Four Singaporeans upset the form books today as they made past the opening qualifying round of the Singapore Squash Open 2017. That is a remarkable result after only one local went past the opening qualifying round the previous year. Benedict Chan led the pack after scoring the first local victory at the Kallang Squash Centre. The 21-year old fought back twice in the second and third games to chalk up a 3-0 victory over Philippines’ David Pelino in just over half an hour.
Having won most of their previous encounters, Chan looked relaxed on court and came out with a comfortable first game 11-6. However, things took a turn in the next game as he fell behind 2-7 but managed to pull it together to squeeze the game 12-10. Things were similar in the third, with Pelino leading before Chan used his clearly more superior skills to carve out a 11-8 win.
“I’m happy to have gotten my first match out of the way. When I saw the draw, I knew I had a chance as I’ve placed David many times. I’ve lost to him once but I’ve won all the others. I lost a bit of focus halfway in the second and third games and gave away some cheap points. I told myself to focus and things were back on track after,” said Benedict Chan, after his victory.
Chan’s compatriot, Rayden Tan, was dealt a painful blow after a wrong step in the second game saw him forfeit the second game after being a game down. He came back after the injury break to play the third, but the effects were showing as he won his first point only after being 0-7 down. His opponent, Malaysia’s Ezzri Nazri walked out victorious after just 19 minutes on court.
SEA Games silver medallist Timothy Leong doubled the local interest when he came back gallantly from a game down to upset another Filipino, Reymark Begornia in an intense match in just under an hour. Despite controlling most of the first game, he couldn’t close out the game. But the national junior assistant coach came back with a vengeance in the second game, carving out a huge 7-0 lead which he eventually closes out 11-5.
With a game each, there was everything to play for and both players displayed amazing athleticism to entertain the nearly full house crowd in the stands. It was close and both players had multiple chances to close out the game, but it was Leong who sneaked in the game eventually 18-16 and walked in a confident man in the fourth, which he won 11-6.
“I’m quite satisfied with my performance today and most of all, I kept my cool. I realized I was under a lot of pressure as it’s quite hard to get around him. I knew he was going to be a tough opponent as I saw him play at the SEA Games,” said Timothy Leong, who is playing his first professional PSA event.
Kojiro Tan also made it to the qualifying finals after he saw off qualifying fourth seed Lachlan Coxedge of Australia in straight games. After struggling in the first game, where he had to come back from game ball down squeeze through 13-11. He led in both the second and the third and held on to them to guarantee Singapore another place in the main draw, as he will be playing compatriot Benedict Chan in the qualifying final tomorrow.
In the final match of the evening, local Samuel Kang and Malaysia’s Gurshan Singh played the match of the day that went the full distance. After taking the first two games relatively comfortably, the tides turned around as Singh made a strong comeback to win the next two games to force the fifth. It was the Malaysian who looked more likely to clinch it, leading the first half of the fifth, before running out of steam as Kang steadily inched point by point to guarantee Singapore’s second additional spot on the main draw, which he will play Timothy Leong for it.
In an earlier all-Malaysian match, Mohammad Farez Izwan beat Julian Joshua Wong after the latter retired injured with a twisted ankle, and Scotland’s Melvin Graham ousted qualifying second seed Shahzad Khan 3-2.
RESULTS – QUALIFYING FIRST ROUND
Muhammad Ezzri Nazri (MAS) bt Rayden Tan (SIN) 11-5, 9-1, 11-2 (21m)
Benedict Chan (SIN) bt David Pelino (PHI) 11-6, 12-10, 11-8 (32m)
Kojiro Tan (SIN) bt Lachlan Coxedge (AUS) 13-11, 11-8, 11-8 (29m)
Samuel Kang (SIN) bt Gurshan Singh (MAS) 11-7, 11-2, 7-11, 9-11, 11-7 (57m)
Timothy Leong (SIN) bt Reymark Begornia (PHI) 9-11, 11-5, 18-16, 11-6 (58m)
Mohd Farez Izwan (MAS) bt Julian Joshua Wong (MAS) 8-11, 11-3, 6-7 rtd (19m)
Melvin Graham (SCO) bt Shahzad Khan (PAK) 10-12, 11-3, 10-12, 11-7, 11-5 (42m)