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Coppinger Claims Upset Victory

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“There’s a huge sense of occasion when you play on the glass court in Grand Central,” said Stephen Coppinger as he talked about his first round at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions. The 28-year-old South African certainly rose to meet it as he scored the day’s biggest upset when he eliminated fifth seed Peter Barker in four games, 12-10, 11-6, 6-11, 11-1.

Ranked 15 places lower than world #8 Barker, Coppinger had lost to the Englishman in all five of their previous meetings. The first game was extremely physical, as the 6’3” Coppinger and 6’0” Barker jostled for position at the T. Up 10-8 in the first game, Barker was unable to close out the game through a seemingly endless series of let calls, and Coppinger prevailed 12-8.  After losing the second 6-11, Barker staged a comeback to win the third by the identical score. But Coppinger stormed to an 8-0 lead in the fourth game to earn a spot in the quarterfinals of the world’s largest spectator squash event. “Last year, I was just happy to qualify for the main draw here,” said Coppinger, who credited his training with former world Champion David Palmer for the significant improvement during the past year in his game and his mindset. “But this year, I have the extra belief; I feel like I belong here and I can play with these guys.”    

 Coppinger’s next opponent will be England’s Adrian Grant, who advanced to the quarterfinals with a five-game victory over Australian Cameron Pilley. Advancing to the second round for the third time in seven Tournament of Champions appearances, Grant started slow but picked up steam through the match.  Just the day before, when he chatted with school age participants in StreetSquash, the Harlem, NYC based urban Squash Program, Grant had talked with good humor about his reputation on the PSA tour for playing five- game matches. “Pilley always comes out like a steam train,” said Grant. “But after feeling like I was hard done by a couple of referee decisions, I got a little teed off and got my aggressions out on court, which turned the match around.”

Egypt’s Omar Mosaad, in only his second appearance in the Tournament of Champions, notched the first victory of the tournament with a four game victory over Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller. “I am so happy to play here and win,” said the 24-year-old world # 8 ranking player with a huge smile. He credited a basic back court game of hitting the ball deep to control the court and waiting for a volley opening with being the winning strategy.

Next up for Mosaad is Malaysia’s 32-year-old Ong Beng Hee, whose seniority provided the winning edge in his four-game victory over 26-year-old New Zealand qualifier Campbell Grayson. “I played well in patches,” said the former World Junior Champion,” and I think my experience made the big difference in the fourth game.”

The three qualifiers in the evening session of play were schooled by their more seasoned opponents. World ranked #12 Tarek Momen eliminated Canada’s Shawn Delierre in straight games, and world champion and current world #1 Ramy Ashour ended Adrian Waller’s Tournament of Champions journey with a 3-0 victory.  Simon Rosner of Germany, less than pleased at having given up a game to Pakistan’s Yasir Ali Butt, took comfort in having won even with what he considered a slow start. Although the full house evening crowd in the Grand Central stadium buzzed with anticipation as they settled in for the  evening’s second match between #1 seed James Willstrop and the acrobatic Miguel Angel Rodriguez of Colombia, the 29-year-old Englishman was just too good and allowed Rodriguez only a few points in each game.

 irst round results – J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions at Grand Central Terminal

A Professional Squash Association (PSA) World Series Gold event

Friday, January 18, 2013 at Grand Central Terminal

[1] James Willstrop (ENG) bt Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 11-3, 11-5, 11-5  33 mins]

Tarek Momen (EGY) bt [Q] Shawn Delierre (CAN) 11-1, 11-6, 11-8  25 mins

Adrian Grant (ENG) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 6-11, 9-11,11-4,11-5,11-8  89 mins
Stephen Coppinger (RSA) bt. [5] Peter Barker (ENG) 12-10, 11-6, 6-11, 11-1  70 mins
[8] Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 11-7,7-11,11-8,11-5  54 mins
Ong Beng Hee (MAS) bt [Q] Campbell Grayson (NZL) 11-6,5-11, 11-3,11-9  53 mins
Simon Rosner (GER) bt [Q] Yasir Ali Butt (PAK) 11-5, 4-11, 11-6,11-4  32 mins
[4] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [Q] Adrian Waller (ENG) 11-5, 11-6, 12-10  39 mins

Schedule of play –First round J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions

Saturday, January 19, 2013 at Grand Central Terminal

Beginning at noon

Olli Tuominen (FIN) v [Q] Gregoire Marche (FRA)

Tom Richards (ENG) v Todd Harrity (USA)

[3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY)

Beginning at 3PM

[6] Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) v Laurens Jan Anjema (NED)

[7] Karim Darwish (EGY) v [Q] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)

Beginning at 7PM

[2] Nick Matthew (ENG) v Joe Lee (ENG)

Amr Shabana (EGY) v [Q] Chris Simpson (ENG)

Saurav Ghosal (IND) v [Q] Shahier Razik (CAN)