, 11-3, 10-12.
World No.48 Shaun is drawn in the first round against Aberdeen’s No.1 and PSA wild card Chris Leiper, who is enjoying recent success after reaching the final of the Scottish Under-23 Championships. The home crowd will be no doubt there in force to see how the home favourite stacks up against the big South African’s powerful, hard hitting style.
The quality continues with all 11 guaranteed main draw players ranked inside the top 100 in the world, which for an M10 tier tournament is nearly unheard of.
Classy Englishman Eddie Charlton, WR#63 is seeded third and will look to show his true form after being disappointed with his run in the 2015 North of Scotland Open.
Mahesh Mangaonkar of India, WR#67 is 4th seed. Mahesh and Australian Steve Finitsis put on stunning displays to topple top Scot Alan Clyne and 2015 North of Scotland Open Champion Greg Lobban respectively in the semi-finals of the Inverness Loch Ness Challenger when it ran in 2014.
Finitsis eventually beat Mangaonkar to claim Inverness’ M15 title, and is now world ranked #77. Steve is seeded 7th for the North of Scotland M10, such is the quality of the field.
‘The Iceman’ WR#70 Piedro Schweertman returns as fifth seed to try to add this title to his impressive 2015 collection. Piedro captured an M10 and two M5 titles in what was a great year for the Dutch No.2.
WR#76 Richie Fallows, a young Englishman whose career is very much on the rise, will look to leave an impression and progress beyond his sixth place seeding.
The 2015 North of Scotland Open Runner-Up Joel Hinds WR#85 returns as eighth seed. Joel lost a titanic 82-minute, four-game battle with eventual winner Greg Lobban in 2015 where he accidentally fell and headbutted the front corner of the court resulting in an extended injury break. Fortunately Joel was OK (the dreadlocks cushioned his fall) and this year he hopes to go one better and eat the whole wall.
Rounding off the main draw are Englishman Chris Fuller WR#92, New Zealand’s Joshua Larkin WR#98 and Jamaican No.1 Chris Binnie WR#99.
The entry list for the qualification draw is equally interesting, with Edinburgh’s W#101 Dougie Kempsell flying the flag for the home nation as top qualifier.
Also in the mix is British Junior Open Champion Youssef Soliman, who succeeds top names such as Ali Farag, Fares Dessouki, Marwan and Mohamed Elshorbagy on the list of previous winners of the most prestigious junior title in the world.
Local interest is headed up by Aberdeen’s top players Jamie ‘Farmer’ Jacobsen and Mike Black, Scottish Under-19 National and Junior Open Champ Richard Hollins, and Glasgow’s fire-fighting nick-machine Peter O’Hara.
The event will be supported by a large graded tournament which will inspire participation at all ability levels.
See www.asrc.co.uk for more information.
PSA M10 TRAC Oil and Gas North of Scotland Open:
First Round draw:
(1) Karim Ali Fathi (Egypt) v Qualifier
(5) Piedro Schweertman (Netherlands) v Qualifier
(8) Joel Hinds (England) v Qualifier
(4) Mahesh Mangaonkar (India) v Chris Fuller (England)
(3) Eddie Charlton (England) v Josh Larkin (Australia)
(6) Richie Fallows (England) v Chris Binnie (Jamaica)
(7) Steve Finitsis (Australia) v Qualifier
(2) Shaun Le Roux (South Africa) v Chris Leiper (Scotland, wild card)