US SQUASH

Men’s World Team Championships : A day-by-day update by Coach Assaiante

By Paul Assaiante, Head National Coach

11th place play-off:
[15] CANADA bt [11] USA 2/0

David Letourneau beat Gilly Lane 8-11, 11-4, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9 (66m)
Shawn Delierre beat Christopher Gordon 12-10, 8-11, 11-6, 11-5 (75m)

The US men finished the tournament with a 2-0 loss to Canada to finish number 12 in the world.

At first glance this might seem to be a disappointing finish, but in fact I feel that this team did as well as it could after losing the service of Julian on day one.

Every team is strong and rest is such a critical part of negotiating the event.  One must find ways to give people a chance for recovery so that strategically you have a chance in the next round.

For instance, last night Egypt rested Ramy Ashour, world #1, against Australia. France and England played until 2am at full strength in a brutal match.  This could have had a big impact on the finals.

At any rate without Julian we were flat out every day. We were in position to win against Germany when the injury occurred.

We played a great match against Scotland but ran out of steam.

Today against Canada, Gilly played against a rested David Letourneau.  An all-Ivy match!!  Gilly lost 11-9 in the fifth game, and finished with five wins and just one loss in the event.

In the next match Gordo played against Shaun Delierre.  Shaun is ranked slightly higher than Chris and is brutal to play because he is a great athlete but also plays the body.  This means there are too many lets, which can really get on a players nerves, especially one who has had no rest.

The first game lasted 38 minutes and was just riddled with lets. Game to Gordon.  Chris kept his composure had a game ball in the second, but it slipped away 1-1.  Game three was a lopsided affair that went to the Canadian.  Game four was a war with the referees really controlling things and making odd calls both ways.  At 7-7 a let was called against Chris which may have been a no let, but a stroke was given to Canada.  This was a big decision especially since Chris was exhausted physically and mentally.  Fourth game to Canada 11-8.

In review I wish to share my views as U S coach.

I could not be more proud of our guys.

Chris Gordon is no flash in a pan and can truly give the top boys all they can handle. As a rule he beats people he should beat.

Julian is still an elite player.  He just had a tough break here.

Gilly is amazing.  He is playing far better today than he was two years ago when he was playing much more full time.

Dylan is an amazing talent and can be as good as he wants.  It will be interesting to see how he balances squash and a Harvard education.

Back home we have Todd Harrity and Chris Hanson, both who have just turned pro.

We also have Graham Basset, Faraz Khan and David Ramsden-Wood in the queue, and a very exciting group of juniors.

So the men’s squash team seems to be healthy for some time to come.

Special thanks to Kevin Klipstein, Rich Wade, Conor O’Malley and Jeremy Mayer for their hard work, and Chris Walker who helped in the lead up!

Coach

Day Five: Mexico

[11] USA bt [13] MEXICO 2/0

Gilly Lane beat Cesar Salazar 11-7, 12-10, 4-11, 11-3 (46m)
Christopher Gordon beat Arturo Salazar 11-6, 11-4, 11-9 (33m)

Today our men beat Mexico to secure a 9-12 finish.

This was a very good win for the boys, as this same Mexican team won the gold medal in the Pan American Games.

The order of the day was 2-1-3.  Gilly started us off against Caesar Salazar who has been ranked top 50 in the world.  Gilly has been such a nice surprise here in coming out of retirement. He played 70 percent pace to the back of the court and played soft straight drops when they presented themselves. Game one USA.

In game two the pace remained the same until the very end of the game. At that point Gilly got a little excited and as a result he had to do too much work, but gritted it out and grabbed a tight one!

We told Gilly to be careful not to get sucked into a faster pace and he did a wonderful job, 3-0 to USA.

Chris Gordon then went on to play against Arturo Salazar. This called for the opposite strategy.  Arturo has a magical back hand drop shot and a great backhand volley, so it was for Chris to keep the pace very high to the back, volley volley volley and drop only with huge opening.  It should be noted that Chris has never beaten Arturo! Victory to Chris 3-0!

We did not play the dead rubber and so Dylan finally got some recovery.

Tomorrow we play the winner of Scotland – Finland!

Day Four : Malaysia

[5] Malaysia bt [11] USA bt 2/0

Christopher Gordon lost to Ong Beng Hee 11-7, 5-11, 4-11, 8-11
Dylan Murray lost to Muhd Asyraf Azan 8-11, 12-10, 11-2, 11-8
Gilly Lane v Nafiizwan Adnan not played

Today the US boys played against the number five seeds, the Malaysians.  Tough having to rest Julian, so the same three boys are getting no break.

First on was Chris Gordon against former world #7 Ong Beng Hee. Gordo was really excited to play this match as he is really playing world class squash at the moment, and every match is another opportunity to display that standard.

Gordo established a ferocious pace and pumped the ball tightly into the back hand side while dropping the ball when the opportunity presented itself.  Game one USA.

Beng Hee took the air out of the ball in the second and third, playing high lobs, soft drops shots, and sneaky boasts. Gordo was working too hard while the crafty veteran was playing in rhythm and comfortably.  But in game four Gordo stuck in there and got Beng Hee to play his game.  Sadly we fell two points short, though Gordo played great.

Next on Dylan Murray against Muhd Asyraf Azan who is a freakish talent and ranked top 50 in the world.  Dylan played safe deep balls and caught the unsuspecting opponent in game one.  Dylan played a great second game and had game ball, but a tight call and a winner from Asyraf and the match was tied 1-1.

In game three the Malaysian put on a clinic, putting the ball in the lights and dropping softly from everywhere.  2-1 Malaysia. Dylan got a slow start but came roaring back only to fall 2 points short. Brilliant match.

We did not play the dead rubber and so Gilly got a reprieve.  Tomorrow we play Mexico who won the gold medal in the Pan American Games.  Needless to say we look forward to the opportunity.

Day Three : Ireland

[11] USA bt [21/24] IRELAND 2/1

Dylan Murray lost to Steve Richardson 13-11, 7-11, 6-11, 11-9, 7-11 (66m)
Christopher Gordon bt Arthur Gaskin 11-3, 11-7, 11-8 (46m)
Gilly Lane bt Derek Ryan 11-9, 11-5, 12-10 (36m)

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 9.26.49 AM

Our boys had a great win today against Ireland 2-1 to advance to the 1-16 round!

We rested Julian and so Dylan started us off. Our 18 year old phenom was given a lesson by a seasoned vet who simply was too experienced. Dylan was scrambling all over the court for five games and was exhausted after two!

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 9.28.00 AMHe asked “how come I can’t tire out a 40 year old?”. We all smiled and I said because you were on side by side treadmills. You were on level 12 – he on level 5!  You both stopped at the same time but you did twice the work.

At that moment we were looking at the prospect of being in the 17-32 group and a painful week.

Gordon was on next versus a man he had beaten in a tough four gamer recently in Ireland. Chris established a ferocious pace and just never let his foot off the gas. Controlling the right wall rallies, volleying everything that went to his forehand and dropping when called for. 3-0 Gordo.

The rubber match was between Gilly and former world number 7 Derek Ryan. It is an honor to watch Derek play.  Magical touch, great defensive skills, and a world of experience.

Gilly got off to a lead by Ryan, tied it up, and then served for the game.  Gilly slotted a cross court nick on return and served out the game.  Game two went to Gilly more comfortably.  Game three was point-by-point each way and again Gilly was able to push through to a wonderful but tough 3-0 win.

It is a wonderful thing that US Squash allowed us to bring a physio expert in Jeremy!  While the matches are rugged he is able to help the boys recover as quickly as possible.

The draw will be tonight but we may have the tough match versus Malaysia!

We will see.

 

Day Two : Germany

[6] GERMANY bt [11] USA 2/1

Raphael Kandra bt Julian Illingworth 6-11, 13-11, 11-4 ret. (40m)
Jens Schoor lost to Gilly Lane 8-11, 7-11, 11-7, 10-12 (58m)
Simon Rosner bt Christopher Gordon 7-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-7 (57m)

Anyone who doesn’t think there is luck in sport has never played a sport!

Today luck frowned on the US Squash team.  We were pitted to play against number 6 seeds Germany on the glass.  The order was 2-3-1.

I liked our chances in the first match as our eight time US champion Julian was to lead us off!   He was playing against a rising star but lesser experienced player.  Julian won the first game comfortably using wonderful soft length and sucking his opponent to the front court with equally soft touch.

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 9.27.44 AMJulian had a solid lead in the second and looked to be coasting when all of a sudden he lunged and made a funny hop.  He looked out the glass at me and I knew it was the hamstring.  We felt the air go out of the building.  He tried to play on gamely but for naught and had to default.

Gilly was next on against Shoor who just recently won a tour event and has a magical backhand drop shot.  I felt much less optimistic for this match and yet Gilly played with beautiful control, kept the ball on his opponents forehand and tried to keep the pace up.  He won the first two games in tight scores but got behind early in the third.  Shoor is a confident player and he held off a late run from Gilly to take the third.  Gilly played a courageous fourth and sealed a brilliant 3-1 win.

Next up was Chris Gordon against the hottest young player on tour Simon Rossner.  Things looked rough here.  Gordo played world class squash in the first game keeping the ball tight so that Rossner could not open the court with a dazzling array of shots.  First game to the US.

Rossner braved the storm and starting sending the ball to the four corners of the court displaying why he is top 15 in the world.  Chris regained control in the fourth by gluing the ball to the glass on the backhand side.  Sadly too little too late and a 3-1 win to Rossner.

Tough for Gordo but only because he could taste victory due to the fact that he was truly playing world class squash.

We have Ireland tomorrow at 11am and we will rest Julian and start off the match with our 18 year old phenom Dylan Murray.

We are excited to try to play our way into the 1-16 group.  It will be tough down a man.

 

Day One : Czech Republic

[11] USA bt [25/28] CZECH REPUBLIC 3/0

Gilly Lane bt Ondrej Uherka 12-10, 12-10, 11-5 (45m)
Christopher Gordon bt Petr Martin 11-9, 11-3, 11-4 (34m)
Dylan Murray bt Daniel Mekbib 11-4, 13-11, 11-6 (27m)

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 1.47.26 PM

The men’s team played against the Czech republic on day one of the pools, the morning after the opening ceremonies in Mulhouse, France.

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 1.46.49 PMThings have been a bit hectic for our team since our arrival three days ago.  Teams are scattered between four hotels thus diluting the feel of a team world championship, and there also seems to be a bit of an edge culturally here with language differences.  That said the men are in great spirits and getting along wonderfully!

Gilly always the energizer bunny, Julian with his delightfully dry sense of humor, Chris Gordon the squash mayor of any city in the world and Dylan Murray the rookie who is starry eyed and a joy to be around.  In addition, rather than bringing a team manager we brought Jeremy our team ‘physio’ who is making a huge difference for the boys bodies which in turn keeps them calm.

So today, day one against Czech Republic, the order was 2-1-3 – we opted to rest Julian as Germany tomorrow will be tough on the glass, and Ireland on Tuesday will be very hard.

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 1.47.06 PMGilly started us off with a hard fought tight three game match.  Gilly, coming out of retirement, had to deal with some early match jitters and a case of the tins, but ran his way to victory.

Chris Gordon played against a very handy player at number one.  Chris is really improving daily and is taking so much space in the mid court that his opponent is forced to the four corners severely! Game one was tight but Gordo made some accuracy adjustments and coasted in three.

We were all so excited to see Dylan play his first match on the men’s world stage, and he did not disappoint. His opponent had great hands and was great along the redline but a but slow to the front court.  Dylan tried for good length but the man simply volleyed too well Dylan stole the first game with sheer determination and foot speed.  Julian gave him some great advice and Dylan started bringing the ball forward and hunting the response.  It was still tough sledding but 3-0 to Dylan.

Tomorrow we play the sixth seed Germany on the glass.  Needless to say we are quite excited to give it our best shot!

Until tomorrow…

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1 Comment

  1. Temple Grassi June 28, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    Enjoyed reading Coach A’s daily account
    Well done squashers! Court tennis looms!

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