4th HKFC Invitational PSA 25 Tournament


It was the fourth year that the HKFC has hosted the PSA world ranking squash tournament and the second year for the Ladies event sponsored by Meco Engineering (Macau). Year on year the event has become stronger and this year it was at its best yet with the lineup including some of the world’s best squash players travelling from countries including England, Australia, Qatar, Egypt and the Netherlands. This coupled with the best players Hong Kong has to offer proved it was to be an event not to be missed.

The Men's top 4 seeds were Max Lee (world ranked 17), Saurav Ghosal (23), Omar Abdel Meguid (28) and Laurens Jan Anjema (33). The Lady's top 4 seeds were Annie Au (12), Rachael Grinham (13), Jenny Duncalf (17) and Joshana Chinappa (21)

The qualifiers ran at the start of the week and had some great match ups all the way through. The support for the early games was fantastic with the show courts having a large number of supporters watching the games. The pick of the qualifying games was probably the great comeback from James Huang who after being 2 nil down against Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi won a very tight 3rd game 13-11 to then go on to win the match in 5 and earn his place into the main draw against number 1 seed Max Lee.

By the middle of the week the main draw started with HK top seed and favourite Annie Au playing HKFC’s very own Carman Lee. Carmen had a slow start and was trailing 10-0 before she got her first point and subsequently lost 11-1. Games 2 and 3 started off better with Carmen leading early in both before Annie showed her number 1 seed status by showing great deception in playing disguised front court drop shots. Annie's fine form came through and she won the games 11-4, 11-5.

In the rest of round 1 for the ladies section the favourites won well with the closest game being between the number 8 seed Misaki Kobayashi and 9 seed Milou van der Heijden. After a tense game with the lead going back and forth the 8th seed came through to win 3-2.

In the men’s section the number 1 seed HK’s Max Lee started his match against qualifier James Huang. Max won the first two well but in the third game James came out to a fast start and Max was playing catch-up to James, finally drawing level at 7-7. James belied his qualifier status and showed extreme skill with some delicate touches to keep Max on his toes throughout, eliciting some more unforced errors in the process. At 11-10, Max had the first of five match points but was thwarted by the tenacious James who then led 12-11 but again made an error to even the score at 12-12. Long and exciting rallies followed, with a desperate James diving around the court to retrieve the ball which almost paid off as he had another chance to take the game at 12-13. It was not to be though as Max kept his cool under severe pressure and held out to take the game 18-16 and the match 3-0.

Also in round one third seed Omar Abdel Meguid had to battle hard to come through 3-2 against 11 seed Jaymie Haycocks after a 65 minute game.

In round 2 Max Lee had a marathon encounter with 6 seed Tom Richards in the longest match of the tournament. The lead swung between both players with the 3rd game going to Max winning 15-13 and the 4th having Tom win 18-16 to take the match to 5. Max came through in this to earn his place into the semi-final.

In the other games all the top seeds won their games to get through to the semi-finals which meant that seeds 1 to 4 would play for their place in the final and the prize money.

The men’s semi-finals were not as close as in the previous rounds with the number 1 seed Max Lee and number 2 seed Saurav Ghosal both winning their respective matches 3-0 to set up a seed 1 vs seed 2 final.

There were upsets in the women’s section of the tournament at the quarter final stage with number 2 seed Rachel Grinham losing to Habiba Mohamed 3-0. Habiba carried on the good form into the semi-final by beating Jenny Duncalf in 3 games to set up a final against number 1 seed Annie Au who beat Joshana Chinappa 3-1 in the other semi.

After a brilliant week of squash the ladies had their final first with both players looking lively when they warmed up on the final day of the tournament.

Habiba was clearly the stronger and taller of the two, as she sought to dominate the game early on by hitting hard and low drives into the back court. Annie played a more defensive game to begin with, serving and playing a lot of lobs, keeping her game tight and waiting for her chance to attack. She was very mobile and moved around the court well. Annie came through this tight encounter with the score 11:7.

For the next two games both players had moved into their rhythm. Annie continued to play a tight game down the side walls. To counter this Habiba tried to overpower her opponent by dominating the T. Habiba’s dominance came through and she won 11:8. The pace increased significantly in the third, with Habiba winning a number of kill shots to take the lead to 6:0 then winning that game 11:9.

For the fourth game Annie had to dig deep and turned the game around and won most of her points by straight and cross court drops. Habiba started to make some unforced errors and lost 4:11 which squared the game and took it to a deciding 5th.

The final game was heated and both players fought hard. The local supporters of Annie chanted support for her to give her an extra lift. The scores were fairly even up to 6 all when Annie pushed hard and played an attacking game, varying her serves and shots. 8:6 was a turning point when Habiba dropped into the tin and her game did not pick up again. Final score 11:8 to Annie, after 70 minutes of high quality squash

Afterwards the newly crowned champion Annie commented: 'I am really happy to win in 5, especially when I was playing against a younger player, it was difficult as I felt all the pressure was on me. Habiba played really well and was very eager to pick up all the shots and hit the ball really hard. This is my first title this year and I am very pleased. I didn't perform well last year but I can see in the last 6 months I have performed more steadily.


Habiba graciously said: 'I am very happy to have reached the final... Annie of course is a very good player, I am happy to have played against her.

The Men’s Final was between Max Lee and Saurav Ghosal. It was always going to be a close encounter with only a difference of 6 places in the world rankings and both players having a similar style of hard-hitting squash.

In the first game both players played deep into the back court with many rallies being over quickly in short sharp bursts. Saurav played some beautiful drop shots in the nick and manage to win the first game 11-9.

In the second game Max came out of the blocks quickly and took a commanding lead to 8:4. At this time the rallies extended with both players playing excellent squash. Max kept his rhythm and played some winning kill shots into the mid court to win game 11:6.

Max upped his game further in the third, working his opponent around the court. There was only one hand-out and the game finished in 8 minutes - 11:1 to Max. Clearly he was imposing more pressure and seemed to be taking control of the game; he was now 2:1 up.

Saurav fought back in the fourth game and was up at 3:0 when Max hit the tin going for the kill. Max slowly caught up as the crowd cheered for their local top seed. By 6:4 to Saurav there were some spectacular rallies that took the game to 8:8. This looked to have taken a lot out of Saurav as Max then dominated to get two match/tournament points -  Saurav saved the first and made an unforced error in the last. 11:9 in the last game with the overall play time 72 minutes.

Afterwards Saurav commented: 'Max played well, especially in the second game. I am disappointed that I lost."


Max said: 'I focused on playing each shot well, I was not that confident in winning this match. The opponents (from overseas) are much stronger than last year. I am very pleased that this Hong Kong Football Club tournament is becoming bigger and better every year, attracting better players. Today I played steadily, I waited for the chance to attack. I am probably not as fit as my opponent so I needed to find ways of winning my games.'

In summary it was a fantastic week of squash that was packed with spectators throughout. There was plenty of time for the top players to mingle with members of the club. Also there was an opportunity for the junior members to have a clinic session with the ladies Sarah Fitzgerald, Rachel Grinham and Misaki Kobayashi.


Thanks to all the volunteers who helped assist from wiping the courts to updating match reports. This is becoming a truly great sporting event in the HongKong calendar and should not be missed next year.


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