Day 1 of squash tournament has few surprises

By: Randy Pascal – Playback

 | Apr 03, 2014 - 1:39 PM |
The seeding committee at the 2014 Northern Ontario Open Squash Tournament can take a bow.

Seven of the eight opening round matches on Wednesday went the way of the favourites, with only 17-year-old Peruvian phenom Diego Elias breaking the trend.

The young upstart, who is rapidly adding impressive victories to his resume, took down eighth-seeded Cesar Salazar (Mexico) 11-9, 12-10, 3-11, 11-4. Ranked 202nd in the world as he continues to build up an inventory of top-level games, Elias will face the tournament's second seed, Stephen Coppinger of South Africa in quarter-final play.

Ranked 24th in the world, Coppinger dismissed American Chris Gordon 3-0, showing well in a 11-3, 11-8, 11-4 victory. The No. 1 seed at the event, Adrian Grant of England, overcame a somewhat sluggish start before moving past Martin Knight of New Zealand 12-10, 11-6, 11-5.

Exactly one spot ahead of Coppinger in the world rankings, Grant will now face Ryan Cuskelly of Australia, who squashed the dreams of local hopeful Mike McCue, besting the Sudbury product 11-9, 11-6, 11-9.

Still, McCue continues to show signs of closing the gap, providing an encounter that was far closer than the matchup of the world's 36th player (Cuskelly) against #122 (McCue) might suggest.

In remaining opening night action, Campbell Grayson (New Zealand - #40) defeated Canadian champion Shawn Dellière (#68) 3-1 (7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8), while defending champion Marwan Elshorbagy (Egypt - #21) eliminated 2010/2011 winner Shahier Razik (Canada - #88) 11-6, 7-11, 11-9, 12-10.

A second former champion also met his demise on Wednesday as Julian Illingsworth (USA - #47) fell to Tom Richards (England - #27) 10-12, 5-11, 3-11. Richards will now draw country mate Joe Lee after the world's 30th ranked player went the distance against Australian Steve Finitsis (#50), surviving a 9-11, 11-9, 11-7, 3-11, 11-6 marathon.

Play continues at the Sudbury YMCA today, with matches beginning at 5 p.m., with semifinals slated for Friday evening at 6:30 and 8 p.m. The championship final will be held on Saturday, with fans encouraged to arrive early as the combatants take to the court at 4 p.m.

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