HONG KONG—Squash players from real crocodile countries won the 8th annual Crocodile Squash Challenge Cup 2012 in Hong Kong on the weekend, with Australia’s Donna Urquhart winning the women’s title and Egypt’s Mazen Hesham Ga Sabry winning the men’s.
A good sized crowd watched as No. 1 seed Urquhart played off against No. 3 seed Line Hansen of Denmark in the Final on Sunday Sept 2. Urquhart played some of her best squash in the Final and was too strong for Hanson, coming away victorious in three straight games: (11-6, 11-8, 11-6).
Donna carried a strained ankle ligament into the Crocodile tournament after withdrawing from the Australian Open following her first-ever defeat of her Brisbane training partner and the legendary ex-World No. 1, Rachael Grinham, on Aug 16. Exhibiting remarkable recuperative powers, the 25-year-old with heavily taped ankles, was very pleased with her day’s work.
“I am happy with that today, I felt like I was not quite with it yesterday. I knew I had to lift my game today and I went in there really focused and I stuck to my game plan,” Urquhart told “The Epoch Times”.
“It is so important on this court to volley a lot; I was looking to volley everything I could and to keep her behind me, but I knew that I needed to move her around as well. And so I was being a little bit patient and trying to get her behind me with a good length and then play boosts or volley drops,” she explained.
“I just felt that the concentration level was just where it needed to be today. On the day that you need to be like that, it is good to find out you are.”
Throughout four days of intense play, Urquhart (whose world ranking of 17 may well have improved following this tournament) beat Tong Tsz-Wing of Hong Kong in the first round, Olga Ertlova of Czech Republic and Liu Tsz-Ling of Hong Kong (46) in the Semi-final; while Hansen defeated Carmen Lee of Hong Kong, Lee Ka-Yi of Hong Kong and Lisa Aitken of Scotland (50).
“I’ve played this tournament a few times,” Urquhart said. “I’ve played the Buler and the Hong Kong Open.
“I think this is only the second time I have won one of these tournaments. I lost to Joey [Chan] in last year’s Open Semi-final, I have been beaten by Annie [Au] in a Final once and beaten her once in a Final here. I am happy with today.”
While referencing Hong Kong’s No. 1 Joey Chan, she was second seed and was knocked out of the tournament in the Quarter-finals by Lisa Aitken in her first visit to Hong Kong—who has seen her world ranking leap forward from 180 to 50 over the last year.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Annie Au, who was ranked sixth in the world prior to this tournament, did not take part.
A Favorite Versus a Rookie
The men’s competition Final was between the tournament’s top seed and Hong Kong’s No. 1, Max Lee (ranked 30 in the world prior to the tournament), against a young 18-year-old Egyptian protégé, Mazen Hesham Ga Sabry (120).
Everything was going to plan for Hong Kong’s local favorite, with Lee winning the first two games; but Ga Sabry turned his fortunes around in dramatic fashion to win the next three games and the Crocodile Squash Challenge Cup 2012 title (11-13, 6-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-3).
Ga Sabry, who certainly is an up-and-coming player to watch on the international circuit, discussed his match with The Epoch Times after the game.
“I am very happy. It is one of the best wins of my career. To play against Max who is 30 in the world and win makes me even happier,” said Ga Sabry.
The Crocodile Squash Challenge Cup is an annual international tournament sanctioned by both the Professional Squash Association and Women’s International Squash Association, with US$15,000 (HK$116,000) prize money for both men’s and women’s competitions. Organized by Hong Kong Squash Association with financial backing by Crocodile Garments Limited, the Cup is in its eighth year and is one of a number of international squash tournaments in Hong Kong that attracts top players from around the world.
Most of the players now head for Kuala Lumpur to take part in the Malaysian Open, which starts with the qualifying draw on Sept 10, followed by the main draw from Sept 11 to 15.