Wednesday, September 23, 2009

World Team Championships

Day 6 (1/10/09)
We had Germany today and winning it meant that we would be playing for 9/10 placing. Order of play was 3-1-2 and Wan was out on court against Raphael Kandra who is still a junior. Wan started strongly and won won the 1st 11-5 but lost a little bit of focus couple with Kandra's determined running, lost the 2nd 11-4. The 3rd and 4th was tight but Wan always was a couple of points ahead and thus putting us 1-0 up.

Azlan was up against Jens Schoor and the initial few points were long, with Schoor running and Azlan dominating. Bit by bit Azlan inched further and further away and closed it 11-5. The 2nd game was similar except Schoor managed to play a few more great shots. Azlan closed the 2nd game 11-8 and Schoor was a spent force in the 3rd after a few titanic rallies in the initial few points which Azlan closed out 11-4.

Beng Hee was on for the dead rubber against a 36 year old Stefan Leifels. Even though it was a dead rubber, Leifels made a game of it and won the 1st 13-11 but paid the price of that effort and lost the next 2 11-6, 11-6.

Tomorr0w we play New Zealand for the 9/10 placing.

You can follow the tournament on Squashsite and there is also live streaming of matches.

Day 5 (1/10/09)

Ireland today and we were confident of it. Order of play was 1-2-3 and so Azlan was 1st out against Liam Kenny. Playing on the glass court yesterday and moving to the wall courts today was not an easy transition as the bounce is very different and Azlan took a little time to adapt. Kenny was trying his best and Azlan was patient enough to take his time and made Kenny work for 2 games before it paid off. 11-9, 11-7, 11-2 to Azlan and Malaysia 1 up.

Beng Hee was next up against Arthur Gaskin and he started of well winning 11-4. But Arthur managed to find his rhythm when Beng Hee was leading 6-2 in the 2nd and partly due to Beng Hee getting complacent which Arthur won 12-10. Beng Hee tighten up and easily won the 3rd 11-1 but then again lost the 4th due to complacency. Going back to basics, he closed the match 11-6 in the 5th and sealed the tie 2-0 to Malaysia.

Ivan was up against Derek Ryan who is a former to 10 player retired about 6 years ago in the dead rubber. A pumped up Ivan who is making his debut raced through the 1st game 11-2 but was made to work a little harder to win the 2nd 11-7 and seal the tie 3-0 to Malaysia.

Players were still disappointed with the loss to Pakistan but they were very professional in getting the job done today. They were up for breakfast and the to practice to do the best job possible.

Tomorrow we play Germany for the 9-12 placing.

Day 4 (30/9/09)Pakistan vs Malaysia in the last 16 was a joke and most people here in Odensse were asking questions. We were not perturbed about that even though we had an option of losing to USA yesterday to avoid Pakistan and play South Africa instead. The team decided otherwise and so here we are today facing Pakistan.

The order of play was 2-1-3 and so it was Beng Hee against Farhan Mehboob. The last few meetings were very close and today we were anticipating the same. But Farhan had other ideas and started off pretty cautious and safe. And by doing that he won the 1st game 11-7. Farhan the decided to be more adventurous and started to go for his shot and they came in. Everything he tried became gold and he won it 11-2. Beng Hee was not playing bad just that Farhan was in the form of his life. Beng Hee tighten up his game in the 3rd and farhan was a little anxious to finish it quick allowed Beng Hee to win the 3rd. It was neck and neck till 5-5 before Farhan raced to a 8-5 lead. At this juncture, Farhan played a forehand volley cross court nick and Beng Hee pick it up cleanly and certainly good. However to the dismay of the team and the crowd, the ref called it down. That took the fight out of Beng Hee and he lost the match. Pakistan 1-0 up.

Azlan the stepped on court with Amir Atlas and it was again a slow start by Azlan and Amir raced to a 6-3 lead. Azlan slowly reigned him in with long punishing hard rallies and he just tipped it 12-10. Amir started out the 2nd going for his shots but azlan was patient enough to wait for his chances and took a 7-2 lead before Amir retired. Now the score was 1-1.

Wan was up against Yasir Butt and we were hoping that Yasir was having a continuation of bad day from yesterday. Wan was pumped up and started off pretty well and won the 1st 11-7. Yasir then came out in the 2nd with guns blazing and Wan lost his discipline and lost that 11-2. The 3rd, Wan started slowly and was behind most of the match. He however managed to keep close enough to force a tie break and had a chance to get into a lead at 10-10 but clipped the tin on his backhand drop and lost 12-10. The 4th, Wan was just ahead most of the time and at 7-5 up, the ref refused Wan a let. He put that aside and went 8-6 up and again the ref refused him a legitimate let. Again he put it aside to get to 9-7 and for the 3rd time was refused a let in a situation where everyone in the gallery was astonished and appaled by that decision. The team was in disbelieve and Wan was wondering what was he supposed to do. He had his chances to close it but failed and Yasir won it 11-9 and the match for Pakistan.

I will never blame the ref for causing us to lose matches but on this occcasion we were very hard done by the ref. The team and I believe that with better decisions, we may have stolen it as Yasir was tiring. The team is gutted but there is nothing that can be done except to pick ourselves up and aim to finish 9th. I have to say that I am proud that the players came together and gave their best but that was not enough to secure a win.

Plus side is that I prefer the lost now rather than the Asian Games next year as this can allow us to take remedial actions. Ireland will be our opponents tomorrow for positions 9-16.

Day 3 (29/9/09)
We played the USA today and won the tie comfortably 3-0. Order of play was 3-1-2 and so Wan was on court with Preston Quick. Wan raced quickly to win the 1st game 11-4 in just 8 minutes. Preston however settled down and slowly lengthen the rallies and pushed Wan all the way to a tie break which Wan won 15-13. All credit to Preston, he still fought and hard and lost the 3rd also in a tie break 12-10.

Azlan was up next and was hoping to make amends for yesterday's lost. He started off well and and was in control against Julian Illingworth. Julian then tighten his game a little and managed to squeeze the 2nd in a tie break 12-10. Azlan was not happy with the loss and upped the pace but Julian kept in touch till halfway where Azlan pulled away and closed it out 11-9. The 4th was an easier affair where Julian was just trying his shots and Azlan duly finished it 11-6.

Beng Hee was left to finish up against a determined Gilly Lane. The 1st game was 20 mins with Gilly winning it 12-10. It wasn't that Beng Hee was playing bad, just that Gilly was running and getting everything back. However that took a lot out of Gilly and Beng Hee upped the pace and won the next 2 games 11-4 and 11-2 in about 15 mins. Gilly collected himself and pushed hard but Beng Hee was in command and was 10-6 up. Complacency crept in and Gilly closed up to 10-9 but Beng Hee closed it up with a short drive that hit the nick.

Tomorrow we play Pakistan in the last 16 round. The Pakistanis were upset by a gritty South Africans 2-1. Yasir Butt and Amir Atlas Khan lost 3-2 respectively and thus having to play us.

Day 2 (28/9/09)

Today we played a motivated Finland who wanted to upset us real bad as to make up for their lost to the USA yesterday. The order of play was 1-3-2 and so Azlan was up against Ollie Touminen. Ollie was pretty determined to give Finland a good start and bol
ted off like a rocket. The game was very fast and he never let Azlan settle down, plus Azlan was struggling with the bounce of the court. Ollie took the 1st game comfortably but Azlan fought back and won the 2nd with some great squash. However, Ollie who seems to be more comfortable on the court upped the pace again and Azlan could not keep up and lost the match 3-1. As hard as Azlan tried, Ollie looked very comfortable on court with his timing to and on the ball.

Wan was up next against Rasheed Hameed and started off a little hesitant. It was point for point till around 7-7 before Wan managed to nudge ahead and sealed the 1st game. Then it was smooth sailing from there onwards and Wan tied the match for us with a comprehensive 3-0 win.

The decider was between old and young, Beng Hee and Henrik Mustonen who is just 18 (maybe younger). Beng Hee took it too easy and Henrik Was so fired up that he looked like a younger Ollie. Henrik won the 1st easily and was gameball up in the 2nd before Beng Hee woke up and closed up the match 3-1. The match was so much like an exhibition match with Beng Hee trying to play the front as much as he can and Henrik ran his heart out picking up and hitting beautiful counter drops to stun Beng Hee.

All our players were complaining about the inconsistent bounce of the ball and it had effected them a little. Tomorrow we play USA and that will be on the glass court. Hopefully that is better.

Day 1 (27/9/09)
The tournament started today and we were in Pool E with Finland and USA. Our decided line up is to play Azlan, Beng Hee, Wan and Ivan in that order. We had a bye today and used it for practice and getting use to the bounce of the courts. Finland played USA with the US winning it 2-1 but only just. We play Finland tomorrow.