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Home Hopes Fall At First Hurdle In 2016 Tournament Of Champions

Todd Harrity

Todd Harrity

New York, NY – Jan. 8. Two local favorites at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, Todd Harrity and Ramit Tandon, received loud and excited support from their fans during their first round matches in Grand Central Terminal, but it wasn’t enough to carry them to victory on the glass court in iconic Grand Central Terminal.

which exposes the sport to record crowds during the week-long extravaganza in Vanderbilt Hall,

Tournament Wildcard Harrity, the highest ranked male American player on the PSA Men’s World Tour at No.52, produced one of his most notable performances to-date on the sport’s grandest stage. Despite taking a game and frequently dominating proceedings during a back-and-forth encounter, Harrity couldn’t find enough in his locker to overcome 21-year-old Egyptian talent Fares Dessouki.

Competing at the tournament for the first time in his career, Dessouki at times cut a distracted figure on court as he struggled to find any consistent rhythm. The World No.21 eventually managed to secure passage to the second round, 11-6, 8-11, 11-6, 11-8.

“It’s my first ever time here at this tournament and I enjoyed being out on the court here,” said Dessouki. “The crowd is amazing and it was good to hear them being loud and vocal today.

“I think that he probably played better than me today but I am happy to win and I need to work hard now and try and come back better for the next match.”

Speaking after the match, Harrity said: “It’s always special and exciting to play here and it was great to have so many friends and supporters behind me. It’s always a bit edgy when playing on a stage like this and while the loss is disappointing there’s lots of positives to take from it.”

Gregory Gaultier v. Ramit Tandon

Gregory Gaultier v. Ramit Tandon

Indian World No.255 Tandon, the Columbia University graduate and current New York resident who has a full time job, defeated Harvard graduate Ali Farag, the World No.22, in qualification to book an unexpected place in the main draw. He acquitted himself with pride in front of enthusiastic fans during a 32-minute encounter against World Champion Gregory Gaultier.

While never truly troubling Gaultier, the 23-year-old, who as a part-time athlete was playing in just his 40th career match, managed to notch up a series of points courtesy of some intelligent play in a performance that will serve to bolster his credentials to one day join the tour on a full time basis. For Gaultier it was back to business as usual as he bids to begin 2016 by winning one of the sport’s most prestigious titles.

“I have never played, or even seen him play before, so I had to go on YouTube to see footage of him playing in order to prepare for the match,” said Gaultier.“I saw he was talented and I spoke to some of the guys on tour who told me the same thing so I prepared myself to make sure I was careful on court and put the ball away when I was given any opportunity.

“I had a good break over Christmas and New Year to recharge. I was tired towards the end of last year having played so many matches during the second half of the year. I feel star fresh here so I’m looking forward to the next round and playing in front of such a great crowd in this amazing venue.”

World No.3 Nick Matthew, Gaultier’s seeded semi-final opponent, began his campaign by navigating a tricky encounter with Peruvian teenager Diego Elias. The current World Junior Champion showed just why he is billed as a future World No.1 as he stayed with the ever-physical Matthew throughout the duration of their 65-minute battle, playing with patience and composure to trouble the 35-year-old on numerous occasions.

It was Matthew’s unrelenting physical style and his ability to retrieve and extend rallies that made the difference in the end as the exertions took their toll on the youngster during the latter stages of the match as Matthew pulled away to secure his place in the second round 11-5, 8-11, 11-3, 11-8.

“I’ve seen him play and I’ve trained with him before but he surprised me tonight with how well and how long he managed to stick with the pace and hang in the match,” said Matthew. “He showed a very mature all-round game and the quality of his play on the back foot was impressive. In the next round I need to make sure that I step on the gas when I’m ahead in games and not allow the opponent a chance to get back into it. All credit to Diego for how he fought back, especially in the second, but I certainly have a few things for me to work on ahead of the second round.”

Results: J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions – Men’s First Round (Bottom Half)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [Q] Ramit Tandon (IND) 3-0: 11-4, 11-6, 11-3 (32m)
Fares Dessouki (EGY) bt [WC] Todd Harrity (USA) 3-1: 11-6, 8-11, 11-6, 11-8 (52m)
James Willstrop (ENG) bt Alister Walker (BOT) 11-7, 3-0 retired (12m)
[6] Simon Rösner (GER) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-7, 11-1 (40m)
[8] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Cesar Salazar (MEX) 3-0: 11-5, 11-1, 11-3 (30m)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt [Q] Nasir Iqbal (PAK) 3-1: 11-6, 9-11, 11-7, 11-7 (69m)
Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 3-2: 11-7, 9-11, 11-4, 3-11, 11-8 (75m)
[2] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [Q] Diego Elias (PER) 3-1: 11-5, 8-11, 11-3, 11-8 (65m)

Draw: J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions – Men’s Second Round
[1] Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v [5] Omar Mosaad (EGY)
[7] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v Max Lee (HKG)
Leo Au (HKG) v Borja Golan (ESP)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Fares Dessouki (EGY)
James Willstrop (ENG) v [6] Simon Rösner (GER)
[8] Marwan Elshorbagy (EGY) v Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v [2] Nick Matthew (ENG)