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14 Apr 2024

Mixed Fortunes For Ashours At Grand Central Terminal

13 Jan 2008

Top seed Ramy Ashour appears confidently on track in his quest for his first Bear Stearns Tournament of Champions title after eliminating his Egyptian compatriot Omar Elborolossy in straight games in second round play at Grand Central Terminal in New York.

But there was no joy for his older brother Hisham Mohd Ashour, who went down 3/0 to France's second seed Gregory Gaultier at the other end of the PSA Super Series squash event draw.

At just 20 years of age, Ramy Ashour displays a maturity beyond his years, and clearly had no qualms about defeating the 32-year-old Elborolossy. Allowing his opponent just two points in each of the first and third games, Ashour left the capacity crowd wanting more of his dynamic court play and creative shot making.

Ashour junior will meet countryman Wael El Hindi in the quarterfinals. The sixth-seeded El Hindi eliminated Julian Illingworth, the highest-ever ranking US men's player, much to the disappointment of the highly partisan crowd who only rarely get to see an American in second round play of a PSA Super Series event.

"I am really impressed with the work Julian has done to improve his game," said El Hindi after the match. Having spent the last year on the men's pro tour after graduating from Yale University, Illingworth is still learning some rookie lessons. "I could have played better," he said after the match. "Wael has a different style of play - he's very scrappy and there's lots of talk on the court."

The third Egyptian still left in the draw, eighth seed Mohammed Abbas will face off in the quarterfinals against two-time world champion David Palmer. Abbas eliminated Colombia's Miguel Angel Rodriguez in three games and Australia's Ryan Cuskelly met the same fate against countryman Palmer, the third seed.

Australia's Stewart Boswell also advanced, defeating Brazil's Rafael F Alarcon in four games. Alarcon played an attacking game early in the match, but after jumping out to early leads in the first two games, was unable to hang on to a winning margin. The third was a seesaw battle; behind at 7-8, Alarcon snatched the game win at 11-9 after Boswell was assessed a conduct stroke for bouncing his racquet off the floor in frustration.

But the biggest turnaround of the match occurred when Alarcon squandered five game balls in the fourth, losing a 3-1 tiebreak after being ahead 10-6. "When I was down game ball, I actually relaxed and focused on playing out each point," Boswell said after the match. Looking ahead to facing his next round opponent - England's fourth seed James Willstrop, who eliminated Malaysia's Mohd Azlan Iskandar in three games - the Australian commented wryly: "I'll need to get better in the next two days."

The final quarterfinal match-up features Gregory Gaultier against seventh seed John White, the only former Tournament of Champions finalist left in the field. White, runner-up in 2004, ended up with a battle on his hands against Englishman Jonathon Kemp. The Australian-born White, who plays for Scotland and now also coaches the Franklin & Marshall College squash team, had a multi-tasking weekend. Over 24 hours, White won his first round Tournament of Champions match, coached the F&M college team to victory in two rounds of match play in a tournament at Yale University, and returned to New York City to play Kemp.

The Scot got off to a great start in the evening's last match, taking a 2/0 game lead. But in the third game White started shooting too early, resulting in several errors and giving Kemp the opportunity to even the match at two-all.

"I realised that I was doing exactly what I tell my players not to do," said White about the third and fourth game losses. Taking the advice of fellow player David Palmer to slow the ball down and wait for the right opportunity to play his shots, White took a 10-5 lead in the deciding game, winning it 11-7.

2nd round:
[1] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [15] Omar Elborolossy (EGY) 11-2, 11-9, 11-2 (36m)
[5] Wael El Hindi (EGY) bt Julian Illingworth (USA) 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 (42m)
[3] David Palmer (AUS) bt [Q] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 11-9, 11-9, 11-3 (34m)
[7] Mohammed Abbas (EGY) bt [13] Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 11-6, 11-5, 11-2 (35m)
[8] Stewart Boswell (AUS) bt [16] Rafael F Alarcon (BRA) 11-4, 11-9, 9-11, 11-10 (3-1) (56m)
[4] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [10] Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) 11-8, 11-5, 11-10 (4-2) (54m)
[6] John White (SCO) bt [12] Jonathan Kemp (ENG) 11-8, 11-6, 4-11, 10-11 (0-2), 11-7 (58m)
[2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [11] Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY) 11-3, 11-5, 11-9 (32m)