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15 Apr 2024

Samper Celebrates US Squash Design Tour Success

23 Dec 2009

The inaugural Squash Design Tour, comprising seven Professional Squash Association World Tour events across the USA, ended in triumph at the Betty Griffin Memorial Florida State Open in Boca Raton this month, when Colombian Bernardo Samper not only won the event, but also the complete Tour.

The tour showcased the talent of up-and-coming players in the fast-growing global game of Squash. New York-based Samper competed in four of the seven events - reaching the final three times - and convincingly topped the overall Tour standings after his Florida success.

"I am very excited to win the first Squash Design circuit," said the Bogota-born 27-year-old. "Bringing international level squash to the home clubs is exactly what squash needs to do to create more excitement and awareness of the sport. It was great to see the squash fans embrace us in every city, no matter how big or small the venue; the turnout was fantastic.

"Speaking for the players - we need more match play to earn valuable playing experience and PSA points; a tour like this supports our growth and development," concluded Samper.

The Squash Design Tour kicked off with the Madison Open, hosted by the small but vibrant community at the Madison Squashworks. "To have guys coming from all over the world to play here is really special," said Damon Bourne, co-owner of Madison Squash Workshop. "This was the first time we were able to see world-class squash played right here in Madison. With this event, I hope to generate more interest in this fast-paced racquet sport."

The Madison Open was a great tournament for Samper, who only dropped one game throughout the entire week.

The annual Goshen Open was held at the house of the Wellingtons, which features a squash court in their residence. Veteran Australian Mike Corren added another title to his list, denying Welsh newcomer Peter Creed.

Pittsburgh Squash was pleased to bring squash back to the Three Rivers City in the Pittsburgh Open. A highly unusual set of results brought four qualifiers to the quarterfinals. Joel Hinds completed an impressive run, topping favourite Bernardo Samper in the final.

The annual Baltimore Cup was the first of two one-star events in the line up. Amr Swelim took the Baltimore Country Club title with a very impressive performance in the final in front of a capacity crowd. This victory looked highly unlikely in the early rounds as the Italian had faced match balls in his first two rounds!

Rhode Island squash hosted their annual Rhode Island Open in November. The event featured the strongest draw of the tour - with US number one Julian Illingworth, the top seed, winning in a tightly contested match over Swelim.

Following a bye week for Thanksgiving, the Philadelphia area community welcome the Fairmount Open - a brand new event to the PSA Tour. Home town favourite and top seed Gilly Lane topped Mexican Cesar Salazar.

The tour wrapped up with the Betty Griffin Memorial Florida State Open in Boca Raton, Florida. Bernardo Samper once again fought his way through to his third final of the tour. Samper faced his toughest opponent on the tour, Australian Scott Arnold. His appearance in the final clinched the Squash Design Tour over Botswana's Lekgotla Mosope by a mere 10 tour points.

"Our wish is to help increase awareness of Squash by bringing more squash across the United States - and I think we are off to a good start with this first tour," said Sahel Anwar, partner in Squash Design and Premier Performance Squash. "Speaking to the individual event organizers - everyone involved agreed this first tour was a good start. It is our hope to organize this tour annually - bringing more squash to more cities.

"We would like to thank all the individuals who made each of the events possible, all local sponsors, the PSA - and of course the players and the fans who supported them," added Anwar.

Gus Cook, PSA Representative for the Americas, provided the final word: "It has been quite a number of years since the US has seen a tour of this kind and from everyone that I have spoken to - who include sponsors, promoters, club owners and players - it has been very well received.

"For a first year effort, Haseeb and Sahel at Squash Design must be congratulated for their vision to make it happen and their energy to ensure its success, which has laid the foundation for the future.

"I can only imagine that this tour will keep getting bigger and better in the years to come and I look forward to working with more new squash promoters who are keen to bring world squash action to their respective clubs and communities.

"Our congratulations to Bernardo for becoming the inaugural 2009 Squash Design Tour champion and to all the other great young players who participated, helping to ensure it was such a success," Cook continued.

"Thank you also to all the individual promoters who chose to host a PSA event in the first place, and to their respective sponsors who supported them and made it happen. With any event, there is usually another valuable group of behind-the-scenes volunteers who pick up, run about, and house the pro players, provide assistance and generally help with anything else whenever asked. Thank you also for all that you do."

2009 Squash Design Tour final top 15 standings:

1 Bernardo Samper (Colombia) 165 points
2 Lekgotla Mosope (Botswana) 155
3 Wade Johnstone (Australia) 120
4 Peter Creed (Wales) 110
5= Fernando Lopez (Mexico) 100
5= Amr Swelim (Italy) 100
7= Patrick Chifunda (Zambia) 95
7= Elvinn Keo (Malaysia) 95
7= Scott Arnold (Australia) 95
10= Muhd Asyraf Azan (Malaysia) 90
10= Ivan Yuen (Malaysia) 90
10= Gilly Lane (USA) 90
13= Mohammed Abbas (Egypt) 80
13= Joel Hinds (England) 80
13= Cesar Salazar (Mexico) 80