For the past eight days, Drexel University’s Daskalakis Athletic Center has played host to the Delaware Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships.
The tournament featured over 50 of the world’s top squash players and boiled down to the quarterfinals Oct. 9 and 10.
If you’ve never watched squash before, it closely resembles a combination of tennis and racquetball. The basic idea is to hit the squash ball off of a wall, a la racquetball, and try to catch your opponent off guard so that they are unable to return your shot before it hits the ground twice.
It’s very simple to get the hang of it in person, which is just what students had a chance to do this week at the DAC.
There were multiple notable women’s quarterfinal results, including two of the top three women in the world going at it and in a stellar semifinal match ending in a win by Raneem El Weleily Oct. 11.
Nicol David of Malaysia, the No. 1 seed in the tournament and No. 1 in the world of women’s squash, defeated Alison Waters in her quarterfinal matchup 11-5, 11-7, 11-9 in straight games to avoid a repeat of the upset that occurred just two weeks ago in the quarterfinals of the World Squash Association Gold Series Carol Weymuller Open. David’s previous loss to Waters came on the heels of a loss to Raneem El Weleily, marking her first consecutive losses since 2009. David will face unqualified Laura Massaro, No. 2 in the world, who extended her current hot streak by taking down Madeline Perry of Ireland 11-6, 11-9, 11-7 in straight games. Massaro, who won the Carol Weymuller Open just two weeks ago for her 10th career WSA title, has never been rated this highly in her career. She is hoping to ride the hot streak all the way to the championship.
“I don’t think you can really put it down to one thing,” Massaro said about her success after the match. “Obviously my coaches have really worked me hard physically, and just finding that spot to work hard and get my tactics straight.”
Over on the men’s side of the brackets, the results were as to be expected, but the paths that the players took were slightly unorthodox. In a surprisingly tight contest, No. 1 seed James Willstrop defeated No. 8 seed Mohamed El Shorbagy 11-6, 7-11, 12-10, 8-11, 11-5 in an 85-minute thriller of a match. Willstrop will face No. 3 seed Gregory Gaultier, who defeated Egypt’s Karim Darwish 6-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-4.
On the second day of the men’s quarterfinals, No. 2 seed and reigning world champion Nick Matthews played No. 7 seed and reigning U.S. Open champion Amr Shabana in an epic 92-minute marathon that tied the longest match played in the tournament so far. Each of the last three games was decided by two points, the minimum difference in a squash game, as Matthews knocked off the feisty Shabana 11-6, 4-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-9 in a rematch of last year’s U.S. Open final.
Matthews will play No. 4 seed Ramy Ashour, who defeated England’s sixth-seeded Peter Barker 10-12, 11-5, 11-6, 7-11, 13-11.