Four Favourites through to main draw

02-Mar, Qualifying Finals:
Emyr Evans (Wal) 3-0 Kyle Finch (Eng) 11-8, 11-5, 11-7
David Barnett 3-0 Liam Gutcher 11-5, 11-4, 11-4
Jakob Dirberger (Aut) 3-0 Miles Jenkins (Eng) 11-9, 11-7, 11-9
Julian Tomlinson (Eng) 3-2 Ben Coates (Eng) 8-11, 11-13, 11-3, 11-2, 11-4

Dylan Younger reports…

THE bookmakers would have taken a bashing on Day Two of the True Potential Northumbria Open – if they’d been taking bets, that is – as all four favourites came through to reach the main tournament.

What a day for a whitewash it was as three of the four came through with convincing 3-0 wins.

Welshman Emyr Evans – No 1 seed in the qualifying competition – was first to book his spot in the main section of this $5000 PSA tournament, clocking up a 3-0 victory over Kyle Finch which was a lot closer than the scoreline suggests.

Evans had to work hard in a high-paced match, with the players’ similar hard-hitting, hard-running styles making for a high-class tussle.

Finch, the England Under 19 No 1, had his share of moments but Evans – ranked 198 in the world – was a touch more attacking and he found the nick several times with some tight drops on his way to an impressive victory.

Next up there was a big crowd for the Northumbria derby as the county’s top two players squared up against each other. Dave Barnett, on home turf at Jesmond went into the match slight favourite, and lived up to his billing as he edged into an early lead in the first game.

The county No 1 was rock solid, taking the ball early, and getting good length on his drives. Ever more consistent as the match progressed, and looking hungry on every single point, he found his rival out-of-sorts on the night and he racked up a convincing 3-0 win.

Austrian Jakob Dirnberger had the third highest ranking of the qualifiers, but he was given a tough task against England’s ever-improving Miles Jenkins.

Bandana-ed and bearded, Dirnberger brought a touch of pirate glamour to the Northumberland Club, and his freestyle frenetic squash soon had Jenkins walking the plank (no apologies).

Taking everything early, the Austrian never gave his opponent time to settle and he forced some uncharacteristic errors out of the 20-year-old on his way to a competitive 3-0 win (11-9, 11-7, 11-9).

Nightwatchmen Julian Tomlinson and Ben Coates went into late-night battle for the prized scraps of the last slot in the main event.

Lancashire’s Tomlinson, No 2 seed in the qualifiying tournament, was the fancied winner here, but his odds lengthened when he lost close finishes in both of the opening two games – 11-9, 13-11.

However Tomlinson – a losing finalist on his last PSA appearance in the North East – the Northern Open last October – was not finished yet. Known for his athletic style and consistent hitting, he noticeably upped the pace and increased the length of his shots, to quickly get back on level terms (11-3, 11-2).

Surrey’s Coates was under more pressure now, and the clinical kills which had helped him carve out a 2-0 lead were turning into tins as the pace increased – Tomlinson (WR204) winning the decider to four, and book a main event draw against sixth-seed Ben Ford.

Barnett earned a tie against England’s Michael Harris (WR176), while Emyr Evans drew second seed Joel Hinds and Dirnberger is pitted against 5 seed Joe Green.

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