Alan Thatcher reports
Top seed Chris Simpson produced a stylish, professional display to crush the resistance of talented young Egyptian Karim Ali Fathi to win the SE Leisure Kent Open final at The Mote Squash Club in Maidstone.
Simpson, the world No.43 from Harrogate, enjoyed long spells of dominance throughout the match. His immaculate length and width denied Ali Fathi the opportunity to attack with an accurate game-plan that worked to perfection.
From 0-2 down in the first game Simpson powered ahead to 8-3 and he weathered Ali Fathi’s best spell of the match to win 11-8.
The 19-year-old Ali Fathi had entertained the packed gallery all week with some dazzling kill shots and superb drop shots but he was unable to find the openings he so desperately needed.
Simpson’s intelligent tactics generated an early 5-1 lead in the second and although Ali Fathi hit back to reach 6-7, the Channel Islander took control again when it mattered to win 11-6.
The third game mirrored the first. Ali Fathi won the first two points but Simpson won six in a row to put himself in the driving seat.
Ali Fathi had a glimmer of hope at 4-6 but Simpson’s next surge of points took him to match ball at 10-4. Ali Fathi refused to surrender but after two points from the Egyptian Simpson closed out the match to claim his first Kent Open title.
“I have seen Karim play all week. He is obviously a very dangerous player who can hit winners from a variety of positions. So my tactics were to try to keep him quiet and not let him get in front, where he is so dangerous.
“He was getting frustrated and when I saw him slow-balling down the backhand wall it was clear that he was being forced to do something he doesn’t like doing.
“He likes a fast game and that’s how he’s won his matches to get to the final. But I sensed he was getting tired and he wasn’t getting forward well from the back corners if I was able to play it short.
“I’m pleased with the way I’ve played all week and would love to come back and defend the title next year.
“It’s nice to travel the world and play on the glass court in some amazing locations, but it’s great to play in small clubs like this where the gallery is full of knowledgeable squash fans every day. It creates a tremendous atmosphere.
“We have been so well looked after and all the players echo that sentiment. I had heard a lot of good things about this tournament from other players and it’s all true.”
It was Simpson’s sixth appearance in a PSA final and his sixth victory.
“He was too good today. After a hard week I was a bit tired today and was not moving as well as yesterday or the day before.
“Overall it was good experience for me. Before today I had won seven PSA matches in a row. That earned some ranking points. I went up to 87 this morning and I hope to go up higher next month.
“My plan now is to do six weeks of summer training to get fitter to beat players like him.”
Evans still Mote champ
Ahead of the main final, James Evans retained his Mote Club Championship by beating fellow youngster Ryan Duke in the final. The two are members of Kent’s Under-17 national inter-county champions.
Evans, who beat Rory Pennell in the first round of the qualifying competition, warmed up for the final with a friendly against Emily Whitlock, whose father Phil is coaching main finalist Karim Ali Fathi.
Evans looked in fine form as he won 11-2, 11-4, 11-6.
Earlier, Mote chairman Dave Verga won the Over-55 final against Andy Reeves, triumphing 11-15, 15-10, 15-10.
RADAR GUN DEAD-HEAT
The Radar Gun Challenge finished in a dead heat between Henrik Mustonen and Kristian Frost, both recording 165mph. Robbie Downer, who clocked 171mph last year, was third, lashing the ball at 162mph this time round.
Sponsors for Life ?
Chairman Dave Verga said: “These guys have it possible to bring an event like this to the club and we are very grateful for their support.
“It’s nice to hear the players saying kind things about the club and we look forward to welcoming everyone back next year.
“The players have been fantastic, as always, and we’ve enjoyed a great week of top-class squash.”