Report courtesy of Matt Schoch
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It was an opening day to remember for the French and English Wednesday as they dominated Round One of The Motor City Open presented by Sturbridge Capital.
Seven of the last 10 champions in the 21st annual Birmingham Athletic Club event have come from Egypt, but Europeans went 5-0 with three Englishmen earning wins, along with two Frenchmen.
Egypt’s Mohamed ElSherbini, India’s Vikram Malhotra and Qatar’s Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi also earned wins while the event’s three Americans were all eliminated.
Americans Todd Harrity and Shahjahan Khan were shown the exit in late matches with England’s George Parker topping Harrity, 11-8, 11-9, 11-9, and Malhotra closing out Khan, 14-12. 11-9, 11-5.
Parker came up with big shots when he needed to against Harrity to win all three games.
“I think I was probably a bit clever on crucial points,” Parker said. “It was pretty much 50/50 squash, I just think he made three or four errors a game.”
Khan, who was born in Pakistan but lives in Boston, battled a shin injury during his loss.
England’s Richie Fallows opened the sweep of the Yankees by topping Chris Hanson, 11-8, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7. Fallows battled a back injury throughout, but came through in the physical match after taking an injury timeout late in the third.
“It’s a court that’s quite quick and it’s a bit of a leveler,” said Fallows, who is playing in the MCO for the third year. He gave a shout-out to his host family, the Barrs, who make him feel right at home in metro Detroit.
“So I knew that I was going to have to play some good squash, hit some winners. I just kind of dug in today, waited for my opportunity, and luckily it came up.”
Still, despite quick exits for the Americans, Parker said squash in the MCO’s home country is on the rise.
“Definitely, the younger generation I can see coming up, I’ve heard there’s quite a lot of young 13, 14, 15 year-old lads coming who are going to be testing us,” mused the Englishman. “You’re always going to because (US has) the massive players, and now you’ve got the funding involved in the college squash. It’s bound to come through in the end. Numbers work, it’s what Egypt shows, they’ve got numbers, and you’ll have some that can play.”
Englishman Nathan Lake made quick work of India’s Aditya Jagtap in the opener, losing just 11 points in the 33-minute match.
Lake is coming off a tournament championship at the E.M. Noll Classic in Philadelphia on Sunday and is looking to continue his solid form.
“I’ve got miles on my legs, so I wanted to come out a bit intense,” said Lake, back in Michigan for the third time in four years. “It’s good to be sticking around for at least a few more days.”
France’s Benjamin Aubert did Lake six minutes better, beating India’s Ramit Tandon in 27 minutes, 11-4, 11-2, 11-4.
“It was a strange match, I think my opponent was a bit injured,” Aubert said. “I tried not to focus on him because he was hurt. I played my game, and tried to play as early as possible.”
Aubert’s countryman Sebastien Bonmalais won a four-game, 53-minute match against Mexico’s Arturo Salazar, which included 18 straight points won by the Frenchman.
Al Tamimi fought from 10-8 down in the first game to win it 12-10, taking the next two games much easier by 11-5 counts. El Sherbini topped Michael McCue, who lives in nearby Toronto.
Action continues Thursday with second round matches beginning at 5 p.m. Seeded players will make their MCO debuts in the second round against the eight players who advanced through Wednesday’s opening day.
Third-seeded defending champion Mohamed Abouelghar is in action at 6 p.m. against Al Tamimi, while 2018 MCO champion Marwan El Shorbagy, the second seed, plays Parker at 8 p.m.
Top-seeded Diego Elias of Peru, who lost to Abouelghar in last year’s final, opens play Thursday against Lake at 5 p.m. Miguel Rodriguez of Colombia, the 2015 champion, is also in the field, playing Fallows at 7 p.m.