Youssef, Rowan lift Int’l Squash men, women titles

ISLAMABAD  –  Egyptian Youssef Soliman crowned $30,000 Serena Hotels Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) International Squash for Men 2018 champion as he stunned top seed Hong Kong’s Leo Au 3-2 in the final here at Mushaf Squash Complex on Friday.

Leo, who recently won the Asian Games Individual title, was firm favourite to clinch the title. He started the final well and took the first game 13-11. He kept same pressure in the second game and also won it with same margin 13-11. The third game saw royal battle between the two great players as Youssef was not ready to go down without a fight, as he registered upset victories first against compatriot Omar and then against second seed Malaysian Nafizwan Adnan in the semifinals, so he started playing aggressively and put Leo under tremendous pressure, which paid great dividend and he took third game 11-7.

Youssef kept same pressure in the fourth game and won it 11-6. In the fifth and final game, Leo was looking tired, while Youssef was more confident and fought bravely to take the fifth and decisive game 11-6 to register upset victory against the top seed in almost 1 hour and 30 minutes of top class squash on offer, which was duly recognised by the sizable crowd.

World junior squash champion and top seed Egyptian Rowan Elarby, 18, won the $10,000 International Squash Tournament for Women after thrashing compatriot Nada Abbas 3-0 in the final played here at Mushaf Squash Complex on Friday.

Rowan started the first game on a slow pace and Nada was all over her, but after a few rallies, Rowan settled down and kept Nada under huge pressure which paid dividend and she took the first game 11-5 in 9 minutes. Rowan was comfortably leading 6-2 in the second game, before referee Fayyaz, who was almost sleeping, failed to allow a clear point to Nada and openly admitted that he missed and gave let call, which upset Rowan and she started committing unforced errors and soon it was 6-6. It was see-saw battle as game kept on swinging from one way to another and long rallies were witnessed, but Rowan eventually took the game 11-8 in 12 minutes.  The third game was also fought closely, but Rowan was not in a mood to let Nada off the hook and won the game 11-7 in 10 minutes to land the title. Vice Chief of Ari Staff, Air Marshal Arshad Mehmood graced the concluding ceremony as chief guest. Later, the chief guest distributed trophies and cash awards among the finalists.

The pathetic refereeing was once again witnessed during the tournament which not only brought bad taste for the players, but it also brought huge embarrassment for the country. The federation must involve the world’s elite group of referees to host their international event in a professional manner.



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