Thursday, December 7, 2023

Youngster Masters shines in Madeira

Youngster Brad sets up all-Kent clash with Steven London
By MICHAEL CATLING – Squash Mad Reporter in Madeira

Bradley Masters in action in Madeira
Bradley Masters in action in Madeira

English teenager Bradley Masters secured his maiden appearance in the main draw of a PSA event after stunning top qualifying seed Sean Conroy in four games at the Madeira International Open.

The world number 376 overturned a first game deficit to prevail 7-11 11-8 11-9 11-7 in 46 minutes at the inaugural Challenger 5 event in Canico. He is is rewarded with a first round tie against Kent county team-mate Steven London, the fifth seed from Park Langley.

“It’s very pleasing to beat a player ranked 205 and I am really happy with the way I played,” said the 17-year-old from Kent.

“The third game was really important and when he served down the middle at 10-8 and I let the ball run through my legs, I don’t know what I was thinking. I was definitely nervous at that point but I managed to put him under pressure and thankfully I won the game with a drop.

“But generally, I’ve felt quite calm and relaxed in my first two matches and I think I’ve managed to adjust to the hot conditions really well. I know the next round is going to be even tougher but I’m going to go into my match with 100% confidence and I’ll just try and do my best.”

Despite over 175 places separating the duo in the world rankings, Masters showcased a maturity which bellied his years as Conroy struggled to justify his seeding after cruising through the opening game.

Masters, who overcame Portuguese number four Pedro Damaso in the first round of qualifying, reeled off five consecutive points to lead 8-3 in the second game and regained his composure after squandering two game balls to level the scores at one-apiece.

Masters continued in the ascendency in the third game and after racing into a 7-1 lead, two successive boast winners handed the teenager four game balls.

Conroy, though, responded by winning the next three points, but failed to force a tie-break as Masters edged a gruelling rally to move within one game of victory.

The Irish number two, who rose to a career-high 205 in the July world rankings, failed to recover from the psychological blow and Masters benefited from a stroke decision at match ball to join his older brother Joshua in the main draw.

madmulveyIn the longest match of the tournament so far, world number 235 Nick Mulvey (right, green shirt) booked a first-round matchup with Swiss third seed Patrick Miescher after edging past Spain’s Dani Pascual in a physical encounter at the Onda Revital Club.

The 21-year-old from England needed 56 minutes to oust the world number 268 from Barcelona 11-9 4-11 6-11 11-7 11-6 and avenge his defeat at the Geneva Open earlier this year.

Mulvey said: “I think I tired him (Pascual) out today. I have confidence that I am fitter than quite a lot of people and thankfully it paid off today. But mentally, I struggled for two games and I can’t really afford to do that tomorrow.”

Elsewhere, Hertfordshire-based duo Joe Green and Angus Gillams extended English representation in the main draw to 10, after straight game victories over Liam Gutcher and Remo Handl.

Green, who has been given a wild-card entry at the Nottingham Open next month, dropped just two points in a one-sided first game, before saving two game balls in the second to triumph 13-11 in the tie-break.

Gutcher briefly threatened a fightback at 5-4 in the third game, before Green rattled off the next seven points to secure an 11-2 13-11 11-5 victory in just over half an hour.

Meanwhile, Gillams needed four minutes less to upset the qualifying seedings and repeat his 3-0 victory over Handl at the French Junior U19 Open.

The 18-year-old left-hander was forced to save two game balls in the opening game, but barely looked threatened thereafter as he recorded a 13-11 11-4 11-6 win over the third qualifying seed.

Gillams, who finished runner-up at the European Junior U19 Championship in April, tackles Scottish seventh seed Jonathan Geekie in the next round, while Green meets Portuguese eighth seed Rui Soares for a spot in the last eight.

Top seed Declan James will also be in action on Thursday evening and opens his campaign against Portuguese number two Claudio Pinto, before fellow compatriot and second seed Chris Fuller takes to the court to face George Parker in one of two all-English first round encounters.

Madeira International Open

First Round Draw:

[1] Declan James (ENG) v Claudio Pinto (POR)
[6] Mark Fuller (ENG) v [WC] Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP)
[8] Rui Soares (POR) v [Q] Joe Green (ENG)
[4] Lukas Burkhart (SUI) v Joshua Masters (ENG)
[3] Patrick Miescher (SUI) v [Q] Nick Mulvey (ENG)
[7] Jonathan Geekie (SCO) v [Q] Angus Gillams (ENG)
[5] Steven London (ENG) v [Q] Bradley Masters (ENG)
[2] Chris Fuller (ENG) v George Parker (ENG)

Qualifying Final Round Results:

[8] Bradley Masters (ENG) bt [1] Sean Conroy (IRL) 7-11 11-8 11-9 11-7 (46m)
[5] Angus Gillams (ENG) bt [3] Remo Handl (SUI) 13-11 11-4 11-6 (27m)
[4] Joe Green (ENG) bt [7] Liam Gutcher (ENG) 11-2 13-11 11-5 (31m)
[2] Nick Mulvey (ENG) bt [6] Dani Pascual (ESP) 11-9 4-11 6-11 11-7 11-6 (56m)

Pictures by Michael Catling (Squash Mad)


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