In an upset-ridden 2016 Channel VAS Championship at St George’s Hill in Weybridge, New Zealand’s world no.33 Paul Coll produced amazing form before lifting the biggest title of his squash career. The $100,000 event had some of the world’s biggest names in squash but the New Zealander played like a man possessed and won the final by defeating world no.11 Tarek Momen of Egypt. India’s no.1 Saurav Ghosal reached the quarterfinals but lost to England’s Daryl Selby. Others, who fell on the wayside, included world no.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy and his brother world no.6 Marwan ElShorbagy.
Paul Coll of New Zealand entered the tournament as an underdog. He needed to come through qualification rounds; but once he began, he caused three major upsets on the way to his first ever PSA M100 final. After defeating 8th seeded Max Lee of Hong Kong in the first round in five games at 11-9, 7-11, 11-5, 5-11, 4-11, Coll accounted for Colombia’s no.4 seed Miguel Angel Rodriguez. It was another 5-game duel that finished with Coll’s 9-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-6, 11-6 victory over Rodriguez. In the semifinal, Coll faced England’s Daryl Selby and beat him in four games 6-11, 7-11, 11-4, 5-11. Earlier, Selby had caused the biggest first-round upset of the tournament by beating Egyptian top-seed and world no.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy 13-11, 9-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9. But he became Coll’s third victim. These three victories took Coll into the final, where he came face-to-face with Egypt’s no.5 seeded Tarek Momen, another giant killer in the tournament.
Tarek Momen’s journey through the tournament wasn’t so tough. After beating England’s Joe Lee 7-11, 9-11, 12-10, 4-11 in the first round, he defeated no.3 seed Marwan ElShorbagy 12-10, 11-5, 11-8 in the quarterfinal and next triumphed over England’s 6th seeded James Willstrop 11-9, 11-9, 11-9 to reach the final.
In the final on December 12, the 24-year old New Zealander from Greymouth was in much better spirits after spending more than 200 minutes on the court over three days of play. His Egyptian opponent, Tarek Momen, had a higher world rank but that didn’t bother Coll. He carried the momentum from his previous wins and began by taking the first game at 11-7. Coll faced some resistance in the second game but after winning it at 13-11, he already looked on his way for his first ever Tour-level title in a major tournament. Coll lost just 4 points in the third game and his steely display saw him emerge winner at 11-7, 13-11, 11-4. Veteran New Zealand star and former world no.2 Ross Norman was in attendance in the final and he was all praise for his younger countryman. Norman is known for ending legendary Pakistani Jahangir Khan’s incredible 555-match unbeaten run.
India’s challenge in the tournament faded away in the quarterfinal, when Saurav Ghosal lost to England’s Daryl Selby in three games 5-11, 3-11, 6-11. Earlier in the first round, Ghosal had broken his 7-match losing streak by defeating Spain’s Borja Golan 11-5, 11-7, 10-12, 11-8.
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