England’s Tom Richards and Chris Ryder will both make their Grand Central Terminal debuts in the JP MorganTournament of Champions while the remaining six qualifying spots were earned by players who will be making return trips to the first Professional Squash Association World Series squash event of the year in New York.
Richards earned his main draw appearance by defeating Australia’s Raj Nanda in four games. “I have seen the pictures of the court here in Grand Central in the magazines and playing here is something I have always wanted to do,” said the satisfied 24-year-old from Surrey after his match.
Ryder had an even more straightforward victory to get him to Grand Central. Exchanging the lead on every point to six-all in the first game, the Englishman pulled ahead of New Zealander Martin Knight at the midway mark to win the game and never looked back. His 3/0 victory sends him to a first round clash with Canada’s Shahier Razik.
Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller outlasted England’s Bradley Ball to return to Grand Central Terminal for the second consecutive year for a main draw berth against Adrian Grant, another Englishman. In a match marked by multiple shifts in momentum and moments of remarkable athleticism, Mueller needed five games to secure his stay in New York City.
Ball, a PSA Tour veteran who now resides and coaches in New York City, snatched the first game 11-9. After winning the next two games 11-6, 11-6, the Swiss player seemingly had the match in hand when he had a couple of game balls in the fourth. Ball wasn’t ready to get off the court, though, and forced a fifth game decider after winning the game 13-11. Mueller steadied himself win the deciding game 11-5. “It was a tough match and Bradley didn’t let me play my game,” said Mueller. “I had a couple of match balls that I gave away, but it was good to come back and win in the fifth.”
In a physical and fiercely-contested match, Egypt’s Mohammed Abbas retrieving capacity and superior shot-making carried the day against Canada’s Shawn Delierre, who was defeated in four games. Relegated to the qualifying draw because of a series of injuries in the past two years, Abbas was delighted to earn his fifth trip to the glass court in Grand Central. “It is one of the best places to play. It is amazing,” said the 30-year-old Egyptian who will face countryman and friend Amr Shabana, the fourth seed, in Saturday’s first round match.
Playing error-free squash, Spain’s Borja Golan wore down Germany’s Simon Rosner in four games to also earn his fifth trip to the Grand Central glass court where he will face another qualifier, Tarek Momen. The 22-year-old Egyptian – who was too strong, too quick and had too many shots for Canadian David Phillips – cruised to a 3/0 victory.
In a fast-paced match marked by great retrieving, Australian Ryan Cuskelly‘s hustle and attacking, offensive play carried the day against France’s Gregoire Marche. Cuskelly’s four game victory earned him a first round encounter with England’sDaryl Selby.
Hisham Mohd Ashour abounded with confidence as he schooled Princeton University standout David Letourneau in the finer points of the professional game with a 27-minute 11-3, 11-7, 11-6 victory. “I feel this is where I should be,” said Ashour of his main draw berth, referring to the fact that he was ranked 29 when the JP Morgan Tournament of Championsmain draw was made in December, but now stands at 18 in the world rankings. Ashour joins eight other Egyptian players, including his younger brother Ramy, seeded one, in the 32-player championship draw.
While the qualifiers were battling for the final eight places in the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions main draw, the Grand Central venue was the place to be for the rest of the squash world. A glittering and glamorous crowd representing the best of squash, both past and present, gathered to honour the outstanding players of the 2010 season in professional squash. The JP Morgan Tournament of Champions second seed Nick Matthew received PSA Player of the Yearhonours and seventh seed Mohamed El Shorbagy was recognised as PSA Young Player of the Year.
Tarek Momen (EGY) bt David Phillips (CAN) 11-7, 11-6, 11-5 (25m)
Chris Ryder (ENG) bt Martin Knight (NZL) 11-6, 11-3, 11-2 (45m)
Mohammed Abbas (EGY) bt Shawn Delierre (CAN) 9-11, 11-6, 11-2, 12-10 (75m)
Borja Golan (ESP) bt Simon Rosner (GER) 9-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-8 (75m)
Tom Richards (ENG) bt Raj Nanda (AUS) 11-3, 9-11, 12-10, 11-3 (31m)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 7-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-6 (68m)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt Bradley Ball (ENG) 9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-13, 11-5 (73m)
Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY) bt David Letourneau (CAN) 11-3, 11-7, 11-6 (27m)
Updated 1st round draw:
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) v Olli Tuominen (FIN)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) v Stewart Boswell (AUS)
Ong Beng Hee (MAS) v [Q] Tom Richards (ENG)
 David Palmer (AUS) v Julian Illingworth (USA)
 Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) v Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS)
Shahier Razik (CAN) v [Q] Chris Ryder (ENG)
[Q] Borja Golan (ESP) v [Q] Tarek Momen (EGY)
 James Willstrop (ENG) v Jonathan Kemp (ENG)
 Amr Shabana (EGY) v [Q] Mohammed Abbas (EGY)
Daryl Selby (ENG) v [Q] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
Adrian Grant (ENG) v [Q] Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
 Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) v Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
 Peter Barker (ENG) v Mohd Ali Anwar Reda (EGY)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) v [Q] Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY)
Wael El Hindi (EGY) v Alister Walker (ENG)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v Omar Mosaad (EGY)