Kiwi Coll dedicates title to Christchurch victims
By ALAN THATCHER, MATT COLES and SEAN REUTHE
Paul Coll lifted the shiny new trophy after winning the Citigold Wealth Management Canary Wharf Squash Classic final against Egypt’s Tarek Momen and immediately dedicated his victory to the victims and survivors of the mass shootings back home in New Zealand.
Both players were appearing in their second successive PSA Tour finals, with Coll falling to Peru’s Diego Elias in the Troilus Canada Cup last week, while Momen went down to World No.1 Ali Farag in the title decider at the PSA World Championships in Chicago a fortnight ago.
A best-of-three games format was used up to and including the quarter-finals in Canary Wharf, with scoring reverting to best of five for the semis and final – and Coll hadn’t dropped a game all tournament. Momen, meanwhile, was looking to match wife Raneem El Welily after she won the CIB Black Ball Open title earlier today.
The 26-year-old Kiwi was sublime in the final as he attacked with accuracy into the front of the court and hit a flawless length game to edge the first two games. The third game was all Coll though as Momen struggled with his movement, and the man from Greymouth closed out an 11-8, 12-10, 11-3 victory in 64 minutes to capture the 13th PSA Tour title of his career.
Tonight’s win sees Coll win his first PSA Tour event since December 2016, when he beat Momen in the final of the Channel VAS Championships at St George’s Hill.
“It feels amazing, it really does. It is such a prestigious tournament, and there are such phenomenal names on the trophy and to be a part of that is something special,” Coll admitted.
“I have played this tournament three times, and I feel like I have played well every year. I love coming here, it is such a well organised event. The atmosphere is amazing, it is packed out every round and I love that. Thank you for all making it such a special event and I hope you all enjoyed the week,” he said to the crowd.
“I have been trying to make some improvements for a while now, and I really felt them come into my game in the World Championships. I felt quite strong on court. In Toronto, I just lost out in the final and that really hurt me. I took a big knock there, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to back that up this week. My coach just told me to get out there and keep performing. I was confident in my squash and as long as I could get my head right this week, I was confident and I am really happy with the squash and also mentally, to stay strong for the entire event.
“The next tournament for me is in Holland, in Eindhoven. There is a 100K [tournament] there, so I have got three weeks training before that. I will have a couple of days off over the weekend and then get back into it on Monday.
‘Really looking forward to that event being in my second home over here, in Europe. Really looking forward to performing at that event and hopefully carrying some momentum through the rest of the season, and then finish strong for the last two events.
“I could never match him at the front of the court, with the skills and the flicks that he has got. It is really incredible what he can do with the ball, and from all sorts of positions on the court. I had to be aware of that, and try to contain him as much as I possibly could and use my speed to soak the pressure up, and then apply pressure on him. He puts it in there [the front] with such skill and such variety, that it is really hard sometimes. I just had to limit the angles that I was giving him as much as possible.
“Just to everyone back home in Christchurch, stay strong. It is a horrible thing that has happened to New Zealand and that win was for you, and for everyone in Christchurch tonight. Stay strong guys!”
On the day his wife Raneem won the Black Ball Open final in Cairo, Momen admitted he had nothing in the tank after beating top seed Mohamed ElShorbagy in a tough semi-final last night.
He said: “Obviously, not meant to happen. I feel a bit unfortunate, not having enough in the tank. I literally had just one game in me and that was it,” Momen explained.
“Second game I pushed really hard but I had nothing left. I just kept playing lobs. All match I kept playing lobs because I had no energy. I had an unfortunate evening last night. With squash, sometimes you have to go through things like that.
“I have been a bit unlucky and a bit lucky at the same time. I have had a good season, winning two titles. The last two finals I haven’t been as lucky but this is life. For the crowd, I just wish I could have put on a better show. I know I have so much to give. Paul just put on an amazing display and I just wanted to match that.
“I feel very disappointed not to be able to push, but I did my best, I did what I could. We all played a lot of matches. It was more than that, I was just a bit unlucky this week. Not just with the squash, but with other things, but it is fine, I am OK with it.
“He was the better player on the day so he deserves to win. Congratulations to him and I just hope that one year I can come back and win it.”
Local hero Fallows wins Wild Card Challenge
Local hero Richie Fallows finally made his dream come true by playing on the glass court at the East Wintergarden and celebrated with a superb performance to win the Wild Card Challenge against Josh Masters in just 17 minutes.
He powered through the opening game to win 11-1 and maintained the pressure to win the second 11-4.
His victory earned him the Wild Card spot in next year’s tournament.
He certainly employed 2020 vision as he dominated the match with tight length and some impressive work at the front of the court.
“I’m extremely delighted, I always wanted to play here and wanted to put a good performance in today. I was happy that came off today.
“It depends on what kind of glass court [you play on]. I played Rösner in Chicago two weeks ago and it was too cold. It was like playing in a fridge and the ball wasn’t bouncing.
“Against someone like Rösner, you need a bit more bounce, but somewhere like here it would have been quite good. I fancy my chances against anyone on the day.
“I need to keep working hard, making sure I keep doing the right things, and there is no reason I can’t be playing in these sort of events.
“I’ve got a bit of a training block now, the tournaments have gone a bit quiet, so my next event is in Dublin on April 23.
“I’ve got a busy May at the British Open before the summer break. You sign up for as many [leagues] as you can, and you try and play when it’s convenient for you. I try and stay with German leagues or Italian leagues mainly.
“I wouldn’t say it to him, but he’s been good, Nick. I haven’t seen him too much, he’s always in America, I think he prefers it out there.
“But it’s good to have Nick around to get his input and his experience from playing these big matches. That’s what my, Josh and even Dec [James] need.
“I feel like I should [be playing above Nick in PSL]. I beat him a few months back in an exhibition and I was knocking him a bit saying that I should be above him, but he wasn’t having it.”
Earlier in the evening, Nick Matthew was welcomed on court for a very special presentation.
Nick won the Canary Wharf trophy a record six times and last year we were planning to present Nick with the trophy on his farewell appearance at the tournament.
Sadly he was injured and did not compete in the tournament so we were delighted to welcome him back today for a special presentation, receiving the trophy from John Garwood from Canary Wharf Group plc..
The original trophy has been replaced by a new model which will be handed over to the winner tonight and we are indebted to Tony Dellow, from House of Hatton Jewellers in Hatton Garden for his beautiful work.
Citigold Wealth Management Canary Wharf Squash Classic, East Wintergarden, Canary Wharf, London, England.
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt  Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 12-10, 11-3 (64m)
Citigold Wealth Management Canary Wharf Squash Classic Wild Card Challenge:
Richie Fallows (Eng) beat Joshua Masters (Eng) 11-1, 11-4 (17 mins)
Citigold Wealth Management Canary Wharf Squash Classic Corporate Challenge Final:
Ernst and Young beat Aviva Investors.
Pictures by STEVE LINE (courtesy of PSA) and PATRICK LAUSON