An upset over neighbours Canada takes USA into the quarter-finals of the WSF Men’s World Team Squash Championship in Paderborn, Germany, and ensures the nation its first top eight finish in the championship since 1983.
The 23rd staging of the World Squash Federation event – the first senior world championship since the IOC announcement that Squash is on the shortlist for Olympic inclusion in 2020 – is taking place in Germany for the first time.
A surprise earlier qualifying defeat by Italy led USA, the eighth seeds, to be drawn against a higher seeded team in the last 16 round. But team rookie Todd Harrity, a 20-year-old from Philadelphia, put the USA ahead – inflicting the first defeat of the tournament on Andrew Schnell by beating the Canadian No4 from Calgary 13-11, 11-7, 7-11, 11-4.
But it was squad number one Julian Illingworth who clinched the US victory over the seventh seeds. The world No32 from New York recovered from 2/0 down to beat career-long rival Shahier Razik, ranked three places higher, 6-11, 3-11, 11-2, 11-0, 11-5 in 64 minutes.
“Todd was magnificent, despite the fact that he’s not had this sort of experience before,” explained US national coach Paul Assiante afterwards. “The team worked with him before coming here, the strategy being to try and make him more aggressive – which wasn’t easy for him – but he did it. And after that third game, he made the change – and that was impressive.
“Julian did a great job – all the pressure was on him, and one of the most difficult games you can play is one against someone you’re supposed to beat. I thought he was brilliant and showed a tremendous amount of courage. He’s a seasoned pro and, after coming through the third and fourth games, knew that Shahier would have something left in the tank for the decider.
“Hats off to Julian and hats off to the team. Now we’re in the quarters against Egypt – it doesn’t get much better than that!”
Defending champions Egypt did indeed survive their first knockout round to make the last eight – but the No2 seeds were severely tested by hosts Germany and the sell-out crowd surrounding the stunning new all-glass court at the Ahorn-Sportpark.
With each successful German shot being supported by wild cheering, whistling, stamping and drumming from the vociferous crowd, it was perhaps no surprise that underdog Raphael Kandra, the world No125 from Koblenz, took a game from Egypt’s world No9 Mohamed El Shorbagy – and local star Simon Rosner twice led world No2 Ramy Ashour!
But there was not be a fairytale ending for the home side as Ashour upped his game to beat Paderborn-based Rosner, the world No30, 9-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-4, 11-8 to consign Germany to the lower play-off places.
“Simon played the best match ever,” conceded the 23-year-old from Cairo. “He played with no pressure, he had nothing to lose. He was on his best day ever – the only thing he wanted was to beat me!
“The whole setting here is absolutely amazing, playing squash in front of so many people. They are making even more noise than in Egypt! It was like Soccer tonight, Manchester United against Real Madrid or something! And it’s good for us, and it’s good for the game,” added Ashour.
“I was taken aback by the support he got – there were a thousand plus Germans shouting, and that was amazing.”
For the second day in a row, English-born Marcus Berrett played a major part in steering Italy to unexpected success in the championship. In the third and deciding match against Mexico, the 35-year-old former world No37 stemmed a fightback by full-time player Eric Galvez to beat the world No79 11-9, 11-4, 5-11, 4-11, 11-6 – and was immediately engulfed by his joyful Italian team-mates.
“That’s the biggest piece of drama I’ve ever been involved in,” said Yorkshireman Berrett, who has lived in Milan for more than six years. “Playing the decider, fighting back from losing a two-games advantage, then coming back in the final game – that’s the drama of sport. It’s why we’re involved.”
There could well be three Yorkshiremen in the quarter-final when Italy take on England. The favourites, with two Yorkshiremen Nick Matthew and James Willstrop in the squad, brushed aside Hong Kong China in little more than an hour of playing time.
In the lower play-off ties, New Zealand rediscovered their winning ways by beating Korea 3/0. But the experienced Kiwis, seeded 15, were fully stretched by the fledgling nation making only their second appearance in the event.
New Zealander Martin Knight, ranked 48 in the world, twice had to recover from fight backs from Seung Taek Leebefore beating the unranked Korean 11-4, 8-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-0.
“We knew we were going to be tested – all three players were good, even though we didn’t know much about them,” saidPaul Hornsby, the new NZ national coach. “Their racket skills were good and they moved well – we had to play tidy squash to beat them.”
Another standout clash in the 17th-32nd place play-offs saw 41-year-old Irishman Derek Ryan notch up his 200th match as Ireland beat Colombia 3/0. Later in the day, in front of the 1000-strong crowd surrounding the all-glass court, Championship Manager Norman Farthing presented Ryan with a special cap to mark his record achievement.
Ryan made his European championship debut for Ireland in 1988 and his world team championship debut a year later. He has only missed one world championship since, in 2005, when it clashed with exams he was taking for his current career as a physiotherapist.
The Dubliner retired from the World Tour seven years ago after celebrating a career-high world ranking of 7 in 1999. Winner of 8 Irish national titles, and finalist 15 times, Ryan has won all three matches he has already played in Paderborn.
“I wasn’t expecting this – it’s fantastic,” said the popular Irishman. “My Dad (Brendan) will be absolutely chuffed – he’s been counting them each year since the beginning!”
When asked by the tournament MC how many more championships he expects to play, Ryan responded: “Loads.”
Irish team manager Ed Dunne told the crowd: “He’s been a great ambassador for squash back home – and always shows squash in a great light.”
Last sixteen round:
 ENGLAND bt [17/24] HONG KONG CHINA 3/0
Daryl Selby bt Yip Tsz Fung 11-5, 11-4, 11-2 (25m)
James Willstrop bt Max Lee 11-4, 11-4, 11-9 (28m)
Peter Barker bt Dick Lau 11-4, 11-5 (15m)
 ITALY bt  MEXICO 2/1
Amr Ramsy Swelim bt Erik Tepos Valtierra 11-5, 11-3, 11-2 (23m)
Stephane Galifi lost to Cesar Salazar 5-11, 6-11, 9-11 (49m)
Marcus Berrett bt Eric Galvez 11-9, 11-4, 5-11, 4-11, 11-6 (65m)
 AUSTRALIA bt  NETHERLANDS 2/1
Stewart Boswell bt Bart Ravelli 11-2, 11-6, 11-3 (31m)
David Palmer lost to Laurens Jan Anjema 12-10, 4-11, 3-11, 8-11 (72m)
Cameron Pilley bt Piedro Schweertman 11-5, 11-2, 11-3 (26m)
 INDIA bt [17/24] DENMARK 2/0
Harinder Pal Sandhu bt Morten W Sorensen 11-6, 11-1, 11-8 (29m)
Saurav Ghosal bt Kristian Frost Olesen 11-6, 11-5, 9-11, 11-9 (66m)
Siddharth Suchde v Rasmus Nielsen (Match withdrawn)
 MALAYSIA bt  SOUTH AFRICA 3/0
Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan bt Clinton Leeuw 11-4, 11-9, 11-8 (34m)
Mohd Azlan Iskandar bt Stephen Coppinger 8-11, 11-2, 7-11, 11-6, 11-0 (72m)
Ong Beng Hee bt Shaun le Roux 6-11, 12-10, 11-7 (25m)
 FRANCE bt  FINLAND 3/0
Gregoire Marche bt Tatu Knuutila 11-4, 11-2, 11-1 (19m)
Gregory Gaultier bt Olli Tuominen 11-8, 11-3, 11-5 (43m)
Mathieu Castagnet bt Henrik Mustonen 8-11, 11-5, 11-4 (32m)
 USA bt  CANADA 2/0
Todd Harrity bt Andrew Schnell 13-11, 11-7, 7-11, 11-4 (42m)
Julian Illingworth bt Shahier Razik 6-11, 3-11, 11-2, 11-0, 11-5 (64m)
Christopher Gordon v Shawn Delierre (Match withdrawn)
 EGYPT bt  GERMANY 3/0
Mohamed El Shorbagy bt Raphael Kandra 11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 11-4 (44m)
Ramy Ashour bt Simon Rosner 9-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-4, 11-8 (62m)
Karim Darwish bt Jens Schoor 11-9, 11-6 (15m)
17th – 32nd place play-offs:
[17/24] SPAIN bt [25/32] HUNGARY 3/0
David Vidal bt Peter Hoffman 11-3, 12-10, 11-7 (33m)
Borja Golan bt Mark Krajcsak 11-3, 11-7, 11-3 (30m)
Alejandro Garbi Caro bt Sandor Fulop 11-6, 11-8 (16m)
[17/24] SCOTLAND bt [25/32] BERMUDA 3/0
Harry Leitch bt Chris Stout 11-7, 11-4, 11-5 (26m)
Alan Clyne bt Micah Franklin 11-6, 11-1, 11-1 (22m)
Stuart Crawford bt Robert Maycock 11-3, 11-5 (15m)
[17/24] ARGENTINA bt [25/32] AUSTRIA 2/1
Juan Pablo Roude bt Andreas Freudensprung 11-6, 11-8, 6-11, 11-7 (54m)
Gonzalo Miranda lost to Aqeel Rehman 11-6, 6-11, 6-11, 11-7, 3-11 (54m)
Hernan D’Arcangelo bt Jakob Dirnberger 8-11, 11-3, 11-5, 11-6 (38m)
[17/24] KUWAIT bt [25/32] UKRAINE 3/0
Ali Bader Al-Ramzi bt Valeriy Fedoruk 11-5, 11-9, 11-1 (24m)
Abdullah Al Muzayen bt Ruslan Sorochinskiy 11-6, 11-6, 11-5 (29m)
Ammar Al-Tamimi bt Kostiantyn Rybalchenko 11-9, 11-3 (19m)
 PAKISTAN bt [25/32] NAMIBIA 2/0
Nasir Iqbal bt Andrew Forrest 11-3, 11-2, 11-4 (21m)
Aamir Atlas Khan bt Marco Becker 11-6, 11-5, 11-8 (20m)
Yasir Butt v Norbert Dorgeloh (Match withdrawn)
[25/32] IRELAND bt [17/24] COLOMBIA 3/0
Steve Richardson bt Juan Camilo Vargas 11-6, 7-11, 11-9, 11-4 (37m)
Arthur Gaskin bt Andres Vargas 12-10, 11-2, 11-8 (38m)
Derek Ryan bt Javier Castilla Conde 11-5 ret. (7m)
[17/24] SWITZERLAND bt [25/32] SWEDEN 2/1
Lukas Burkhart lost to Joakim Larsson 11-6, 8-11, 9-11, 4-11 (47m)
Nicolas Mueller bt Christian Drakenberg 11-6, 9-11, 9-11, 11-3, 11-2 (50m)
Reiko Peter bt Sebastian Victor 14-12, 11-5, 7-11, 11-4 (51m)
 NEW ZEALAND bt [25/32] KOREA 3/0
Paul Coll bt Se Hyun Lee 13-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-5 (65m)
Martin Knight bt Seung Taek Lee 11-4, 8-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-0 (53m)
Campbell Grayson bt Seung-Jun Lee 11-5, 9-11, 11-7, 11-8 (40m)
 ENGLAND v  ITALY
 AUSTRALIA v  INDIA
 FRANCE v  MALAYSIA
 EGYPT v  USA
9th – 16th place play-offs:
 MEXICO v [17/24] HONG KONG CHINA
 NETHERLANDS v [17/24] DENMARK
 SOUTH AFRICA v  FINLAND
 GERMANY v  CANADA
17th – 24th place play-offs:
[17/24] SPAIN v [17/24] SCOTLAND
[17/24] ARGENTINA v [17/24] KUWAIT
 PAKISTAN v [25/32] IRELAND
 NEW ZEALAND v [17/24] SWITZERLAND
25th – 32nd place play-offs:
[25/32] HUNGARY v [25/32] BERMUDA
[25/32] AUSTRIA v [25/32] UKRAINE
[17/24] COLOMBIA v [25/32] NAMIBIA
[25/32] KOREA v [25/32] SWEDEN