7:16 am
16 Jul 2024

Sweet Qualifying Success For Heather In Sweet Home Chicago Open

11 Sep 2008

More than 18 months since last playing on the international squash circuit, Englishman Mark Heather claimed an unexpected place in the main draw of the inaugural Sweet Home Chicago Open after fighting back from 2/1 down in the qualifying finals of the $30,000 PSA Tour event in Chicago, USA.

It was under the watchful eyes of the venerable Chicago Tribune building, the historic Wrigley Building and the brazen newcomer on the block Trump Tower, that the final qualifying matches were staged in the Sweet Home Chicago Open, the first squash tournament in the USA to be held outdoors.

Paul Zeller, President and CEO of Zeller Realty Group, hosted the event in his 'front yard': the Pioneer Court plaza at 401 North Michigan Avenue. The Chicago River formed the fourth side of the square where the McWil all-glass court took centre stage. Chicago, a hopeful Olympic city for 2016, never looked better.

"It's great to see it all come together tonight," said tournament organizer Imran Nasir from the Lakeshore Athletic Clubs. "It's been a collective effort; a real spirit of collaboration between the many squash groups and clubs in and around Chicago."

US-based Mark Heather, who 'retired' from the PSA at the beginning of the year and no longer has a world ranking, recovered from the deficit against Rob Sutherland to beat the world No95 from Wales 11-7, 8-11, 3-11, 11-3, 11-8 in 67 minutes.

But fellow Englishman Shaun le Roux survived the longest battle to secure a place in the main draw, needing 85 minutes to topple Australian Ryan Cuskelly 9-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-9.

Yorkshireman Le Roux faces Canada's fifth seed Shahier Razik in the first round, while Heather takes on compatriot Peter Barker, the No2 seed.

David Palmer, the reigning British Open champion who is now based in Boston, is seeded to win the 24th title of his career in Chicago, and begins his 'open air' campaign against wildcard opponent Alain Osman Mudeen, from the Cayman Islands.

Qualifying finals:
Shaun le Roux (ENG) bt Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 9-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-9 (85m)
Stephen Coppinger (RSA) bt Regardt Schonborn (RSA) 9-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-3 (50m)
Arthur Gaskin (IRL) bt Christopher Gordon (USA) 7-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-1 (54m)
Mark Heather (ENG) bt Rob Sutherland (WAL) 11-7, 8-11, 3-11, 11-3, 11-8 (67m)