Power file photo by SquashPics.com
Early January 2005 saw former world No. 1 Jonathon Power and Egyptian world No. 10 Omneya Abdel Kawy claim the top spots at the 18th annual Marsh & McLennan Apawamis Open, held in Rye, New York, at The Apawamis Club. Power overcame Karim Darwish of Egypt in the men's final, and Kawy had a great five-game thriller with England's Vicky Botwright.
After securing only one PSA Tour title in 2004, Power kicked off the new year in fine style by winning the men's trophy. Second seed Power, the 30-year-old from Montreal, had reached the final against Darwish, the No. 1 seed and defending champion, without dropping a game. But after a lengthy tie-break in the opener, it was Darwish that took the lead. Power fought back, however, and won the next three games to take the 34th PSA title of his career (10-11), 5, 11-10, 12.
In the women's final, top seed Kawy twice fell behind against Botwright, the No. 2 seed. But the 19-year-old world junior champion from Cairo maintained the pressure to pull off a (5), 1, (2), 7, 5 victory to earn the second WISPA World Tour title of her career—almost exactly a year after securing the first.
Darwish had to come from two games down to overcome Australia's third-seeded Dan Jenson (10-11), (9), 6, 8, 4 to reach his 15th PSA Tour final. In the other men's semifinal, Power brushed aside Frenchman Renan Lavigne, the fourth seed, 3, 4, 2 in his third successive straight games win in the event.
Egypt's favorite in the women's event needed four games to reach the final. Kawy lost the first game against France's fourth-seeded Isabelle Stoehr but powered back to win (4), 5, 2, 10-8. In their semi, Botwright defeated compatriot Jenny Duncalf 7, 1, 3.
The Apawamis Open is part of the US Pro Squash Series, a tour of eight events that includes its own running rankings. “The tour has worked well for the individual tournaments, prompting more quality players to enter each event because of the point-ranking system,” said tournament director Peter Briggs.
The Apawamis tournament is one of the few remaining events where the men's and women's events run concurrently in the same location. Briggs likes the ambiance of having both events at the same time because it brings out all segments of the club to watch the action. “The qualifying rounds were well attended and so was the entire week of matches up to the standing-room-only finals. My members are an educated viewing audience and love good squash. It is great having the Marsh & McLennan each year, and every two years we follow the tournament in early February with the Briggs Cup Hardball Doubles, which is the premier doubles tournament on the tour,” continued Briggs. “It is great for everyone in the area and club to have great singles and doubles all packed into the same time. My members deserve it.”
There is no doubt that having the recognizable Power in the draw also created a buzz during tournament week. “We have never had so many youngsters watch all the matches,” commented Briggs.
“The goal each year is to keep raising the prize money for both events and to work on ways to tie in fundraising for the inner-city mentoring program CitySquash (based in New York),” Briggs said.