3:49 pm
20 Jun 2024

Moataz & Tandon Stage Five-Game Comebacks To Advance At ToC

19 Jan 2023

Columbia graduate Ramit Tandon and Harvard graduate Hana Moataz will make their debuts in the the second round of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions after pulling off five-game comebacks against higher-ranked opponents on the opening day of action in the PSA World Tour Platinum event in New York City.

The first round matches took place at the New York Athletic Club, River Club, Nicol Squash and Harvard Club with Tandon and Moataz providing the two most dramatic results of the day.

Tandon, the world No. 40, opened his sixth ToC appearance on the back foot at Nicol Squash, finding himself down 8-11, 15-17 against Germany's world No.20 Raphael Kandra. The Indian international then came back to earn his first ToC main draw victory 11-7, 11-6, 11-7 after seventy-one minutes.

"I just kept fighting. It comes down to the basics," Tandon said. "Growing up, people just tell you, to fight to the last point and that's a little tricky because most of the time when you're down and out, you don't really come back. So to believe in that and to keep fighting, it's something I'm really proud of today."

The former All-American will take on Egypt's world No. 30 Mohamed Elsherbini at the Nicol Club for a chance to reach the glass court in Grand Central.

"New York is like my second home," Tandon said. "I have a lot of friends here, friends like family here. The community of friends, former colleagues in New York, it's always great to see them. I'm always happy here."

In May, the College Squash Association recognized Harvard's Hana Moataz with the Betty Richey Award for her exemplary play and sportsmanship throughout her college career on the glass court in Grand Central. The Egyptian is one step closer to playing on the same court following just her second career Platinum victory - a gritty 8-11, 11-13, 11-8, 11-7, 11-4 comeback against England's world No. 31 Lucy Turmel.

"I think she had a really good start. I kind of had a slow start," Moataz said. "I played way better towards the end. I think I was just really stressed in the beginning so I was just trying to enjoy it a bit more and play some proper squash towards the end. I think I'm more aggressive towards the middle. I like to volley and attack more, I feel like I was very passive in the beginning and she kept boasting a lot and I didn't get any of it, but I think I was playing much better towards the end. I'm happy I was able to get it together and I think I'm just going to take it match by match."

Elsewhere in the first round, ToC debutantes Nick Wall and Jana Shiha defeated higher-ranked Shahjahan Khan and Zeina Mickawy, respectively.

In their first ever clash on the PSA Tour, veteran Cesar Salazar defeated compatriot Leonel Cardenas in straight games just months after 22-year-old Cardenas overtook Salazar, 35, as the highest-ranked Mexican on the PSA World Tour.

Another notable encounter took place between James Willstrop, the 2010 champion making his 19th appearance in the event since 2003, and Spaniard Iker Pajares Bernabeu, whose only previous appearance was in 2020. The distinguished 39-year-old former world No.1 from England suffered his first ever first round defeat, going down to Bernabeu 11-7, 11-7, 11-5 in 35 minutes.