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Clyne Survives Marathon Match!

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Marathon battle between Scotland’s Alayn Clyne and Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet lasted nearly two hours, both players relentless to compete on the glass court in Grand Central Terminal.

New York, NY, January 19, 2012.

The desire to be one of the 32 players competing on the glass court in Grand Central Terminal in the main draw of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions was intensely evident in several of the final round of qualifying matches, but none more so than in the marathon battle between Scotland’s Alan Clyne and Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet.

In a match that lasted nearly two hours, both players were relentless, playing long rallies marked by balls hit to great length. Castagent was up 2-1 when he was beset by cramps in the fourth game which was won by Clyne. Even with recurring cramps in the fifth game, Castagent hung tough, but it was the Scotsman who prevailed 12-10 to earn a berth in the main draw against England’s Adrian Grant.

Aussie Zach Alexander and England’s Chris Ryder also found themselves in a five-game marathon match decided by a two point margin in the fifth. It is Alexander who moves onto the Grand Central court where he will face world #1 James Willstrop in the first round.

Amr Khaled Khalifa of Egypt was done in by the speed and agility of Colombia’s Miguel Angel Rodriguez. After winning a close first game. Rodriguez continued to apply pressure to win the match 3-0 and earn a main draw first round match up against another Egyptian player, Hisham Ashour.

Ong Beng Hee of Malaysia was unfazed by losing the first game against Gregoire Marche of France. In each successive game, Beng Hee prolonged the rallies to wear down his opponent and win the match in four close games. His first round opponent is sixth seed Peter Barker.

After easily winning the first game 11-5, Ryan Cuskelly of Australia found the tables turned as his opponent Max Lee of Hong Kong won the second and third games by the identical score. Frustrated by Lee’s persistent retrieving and increasing control of the match , Cuskelly received several conduct warnings and one conduct stroke before Lee closed out the match 11-2 in the fourth game. Lee plays England’s Tom Richards in the first round.

American Todd Harrity, playing before a fiercely partisan crowd, was put under constant pressure by veteran player Stephen Coppinger. The South African was too quick and too experienced for the Princeton University junior who will return to the classroom while Coppinger’s straight games victory has him facing Nicolas Mueller of Switzerland in first round play.

The last two main draw spots will be filled by veteran Mohammed Abbas and rising star Marwan El Shorbagy. The 32-year-old Abbas dominated against India’s Siddarthe Suchde. With his long reach, quick and agile play and strategic shotmaking, Abbas controlled the match, winning each game with successive ease. Abbas will meet Botswana’s Alister Walker, now resident in New York City, in first round play.

The youngest player in the draw, 18-year-old Marwan El Shorbagy, became the ninth Egyptian player in the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions when he defeated New Zealand’s Martin Knight in four games. The two-time World Junior Champion, whose older brother Mohammed is also in the draw, was very much looking forward to making his debut on the Grand Central court. “This is one of the best venues in the world,” said the Egyptian teenager after his first practice session in Grand Central Terminal. ”Everyone wants to come play here in New York City, so the draw is very tough. The other players have told me that the stands are filled from the very first round at noon on Friday until the finals.”