(L-R) U.S. Masters Julie Kessler,  Sara Smythe,  Jen Gabler,  Julie's husband Mark,  Debbie Hodes,  Will Carlin,  and Canadians Cathy Cowper and Lisa Coates.
(L-R) U.S. Masters Julie Kessler, Sara Smythe, Jen Gabler, Mark Weis, Debbie Hodes, Will Carlin, and Canadians Cathy Cowper and Lisa Coates.

The 2014 World Squash Masters are underway at the Hong Kong Squash Center with twenty-one U.S. representatives or U.S.-based players participating.

Five Americans are still alive in the main draw ahead of Tuesday’s matches including [9/12] seed John Musto in the Men’s 45+ Round of Sixteen, [3/4] seed Michael Gough in the Men’s 75+ Quarterfinals, [5/8] seed Hope Prockop and Wendy Ansdell the Ladies 45+ Quarterfinals and one seed Natalie Grainger in the Ladies 35+ Quarterfinals.

Musto recorded two victories in the second to largest draw of the tournament, including a comeback from 2-1 down in games to win the fifth game 11-1 and reach the Round of Sixteen. Musto faces German [5/8] seed Predi Fritsche Tuesday.

If Gough is victorious against English [5/8] seed John Preston Tuesday, he would likely set up a clash against top-seeded Welshman Brian Phillips in the semis.

In the top half of the Ladies 45+ draw, Prockop faces a daunting match-up against one seed and former world No. 1 Sarah Fitz-Gerald, while Wendy Ansdell is up against second-seeded Sarah Nelson on the opposite end of the draw.

Grainger is seeded to win her first World Masters title as she continues her pursuit against Singapore’s [5/8] seed Joannah Yue Tuesday.

Players in consolation draws include Paul Ansdell (45+), Tom Burns (55+), Will Carlin (50+), Ewan Copeland (65+), Dulio Costa (55+), Jen Gabler (50+), Naveen Garg (45+), Richard Hankinson (75+), Deb Hodes (55+), Julie Kessler (45+), Curt Kohlberg (55+), Andre Maur (45+), Ed Montanye (50+), Tom Rumpler (60+), Thomas Seale (55+) and Ken Stillman (65+).

Follow all draws on the World Squash Federation tournament page.

For updates, pictures and more, follow the USA Squashmasters group on Facebook.

The World Masters are a family affair for 2013 U.S. Champion and former world No. 1 Natalie Grainger as the World Masters press profiles:

The Grainger Family—all in the Masters

(L-R) Graingers Natalie, Chris, and Jean in Hong Kong. (image: WSF)

Natalie, Jean and Chris Grainger—daughter, mother and father—are all participating in this year’s World Squash Masters. A very sports orientated family with Jean converting Chris to squash from tennis when they first met in South Africa.

It was there that they built a squash centre and although Natalie was born in the UK she was brought up in South Africa and lived in the squash environment from a very early age. Jean and Chris managed the centre for twenty years before selling it to Craig Van Der Wath, the number one seeded South African in the 45+ group. Natalie was just twelve years old when she first beat her mother (who played on the British International team) and was fourteen when she beat her father as well.

It is the first time in Hong Kong for Jean and Chris but Natalie has been here many times.

It is something special for Jean to have her daughter playing, as she just qualifies for the Masters, and spending more time together as a family since Natalie now lives in New York while Chris and Jean are still in South Africa.

Natalie’s squash career has been spectacular, representing USA since 2007 and becoming the world number one ladies player. She has won many other major titles but some of her most memorable events have not always been wins, though this is always her motivation. When asked what she thought she could achieve at the Masters, her answer was simple: “I want to win.”

Other highlights have been winning against Nicol David on her home ground in Kuala Lumpur. When asked about Nicol’s game, Natalie said she has great foot work in the hitting zone and copes with pressure very well—and she studies the game. She has also changed her approach and style and adapts her game; she is without a doubt a gifted athlete.

One of her toughest games was against Sarah Fitz-Gerald when she lost in 86 minutes.
Chris and Jean are the organisers of the next world Masters in 2016 in Johannesburg, which will be played over two or even three squash centres, one of which is Parkview squash centre.