Teen Elias Makes ToC Draw
16 Jan 2015
A Peruvian player will grace the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions glass court for the first time when 18-year-old Diego Elias plays Mathieu Castagnet in the opening round of the first PSA World Series squash event of the year at Grand Central Terminal in New York.
"It is a dream come true," said the Lima teenager after defeating Egyptian Mazen Hesham 11-8, 11-5, 11-8 in just 37 minutes to make his debut in the event and become the youngest player in the main draw.
After a scrappy victory in the previous round where he had to fight off three match-balls, Elias was pleased to be in better form for his match with Hesham. "Last night's match was tough, but it helped me get over my stress. I knew I couldn't let him attack so I focused on playing the ball very tight to the wall and deep," explained world No.48 Elias on the eve of competing for the first time in Grand Central's majestic Vanderbilt Hall.
Mexico's Cesar Salazar and Egypt's Mohamed Abouelghar defeated two Australians to also earn main draw debuts in the event celebrating its 18th year at Grand Central. Salazar eliminated Zac Alexander in four games and will take on Englishman Chris Simpson in the first round.
Abouelghar defeated Ryan Cuskelly, also in in four games. Abouelghar and Cuskelly split the first two games of the match which featured high-quality, classic squash. The third game, however, was more contentious as both players started feeling the pressure.
It was the 21-year-old Egyptian who stepped up to meet the challenge, playing aggressive and attacking squash and hitting decisive winners from the centre of the court. Abouelghar next plays fellow countryman Omar Mosaad, the world No.9.
Veteran Ong Beng Hee earned a return trip to Grand Central by defeating Egypt's Mohamed Reda. The 34-year-old Malaysian's ball placement gave him the edge in a close three-game contest between the two experienced veterans. Making his 11th appearance in the main draw since 2001, former world No.7 Beng Hee plays seventh seed Borja Golan of Spain.
Frenchman Lucas Serme got off to a spectacular start against Alan Clyne winning the first game 11-3. The higher-ranked Scot turned the tables in the second game, however, winning it by the identical score.
Clyne's relentless ball retrieval wore down the 22-year-old Frenchman who was completely spent by the time the Scotsman wrapped up the match in the fourth game. Saurav Ghosal of India will be Clyne's first round opponent.
New Zealander Campbell Grayson played very patient, classic squash - straight low balls to the back of the court followed by short balls to the front corners - to defeat Mexico's Alfredo Avila in four games.
Grayson will be taking on Nicolas Mueller of Switzerland in his first round. Englishman Tom Richards' experience carried the day in his qualifying encounter with India's Mahesh Mangaonkar. Richards, who made it straight into the main draw at last year's ToC, was undaunted by this return to the qualifying rounds.
"I love competing and I train to play match after match after match. So I just have to make sure I get up for it mentally," the pragmatic 28-year-old said. "And I did feel confident that I would qualify."
The Englishman's first round opponent will be Alister Walker who represents Botswana and now calls Greenwich, Connecticut, home after growing up in England.