Saturday, October 2, 2010
Fortune favors the bold–El Hindi and Atkinson are crowned as U.S. Open Champions during a rainy yet fantastic evening at the Pritzker Pavillion in Chicago, IL.
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The 2010 METROsquash U.S. Open finals featured a battle of textbook squash against the famous Egyptian attacking style. An emotional player, Wael El Hindi is known to have his on and off days. However, from the glowing smile as Wael entered the court, it was clear his heart and mind were going to be in this match. The first game began with several irretrievable soft drops to the front court by Wael, which quickly took him to a 6-1 lead. The dutch Laurens Jan Anjema, LJ, looked nervous as he tried to establish his groove of fast paced length. A remarkable effort by Wael brought the score to 8-4. Wael showed no signs of giving up on balls that seemed impossible to retrieve. His diligence paid off as he won the first game 11-8 and clenched his fist in a show of emotion. The second game was dominated by LJ’s textbook length. It appeared that Wael was conserving his energy for the third game. An acrobatic dive by Wael brought the score to 4-6. However , it was not enough as LJ quickly won the remaining points to take the second game 11-5. The critical third game saw both players trading points. As the playesrs began to tire the number of lets increased. However, the calls did not seem to unsettle either player and they kept their composure. Wael attacked with several soft volley drops for outright winners. LJ tried to drop more, but Wael was able to retrieve most with his immense determination. Wael simply would not give up and won the close third game 11-7. The final game seemed to have taken its toll on LJ who appeared slightly slower. Wael took advantage of this by bringing out more of his front court game. Soft volley drops and incredible retrieving gave Wael a lead at 6-3. LJ made a small run but was always trailing. A tinned volley drop gave the match to Wael at 11-7. It was a hard fought victory for Wael. Today was certainly his day and the packed crowd that stayed up close to midnight gave him a well deserved standing ovation.
The 2010 METROsquash U.S. Open featured the classic match-up of youth against experience. The up and coming Amanda Sobhy had the packed home crowd on her side as she was the youngest U.S. born squash player to ever reach a US open final.
Game one began nervously with short rallies ending with unforced errors from both players. Former world open champion Vanessa Atkinson used a slower paced game to work Sobhy around the court. The chilly conditions favored Atkinson who played many working boasts and soft drops. Sobhy’s hard drives that got by her opponents in the earlier rounds were cut off by Atkinson’s cat-like reflexes. The experienced Atkinson kept her cool and fully extended Amanda with her accurate short game. The second and third games had several unforced errors from Sobhy and Atkinson led throughout the match and won comfortably 3-0.
During this past week 96 of the world’s top men and women squash professionals were playing 4 days on an all-glass court on the Jay Pritzker Pavilion stage. The University Club of Chicago hosted the early rounds in its new Cardio and Squash Center. Attending and serving as honorary co-chairs are Mayor Richard Daley and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. Clare Muñana, Vice President of the Chicago Board of Education, is serving as event chair and Chicago’s own Top Chef Masters winner Rick Bayless who catered the gala reception before the women’s and men’s U.S. Open squash finals on Saturday. “It is my pleasure to co-chair the 2010 U.S. Open in Millenniuim Park, along with the Education Expo that METROsquash is hosting during this historic event,” said Daley. “Athletic activities instill the discipline and perseverance in our youth that help them attain their personal and academic best.” “The support METROsquash offers is key to the future success of young people and I am certain that through continued hard work, motivation, and determination, these students will become leaders in their communities,” added Gates.
All proceeds of the event support METROsquash, a 501(c)(3) non-profit after school program serving Chicago Public School students through the combination of academic enrichment and squash instruction. METROsquash also hosted an educational exposition for 2,000 Chicago Public School students and their families, during the course of the week which gave students a unique opportunity to learn about the ways in which squash, academics, life skills, culture, and community service interact to build confidence and capabilities of Chicago’s youth.
“METROsquash is a leader in combining academics and athletics to provide Chicago’s students with excellent enrichment opportunities,” said Muñana. “This transformational program ensures that its students are fully engaged and supported in all of their endeavors – on and off the court!”
In addition, hundreds of local, out-of-state and international squash players – and METROsquash students – had the opportunity to compete in one of the country’s largest and hotly contested skill level events.