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Squash: The Gibraltar Open 2006

The Gibraltar Squash Open 2006, sponsored by BECK’S and OEM, proved to be a huge success yet another year. There were 41 entries to the Mens Main Event (from which four plates were played). The Veterans had 12 entries, the Women’s tournament had 8 and the Vintage 5. The Junior tournaments proved the that there is a future for the sport in Gibraltar with 12 entries in the Under 16 tournament and 11 in the Under 13s.

Saturday 24th June 2006 saw a very busy Squash Club with squash finals being played throughout the afternoon into the evening. The morning was kicked off at around eleven o’clock with the Semi-Finals of the Men’s tournament. First up was Domagoj Spoljar (Croatia’s top seed) who was defending his trophy against Humberto Mesquita, a Brazilian based in London (new comer to the Rock) who proved he could play very good silky squash when he beat Gibraltar’s top seed Anthony Brindle in the Quarter Finals. Domagoj got of to a flying start by winning the first game. Although Humberto pulled one game back Domagoj proved too strong in the end and booked his place in the Final with a 3-1 win.

Next up were Ben Ford (second seed) from the UK, and Marcus Hall, Andalucia’s top seed for the past decade and past winner of the Gibraltar Squash Open. Ben’s high paced squash helped him gain a lead in the first game and although Marcus kept retrieving the impossible (as usual) Ben never took his foot of the pedal and also booked his place in the final with a 3-0 win. At this point the final was a mouth watering prospect for all squash lovers at the club……and there must have been around one hundred spectators at the time!!!

During the afternoon the rest of the finals were played as well as the whole Junior Tournaments which were mainly run by one of the London’s better know squash coaches and frequent visitor to Gibraltar, Jaz Karim. In the Under 13 competition, Sean Robba got the better of Samantha Pearce and won the event with Julian Wahnon winning the Plate against Lesley Anne Sene in their final. The Under 16 tournament was dominated by Jovan Santos (who is becoming a regular winner of this event) against Sean Gomez, another (younger) rising star!! The Under 16s Plate was won by the best Junior Lady, Karina Tewkesbury, who beat Sean Robba (Under 13 champ)!!

Next up in terms of Finals was the Ladies Plate, where Yvette Orciel (Juniors’ coach) beat Miriam Carballo in the final. This was followed by the Ladies final in which local squad member Gail Attias beat UK’s Lucy Baker 3-0 in a final that was well attended.

The Vintage tournament was played on a Round Robin basis by the five players who entered the tournament with the eventual top two player playing the final. This was won by the evergreen Francis Chipolina who beat Julio Peire in the final.

The Veterans was a hard fought affair throughout all stages of the tournament with very good standard squash being played by all. The eventual winner was Danny Fabre who beat Martin Lawrence in an epic five setter which was won by Danny 9-7 in the last game. A true classic between these two players who always offer a great spectacle whenever they play each other!

As previously mentioned, the Men’s event had four Plate Tournaments which were won by:

D PLATE: Kenneth Saez beat Louis Poggio in the final 3-0.

C PLATE: Juan Carlos Bautista beat Charles Bottaro 3-2.

B PLATE: Mark Tewkesbury beat Fidelio Bonfante 3-0.

A PLATE: Joel Samuels beat Mick Ford 3-1.

That only left the Men’s final which was disputed by the top two seeds, Domagoj Spoljar from Croatia and Ben Ford from the UK. Ben got off to a flying start, playing very attacking squash and making Domagoj have to work very hard for any points. He hit nick after nick with some scintillating squash and managed to win the first set 9-1. The second set saw a determined Domagoj build a 3-0 point advantage to which Ben came back strongly and fought into the game. There were some gruelling rallies in this game which Ben again clinched 9-6 leaving Domagoj very tired for the third. Ben proved to be too strong in the third for Domagoj, thus winning the affair 3-0 in games in what proved to be a fantastic squash match for all present!!

This tournament has put an end to the 2005/06 squash season which has proved to be a very successful one with the squash standard in Gibraltar increasing yet another year. This is largely due to the success of the Gibraltar Squash Open which allows locals to compete and see a very high standard of squash provided by players from abroad who are attracted by the hospitality and the sun!! A special thanks to Anglo Hispano (Beck’s agents) and OEM for supporting this tournament and allowing the Gibraltar Squash Association host a successful event for the development of local squash!!

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