The PSA World Championships take place in Chicago in May, but this year there are 12 qualifying spots available, to be earned in the qualifying event at Edgbaston Priory, Birmingham, England, from 12th to 14th April.
There are six Men’s and six Women’s spots available, with the top six seeds in each draw receiving a bye into the semi-finals. Day ONE featured nine matches on each of the four courts, with today’s winners joining the top seeds in tomorrow’s semi-finals.
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Day One Roundup : Harris and Withington lead English Charge
There were a number of marathon matches, especially in the men’s, with six of the twelve 7/12 seeds falling at the first hurdle and ten English winners.
In the opening set of matches home favourite Alicia Mead made a confident start with a straight games win over Saran Nghiem, who had only just flown in form a break in her study program from Harvard.
“First on, on my home courts, I wasn’t nervous at all actually,” said Alicia. “This event has come at a good time for me, I’ve struggled in recent weeks but playing on my home courts and sleeping in my own bed is just what I needed. I felt I played well today, very pleased with how it went.”
Mead faces top seeded Egyptian Nardine Garas in tomorrow’s semi-finals.
In the early men’s matches there were marathon 71 minute wins for Israel’s Daniel Poleshchuk and South Africa’s Dewald van Niekirk who overcame higher-seeded opponents Emyr Evans and Seif Shenawy.
There are two Austrian players in the draws, and Jacqueline Peychar held off a terricic comeback from Australian Sarah Cardwell to prevail in five games.
“I started well,” said Peychar, “I started well but she came back strongly, she’s very experienced. I just had to dig in and I’m very happy to get through.”
Many-time Austrian champion Aqeel Rehman found no joy against Japan’s Ryunosuke Tsueke, going down in straight games. Tsukue didn’t play on tour at all during Covid and this event marks something of a comeback for him.
Tsukue meets former world #6 Mohamed Abouelghar, also on the comeback trail, tomorrow and the Japanese is looking forward to it.
“It will be tough but I’ll just have to try my best, I’m really excited to be able to play against a top player like that.”
The afternoon session concluded with another men’s marathon as Spain’s Ivan Perez beat Czech Viktor Byrtus in 68 minutes, the loser scoring at least eight points in each of the five games.
“Viktor was playing well, going for lots of shots,” said Perez. “I tried to get a better length, be patient and wait for the opportunities because I knew he would be going short. He was getting tired towards the end, but it was still very close!”
In the early evening matches England’s James Peach and Malaysia’s Addeen Idrakie both won in five almost simultaneously, both saving match balls in the deciders, and they’ll meet in tomorrow’s semi-final.
Fresh from her double European U19 triumph, Asia Harris came from a game down to beat Malaysia’s Xin Ying Yee, one of the 7/12 seeds favoured to reach the finals.
“I only had one day to recover form ten days of intense squash, it’s not enough” admitted Harris who won the Euro U19 individual title in Zurich and put the England team on course for the team title. “I’m still tired and I need a good session to get the lactic acid moving.
“I haven’t even looked at who I might be playing next (it’s compatriot Anna Kimberley) but I’ll be giving it all to qualify.”
In the final match of the day, England’s 2022 Euro U19 champion Finnlay Withington came from match ball down in the third to beat USA’s Spencer Lovejoy.
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