Sunday, March 3, 2024

Stunning 4-0 win by Mohamed ElShorbagy over home hero Paul Coll gives England a dramatic triumph over New Zealand in the inaugural Nations Cup final

By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor) and DAVE WORSLEY in Tauranga

Mohamed ElShorbagy produced a stunning performance to beat Paul Coll 4-0 to lead England to victory by the narrowest margins in the inaugural Nations Cup final after team-mate Sarah-Jane Perry had lost in straight games to Joelle King.

It was a thrilling finish to the successful launch of a mixed team event trialling a new scoring format with matches the best of seven games played to seven points instead of 11, with the added drama of two-point power plays.

Men’s world No.4 ElShorbagy put in a devastating performance to beat home favourite and world No.2 Paul Coll 7-5, 7-6, 7-1, 7-4 after 43 nailbiting minutes of world-class squash in front of a packed crowd at the Trustpower Baypark Arena in Tauranga.

ElShorbagy’s triumph followed team-mate Perry’s 7-4, 7-2, 7-5, 7-6 defeat to Kiwi King and gave victory to England 45-44 on a points countback.

Coll was cheered on by a packed home crowd but narrowly missed out on victory for New Zealand, with a rampant ElShorbagy coming up with a spellbinding display to capture his first trophy in England colours having switched allegiance from Egypt in June.

In his moment of triumph, ElShorbagy saluted his team-mate, saying: “I’ve got Sarah-Jane Perry to thank. I’ve been asking her questions the whole week about how to deal with things. She has been leading the team this whole week and has done an incredible job with me. All of her advice during the game today has been unbelievable.

“It’s an honour to represent England beside her. She has been leading the way for so many years for England, and it’s such an honour to win with her.”

Perry said: “Even in my match I was thinking to myself that I had to win as many points as possible in the last couple of games.

“I wanted to give Mo a chance. He’s an absolute legend of the game and he took that chance and went with it and played incredibly. I’ve got to thank Mo today for his incredible performance.”

She added: “I think that during those games I was trying to push on and get myself back into the match but I knew that every point counts in this new format and I think that really showed in the end.

“But I’m proud of the fight I put up there and incredibly proud of Mo on his England debut tournament to show that kind of guts, determination and produce that incredible performance.

“This has been a really fun event and to bring the crowd in with that fun, I think that the powerplays really added to bringing in those bursts of intensity, but also the short games and everything that comes with it.

“I’ve enjoyed it and I think it’s nice to play in that spirit and it’s still serious trying to win every rally. But it’s nice to be able to sneak in a cheeky comment here or there and for it to actually be taken quite well by the crowd instead of the silence I normally receive.”

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The third-place play-off was contested by Team Europe and Canada, with the former, represented by Belgium’s Nele Gilis and France’s Sebastien Bonmalais, prevailing.

Women’s World No.13 Gilis came back from two games down to overcome World No.17 Hollie Naughton, winning 6-7, 1-7, 7-6, 7-5, 7-2, 7-1 in 42 minutes.

“I’m feeling good. I’m very happy to sneak that win for Team Europe,” said Gilis.

“From 2-0 down, she still needed two games, so I thought, okay, that’s still a long way to go, actually, so I knew I could fight my way back into this. If it was best of five and 2-0 down, that’s a tough ask to come back from.”

World No.38 Sebastien Bonmalais closed out the win for Europe following a dominant 7-1, 7-1, 7-2, 7-5 triumph.

“I was feeling very comfortable on the court and was finding everything, my shots, my length, and I’m happy I managed to win 4-0 today against a friend and room-mate in David,” Bonmalais said.

“I knew if she [Gilis] had lost the match, I would have to beat David like this, but with the pressure on it. So of course it was brilliant that she won and she make a good comeback and I’m happy with the team.”

The Nations Cup was the first instalment of the new SquashFORWARD series, created to trial changes to the traditional competition and scoring formats used at official PSA tournaments.

Next up is the men’s Robertson Lodges New Zealand Open and women’s Barfoot and Thompson New Zealand Open.

The two PSA World Tour Silver events will also take place at the Trustpower Baypark Arena with King and Coll topping the draws between November 8-13. The action will be shown live on SQUASHTV and Sky Sport NZ.

2022 Carrus Nations Cup, Trustpower Baypark Arena, Tauranga, New Zealand.

[1] New Zealand 1-1 [2] England (England win 45-44 on points)
Joelle King (NZL) bt Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 4-0: 7-4, 7-2, 7-5, 7-6 (37m)
Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) bt Paul Coll (NZL) 4-0: 7-5, 7-6, 7-1, 7-4 (43m)

Third Place Play-Off:
[3] Europe 2-0 [5] Canada
Nele Gilis (EUR) bt Hollie Naughton (CAN) 4-2: 6-7, 1-7, 7-6, 7-5, 7-2, 7-1 (42m)
Sebastien Bonmalais (EUR) bt David Baillargeon (CAN) 4-0: 7-1, 7-1, 7-2, 7-5 (32m)

Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour and Squash NZ


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