Qualifying for the Professional Squash Association (PSA) Greenwich Challenger is complete as five of the eight qualifying finalists complete the sixteen-player main draw at the Greenwich Country Club in Connecticut.
Greenwich Country Club professional Phil Barker and club-member Chris Hanson led off Wednesday’s qualifying finals after both players comfortably advanced in three games Tuesday.
Hanson emphatically qualified for his second PSA main draw in just twenty-three minutes, defeating fellow American and Brown graduate Bradbury Thompson 11-4, 11-0, 11-3. The twenty-three-year-old Dartmouth graduate’s main draw opponent is his Australian training partner and two seed, Zac Alexander, in their first encounter on the professional stage.
After rising over seventy positions to his highest world ranking of 130 in May, Peruvian seventeen-year-old Diego Elias continued his good form in qualifying for his fourth consecutive PSA main draw in 2014. GCC professional Barker, fifteen years Elias’ senior, stretched the U.S. Junior Open champion in an hour-long match 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-2. Luke Butterworth reports:
“Diego and his long stride was effective moving well from the T position into all corners of the court. The first game had some hard-hitting drives with both players trying to gain dominance of the middle over each other. Diego had some fantastic nicks to close out the game. Phil came out very strong in the next game, using great variety down the side walls nullifying Diego’s attacks and holds at the front. He maintained the pressure on him and closed out with a drop shot in into the nick that Paul Carter would have been proud of, and Peter—his younger brother—jealous of.
“With the games tied at one-all, it was nip-and-tuck all the way to the wire of the third. Diego used his large frame to take his space around the middle to effectively put the ball dying in the front, which was the difference to win the game 11-8. Phil’s athletic prowess soon diminished rapidly after he flew out of the blocks in the fourth. The young Peruvian—who could play all day long—was comfortable to see the game out with simple, accurate squash.”
“I’m happy to make the main draw and I’m hoping to improve my performance tomorrow, I’m feeling great,” Elias said after the match.
Elias has the daunting draw of facing top-seeded Malaysian Muhd Asyraf Azan in the first round. Barker’s tournament is not yet over, as the Englishman was drawn as the Lucky Loser set to face Seattle-based teenager Shahjahan Khan in Thursday’s first round.
The second round of matches saw an all-English battle between San Francisco-based Charlie Johnson and Tom Pashley. World No. 182 Pashley took the match in thirty-five minutes 11-4, 11-6, 11-5.
“I’m feeling great going into the main draw, and was seeing the ball nicely,” Pashley said. “Charlie made me work, however, and I’m happy to get off in three and feel fresh for tomorrow.”
Pashley will play another U.S.-based Englishman in the form of fourth-seeded Lewis Walters in the first round.
The longest qualifying final at seventy-four minutes, came down between Jordanian Ahmad Alzabidi and Pakistani Aurangzeb Mehmund. Alzabidi recovered from one game down to win the match in four 12-14, 13-11, 11-3, 11-3.
Chris Hanson (USA) bt Bradbury Thompson (USA) 11-4, 11-0, 11-3 (23m)
Diego Elias (PER) bt Phil Barker (ENG) 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-2 (35m)
Ahmad Alzabidi (JOR) bt Aurangzeb Mehmund 12-14, 13-11, 11-3, 11-3 (74m)
Tom Pashley (ENG) bt Charlie Johnson (ENG) 11-4, 11-6, 11-5 (35m)
4:00pm:  Muhd Asyraf Azan (MAS) v [Q] Diego Elias (PER)
4:00pm:  David Letourneau (CAN) v Christopher Binnie (JAM)
5:00pm: Shahjahan Khan (PAK) v [LL] Phil Barker (ENG)
5:00pm:  Lewis Walters (ENG) v [Q] Tom Pashley (ENG)
6:00pm:  Clinton Leeuw (RSA) v Hernan D’Arcangelo (ARG)
6:00pm:  Todd Harrity (USA) v [WC] Luke Butterworth (ENG)
7:00pm:  Matthew Serediak (CAN) v [Q] Ahmad Alzabidi (JOR)
7:00pm:  Zac Alexander (AUS) v [Q] Chris Hanson (USA)