[Q] Youssef Soliman (Egy) vs Chris Binnie (Jam)
The first game saw a much firmer stance from the referees on mid court interference, standing on the ball would no longer be tolerated, hallelujah! Game was pretty clean from the start as a result with few decisions. Soliman looking to keep it tight and pacey and then then counter at the front, forcing several loose shots from Binnie. Although the score was 11-4 Binnie never looked out of the game, just didn’t seem to win many rallies.
Into the second and Binnie started the game quickly firing some balls into the nick at the front, seemingly trying to take the young Egyptian at his own game, however probably not too wise to get engaged in a nick contest with an Egyptian…. Soliman then reeling off a series of winners to take a 6-3 lead. Binnie now seemed to be struggling with the referees’ firmer stance on interference, Soliman taking full advantage of having a clear route through to the ball starting to show us some holds and flicks at the front that we hadn’t yet seen from his racket. Silky stuff from the young Egyptian. At 9-4 up Soliman hits a nick and flick to take the game 11-4.
Soliman on fire in the third game, taking a 7-0 lead, Binnie contributed 3 tins to this score line, but all forced by Soliman just going for nicks for fun. Binnie starts to claw his way back into it – solid stuff at the back – just keeping it tight, but then at 9-5 down Binnie hits a couple of loose balls into the front, and it’s all over. Soliman is the new TRAC north of Scotland Champion 2016! Well done, big things to come from this young man.
Youssef Soliman (Egy) bt Chris Binnie (Jam) 3-0 11-4 11-4 11-5 (33min)
We would like to take this opportunity to thank a few people…. First of all, sponsors TRAC Oil and Gas, without their support the tournament would not be possible. Secondly all the staff and volunteers from ASRC that make this event work (Mike, Dave, Blair, Erin, Amie, Steff, Adam, Hannah, Nicola, Morven, Jemma, Sam, Katy, Megan, Arthur (court cleaning extraordinaire), Paul Duncan, and Andy Macdonald. Thirdly all the referees and volunteers who supported the main event and graded event; George Tierney our Tournament Referee for the PSA Event and club “chef”, Maureen Maitland, Dave Ferguson, Donny Warner, John Crawford, Paul Charlton, Mark Gauci, who refereed itelessly all week. Also, Jim Webster who was Tournament referee for the Graded Event. As well as support from John Alexander and Phil McWilliams. We would also like to thank the team at PSA for their help and support in running the event and trialling the new live scoring system (#progress), Alan Thatcher from squashmad.com, Steve Cubbins from squashsite.co.uk, and Howard Hardin from squashinfo.com for keeping their websites up to date; Mike Bruce from Trrophies International for supplying and engraving all our silverware, and finally to the players and supporters of the event from making it such a special week for ASRC! See you all next year!
Its Soliman and Binnie that make the finals.
The first match was a class encounter with end to end stuff all match, such high quality retrrieval from both players, coupled with varied attacking play - a treat for the crowd to watch. Soliman's attacking play in the end the difference.
The second match was a hot and cold match lots of stoppages and interaction with the referees being called upon to make a lot of decisions. In patches there was some good squash in there....
 Eddie Charlton (Eng) vs Chris Binnie (Jam)
This game started with a much greater display of length right from the word go. Both players were controlling the length and width of the ball, with great quality. However, the first game was all about the Charlton hold. Quote from the crowd “Eddie isn’t even that deceptive, but he’s sent Binnie the wrong way 500 times”… yeah OK I don’t fancy your chances against him pal… His hold was excellently used to nullify the Binnie volley and stopped him dominating the middle, taking an early lead and closing out the game 11-4.
Difficult to understand what happened at the start of the second. Charlton game on court and fired the ball into the front on almost every second shot, making several uncharacteristic errors, and gave Binnie an early 6-1 lead. The second half of the game was much more competitive, with some longer rallies, with Charlton looking to move Binnie round the court, however the lead was too great and Binnie took the second game 11-7.
The game became very scrappy in the third, with a lot of lets, and no lets – there didn’t seem to be much consistency from the referees in their decision making. Charlton was clearly annoyed at this lack of consistency. Following a no-let decision he queried why it was a no let; “You’ve been giving cheap lets all day long, and now when someone genuinely gets in the way, you start to be strong, it’s not the time”. Response from referee “well that’s our decision”, Charlton’s response was priceless “yes, that’s why we are doing this”…. Still though, not the outcome that Charlton was looking for. Charlton not happy, game to Binnie 11-4.
Its difficult to describe the difference in the first half of this game compared to the last two games. The quality and rhythm from Charlton was superb, using the height on the front wall brilliantly to push the ball into the corners, and then using deft touches to take the ball in short once he had forced an opening. Much more like the Charlton that we are used to seeing. The fluidity of squash was so good that there was also no interaction with the referees. Then it all change at 7-5, Charlton’s length dropped off ever so slightly and Binnie started to dominate the middle, and standing his ground - he wasn’t clearing. IN the first 2 games this would have resulted in a let, now the referees decided to award a series of no lets. Shafted. Game to Binnie 11-7.
Chris Binnie (Jam) bt Eddie Charlton (Eng) 3-1 4-11 11-7 11-4 11-7 (53min)
Full results from the Graded Tournament are now available. Chris Shinnie was the winner of the A Grade with Calum Johnston the runner up.
Well done to all that took part:
TRAC Oil & Gas is once again pleased to sponsor The North Of Scotland PSA Open, which brings world class squash to the region. We sponsored the event last year which was a great success, and we see it as an excellent opportunity to continue to raise awareness of the sport within the local community and Scotland as a whole.
Despite the current difficult economic conditions that all companies are experiencing in the Oil & Gas industry, we’re delighted to announce that we have committed to sponsoring the event for a further 3 years up to 2018. Since last year, we have seen an increase in high ranking competitors registering. In support of this growth, we are pleased to provide the $10k prize money for this year’s winner.
Our aim is to provide a longer term focus and foundation for the growth and development of the sport in and around Aberdeen, which will in turn benefit all abilities. As part of the sponsorship package, we’re also pleased to contribute to the upgrade of the facilities at the Aberdeen Squash & Racquetball Club where the tournament will be held, starting with a refurbishment of the Exhibition Court.
The fast-paced nature of squash where strategy, precision, agility and stamina are combined in order to rise above the competition is reflected in the values that TRAC bring to the working environment. We encourage our employees to lead active and healthy lifestyles outside of their place of work. Squash is a sport close to the hearts of, and enjoyed by, many colleagues so this is a wonderful opportunity to see a high quality competition right on our doorstep.
Now entering its second year, the 2015 Trac Oil & Gas North of Scotland Open has grown from a Challenger 5 to a Challenger 10 event and will see top athletes from around the world descent on our court 7 for a week of spectacular competition.
The main draw and qualification list is looking strong all the way through. With a host of Scots and Aberdeen’s top local players in the mix it should hopefully make for thrilling matches from the get-go.
Better still, Aberdeen Squash & Racketball Club have just signed a partnership agreement with Trac Oil & Gas which will see our show court refurbished and rebranded, and the North of Scotland Open return in at least Challenger 10 form until April 2018. This news is even more phenomenal given the current downturn in the Oil & Gas Industry upon which Aberdeen relies.
We are privileged to be partnering Trac Oil & Gas in this endeavour, which will boost not only the club but squash and sport in general among the community.
We wish all competitors the best of luck, and hope that their stay at our club and city is as welcoming and enjoyable as we find it ourselves.
 Mahesh Mangaonkar (Ind) vs Youssef Soliman (Egy)
The first game was all about the quality of the counter drops. Neither player found a particularly good length in the first, so the ball spent a lot of time in the front corners; both players getting ample opportunity to attack the front. The first player to get that quality counter drop was punishing their opponent with savage diagonal hitting to the back. Soliman was unlucky not to get two blatant strokes – a casualty of the 3 man referee “it was a majority decision” problem…. Game tied at 10-10. Standard blood injury. Soliman suffered a small graze to his knee. Media reporter now acting as medic… Cheeky bit of kinesio tape and we are good to go. Tin from Mangaonkar, and an unreal nick from Soliman, and he takes the game 15/13 after 40 minutes!
Soliman goes off at a frantic pace in the second, not sure if Mangaonkar is going to be able to keep this up – hes starting to look really tired. Soliman keep putting the ball short and then deep with superb accuracy, making Mangoankar do a lot of work. Soliman goes 6-1 ahead. Mangoankar tries to slow it down but the damage is done and Soliman closes out the game 11-7.
The pace from both players slowed in the third, some tired body getting in each other’s way causing a few stoppages, this slowed game seemed to suit Mangaonkar at the start as he took a two point lead. Soft lets though…. Soliman looking tired now, but still hanging in there. At 8-9 down he glues a drive to the wall, Mangaonkar can’t scrape it up. 9-9 and Mangaonkar earns a cheap let, clearly taking a line into the man not to the ball, Soliman visibly annoyed. Pace goes up in the next rally – silly squash – blantant block from Mangaonkar, “yes let” – absolutely fuming…. (and that’s just the reporter!). Slip and trip - court cleaning now required… standard. Soliman earns a match ball, good shut out from Mangaonkar. Safety let… standard. Brutal rally at 13-12, and Mangaonkar takes the third 14-12. Some tired bodies out there 83 minutes so far.
The start of the fourth is scrappy, but Mangaonkar manages to keep it the tidier of the two players and edges an early lead. Massive rally Soliman looks hurt, and just starts going for it now – shorter rallies, but tempo to the max, back to suiting Soliman – Mangaonkar on the ropes – so many diagonals…. Hurt locker isn’t going to come close tomorrow morning. Soliman earns a match ball. Obvious stroke to Mangaonkar – “yes let”. Kill winner on return of serve from Mangaonkar. Obvious stroke to Soliman – “yes let”. Drop winner and we have our first finalist after 100 minutes of play
Youssef Soliman (Egy) bt Mahesh Mangaonkar (Ind) 3-1 15-13 11-7 12-14 11-7 (100min)
Few people knew that this was actually Steve’s last match on the PSA – he announced his retirement after the match finished. Steve is a crowd favourite and his attacking style of play is a joy to watch, and will be sadly missed from the tour. Steve described that it was a difficult decision, but felt the motivation to keep training at an elite level was not quite there. Steve plans to go back to Australia and start to build his own programme from the ground up. Best of luck!
 Steven Finitsis vs  Eddie Charlton (Eng)
Very clever variation from both players in the first with dome super use of height, and angles - very intelligent squash – great to see. Charlton’s deep forehand hold had Finitsis in trouble several times in the first game, coupled with some deft touches at the front same Charlton take the initiative and game 11-5.
The second game saw Finitsis take away Eddie’s trademark forehand hold, choosing to avoid hitting the ball in that part of the court unless he had no other option, and this strategy saw him move ahead to 8-4. Charlton tried to use some clever height variation to get the ball deep and force errors from Finitsis, but the lead Finitsis had created gave him some confidence and he looked to use his flare at the front to finish the rallies off, hitting several nick winners to take the second 11-7.
The quality that both players varied the height and pace of the ball is difficult to express, such delicate control of the ball like this is something you don’t get to see very often. Charlton was struggling to keep the ball off Finitsis’ racket, constantly cross courting the ball. In the mid stages of the game Chalrton seemed to straighten up at the back and started to claw his way back up the scoreboard. At 7-7 a classic frame-boast-winner was produced to take Charlton ahead. There’s some interference in the front corners that after several attempts Charlton got some reward from earning a stroke to take the game 11-7.
In the fourth Steve unfortunately suffered a nasty slip midway through the game and sprain his ankle. After some emergency treatment Steve came back on court to play out the match, although clearly not moving right. Eddie closed out the game and match 11-9.
Eddie Charlton (Eng) bt Steven Finitsis 3-1 11-5 7-11 11-7 11-9 (70min)
[LL] Joe Green (Eng) vs Chris Binnie (Jam)
Joe Green definitely playing some of his best squash this weekend, some outstanding length on show from Green – ball just dying in the back, Green also moving better today than we have seen all week – getting on the ball early and using some holds that we didn’t see in the early rounds. Green now a clear crowd favourite having taken the lucky loser spot from qualifying, the prospect of a semi-final spot was getting the crowd behind him. First game to Green 11-6
In the second Green stopped moving onto the ball as quickly as he had in the first, he was unable to hold Binnie, and check his movement, and consequently Binnie’s shot quality improved, and it also let Binnie volley more. This played into Binnie’s hands and he dominated the middle of the court, and pushed Green into the corners, making him do some serious retrieval. Binnie takes the second 12-10.
The third saw the tempo go up from both players but the quality suffered as a result – this slightly less refined style of play definitely suited Binnie; Green’s width dropped off and gave Binnie some cheap volleys around the middle, who pushed the ball straight into the front corners, making Green do a lot of work. Game to Binnie 11-9.
The fourth game was a copy of the third, Green too content to try and hit his way past Binnie rather than trying to place the ball accurately the way he had done in the first. Binnie once again commanded the middle, and eased through the game 11-4.
Chris Binnie (Jam) bt Joe Gree (Eng) 3-1 11-6 12-10 11-9 11-4 (61min)
 Chris Fuller (Eng) vs  Mahesh Mangaonkar (Ind)
It seems fairly obvious that Fuller likes a stable platform to play from – sporting heavy ankle supports, and adding lots of little small positional steps to his movement. In the first few rallies Mangaonkar looked to exploit this by keeping the pace high and not letting Fuller settle into a rhythm, and using subtle deception to slightly check Fuller’s movement. This worked well in the first as he raced into an early lead. Fuller tried to claw his way back into it, but Mangaonkar kept up the pressure to close out the game 11-6.
More of the same from Mangaonkar in the second, varying the pace well to unsettle Fullers rhythm, and using his holds when he got the chance. His straight play when taking the ball short was excellent leaving Fuller with so few options, he was forced to just ship the ball back into play. Mangaonkar making Fuller look a little ordinary. Game to Mangaonkar 11-3.
Mangaonkar in no mood to muck about this evening, more of the same in the third, just taking Fuller’s game apart. Nothing Fuller could do this evening Mangaonkar was just too good – everything he hit either rolled out the nick, or was glued to the side wall. Ridiculous rally to end, Mangaonkar all over the court, but Fuller just can’t put the ball away. Game to Mangaonkar 11/5.
Mahesh Mangaonkar (Ind) bt Chris Fuller (Eng) 3-0 11-6 11-3 11-5 (32min)
 Karim Ali Fathi (Egy) vs [Q] Youssef Soliman (Egy)
The first game saw a nervous start from both players as they both tried to push in front of each other. In the early exchanges both players looked to use their speed to get onto loose drives and these were punished with strokes from the referees. As their width improved, both players looked for opportunities to take the ball short, and a series or errors followed – the ball just clipping the top of the tin on several occasions. Unfortunately for Soliman it was his racket that produced slightly more errors and Fathi duly took the game 11-8.
At the interval, Soliman asked for a 3 minute injury break, seemingly suffering a sore lower back. Some emergency physio from Injury Time Physiotherapy (shameless plug), that operate out of ASRC tried to repair the young man…. Into the second and Fathi clearly looked to extend the rallies and keep the tempo high. Soliman however continued to attack the front of the court, whereas in the first he made a series of errors, in the second he reeled off a series of winners to take the second game 11-6. Schedule already out the window… 41 mins for 2 games…
After a cheeky “equipment” change, Soliman came back on court – clearly he had changed into his lucky t-shirt, rolling a series of winners straight out the nick, and taking an early lead, going 6-1 up. The onslaught seemed to slow after this when Fathi responded with a cross court nick winner, followed by a series of lets and a sting break from Soliman. Tell you what, the boy Soliman can play a bit… Fathi is very steady with solid length hitting, but Soliman subtle use of holds and deception are very high quality, as is his speed and relentless retrieval. Brutal rally at 6-3 seems to break Fathi’s spirit a bit, he has Soliman all over the court, but can’t finish the rally off, then loses several quick points in succession to give the game to Soliman 11-4.
Yep, into the fourth and Fathi definitely looks a bit dejected; Soliman using all four corners of the court to great effect, forcing weak shots from Fathi’s racket. Now it’s Fathi’s turn to get some luck managing to hit a series off lucky floorboards and nicks, and some holds of his own. Its nip and tuck all the way, at 8-9 down Fathi gets involed with the referees – clearly rattled at the prospect of being beaten by an opponent 120 places below him in the world rankings. Dead length from Soliman takes him to 10-8, tin from Soliman 10-9, tin from Fathi, game and match to Soliman 11-9. Big upset here. Bigger things to come from Soliman….
Youssef Soliman (Egy) bt Karim Ali Fathi (Egy) 3-1 8-11 11-6 11-4 11-9 (73min)
The first round of the main draw of the TRAC Oil & Gas North of Scotland Open PSA M10 finished today with some exceptional squash on display from all players. Once again some extremely exciting attacking squash was on show, which pleased the crowds immensely, and also some that perhaps didn't....
Quarter Finals of the main draws starts tomorrow at 5pm alongside the graded competition. Qualifiers Youssef Soliman and Joe Green managed to make it through to the Quarter Finals. Joining the qualifiers are Karim Ali Fathi, Chris Fuller, Chris Binnie, and Steve Finitsis and Eddie Charlton.
 Eddie Charlton (Eng) vs [WC] Chris Leiper (Sco)
Last up after a very long day was local favourite / hero / hulk wannabe Chris Leiper in s the tournament’s Wild Card against No 2 seed Eddie Charlton. Leiper played well in the first, and didn’t seem too phased by the pace of the professional game. Charlton’s line and length was however, impeccable in the first and he forced a series of boasts from Leiper. Charlton capitalised on these with some nice holds at the front, and ran away with the first 11/5.
Into the second and a slightly more positive start from Leiper, looking to take the initiative and use his own holds at the front, sending Charlton the wrong way on several occasions. Sam story in the second however, it was even until 5-5 and then Eddie seemed to pull away, this time though as a result of errors from Leiper’s racket. Game to Charlton 11/5.
The third was much more exhibition like, with Leiper looking to be more aggressive with his front court play. Both players were holding, flicking, corkscrewing their way to points. It looked to be all over when Charlton went 10-4 up, but Leiper made a spirited comeback before Charlton closed out the game and match 11-7.
Eddie Charlton (Eng) bt Chris Leiper (Sco) 3-0 11-5 11-5 11-7 (26min)
 Steven Finitsis (Aus) vs [Q] Matthew Hopkin (Aus)
My first observation of this game is that there are very few decisions being made…. Just some typical Aussie blokes having some fun. Finitsis prepared for his match with some “Netflix and chill”, and he certainly carried on in relaxed fashion in the first moving effortlessly about the court taking the first 11-7. In the second Hopkin went on a nick rampage – so “on it” it was unreal – just didn’t miss – all over in minutes – exhibition stuff…. Hopkin takes it 11-1 #jokesquash
More of the same in the third from both players this time, absolutely ridiculous squash, loads of angles, boasts, holds, flicks, and nicks; such easy on the eye compared to the previous match! Finitsis takes it 11-5. Into the fourth and more ridiculous stuff, end to end rallies, with such great variety and creativity from both players. Finitsis just a bit stronger in the end taking the fourth and match 11-7.
Steven Finitsis (Aus) bt Matthew Hopkin (Aus) 3-1 11-7 1-11 11-5 11-7 (33min)
 Richie Fallows (Eng) vs Chris Binnie (Jam)
I am embarrassed as a player, coach, tournament organiser, and more importantly spectator when I am forced witness the absolutely shambolic scenes on the show court this evening. I have not seen such an appalling display of blocking, cheating, and playing the man in a long time. Bluntly if you are going to play like that, please don’t come back next year. PSA – sort this out….
Chris Binnie (Jam) bt Richie Fallows (Eng) 3-2 11-5 3-11 11-2 11-8 (54min)
 Piedro Schweertman (Ned) vs [LL] Joe Green (Eng)
Straight off the bat, want to mention that this is probably one of the fairest, most flowing games of squash that I have witnessed to date. The pace was ferocious from the start both players looking to step up and volley and whilst there was a lot of competition for the middle of the court, in the whole match I think that I counted 3 lets, both players just choosing to get on with it and play the ball. Great to see.
Anyway onto the squash…. Both players are very similar in style, hitting hard length, pushing up and volleying and both looking to extend the rallies. This favoured Green in the early stages as perhaps Schweertman got a bit impatient and made a couple of uncharacteristic errors. First game to Green 11/9. The second game was a mirror of the first, this time Green making a few errors, handing the game to Schweertman.
It was clear in the third that Green had got up a bit of confidence and several members of the crows noted he seemed to be playing much more fluid squash that yesterday. Green decided to add a bit of front court flair in the third and hit a couple of front court rollers. Third to Green 11/9. Tiiiiight…..
What a fourth game…. Green not wanting to let this opportunity go! Excellent retrieval from both players, but Green looked just so up for the match; dives, splits, nicks – on fire! Green takes the fourth 11/9 – into the quarters. Great game!
Joe Green (Eng) bt Piedro Schweertman (Ned) 3-1 11-9 9-11 11-9 11-9 (59min)
 Mahesh Mangoankar (Ind) vs Dougie Kempsell (Sco)
The first game was the first more traditional game of squash we have seen with both players looking to rally up and down the wall in search of an opening. Kempsell looked to vary the height and pace of the ball more than Mangaonkar and this stopped him getting into a solid rhythm. It was level pegging until 8-8 when Dougie managed to use some nice touches at the front to finish the rallies off and take the game 11-9.
In the second and the third games Kempsell’s play got a bit passive; using some nice height on the front wall and forcing some weaker drives from his opponent, however he couldn’t seem to back this up with some solid line hitting or front court play to capitalise on this advantage. Mangaonkar too the second and third 11-6, 11-8.
Into the third and Kempsell starts to mix a good variety of floated balls with some short kills, which unsettled his opponent’s rhythm. Despite going 9-7 down Kempsell “dug” deep and took the game to a tie break, and closed it out 12-10.
The fourth and fifth games were really high quality from both players, Kempsell looking to vary the pace and take the ball short when in front, with Mangaonkar looking to keep the ball alive and make not errors. It was see-saw all the way through the game, with neither player more than one point ahead. Couple of errors from Kempsell’s racket was the difference. Kempsell took the fourth 12-10 and Mangaonkar took the 5th game 12-10. Great effort “Dug”!
Mahesh Mangaonkar (Ind) bt Douglas Kempsell (Sco) 3-2 8-11 11-6 11-8 10-12 12-10 (95min)
 Chris Fuller (Eng) vs [Q] Ashley Davies (Eng)
A tight first game saw Fuller play everything to Davies backhand; Davies not quite able to keep the ball as tight as he would like on that side of the court. This frustrated Davies into careless attempt to end the rally early resulting in a few errors. However as the game progress Davie’s backhand width improved which forced slightly weaker shots from Fuller, allowing Davies to capitalise and claw his way back into the game, eventually pipping Fuller to the post 12-10.
In the second Davies played a series of very well crafted rallies, keeping the ball tight and forcing Fuller into playing some loose balls. Davies took a commanding 5-0, however he seemed to drop his focus mid-way through and allowed Fuller too claw his way back into the game. Point by point, Fuller kept getting the ball back and edging his points tally closer to Davies. As we neared the business end of the game the game got a bit more scrappy, which suited Fuller, and he managed to close out the game 13-11.
The third was just silly squash. End to end rallies. Back wall boasts galore. Crowd loving it. At 9-7 down Fuller has Davies on the absolute ropes, 6, 7, 8 court sprints, but makes the crazy decision of arguing with the referees about a pick up, giving Davies some well needed recovery. Davies then closed out the game with a ridiculous volley drop winner and then buried the ball deep in the forehand cross court nick. Game to Davies 11-7.
The fourth and fifth were both tight games, but it was Davies on the receiving end of some brutal rallies, being forced to retrieve ever deeper into the corners of the court. Fuller did just enough to close out the games 11-9 and 14-12.
Chris Fuller (Eng) bt Ashley Davies (Eng) 3-2 10-12 13-11 7-11 11-9 14-12 (98min)
 Joshua Larkin (Aus) vs [Q] Youssef Soliman (Egy)
The first game was a contrast of styles, both players wanting to play at high tempo, but Larkin looking to keep the ball straight and contain his opponent, whereas Soliman was looking to open the court up and use his speed advantage over his opponent. Larkin even commenting midway through the first “He’s quick”. This extra speed was the deciding factor as Soliman edged ahead and closed out the game 11-8.
Into the second game and Larkin looks to step up the court and volley the ball as much as possible keeping Soliman deep in the court. The game was highly energetic with Soliman looking to open up the court and either force a huge lunge from Larkin to recover the ball, or causing himself to use his retrieval skills when Larkin punished a weak attacking shot. In the end the consistency from Larkin saw him take a small lead and the game 11-9.
The third game was long and tiring, both players sensing the importance of the game, despite Soliman taking an early lead (6-1) by hitting some outrageous winners coupled with some pin point accurate cross courts. Larkin never looked as if he was out of any of the rallies though and fought back to 8-8 with some excellent retrieval and defensive lobs. There were a couple of clashes towards the end of the game, and it looked like these mini breaks favoured Soliman who took the next 3 points, to close out the game 11-8.
Into the fourth and once again Soliman took an early 7-0 lead with some outrageous winners, once again Larkin fought his way back into the game, however this time Soliman’s lead was far too great, and he took the game and match 11/7.
Youssef Soliman (Egy) bt Joshua Larkin (Aus) 3-1 11-8 9-11 11-8 11-7 (63min)
 Karim Ali Fathi (Egy) vs [Q] Joshua Masters (Eng)
Let’s be clear, the boy Masters can play a bit…. Starting off exactly where he left off last night, spanking the ball in the nick at every opportunity. Despite a high pace and some very low straight drives from Fathi, Masters still managed to consistently find an angle to play several outright winners, taking the game 11-7.
Into the second and Fathi noticeably looked to increase the tempo and keep the ball deep on Master’s backhand. Not deterred Masters continued to look to take the ball in. Unfortunately for Masters his racket work slightly let him down and a series of errors handed a very close second game to Fathi 11-7.
Predictably in the third given the high intensity of the match, Fathi looked to exert his slightly greater physical presence on the match, asking for let after let, for no reason – deliberately extending the length of the games, and turned a really good game of squash into a dog fight. Third to Fathi 16-14.
Despite the length and the intensity of the third game, Masters managed to continue his assault on the front of the court with devastating effect, taking the ball short from the most unlikely of places, including roll several 3 wall boasts right out of the nick in a row. Game to Masters 11-9.
The damage inflicted by Fathi on Masters in the third and fourth games was simply too great and in the fith game Masters couldn’t keep the ball out of the tin, looking more tired with every shot. Game and match to Fathi 11-4.
Karim Ali Fathi (Egy) bt Joshua Masters (Eng) 3-2 7-11 11-7 16-14 9-11 11-4 (76min)
Qualifying finished today at the TRAC North of Scotland with some excellent squash on display from all players.
 Mark Fuller (Eng) vs Youssef Soliman (Egy)
In the first game Fuller looked to be carrying an injury as his usual attritional style was nowhere to be seen, instead conceding rallies. An informant in the crowd suggested he was carrying a neck injury from last night. Had the Stallion done some damage?? Soliman took a fairly easy first 11/4. The second saw a complete change as Fuller looked to completely change his style of play, going for all out attack instead, attempting to finish every rally early. This tactic worked with Soliman struggling to contain this level of sustained attack. Game to Fuller 11/9.
The third and fourth were unfortunately mirror images of the first, Fuller clearly not physically right. He tried hard to slow the pace down, reverting to his own style of lob-drop, however Soliman was too good, and Fuller’s injury proved to be the critical factor in deciding the outcome of this match. Soliman took the third and fourth 11/3 and 11/5.
 Youssef Soliman (Egy) bt  Mark Fuller (Eng) 3-1 11-4 9-11 11-3 11-5 (29min)
Matthew Hopkin (Aus) vs  Martin Svec (Cze)
Hopkin starts this game exactly the same way he left off last night, with some cheeky holds, and some casual nicks. His speed and lunging at the front easily outclassing Svec’s more traditional style. Hopkin takes the first 12/10. Into the second and Hopkin really starts to crank up the use of the holds, sending Svec all over the court. Svec, clearly frustrated was attempting some cheeky holds and nicks as well, unfortunately to quote a crowd member they were “a bit ambitious”. Game to Hopkin 11/9.
The third saw the same style of play from Hopkin – all out attack with holds and flicks. However, this game saw a series of errors from Hopkin as Svec looked to glue the ball to the side wall at every opportunity. This straighter tactic served Svec well as he took the third game 11/7. Into the fourth and some silly squash followed, both players holding and anticipating every shot, which either resulted in a taxi or court sprints! At 9/9 Hopkin did some serious retrieving and suffered a blood injury, and after a short break the match resumed with Svec leading 10/9. When Hopkin returned to the court it was all out attack from both players, however this suited Hopkin’s style more than Svec’s and he closed out the match on the second times of asking taking the fourth 15/13
Matthew Hopkin (Aus) bt Martin Svec (Cze) 3-1 12-10 11-9 7-11 15-13 (50min)
 Joshua Masters (Eng) vs  Joe Green (Eng)
The first game was all about Masters – “nick fest”. It was all over in a matters of minutes> Masters took the first game 11/5. More of the same in the second, Masters going for anything loose. Green made a much better job in this game of straightening up and keeping the ball tight, trying to avoid giving Masters anything to work with, but Masters was relentless in pummelling the ball into the front nicks. Masters takes the second game 11/8. Unbelievable racket skills from Masters in the third – Green all over the court, and Masters finishing every rally with a cross court nick roller. Crowd loving it. Takes the third and match 11/8
Joshua Masters (Eng) bt Joe Green (Eng) 3-0 11-5 11-8 11-8 (27min)
 Ashley Davies (Eng) vs Tristan Eysele (Rsa)
The first game saw both players start at a really high tempo, with fast and furious hitting and retrieval. Davies use of height on the front wall managed to pin Eysele slightly deeper in the court, allowing Davies to step up and take the initiative, playing the ball short. This earned him a 2 point cushion in the middle of the game, which he held to close out the first game 11/8.
Eysele started the second at an even higher tempo, and thanks to some outrageous frame work, managed to take the early lead. Davies’ height variation not quite as good as it was in the first. However, Davies kept looking to keep it stead at the back and towards the end of the game lifted the ball more, which paid dividend as he managed to edge back ahead taking the second 11/9.
In between the second and the third Davies was quoted as saying “there’s only so much Lemsip can do”, and sure enough in the third he started to look tired, chasing more of the balls down rather than controlling the play, which coupled with Eysele’s relentless retrieval resulted in some more open play which seemed to suit the South African. It was nip and tuck throughout the whole game, but a couple of back court nicks from the racket of Eysele saw him take the game 12/10.
The fourth was all about whether Davies could hang in the rallies long enough to create an opening, or whether he would take the ball short too soon, and try and finish the rally too early. Inevitably this led to some patchy play, with some very controlled rallies where he dominated the middle of the court, followed by some rallies where it was end to end stuff by both players. There was never more than a point between them throughout the game, but thanks to some accurate drops towards the end of the game, Davies managed to sneak the game and match 12/10.
Ashley Davies (Eng) bt Tristan Eysele (Rsa) 3-1 11-8 11-9 10-12 12-10 (55min)
The first round of Qualifying at the TRAC North of Scotland Championships concluded today with some excellent squash on display, with all seeded qualifying players but one making it through to the second round. Full match reports are available below.
 Mark Fuller (Eng) vs Gavin “Stallion” Sutherland (Sco)
Last but not least was Gavin Sutherland aka “Stallion”, admittedly looking a bit more colourful than usual, sporting the neon Grampian colours, rather than the traditional ASRC whites. The first didn’t go very well for the Stallion as he struggled to find his length on a now very warm court 7… the score in the first game as not flattering… Onto the second and after some advice between games, the Stallion looked to vary his length a bit more and try and unsettle Fuller’s rhythm. This seemed to work as he managed to get into the game, and forcing some errors from Fuller, who took the second 11/5. In the third the score was not a reflection of the game, the Stallion used his trademark holds with much better effect causing Fuller to check his movement, and forcing several boasts, and moving Fuller all over the court, however the gulf in standard was perhaps a bit too much, and Fuller closed out the game 11/2, with some great retrieval.
Fuller won 3-0 11/0 11/5 11/2 (18 min)
 Youssef Soliman (Egy) vs Richard "Russell Hollins
Next up was local Richard “Russell” Hollins just back from competing for Scotland in the U19 European Team Championships. Richard isn’t exactly known for his consistent and steady grinding back court play, and sure enough tonight was no exception – both players seeming to be comfortable spending the majority of their time in the front half of the court. It was pretty even all the way through the first both players trading nicks and holds, but in the end the Egyptian’s experience prevailed at the end first closing it out 11/9. The second and third games were a similar story, a lot of balls into the front, a lot of holds and nicks – bit of a crowd pleaser!
Soliman won 3-0 11/9 11/4/11/3 (21 min)
 Martin Svec (Cze) vs Michael “Scrapper” Black (Sco)
Next on court was local favourite Mike “Scrapper” Black. The first game was high tempo with Svec looking to get on the ball early, and unfortunately for Scrapper was reading the backhand wiggle – cross court, which is Scrapper’s trademark, volleying Scrapper all over the court. It almost kicked off, when Svec hit a frame cross court drop-roller, however Scrapper retain his composure – first game to Svec 11/4. Scrapper came out fighting in the second taking the game to Svec – perhaps intimidating Svec with his imposing stature…forcing some errors from the Czech. However Svec does enough to close out the game 11/8. Scrapper using the counter drop to great effect in the 3rd, exposing some slightly dodgy front court play from Svec, earns himself a game ball. However, Svec had put enough work into his legs in the first two games to draw level and then close out the game and match 12/10.
Svec won 3-0 11/4 11/8 12/10 (24 min)
 Matthew Hopkin (Aus) vs Robert Dadds (Eng)
Hopkins looks silky smooth on a squash court, smooth movement, and some lovely holds – very impressive. Makes the first look easy taking it 11/8. In the second there is more of the same from Hopkins, however the end product slightly lets him down as he makes a flurry of unforced errors, handing Dadds the game 11/7. Absolute joke squash in the third and fourth from Hopkins…. Holds and nicks for fun… making Dadds run diagonal after diagonal. Very impressive stuff.
Hopkins won 3-1 11/8 7/11 11/5 11/7 (34 min)
 Joshua Masters (Eng) vs Calum "Tank" Johnston (Sco)
Calum aka “Tank”, originally from just outside Perth, he now studies in Aberdeen and trains weekly at ASRC, and was the first local to take to the court. He took a while to get used to the pace of the professional game, going behind in the first, and eventually losing out 11/6. Into the second and for the first time in history Tank actually tries to slow a game down, decent stuff; goes down 11/6 in the second. Masters too strong for Tank in the third taking it 11/4, however Tank managed to stay on court for (just) longer than 20 minutes which was his objective.
Masters won 3-0 11/6 11/6 11/4 (21 min)
 Joe Green (Eng) vs Brian Byrne (Irl)
The first game started slowly with both players trying to find their length and find their range at the front. This slightly slower paced seemed to suit Byrne as he edged ahead by 2 points leading 6-4, however as the business end of the game approached, Green looked to increase the tempo, which seemed to suit his slightly more traditional style of play. A couple of errors towards the end of the game saw Green take the first 12/10. Green keeps up the pace in the 2nd pushing Byrne deeper into the back corners, and forces several errors in the front forehand to take the game 11/6. Into the third game and with Green leading 6-4, Byrne accidentally clipped Green with the racket who suffered a bleed just below his eye, resulting in an extended injury break to allowing the bleeding to subside. On resumption of the third game Green lost several points in a row, however managed to claw hi way back to 9/10, after which the bleeding started again, forcing Green to concede the 3rd game. With Green leading 4-2 in the fourth Byrne is forced to leave the court as a result of blood injury. Byrne returned to the court and both players proceeded to get involved in a “cross court fest”, Green clearly trying to expose Bryne’s forehand. A couple of critical errors towards the end saw Green take the fourth and match 11/9
Green won 3-1 12/10 11/6 9/11 11/9 (94 min)
 Micah Franklin (Ber) vs Tristan Eysele (Rsa)
The first game was a fairly scrappy affair with some fairly short drives interspersed with some fairly long short balls…. In the end Eysele’s retrieval seemed to be a bit better than Franklin’s who managed to just get back a few more balls taking the first 11/7. The second saw much better length and width than the first – both players straightening and looking to wait for an opportunity to go short. IN the end it was nip and tuck all the way through, the only difference being some cheeky front court play from Franklin, who took the game 12/10. The third saw Franklin looking to contain Eysele’s pace, and a very solid start with this strategy saw him take an early lead. Despite letting his plan slip a bit in the latter stages of the game, Franklin managed to hang on and close out the game 11/9. Tactical rest from Franklin in the fourth… Eysele just keeps going. Game to Eysele 11/3. Absolutely epic 5th game; both players playing attacking squash, coupled with some excellent retrieval. In the end it looked like Eysele just had a bit more in the tank than Franklin, managing to convert the 5th on the 3rd time of asking.
Eysele won 3-2 11/6 10/12 9/11 11/3 14/12 (61 mins).
 Ashley Davies (Eng) vs Connor Sheen (Eng)
The first game saw an edgy start from Sheen, making several unforced errors, giving Davies an early lead. Both players seem to want to expose their opponent’s forehands, with an exchange of cross courts in the first, Davies however managed to maintain his early lead and close out the first 11/5. The second saw a complete reversal, this time Sheen stepped up the court increasing the pace, and volleying much more than the first, and once again opened and early lead. Despite a spirited come back from Davies with some deft touch across the front, Sheen closed out the game 11/9.Davies look to noticeably straighten up in the third looking to take away Sheen’s volley. This paid dividend hitting better targets in the back of the court, taking a large lead in the third, Sheen then hit a flurry of balls into the tin. Game to Davies 11/4. Davies increased the pace in the fourth hitting crisp drives deep into the court, forcing some frantic retrieval and loose shots from Sheen. Davies closed out the fourth and match 11/9
Davies won 3-1 11/5 9/11 11/4 11/9 (45 mins).
Qualifying Draw Now Available:
The TRAC Oil & Gas North of Scotland Open PSA M10 main draw is the most exciting edition of the tournament to date. Although sadly 2015 runner up Joel Hinds had to withdraw through injury, wildcard excluded, all main draw players are still ranked within the top 100 ranking places thanks to Scottish no3 and WR 99 Dougie Kempsell moving into the main draw. Even if we were looking at an M15 tournament this all-top-100 ranking in the main draw would be seldom-seen.
Looking into the qualifying draw, it gets even more interesting when we look at the recent results the qualifiers have produced lately on the PSA World Tour. Especially in the recent M25 PSA Wimbledon Cup where there were upsets galore. This shows the strength in depth throughout the PSA Mens’ Tour
Q1 - Matt Hopkin WR 111
Matt recently captured the M5 Helsinki Winter Challenger crown in January 2016, from originally 4th seed and took some confidence into the M25 Wimbledon Cup. He then proceeded to play 3 full 5-setters, winning through vs Lyell Fuller (WR 133), Peter Creed (WR 72) and then beating Shaun Le Roux (WR 52). Shaun is the TRAC NoS Open main draw 2nd seed!
Matt Hopkin enjoyed an fantastic run of form at the PSA M25 Wimbledon Cup
Matt’s amazing run of 5-setters actually ended at the hands of the no2 qualifying seed for the TRAC NoS Open… Josh Masters.
Q2 - Josh Masters WR 122
Josh proved himself a giant-killer in his own right after reaching the semi-final of the Wimbledon Cup, downing Jan van De Herrewegen (WR 106) and Henrik Mustonen (WR 56) both in impressive 3-0 fashion. He then defeated Matt Hopkin 3-0 with Matt’s previous 3 huge 5-setters appearing to have taken a toll. It was King of the M15s Omar Abdel Meguid who ended Josh’s superb run.
Q3 - Mark Fuller WR 124
Proven contender Mark Fuller hasn’t enjoyed quite the success of upsets as the top 2 qualifiers. That said, he very recently lost a tight 54-minute war 0-3 vs top Welshman Peter Creed (WR 72) and in doing so proved his determination and physical fitness. He also earned a cracking 5 game victory over fiery English prospect George Parker (WR 76) in PSL in December. Mark will prove to be the sternest of tests for anyone in the draw.
Q4 - Ashley Davies WR 132
A regular name popping up in the quarter and semi-finals of M5 events and most recently the quarter finals of the M10 Seattle Open; the tall Englishman is once again looking to improve his current ranking, having been steadily on the rise since he joined PSA in 2013.
Q5 - Youssef Soliman - WR 158
Youssef is the current 2016 British Junior Open Champion and is a seriously exciting prospect. He had an amazing run at the M25 Wimbledon Cup, carving through some seeded TRAC NoS Open Main Draw players before his run eventually ended at the hands of WR 45 Declan James. Youssef beat main draw 8th seed Chris Fuller (WR 91) and 6th seed Richie Fallows (WR 79). He proved he is playing at a level far beyond his current ranking.
Interestingly, Chris Fuller might get a chance for revenge as he is drawn to face a qualifier in the first round of the main draw…
Youssef Soliman - pic courtesy of PSA World Tour
Q6 - Joe Green - WR 150
The ‘Green Machine’ has always been known for his physical abilities. Lately he has added more variety to his game and this has seen him go from hovering around the WR 180 mark throughout 2015, to currently WR 150 and likely beyond. Joe recently made it to the final of the M5 Northumbria Open where he upset WR 99 and TRAC NoS Open main draw no11 Dougie Kempsell en route. It was George Parker (WR 76) who won the final at Joe’s expense.
Speedy left-hander Joe Green pounces on a loose shot to the front.
Q7 - Martin Svec - WR 180
Only aged 21, Martin has already spent over 4 years on the PSA world tour and has steadily chipped away at his rankings to arrive at a career high of 174 in Jan 2016. This has slipped to 180 this month although Martin will be hoping to reassert himself among a strong field and continue his rankings climb.
Q8 - Micah Franklin - WR 189
Known around Scotland thanks to appearances at multiple Island Games, Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games and the 2014 TRAC North of Scotland Open, Micah will enjoy an element of home support. Ranked as highly as WR 155 in 2014, Micah is enjoying a recent run of comparable form. He toured the USA and Canada and made the quarter finals of the Royal Mount University Open M5.
'Keep your eye on the ball' - Micah Franklin follows proven advice.
Q9 - Brian Byrne - WR 178
First joining the PSA world tour in 2005 then retiring in 2007, Brian re-joined the PSA in July 2015 and has improved his ranking rapidly. He went from WR 428 in July 2015 to WR 195 in February 2016, which is when the seedings for the TRAC NoS Open were set. One month further on and Brian is now WR 178. His rankings so far clearly do not reflect his full potential.
Q10 - Tristan Eysele - WR 204
Tristan has shown incredible form this month, reaching the quarter finals of the M15 Sekisui Open. He beat WR 69 Reiko Peter on Reiko’s home turf in a 5-game thriller before losing to Kristian Frost Olesen (WR 58) in the quarters. Hopefully Tristan can continue his recent form!
Q11 - Charlie Lee - WR 224
Little brother to former WR 29 Joe Lee, Charlie has recently completed his first year on the PSA World Tour. He has shown impressive form on the Junior circuit, recently reaching the 3rd round of the British Junior Open and the quarter finals of the European U19 Championships. Charlie is now hoping to follow his brother onto PSA World Tour success.
Q12 - Rob Dadds - WR 218
In his 2 years on tour, Rob has steadily risen from WR 416 to a career high of WR 218. Rob has now arrived at his career high ranking which will hopefully will earn him better seedings at PSA events and the opportunity to show his true capabilities.
Q13-16 TRAC North of Scotland Open Local Qualifiers
Local Qualifiers are headed up by Scottish U19 no1 Ricky Hollins, who is about to travel on Tuesday to the ESF European U19 Team Champs to compete for Scotland.
Aberdeen Club Champion Mike ‘Scrapper’ Black is in the mix, as is Aberdeen National League stalwart Gavin ‘Stallion’ Sutherland. Last but definitely not least is Scottish Senior no7 Jamie Henderson.
The qualification draw will not be released as per PSA rules until Monday 28th March. The main draw is below:
In a big step forward in our partnership with the PSA World Tour, you’ll be able to keep track of progress as it happens on the PSA live scores page! We are delighted and proud to be among the first to bring this coverage.
With thanks to TRAC Oil & Gas Ltd, our PSA M10 Sponsor, as well as the PSA World Tour. Thanks also to Aberdeen SRC partners AWsomesports Ltd, Scottish Squash & Racketball and of course SquashMad.com
Now into its 3rd year, Aberdeen Squash & Racketball Club will once again host the TRAC Oil & Gas North of Scotland Open, returning in PSA M10 form.
Thanks to support from our headline sponsor, the tournament was able to be registered on the PSA calendar over a year in advance. This guaranteed a prime position in the calendar and this has shown in the unbelievably high standard of entries received.
The top seed for the event is Egypt’s World no 43 Karim Ali Fathi. His tactically un-Egyptian, Darwish-esque approach to the game saw Karim recently gatecrash the third round of the 2015 PSA World Championships. He downed Peter Barker and upset the spectacular Fares Dessouki before his run ended at the hands of eventual World Champion Greg Gaultier.
Karim Ali Fathi (foreground) during his 83min, 5 game win over Fares Dessouki
Second seeded Shaun Le Roux is seeking to go one better than in 2015 when he suffered the very narrowest of 3-1 defeats to Daryl Selby in the final of Scotland’s ‘other’ tournament, the BSPA Edinburgh Open, going down 10-12, 10-12, 11-3, 10-12.
WR#48 Shaun is drawn in the first round against Aberdeen’s no1 and PSA Wildcard Chris Leiper, who is enjoying recent success after reaching the final of the Scottish U23 Championships. The home crowd will be no doubt there in force to see how the home favourite stacks up against the big South African’s powerful, hard hitting style.
Shaun Le Roux in action (pic from SquashMad.com)
The quality continues with all 11 guaranteed main draw players ranked inside the top 100 in the world, which for an M10 tier tournament is nearly unheard of.
Classy Englishman Eddie Charlton, WR#63 is seeded third and will look to show his true form after being disappointed with his run in the 2015 North of Scotland Open.
Mahesh Mangaonkar of India, WR#67 is 4th seed. Mahesh and Australian Steve Finitsis put on stunning displays to topple top Scot Alan Clyne and 2015 North of Scotland Open Champion Greg Lobban respectively in the semi-finals of the Inverness Loch Ness Challenger when it ran in 2014. Finitsis eventually beat Mangaonkar to claim Inverness’ M15 title, and is now world ranked #77. Steve is seeded 7th for the North of Scotland M10, such is the quality of the field.
‘The Iceman’ WR#70 Piedro Schweertman returns as 5th seed to try to add this title to his impressive 2015 collection. Piedro captured an M10 and two M5 titles in what was a great year for the Dutch no2.
WR#76 Richie Fallows, a young Englishman who’s career is very much on the rise, will look to leave an impression and progress beyond his 6th place seeding.
2015 North of Scotland Open Runner-Up Joel Hinds WR#85 returns as 8th seed. Joel lost a titanic 82min, 4 game battle with eventual winner Greg Lobban in 2015 where he accidentally fell and headbutted the front corner of the court resulting in an extended injury break. Fortunately Joel was OK, and this year he hopes to go one better and eat the whole wall.
Joel Hinds (right) in action at the 2015 TRAC North of Scotland Open
Rounding off the main draw are Englishman Chris Fuller WR#92, New Zealand’s Joshua Larkin WR#98 and Jamaican no1 Chris Binnie WR#99.
The entry list for the qualification draw is equally interesting, with Edinburgh’s W#101 Dougie Kempsell flying the flag for the home nation as top qualifier. Also in the mix is British Junior Open Champion Youssef Soliman, who succeeds top names such as Ali Farag, Fares Dessouki, Marwan and Mohamed ElShorbagy on the list of previous winners of the most prestigious Junior title in the world.
Local interest is headed up by Aberdeen’s top players Jamie ‘Farmer’ Jacobsen and Mike Black, Scottish U19 National and Junior Open Champ Richard Hollins, and Glasgow’s fire-fighting nick-machine Peter O’Hara.
The event will be supported by a large graded tournament which will inspire participation at all ability levels.