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US OPEN: Can big banger White be a Philly-buster?

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FORMER world No. 1 John White will be turning back the clock in Philadelphia this week as he bids to qualify for the Delaware Investments U.S. Open.

The 40-year-old Aussie, who played under the Scottish flag in the latter part of his career, is head coach at local University Drexel and will be enthusiastically backed by students and players keen to see if he still has the power that made him the game’s biggest hitter in his prime.

White achieved speeds of over 165 miles per hour (266 km/h). One of his shots was clocked at 172 miles per hour, a record until 3 October 2011 when Carmeon Pilley hit a shot that was recorded at 175 miles per hour.

He was drawn against Mexican world No. 58 Alfredo Avila qualifying line-up was released overnight.

In all, 32 players – including five Americans – will be vying for eight available positions in the  main draw at Drexel University, the Racquet Club of Philadelphia, Merion Cricket Club, and Germantown Cricket Club October 9-10.

Kuwaiti world No. 44 Abdullah Al Muzayen slots into the draw as the top seed in qualifying facing Joe Chapman of the British Virgin Islands in the first round at Merion.

Muzayen, whose highest world ranking reached 33, is seeded to face either Columbia University junior and world No. 231 Ramit Tandon, or world No. 71 Jan Koukal of the Czech Republic to make the main draw.

Princeton University graduate and world No. 174 Todd Harrity returns to his childhood club Merion to take on English world No. 65 Chris Ryder. Germantown Cricket Club is host to the youngest players in the tournament: 3-time U.S. Junior Champion and Harvard University freshman Dylan Murray, 18, and University of Rochester sophomore Faraz Khan at 19 years of age.

The youthful Americans each face players in the world’s top 100 with Khan set to face Australian world No. 57 Matthew Karwalski, and Murray pitted against English world No. 61 Jamie Haycocks.

Philadelphia native and former world No. 48 Gilly Lane, currently the Assistant Squash Coach at the University of Pennsylvania and US National Team player-coach, takes to the court at the Racquet Club of Philadelphia against South African world No. 53 Shaun Le Roux.

Lane is coming off a busy summer during which he recorded five wins and only one loss at the Men’s World Team Championships in France, and won bronze in individual and team competitions as a player-coach at September’s Pan American Games in Argentina.

Le Roux will be looking to regain his form after a being upset in the first round two weeks ago as the one seed in the Madison Open PSA 10. Lane or Le Roux will face either 2013 Dartmouth College graduate Chris Hanson, playing in his first tournament since turning professional this summer, or Egyptian world No. 70 Mohamed Abouelghar.

White will not be the only College Squash Association head coach in action at Drexel as former world No. 37 and Director of Squash at Franklin & Marshall College, Gavin Jones, faces Australian world No. 68 Rex Hedrick.

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33-year-old Welshman Jones is joined by fellow local pre-qualifiers Imran Khan and Jamie Macaulay at Drexel. Khan, originally hailing from Karachi, Pakistan and former world No. 110, is currently the Head Squash Coach at Malvern Preparatory School as well as the Squash Doubles Association world No. 12.

He will be tested by Australian world No. 59 Steven Finitsis. Macaulay was defeated by Jones in pre-qualifying, but received a position in the draw after an additional local qualifying position opened up. He has the daunting task of playing two seed and world no. 41 Campbell Grayson of New Zealand.

All qualifying players are competing for positions in the main draw, in with the first round of 32 matches will be played on Drexel University courts and the Delaware Investments glass show court Friday, October 11.

The women’s qualifying draw will be released tomorrow.

To view the complete draw, match times, and locations, click here.

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