Top seeds emerge victorious in London Open squash finals at Cumberland

Men's winner Charles Sharpes (centre) with tournament director Zubair Khan (right) and Anthony Todd

Men's winner Charles Sharpes (centre) with tournament director Zubair Khan (right) and Anthony Todd of the competition's primary sponsor, Aspect Capital - Credit: Archant

The 10th edition of the London Open finished at the weekend, with Englishman Charles Sharpes and Egypt’s Nada Abbas emerging victorious at Cumberland Lawn Tennis Club.

Sharpes justified his No1 seeding by seeing off Christophe Andre of France 3-0 in a one-sided men’s final that lasted 37 minutes, while 16-year-old wonderkid Abbas overcame Julianne Courtice.

England’s Courtice took the first game against Abbas, but the world No15 demonstrated why so many within the sport see her going right to the top with a stunning response to eventually secure a 3-2 win in 47 minutes.

Sharpes scooped £1,450 in prize money along with maximum PSA (Professional Squash Association) points, which will help to boost his world ranking, while fellow top seed Abbas claimed £750 after battling to victory in West Hampstead.

The two finals completed an engrossing six days of squash, which saw former world No2 Peter Marshall, 45, give Sharpes an almighty scare in the first round, before eventually going down 3-2 in a sapping 78-minute marathon which delighted a packed house.

Sharpes went on to book his place in the final with a 3-1 win over Tom Ford, while Andre had a somewhat more favourable route to the final.

The Frenchman was 3-1 to the good against wildcard Mohamed Syafiq Kamal before the Malaysian suffered an ankle injury midway through their semi-final tussle.

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Tournament director and former world No8 Zubair Khan was delighted with the success of this year’s competition, and is already aiming to make it bigger and better next time around.

“The whole week was amazing,” Khan told Ham&High Sport. “The squash was of a very good standard and seeing Peter Marshall rolling back the years was a joy to behold. The man’s a running machine!

“I must pay him huge thanks for agreeing to take part, as well as our sponsors, Anthony Todd of Aspect Capital, Mr Dennis at Heathcote & Ivory, and Patrick Haley of Hellman & Friedman - without those guys this event is simply not possible.

“I must also thank the committee for allowing us to stage the event - to the chairman of squash at Cumberland, Nick Dart, the chairman of Cumberland, Simon Curtis, the President of Cumberland, Donald Macleod, and the club’s manager, Simon Hammer.

“The stars of the show are of course the players, who came from all corners of the world to showcase their skills. We look forward to welcoming them back next time.

“I plan to organise the event again next year and attract even more of the world’s best squash players to the London Open.”

The total prize money for this year amounted to $10,000 (around £8,000) in the men’s draw, with $5,000 (about £4,000) up for grabs in the women’s event.

Khan hopes to more than double the total prize money to $40,000 off the back of such a well-attended tournament at Alvanley Gardens, and the 44-year-old is just as focused on developing more players at grassroots level in the borough.

“As the head professional at Cumberland it is my job to promote squash, and putting on camps for kids wanting to learn the sport is very important to me,” he added.

“We have the London Junior Open here in the summer, with half-term squash schools regularly put on for those in the local community.

“It gives me great joy to announce we’ll have two more squash courts built at Cumberland in 2017, and it would be fantastic to entice more first-time players to the club. That’s where I shall place all my efforts and passion in the new year.”