Cumberland prepare to host international London Open squash tournament

Zubair Khan, tournament director for the upcoming London Open squash tournament, which will be held

Zubair Khan, tournament director for the upcoming London Open squash tournament, which will be held at Cumberland Tennis & Squash Club. Pic: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Some of the world’s top squash players will converge on Hampstead next week as Cumberland Lawn Tennis Club host the Coronation London Open 2013.

With $25,000 up for grabs in the men’s competition and $10,000 in prize money on offer in the women’s section, it promises to be a fiercely competitive tournament that is a must-watch for all squash enthusiasts.

Qualifying will take place on Tuesday December 10 and Wednesday 11 at the Cumberland club on Alvanley Gardens, with the first round, quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals being held on the following four days and ending on Sunday 15.

The tournament director is Zubair Khan, who has been the head coach at the Hampstead-based club for 14 years and has enjoyed a glittering career as the former world No8, having won the Singapore, German and French Open – among others.

He believes the international event, which is approved by the Professional Squash Association (PSA), is growing in stature – and he is looking forward to an exciting week.

“I’ve been running this tournament for the past six or seven years – every year it’s getting bigger,” he told Ham&High Sport. “The winner gets around $4,900 so the prize money is a major incentive for these players.

“Five years ago, a former world champion and family member – Jahangir Khan – was given a wildcard to play at the tournament.

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“We have a very good venue in NW6. It’s a really great club and many top players from around the world are at the tournament – Australians, Americans, Egyptians and Spaniards – all for one week.

“It’s a really good competition, and squash is such a lovely game if you watch it live. On the television it’s more difficult.

“Alister Walker of Botswana, who is ranked No15 in the world by the PSA, goes into the tournament as the player to beat. Stephen Coppinger, the world No19 from South Africa, will be the second seed.”

With 32 participants in both the men’s and women’s draws, the winners will certainly have earned their titles after five days on the courts.

World No20 Adrian Grant will be waving the flag for England at the tournament, and he is joined by fellow Englishman Chris Simpson in making up the remaining seeded players.

Meanwhile, Reuben Phillips is one of four players who will be representing Cumberland in the qualifying rounds, while England juniors have received wildcards, allowing spectators to get a glimpse of the nation’s young talents.

For the third successive year, the main title sponsor for the London Open is Coronation London, while JC Flowers & Co LLP is sponsoring the event for the first time. Aspect Capital, Heathcote & Ivory and Wolfe Property have also provided their backing – and they all share Khan’s passion for squash.

“Many people from these sponsors play squash themselves, and they enjoy the event every year,” he said.

Tickets go on sale from Thursday December 12, once the main draw has been made, and they can be bought be calling Cumberland on 020 7435 6022.

TUESDAY DECEMBER 10 - Qualifiers (1-8pm). Entry: Free

WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 11 - Final qualifiers (5-8pm). Entry: Free

THURSDAY DECEMBER 12 - First round (2-10pm). Entry: £12

FRIDAY DECEMBER 13 - Quarter-finals (2-10pm). Entry: £16

SATURDAY DECEMBER 14 - Semi-finals (5-8pm). Entry: £20

SUNDAY DECEMBER 15 - Finals (4-6pm). Entry: £24