Gosforth Classic 2019 – Preview
SANTA Claus is coming early for North East squash fans . . . and he’s dropping his presents off at Northern Squash Club next weekend. The early Christmas treat comes in the form of the 2018 Gosforth Classic – the strongest tournament line-up the club has ever seen! This star-studded PSA tournament runs from Friday 14th December to Sunday 16th December – and is backed up by a huge regional entry in the three graded tournaments. Last year’s tournament featured the strongest line-up ever – but this time around, reigning champion Mark Fuller finds himself down at No 3 seed!
Hot favourite has to be former British U23 Champion Richie Fallows – with a current world ranking (WR) of 57 and a career high of 50. One of the world’s most promising young talents, Londoner Fallows has two tournament wins on the PSA tour under his belt this year (the $10,000 Welsh Open and the $18,000 Cleveland Skating Club Open in Ohio, USA), while he also recorded a recent 3-0 win over James Willstrop.
No 2 seed is last year’s losing finalist Joe Green from Watford – WR of 142 and a former winner of the $5000 Barbados Open. The turbo-charged left-hander thrilled the Northern crowd last year with his speed and lung-busting commitment and nothing less can be expected from him in the 2018 event.
Nottingham’s Fuller is the relative veteran at 33 – coach at Nottingham University, he is ranked at No 159 in the world, and also a £5K tournament under his belt (the Prague Open). Mark won many friends and admirers with his measured temperament and focused application in weathering the storm in the 2018 final against Green, emerging a 3-2 winner; and anyone who watched that unforgettable encounter knows he will not give up his title without a fight.
Scotland’s Rory Stewart is another serious contender – the second ex-British U23 Champion on the roster (Stewart triumphed in 2017), the Edinburgh-based 22-year-old is ranked 162 and has played for his country for three years now as well as currently representing the Newcastle PSL Team.
Welsh international Owain Taylor will also be familiar to North East fans – the Colchester-based 22-year-old is another representative of the new Newcastle PSL team, and has a WR of 267.
Further international flavour comes from Canadian Ryan Picken, and Spanish duo Javier Gonzalvez and Aitor Chinea who fly in from Tenerife for the tournament.
Other A event players to watch out for include:
– James Peach: three times a British Junior champion, formerly WR of 237 and renowned for his exceptional racket skills and flare finishes
– Julian Tomlinson: the 2016 runner-up is a an athletic and whole-hearted competitor who has twice been crowned Lancashire County Champion
– Ben Smith: the current British U17 No 1 (and U19 No 2, despite being only 16) and the reigning British U17 Champion, having edged out Max Forster in the final
– Ben Sockett: a 17-year-old England junior international ranked No 7 in the country at U19 level
North East interest in the A event is headed up by current Northumberland County Champion Max Forster; the England international is ranked in the top 5 nationally at U17 and U19 level.
Current County No 1 and former Northumberland County Champion Liam Gutcher is another hoping to make his mark, along with Newcastle PSL team member Chris Wiggins and Durham County player Michael Andrews.
Reigning club champion and tournament organiser Cai Younger is flying the Northern flag in the A event, as is co-organiser Michael Mattimore, who competes on his return from Birmingham University.
The B event boasts some top talent too, including ex-pro Steve Calvert, Northern’s Sam Ward, Jeffrey Klotz and Dan Toas not to mention many more Northumbria premier league players.
Matches across three courts start at 5:00pm on Friday 14th December, and the action is non-stop all the way through to the finals from 3:40pm on Sunday afternoon with the main event final estimated to start around 5:30pm; everyone is welcome to enjoy professional squash for free at Northern over the whole weekend.
Cai Younger (Organiser)