Season Review – October
Victory for Laura Massaro and Gregory Gaultier at the PSA Dubai World Series Finals last month brought an end to what has been one of the most remarkable and memorable seasons ever in the history of professional squash – a nine-month spell that saw records broken, rivalries ignited, careers forged and history made.
Over the next few weeks we're looking back at the major moments that lit up the PSA World Tour during 2015/16, starting with the breakthrough performances, to the most outstanding performers and performances, shock moments, and rising stars that ensured the 2015/16 season – the first full season of combined governance since the PSA and WSA joined forces in a historic merger back on January 1st, 2015 – will go down in the sporting annals as one of the best ever.
We’re going back to October 2015 and taking an in-depth look at what transpired during the second month of the season.
Following on from a stunning September which got the 2015/16 season off to a thrilling start, October brought with it the first two World Series tournaments of the season, in addition to a further 16 tournaments staged throughout the world.
England’s Laura Massaro produced one of the most successful months of her distinguished career after prevailing in both the US Open and Qatar Classic to take an early lead on the PSA Road to Dubai Standings.
The Lancastrian was in fine form to fend off the attentions of Egypt’s Nour El Tayeb in Philadelphia – recovering from 2-0 down to defeat the legendary Nicol David in the last eight – before moving on to beat Nour El Sherbini in the Qatar Classic final just a matter of weeks later.
‘French General’ Gregory Gaultier laid down an early marker on the Men’s Tour, and captured his first World Series crown for 17 months after downing Egypt’s Omar Mosaad in the final of the US Open, but fell to World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy in the Qatar final.
Elsewhere, the SQUASHTV cameras headed down to Weybridge, England for the first time to cover the inaugural St George’s Hill Open – with Chris Simpson triumphing on home soil to lift his first PSA M25 title.
It was also a successful month for Simpson’s fellow Englishman, Declan James, who captured his fourth successive PSA World Tour title in a row at the Courtcraft Nick Matthew Academy Steel City Open.
The then 22-year-old had been in majestic form in the preceding months, winning two titles in September, and came through a gruelling five-game battle with compatriot George Parker in the showpiece finale to lift silverware.
Declan James (right) with George Parker (left) and three-time World Champion Nick Matthew (centre)
Egypt’s Mohamed Abouelghar also had a month to remember after lifting the biggest title of his career to date after dispatching defending champion Omar Abdel Meguid in the CAS International, while Abouelghar’s countryman, Mohamed Reda, followed up his victory at the Norwegian Open by taking the plaudits at the JSW Chennai.
Up-and-coming Belgian talent Nele Gilis was another player to make her mark on the Tour in October as she lifted the first Tour crown of her burgeoning career in New York at the Livestuff Open.
A fine week of action saw her overturn a 2-0 deficit against Nikki Todd en route to the final, where she came out on top against Danielle Letourneau to break her title duck.
Nele Gilis in action
There was also success for Pakistani duo Farhan Zaman and Danish Atlas Khan at the Any Presence Open and Chicago Open, respectively. Zaman came up against Qatar’s Abdullah Mohd Al Tamimi and fell two games behind before a stunning comeback enabled him to capture his first Tour title in two years. Khan and Zaman actually met in the final of the Chicago Open, with the former winning in four.
While Khan was triumphing in Chicago, Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly was in the neighbouring country as he upset Egypt’s Karim Abdel Gawad to win his maiden PSA M35 crown at the Bluenose Classic in Canada – a win that acted as a precursor to a record-breaking November for the World No.16.
Ryan Cuskelly (right) lifts the Bluenose Classic crown. Runner-up Karim Abdel Gawad is pictured left.
Massaro and Reda stood out as the top two performers throughout the month and were duly awarded the Female and Male PSA Players of the Month award for October.
Full List of Winners
Courtcraft Nick Matthew Academy Steel City Open 2015 – Declan James (ENG)
CAS International Squash Championship 2015 – Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY)
Livestuff Open 2015 – Nele Gilis (BEL)
LOC Charing Cross Classic 2015 – Daniel Poleshchuk (ISR)
Any Presence Open PSA Tour 10 2015 – Farhan Zaman (PAK)
Men’s Delaware Investments US Open 2015 – Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
Women’s Delaware Investments US Open 2015 – Laura Massaro (ENG)
Securian Open 2015 – Christopher Binnie (JAM)
Black Knight & Copacabana White Oaks Court Classic 2015 – Piedro Schweertman (NED)
Open International des Volcans 2015 – Fiona Moverley (ENG)
Men’s JSW Indian Squash Circuit Chennai 2015 – Mohamed Reda
Women’s JSW Indian Squash Circuit Chennai 2015 – Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG)
CLIC Sargent St George’s Hill Open 2015 – Chris Simpson (ENG)
Life Time Fitness Chicago Open 2015 – Danish Atlas Khan (PAK)
Welaptega Bluenose Squash Classic 2015 – Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
2nd Tournoi International du Val de Marne 2015 – Natalie Grinham (NED)
Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital Open 2015 – Kanzy Emad El Defrawy (EGY)
Men’s Mackay Open 2015 – Zac Alexander (AUS)
Women’s Mackay Open 2015 – Vanessa Chu (HKG)
Men’s Qatar Classic 2015 – Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
Women’s Qatar Classic 2015 – Laura Massaro (ENG)
Cleveland Skating Club Open 2015 – Andrew Wagih Shoukry (EGY)