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19 Jun 2024

Home Pair Earn World Championship Debuts In Manchester

12 Oct 2008

English players Ben Ford and Robbie Temple scored significant upsets in Sunday's qualifying finals of the Hi-Tec World Open Squash Championships to ensure that 14 Britons will compete in the sport's premier men's event at the National Squash Centre at Sportcity in Manchester.

The world's leading players from more than 30 countries are competing in the Hi-Tec World Squash Championships - Manchester 2008, the first ever joint staging of the Men's World Open and Women's World Open in the UK.

Ford, from Kent, beat higher-ranked Malaysian Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan - then announced that his first ever appearance in the world's most prestigious event may be his last on the professional tour.

The 33-year-old world number 89 from Welling, fought back from a game down to despatch Adnan - ranked 30 places higher - 10-12, 11-9, 11-5, 11-9 in 66 minutes to claim a place in the World Open main draw for the first time.

The squash professional at clubs in London and Surrey, Ford left it until he was over 30 before joining the PSA Tour. "I set myself two goals last year - to get into the top 100 and win a Tour title - and I did both, so I was pretty pleased," said the England No18.

"This year I was determined to get into the World Open - especially as it was here in England - and I am delighted to have done that today.

"The last time I played Adnan, he beat me in five, so I wanted to get my revenge.

"I'm taking on a new coaching job in Bexley shortly - and my wife is expecting our first child in January - so things are getting a bit hectic at the moment. I'd prefer to just play tournaments in England in the future, so I may quit the Tour.

"I've looked at the draw, and I could get any one of the top five players in the world in the first round. I'd be happy to play any of them - not because I think I could win, but just for the experience!"

Robbie Temple, who fought back from two games and 8-1 down to win his first qualifying round match, confounded the seedings in the qualifying finals with an 11-6, 11-9, 16-14 victory over South African Jesse Engelbrecht, ranked 55 in the world.

"Yesterday's match was a vital wake-up call for me - I wouldn't have won today otherwise," conceded the London-based left-hander from Gloucester. "I've had a bit of a loss of confidence recently so it's good to be back in form.

"I really hope I get to play on the glass court tomorrow - and it would be great if it would be against Ramy Ashour," added the 22-year-old world No76. "We played all the way through juniors and became good friends."

Egypt's world junior champion Mohamed El Shorbagy will make his debut in the senior world championship after beating Englishman Joe Lee 11-4, 11-8, 11-5.

"I'd played Joe twice before, and that was very useful to me," explained the 17-year-old UK-based Egyptian afterwards. "But what was even more useful, was what he said yesterday after his match - he said that he'd learned a lot from our last two encounters! So, I thought and decided to play a completely different way that I would have done naturally, to surprise him!

"First, I tried and mixed my game between an English game, that he is used to, and an Egyptian one. So I was making the rallies last as long as possible, as I knew he was going to be tired, and I also slowed down the pace, to tire him even more.

"I'm so happy to get into my first World Open," added El Shorbagy. "For me, this is the real start of my PSA career."

After last year's men's World Open draw was devoid of Pakistanis for the first time in history, Shahid Zaman raised the total entries this year to four when he upset Egyptian Amr Mansi 11-9, 11-8, 11-6. Zaman, once ranked 14 in the world, has dropped to an eight-year ranking low of 95 - and is now making his first appearance in the World Open for three years.

"I am living back in my home town of Quetta in Pakistan now, with my wife, and feel I still have at least four years of squash left in me," said the exuberant 26-year-old after his qualifying triumph. "The problem with living in Pakistan is that there is not a lot of competition - but I am running in the mountains to keep fit."

Another country celebrating a record presence in the 2008 World Open is Mexico. With just a sole player in the men's event last year, the Central American nation will be represented by three players in Manchester, with world No35 Eric Galvez joined in the main draw by qualifiers Jorge Isaac Baltazar Ferreira and Arturo Salazar.

Baltazar Ferreira, a 25-year-old from Mexico City, defeated India's Siddharth Suchde 11-7, 11-5, 11-4 while 20-year-old Salazar, from San Luis Potosi, removed Australian Steve Finitsis 7-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7.

"That was a hard game, the scoreline really doesn't do it justice," admitted Baltazar Ferreira. "It's my first World Open, so it's a pleasure to qualify. I'd like to play one of the world's top eight in the main draw, but I'll be happy with whoever I get."

Nicolas Mueller became the first Swiss player to make the first round of the World Open for five years when he recorded his second successive upset in the qualifiers to beat New Zealand's Campbell Grayson 9-11, 3-11, 11-7, 11-1, 11-8.

"I got a bit nervous towards the end - it's my first World Open, my first big PSA event really, after coming out of the juniors," said the 19-year-old former European Junior champion. "I'm really excited about it and looking forward to the draw."

Local hero Andrew Whipp was three points away from becoming the only unranked player in the main draw when Australian Ryan Cuskelly took four points in a row to claim victory. Two games down, Manchester-based Whipp saved four match-balls in the third before taking the game. After also winning the fourth, he led 8-7 in the decider before Cuskelly, from New South Wales, clinched his 11-8, 11-7, 11-13, 3-11, 11-8 win in 79 minutes.

Sarah Kippax survived an all-Cheshire clash to claim a place in the qualifying finals of the Women's World Open. The Chester-born 25-year-old is the event's 'Official Ambassador', who faced Cheshire county team-mate Laura Mylotte in the first qualifying round.

After winning the first two games, Kippax squandered a 7-3 lead in the third as Mylotte, born in Galway and representing Ireland, moved to game-ball at 10-8. But the Ambassador fought back to clinch an 11-4, 11-2, 12-10 victory to set up an all-English qualifying final clash with Derbyshire fire-fighter Laura Hill.

"It's nice to finally get on court after the big build-up," said Kippax after her win. "I suppose I have been a little more anxious about this match than I might have been.

"We've had tough battles in the past. But I was pleased with my game today - though she came back in the third and I had to steady myself. I was quite relieved at the end."

Kippax admits that has loved her Ambassadorial role: "It was quite nerve-wracking at first, but I've really enjoyed it - doing radio interviews and helping on the PR side.

"In fact, being involved behind-the-scenes like this makes you realise just how much work goes into putting on a tournament like this!"

Lauren Siddall and Suzie Pierrepont will also be taking English interest through to the women's qualifying finals. Siddall, 23, from Pontefract in Yorkshire, beat Sweden's Anna-Carin Forstadius 11-5, 11-6, 11-2 and will now take on USA's Latasha Khan for a place in the main draw. Sussex player Pierrepont, who is now based in Philadelphia, USA, recovered from a game down to beat Hong Kong's Joey Chan 8-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-8 and will now meet Malaysian Low Wee Wern.