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The second annual Kiva Club Open tournament began today in Santa Fe with eight professional singles matches. The tournament is a combination professional and amateur tournament. The Professional Squash Association portion has 16 players competing for ranking points and for $5,000 in prize money.
The amateur draw, which starts playing on Friday, includes singles and doubles in various skill levels.
Here’s a report on today’s professional action:
Noon: Jaymie Haycocks easily defeated Heraclio Salaiz Estrada, three games to none, in the opening round of play at the Kiva Club Open.
Haycocks, an Englishman, is the tournament’s No. 1 seed and is ranked No. 88 in the world. He controlled the T from the beginning, forcing Salaiz Estrada to hit risky drop shots and lobs. The match lasted just 30 minutes, and the game scores were 11-4, 11-3 and 11-5.
Salaiz Estrada, who is from Mexico, is World No. 303. He currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona. This is his second run at Kiva Open. He played valiantly, chasing balls all over the court, but he couldn’t overcome Haycocks’s consistency and experience.
The 32-year-old Haycocks is the one of the oldest players entered in the tournament. Salaiz Estrada is 30 years old.
1 PM Babatunde Ajagbe, a 29-year-old Nigerian, narrowly beat 16-year-old Leonel Cardenas of Mexico in a five-game, hour-long match.
The game scores were 8-11, 11-7, 3-11, 12-10 and 11-9.
Early on, both players worked the other’s backhand, but in the fourth game, they started hitting more cross-courts and the match became increasing contentious with the players bumping, jostling, and asking for lets. The fourth game lasted nearly 20 minutes.
Midway through the fifth game, with the score tied, 6-6, Ajagbe hit Cardenas with a backhand from the back of the court. Cardenas argued for a let, with Ajagbe apologizing for hitting him.
“Sorry,” said Ajagbe, gesturing that the strike was unintentional.
“Do you want to play a let,” asked the referee, David Foley.
“No, no,” said Ajagbe, “it was a stroke.”
The players traded points through the rest of the game, but Ajagbe got the last two and reached 11 first.
The stocky Cardenas looks older than his 16 years. He was not seeded in the tournament and is ranked World No. 403.
Ajagbe is ranked World No. 184. This is his second time playing in the Kiva Open.
2 PM: Charlie Lee, an 18-year-old Englishman, took Noah Browne of Bermuda in three quick games in a first-round match at the Kiva Open in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The game scores were 11-9, 11-7 and 11-6.
Lee, ranked World No. 187, is the tournament’s No. 8 seed.
Browne is a towering 6-feet, 4-inches tall, while Lee is 5-foot, 10-inches tall. Browne is 198 pounds, Lee 132. The two players found themselves in several tangles, but the fleet-footed Lee usually extricated himself for a winning shot.
The 23-year-old Browne is ranked World No. 287.
3 PM It took Reuben Phillips three long games to beat Adrian Leanza. With the exception of the second game, the game scores seem lopsided – 11-3, 12-10, 11-3 – but the match was full of long rallies with Leanza stretching Phillips at every opportunity. The match lasted about 45 minutes.
After the first game, which Phillips dominated, Leanza seemed to find himself, playing more confidently and aggressively, running the court, fetching balls and extending every point.
Phillips, a 24-year-old Englishman, is the tournament’s No. 3 seed and ranked World No. 147. Leanza is an American who lives in Denver, Colorado. The 27-year-old is ranked World No. 444.
4 PM Edgar Zayas handled Nick Talbott in three quick and decisive games. The game scores were 11-9, 11-5 and 11-5.
Talbott seemed to tire half way through the second game, and Zayas won points in bunches – four in a row, then three in a row. His winning pace accelerated in the third game, when he won six in a row, followed by three in a row to close the match.
Zayas, a 21-year-old Mexican, is the tournament’s No. 4 seed and ranked World No. 147.
Talbott, who is 23, lives in Palo Alto, California. (If the name Talbott sounds familiar, it is because Talbott’s father, Mark Talbott was the No. 1 hardball singles squash player from 1983 to 1995.)
5 PM Alex Ingham upset No. 6 seed Diego Gobbi. Ingham, a 26-year-old Englishman, won in three straight games, 11-7, 11-3 and 11-4. The match took just 30 minutes.
Gobbi, a 21-year-old Brazilian, is ranked No. 183 in the world. Ingham is ranked No. 388.
Ingham is a lefthander, and Gobbi kept the ball on his forehand side, playing against Ingham’s backhand. The strategy didn’t work. Ingham chased down almost everything Gobbi hit.
6 PM American Dylan Cunningham beat Scotland’s Jon Geekie, 3-0. Game scores were 11-3, 11-7 and 11-8.
Cunningham jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the first game, and never looked back. In the second game, he had runs of four and five points in a row.
In the final game, Geekie held even at 6-6 and then pulled ahead 8-6. But then Cunningham ran off the next five points to win the game and the match.
Cunningham covers a lot of the court merely by being on it. The lanky American is 6-foot-4 and weighs 181 pounds. The 22-year-old Cunningham is seeded No. 5 in the tournament and his world rank is No. 179.
Geekie, from Scotland, also is a sizable fellow, standing 6-foot-1. The 26-year-old lefthander is ranked No. 200 in the world.
This is both players’ second time at the Kiva Open.
7 PM: In a battle of master and pupil, the pupil prevailed. Adam Murrills beat Drewe Williams, 3-0.
The match was a crowd favorite, because the 38-year-old Williams is the Kiva Club’s resident squash pro. He was granted a slot in the draw when another player dropped out at the last minute.
The match also had an added dimension: Williams, who grew up in Chester, England, coached Murrills when the 26-year-old Murrills was a junior player in England.
“I guess I taught him too well,” said Williams after the match. The games scores were 11-4, 11-7 and 11-7.
Murrills is the tournament’s No. 2 seed and is ranked World No. 113.
Professional play resumes at noon on Friday. The finals match is noon Sunday.
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Feb. 24-27, 2022