In the first open graded event in the Bay Area since pre-pandemic times, squash players and enthusiasts alike flocked to the courts at Squash Zone in Redwood City to make up for lost time. Starting on Friday and culminating in a very exciting 5 game final in the A grade on Sunday at 11a.m., Squash Zone played host to 5 categories and a chance for the squash community to reconnect with each other. The event, sponsored by ON24 – a local company making a considerable impact on the tech world; marketing products and services based on webcasting and virtual event and environment technology – marked a welcome return to the courts for many players. NorCal squash was on hand to provide support to ensure we were able to get exposure to get the event up and running.
In the A section, Squash Zone’s pro Zephan Huang went into the event with a point to prove. He had lost to local junior star Arav Bhagwati the previous weekend in an invitational event. Seedings went to plan it was to be Zephan’s weekend when, after coming back from two game to love down in the final he capitalized on a short drop in focus from Arav in the 5th to take the match. In the Consolation rounds it was local favorite and stalwart of the Bay area squash community, Richard Elliott who took home the spoils after fending off his former student Will Mohr in the final.
The B section was a round robin format with a variety of players covering both young and experience. The juniors were seasoned players on the national junior circuit and the adults brought the experience and court savviness. Aiden Chan and Yash Moolchandani took to the court for a final that had everything; skills, incredible court coverage and a tie-break in the 5th. Aiden took the match 13-11 in the 5th to lift his first graded event trophy.
Akik Kothekar of Ann Arbor is a recent import to the Bay Area and has taken quite a foothold in our community playing good squash and making few errors. Alan Fang of Danville was always going to be a threat with impeccable movement and endurance. He had taken out the number 1 seed in the C section, Blake Cutler, in the semis in a 5 setter but wasn’t quite able to get past the dominance of Kothekar in the final, Kothekar winning in 4 games. In the Consolation finals Squash Zone junior Nihal Verghese found himself in a familiar place; he was looking to convert his first Consolation final. It wasn’t to be as Samuel Lao played solid squash over the course of three games.
In the D section Squash Zone welcomed the return of several Squash Drive students, the urban squash program based In Oakland. Antonio Jimenez is one such student and as number 2 seed had quite a lot of pressure on his shoulders coming into the event. In the final he was up against Peter Revenaugh, of Squash Zone. Peter had exceeded expectations coming in at number 4 seed and managing to upset players on his way to the final. Antonio took the match 3-1 much to the delight of his supporters. In the Consolation final Leo Barras played his semi-final, won in 5 games and after a short 10-minute break went onto play his final. Two players representing Squash Drive, he was up against Alfredo Aboyotes and it proved a match too far as Alfredo took the match 3-0.
For some players in the E event, it was their first outing in a graded players’ tournament. For others, like number 1 Michael Ignacio it was a matter of getting back on court after a long hiatus. He brushed off any nerves to make it to the final where he met Kabir Iyer of Squash Zone who came into the event unseeded. After a great battle which included 2 tie-break games and coming back from a 2-1 deficit, Kabir took home the trophy, edging it out 13-11 in the 5th. The Consolation final was contested by Jonathon Piedra and Alondra Ignacio (both of Squash Drive), Jonathon dug deep and after losing the first two games came back to win in 5 games.
Many thanks to all our participants, our sponsor ON24, Norcal Squash and all of those who came to watch on the weekend. We were delighted to open our doors once more to the squash players and fans alike and hope to have a repeat in 2022!