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ToC: Diego Elias makes his debut at Grand Central Terminal

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Peruvian powerhouse meets Mathieu Castagnet in fascinating first round match-up in New York
From BETH RASIN in New York

Diego Elias will be making his debut at Grand Central Terminal
Diego Elias of Peru will be making his debut at Grand Central Terminal

A Peruvian player will grace the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions glass court for the first time when 18-year-old Diego Elias plays Mathieu Castagnet of France on Saturday afternoon.

“It is a dream come , true,” said Elias after defeating Egyptian Mazen Hesham 11-8, 11-5, 11-8 in just 37 minutes to earn the trip to the squash tournament’s main draw and the majestic venue in Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall, where he will play France’s Mathieu Castagnet.

After a scrappy victory in the prior round, where he had to fight off three match balls, Elias was pleased to be in better form for his match with Hesham.

“Last night’s match was tough, but it helped me get over my stress. I knew I couldn’t let him attack so I focused on playing the ball very tight to the wall and deep,“ said the only teenager to be make it into in the main draw.

Mexico’s Cesar Salazar and Egypt’s Mohamed Abouelghar defeated two Australians to also earn main draw debuts in the tournament considered to be one of the three majors on the international squash tour.

Salazar eliminated Zac Alexander in four games and will take on Englishman Chris Simpson in the first round. Abouelghar defeated Ryan Cuskelly, also in in four games. Abouelghar and Cuskelly split the first two games of the match which featured high quality, classic squash.

The third game, however, was more contentious as both players started feeling the pressure. It was Abouelghar who stepped up to meet the challenge, playing aggressive and attacking squash and hitting decisive winners from the center of the court. Abouelghar next plays countryman Omar Mosaad, world no. 9.

Veteran Ong Beng Hee earned a return trip to Grand Central by defeating Egypt’s Mohamed Reda. Beng Hee’s ball placement gave him the edge in a close three game contest between the two experienced veterans. The Malaysian plays seventh seed Borja Golan of Spain.

Frenchman Luca Serme got off to a spectacular start against Alan Clyne winning the first game 11-3. The Scotsman turned the tables in the second game, winning it by the identical score. Clyne’s relentless ball retrieval wore down the 22-year-old Serme, who was completely spent by the time Clyne wrapped up the match in the fourth game. Saurav Ghosal of India will be Clyne’s first round opponent.

Aussie Campbell Grayson played very patient, classic squash – straight low balls to the back of the court followed by short balls to the front corners – to defeat Mexico’s Alfredo Avila in four games. Grayson will be taking on Nicolas Mueller of Switzerland in his first round.

Englishman Tom Richards’ experience carried the day in his qualifying encounter with India’s Mahesh Mangaonkar. Richards, who made it straight into the main draw at last year’s ToC, was undaunted by this return to the qualifying rounds.

”I I love competing and I train to play match after match after match. So I just have to make sure I get up for it mentally,” the pragmatic 28-year-old said. ”And I did feel confident that I should qualify.”

Richards’ first round opponent will be Alister Walker, who represents Botswana and now calls Greenwich, Connecticut home after growing up in England.

England’s Joe Lee earned his ticket to Grand Central by defeating New Zealand’s Martin Knight. Lee faces world no. 8 Miguel Rodriguez of Colombia.

First Peru, and finally Colombia. It shows how squash is making great strides in South America, and the ToC provides a fascinating shop window for all of these hugely talented players to show off their skills.

J. P. Morgan Tournament of Champions Final Round Qualifying Results – Jan. 15, 2105

Ong Beng Hee (MAS) def. Mohamed Reda (EGY) 11-5, 12-10, 11-9 54 mins
Alan Clyne (SCO) def Lucas Serme (FRA) 3-11, 11-3,11-7, 11-4 57 mins
Cesar Salazar (MEX) def. Zac Alexander (AUS) 4-11, 11-7, 11-6, 12-10 58 mins
Joe Lee (ENG) def. Martin Knight (NZL) 11-5, 11-8, 7-11, 11-5 67 mins
Mohd Abouelghar (EGY) def. Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 11-5, 7-11, 11-7, 11-6 41 mins
Campbell Grayson (NZL) def. Alfredo Avila (MEX) 10-12, 11-7, 11-5, 11-6 62 mins
Tom Richards (ENG) def. Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) 11-6, 11-6, 11-9 48 mins
Diego Elias (PER) def. Mazen Hesham (EGY) 11-8, 11-5, 11-8 37 mins

Main Draw – J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, Grand Central Terminal
Friday, Jan. 16
[1] Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v [WC] Todd Harrity (USA)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v Campbell Grayson (NZL)
Chris Simpson (ENG) v Cesar Salazar (MEX)] Ong Beng Hee (MAS) v [7] Borja Golan (ESP)
Adrian Waller (ENG) v Tarek Momen (EGY)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) v Alan Clyne (SCO)
Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)
Olli Tuominen (FIN) v [4] Amr Shabana (EGY)
Saturday, Jan. 17
[3] Nick Matthew (ENG) v Daryl Selby (ENG)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) v Mohamed Abouleghar (EGY)] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v Diego Elias (PER)
Stephen Coppinger (RSA) v [8] Simon Roesner (ENG)
[6] Peter Barker (ENG) Gregoire Marche (FRA)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) v Joe Lee (ENG)] Alister Walker (BOT) v Tom Richards (ENG)
Max Lee (HKG) v [2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 



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  1. A wonderful achievement by 18 year old Diego Elias, it just shows what is possible, particularly from Peru ! However, among the ‘young guns’ climbing the World Rankings is Mohamed Abouelghar, twice a World Junior Finalist, who won his first PSA event aged 16. Now WR35, he was, nevertheless, referred to as “Birdsbrain” twice in the Squashsite report after losing to Omar Mosaad, WR9 in the TOC Main Draw. Omar Mosaad has an intimidating prescence on court at 6’5″, and a rather physical game it must be said. Indeed, a lengthy ‘blood injury’ to Abouelghar was also mentioned ! I therefore find him being described as “Birdsbrain” utterly insulting, and deserving of an apology. He is known for being one of the cleanest players on the circuit, and is extremely talented.

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