Victory for Laura Massaro and Gregory Gaultier at the PSA Dubai World Series Finals in May 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.
In our newest season review, we go back to December, which brought the curtain down on a thrilling 2015.
The world’s top stars headed to Hong Kong for the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open with the final World Series tournament of 2015 serving as a fascinating bookend to an enthralling year of action.
The Women’s event saw England’s Laura Massaro maintain the strong form that saw her take both the US Open and Qatar Classic titles earlier on in the season as a series of powerful displays saw her surge to the final, with victory over then World No.1 Raneem El Welily in the last four ensuring that she would overtake the Egyptian at the summit of the World Rankings the following month.
Her celebrations were cut short though by Malaysia’s eight-time World Champion Nicol David who, competing in her 100th Tour final, played with a confidence and aura that epitomised her nine-year reign as the World No.1 from 2006-2015 and the 32-year-old duly defeated Massaro in straight games to win her 10th straight Hong Kong Open title.
Meanwhile, Australian No.1 Cameron Pilley, then ranked 24th in the world, took a number of plaudits in the Men’s event as notable upsets against Simon Rösner, World Champion Gregory Gaultier and then World No.3 Nick Matthew saw him reach a maiden World Series final.
Despite missing out to Egypt’s Mohamed ElShorbagy in the showpiece finale, Pilley’s superb displays would be enough to see him surge back into the world’s top 15 for the first time since March 2014.
Elsewhere on the PSA World Tour, England’s Jaymie Haycocks won his first title of 2015 with victory at the MAA Invitational at the beginning of the month, while there were also further English winners in the form of Eddie Charlton and Chris Fuller at the Malaysian Tour Squash XI and IMET Open, respectively.
Spain hosted the PSA Valencia tournament, with Germany’s Jens Schoor rising from his position as the number three seed to capture the crown, beating the experienced Mazen Gamal in the final.
Jens Schoor in action
India’s Vikram Malhotra came up with some of the best individual performances throughout the month after he prevailed at the Florida Open – despite starting the tournament as a qualifier.
After battling through the qualifying stages, Malhotra showed nerves of steel to score a number of main draw scalps, including a superb five-game victory over top seed Farhan Zaman in the semi-finals, before going on to down Arthur Gaskin to claim his first ever PSA World Tour title.
Meanwhile, Reiko Peter came out on top of an all-Swiss final in the Xmas Challenger, while Rachel Arnold would triumph in the Women’s instalment of the Malaysian Squash Tour XI alongside Charlton.
The penultimate tournament of 2015 saw Frenchman Christophe Andre win the Pareti Open in Ukraine, while Omar Abdel Meguid took top prize at the Qatar Circuit II a week later to round off a scintillating year.
Finally, David and Pilley were rewarded for their exploits during the Hong Kong Open and were named the PSA Players of the Month for December.
Full List of Winners
MAA Invitational 2015 – Jaymie Haycocks (ENG)
Men's Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open 2015 – Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
Women's Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open 2015 – Nicol David (MAS)
PSA Valencia 2015 – Jens Schoor (GER)
The Betty Griffin Memorial Florida Open 2015 – Vikram Malhotra (IND)
Airport Xmas Challenger 2015 – Reiko Peter (SUI)
Men's Malaysian Tour Squash XI 2015 – Eddie Charlton (ENG)
Women's Malaysian Tour Squash XI 2015 – Rachel Arnold (MAS)
IMET Open 2015 – Chris Fuller (ENG)
Pareti Squash Open 2015 – Christophe Andre (FRA)
Qatar Circuit II 2015 – Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY)