Rodriguez claims MCO crown

To the victor goes the spoils. Columbia's Miguel Angel Rodriguez gets the championship trophy, $12k, and a Rolex watch after defeating South Africa's Stephen Coppinger in the MCO finals . (Photo by Bryan Mitchell for MCO)
To the victor goes the spoils. Columbia's Miguel Angel Rodriguez gets the championship trophy, $12k, and a Rolex watch after defeating South Africa's Stephen Coppinger in the MCO finals . (Photo by Bryan Mitchell for MCO)

To the victor goes the spoils. Columbia’s Miguel Angel Rodriguez gets the championship trophy, $12k, and a Rolex watch after defeating South Africa’s Stephen Coppinger in the MCO finals. (Photo by Bryan Mitchell for MCO)

Defeats Coppinger in tight, 112-minute marathon; Historic win for Columbian
By James Hawkins

Bloomfield Hills, Mich. — After a week filled with stunning upsets, dramatic comebacks, and five-game thrillers, it seemed only fitting Tuesday’s final at the 16th Motor City Open presented by The Suburban Collection would end with another five-game epic.

In front of a standing-room only crowd at the Birmingham Athletic Club, World #8 Miguel Angel Rodriguez won his first-ever PSA International 70 event after rallying from a game down to beat World #22 Stephen Coppinger in a grueling, 112-minute championship match: 9-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-7, 11-3.

The victory came on the heels of Rodriguez’s semifinal run in last week’s Tournament of Champions in New York when he downed World #2 Greg Gaultier and #6 Peter Barker.

“This is like a dream come true. This is one of my favorite International 70 tournaments not only for the prizes, but for the squash community here. We always stay and they take care of us very well,” Rodriguez said. Read more →

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MCO Semis: Rodriguez, Coppinger survive in five

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Columbia's Miguel Rodriguez downed Mathieu Castagnet to reach his first PSA final. (MCO photo)

Columbia’s Miguel Rodriguez (right) downed Mathieu Castagnet to reach his first PSA final. (MCO photo)

Columbian in first career final; Lee overcome by cramps
By James Hawkins

Bloomfield Hills, Mich. — One week after becoming the first South American squash player to reach the semifinals of a PSA World Series event, World #12 Miguel Angel Rodriguez can check another personal milestone off the list.

The 29-year-old Colombian advanced to his first ever PSA International 70 final by wearing down World #15 Mathieu Castagnet in Monday’s semifinals at the Motor City Open presented by The Suburban Collection: 7-11, 11-4, 8-11, 11-7, 11-2.

Rodriguez will battle World #21 Stephen Coppinger in Tuesday’s championship match at 6:30 p.m. for the champion’s share of the $70,000 purse and a Rolex watch courtesy of Greenstone’s Jewelers.

Stephen Coppinger of South Africa prevailed in five against Hong Kong's Max Lee. (MCO photo)

Stephen Coppinger of South Africa prevailed in five against Hong Kong’s Max Lee. (MCO photo)

“I always wanted to win this tournament. It’s my fourth time here and I need to push one more match,” Rodriguez said. “It’s going to be hard with Stephen because we know each other’s game since we train together in Orlando.”

Rodriguez got off to a slow start in Game One as Castagnet controlled the pace on the way to a 6-2 lead. Read more →

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Upset City: Coppinger, Castagnet stun #3 Barker and #4 Golan

Miguel Angel Rodriguez (front) celebrates getting to match point against Cameron Pilley for a place in the semis. (Photo by Bryan Mitchell for MCO)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (front) celebrates getting to match point against Cameron Pilley for a place in the semis. (Photo by Bryan Mitchell for MCO)

Miguel Angel Rodriguez (front) celebrates getting to match point against Cameron Pilley for a place in the semis. (Photo by Bryan Mitchell for MCO)

#5 Mosaad victim of Lee comeback; Rodriguez rounds out semifinalists
By James Hawkins

Bloomfield Hills, Mich. — The Egyptians’ recent dominance at the Motor City Open came to a surprising end Sunday at the Birmingham Athletic Club.

One day after defending MCO champ and World #1 Mohamed Elshorbagy, World #4 Amr Shabana, and World #14 Marwan Elshorbagy all lost in the opening round, the last Egyptian hope – fifth-seeded World #11 Omar Mosaad – was bounced in Sunday’s Quarters. Hong Kong’s Max Lee rallied to defeat Mosaad in an upset-riddled day at the 16th Motor City Open presented by The Suburban Collection.

South Africa’s Stephen Coppinger and France’s Mathieu Castagnet added their own shockers. Coppinger recorded his second straight come-from-behind win over third-seeded World #6 Peter Barker – and Castagnet rolled fourth-seeded World #7 Borja Golan in straight games.

Egyptian players have won four of the past five titles while claiming seven of the 10 spots in the championship match since 2010. Yet Mosaad suffered the same fate as his compatriots when World #16 Lee staged a gusty comeback to prevail in five games: 9-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-6, 11-9. Read more →

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MCO, Round One: Top seeds Elshorbagy, Shabana fall

Pilley (left) upset top seed Elshorbagy after the Egyptian retired. (MCO photo)
Pilley (left) upset top seed Elshorbagy after the Egyptian retired. (MCO photo)

Pilley (left) upset top seed Elshorbagy after the Egyptian retired. (MCO photo)

Pilley and Lee are giant killers; Coppinger, Rodriguez also score gutsy wins
By James Hawkins

Bloomfield Hills, Mich. — Less than 24 hours after conquering the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York City, World #1 Mohamed Elshorbagy was back on court Saturday outside Detroit, Michigan looking to defend his title at the Motor City Open presented by The Suburban Collection.

But his unprecedented run at a third title at the Birmingham Athletic Club was dashed in the opening round. Elshorbagy retired at the end of Game Three to Aussie World #18 Cameron Pilley: 12-14, 11-4, 11-7 (ret.).

After a string of brutal ToC matches and little to no rest, the top seed looked spent after a pair of long rallies in the first game left him hunched over and breathing heavily. Yet Elshorbagy dug deep and executed an array of brilliant shots to take Game One.

In stanza two, trying to conserve energy after he fell behind 5-2, the Egyptian star conceded the game. But in Game Three Pilley’s plan of working Elshorbagy back-to- front began to take its toll.

“I think (Game One) took a lot out of him. Read more →

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MCO Qualifying: Four advance to Main Draw

Finland's Olli Tuominen dug deep to defeat collegiate national champ Ali Farag in five games. (MCO photo)
Finland's Olli Tuominen dug deep to defeat collegiate national champ Ali Farag in five games. (MCO photo)

Finland’s Olli Tuominen dug deep to defeat collegiate national champ Ali Farag in five games. (MCO photo)

Salazar, Clyne, Tuominen, Ghosal round out 16-man field; First Round kicks off Saturday
By James Hawkins

Bloomfield Hills, Mich. — In his inaugural appearance at The Motor City Open presented by The Suburban Collection, Mexico’s Cesar Salazar continues to impress. The Mexican World #39 provided the lone upset of the qualifying finals Friday at the Birmingham Athletic Club.

One day after cruising through Ireland’s Arthur Gaskin in four games, Salazar followed up by breezing past World #28 Gregoire Marche of France in straight games – 11-5, 11-9, 11-7 – to earn a spot in Saturday’s main draw.

Joining Salazar will be Scotland’s Alan Clyne, Finland’s Olli Tuominen and India’s Saurav Ghosal, who snatched the other three qualifier spots up for grabs.

Cezar Salazar (left) breezed past Gregoire Marche to gain a spot in the Main Draw. (MCO photo)

Cezar Salazar (left) breezed past Gregoire Marche to gain a spot in the Main Draw. (MCO photo)

Salazar won Game One after storming out to a 9-2 lead, but Marche bounced back in Game Two by taking an early 6-2 advantage. Salazar picked up his aggressive play and evened the score at 9-all before closing the game with the next three points. The pattern repeated itself in Game Three as Marche maintained an early edge at 7-5 before Salazar broke his spirits with a flurry of six consecutive points to seal the match. Read more →

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MCO Qualifying, Day One: Mangaonkar, Farag score upsets

Gregoire Marche of France (front) hits against Peru's Diego Elias in first round MCO Qualifier. Marche prevailed. (Photo by Bryan Mitchell, for MCO)
Gregoire Marche of France (front) hits against Peru's Diego Elias in first round MCO Qualifier. Marche prevailed. (Photo by Bryan Mitchell, for MCO)

Gregoire Marche of France (front) hits against Peru’s Diego Elias in first round Qualifier. Marche prevailed. (Photo by Bryan Mitchell, for MCO)

Past champ Ong Beng Hee out; Tuominen, Marche advance
By James Hawkins

Bloomfield Hills, Mich. — When India’s Mahesh Mangaonkar booked his airplane ticket to the 16th Motor City Open, presented by The Suburban Collection, he made plans to fly out on Friday.

Mangaonkar may have to change his reservation as he picked up his first career win over a Top-25 opponent with a 11-8, 7-3 (ret.) decision over England’s Chris Simpson in the first round of qualifying Thursday at the Birmingham Athletic Club.

World #22 Simpson had to bow out of last week’s J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York after he was bedridden with the flu – of which Mangaonkar was quite aware.

“I knew he had been sick for a week on tour now, so I had to prolong the match,” said Mangaonkar, who was playing a U.S. tournament for the first time. “The idea was to keep him on court as long as I could and in the end he will give up. It was nothing spectacular. Just hang in there, don’t make mistakes, and pick up every ball.”

Yet while signs of tiredness set in, Simpson was felled by a different ailment: The right adductor muscle that hampered him in last year’s qualifying final. Read more →

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2015 MCO Kicks Off with Strongest Ever Field

Top seed Elshorbagy at full tilt. MCO photo
Top seed Elshorbagy at full tilt. MCO photo

Top seed Elshorbagy returns to try to claim an unprecedented 3rd Motor City Open . MCO photo

The 2015 Motor City Open Presented by Suburban Collection is set to kickoff this evening at the Birmingham Athletic Club in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Vying for the title of Motor City Open Champion will be the strongest field in the event’s history. More than half of the top 20 squash players in the world will be competing. The contenders include two-time and defending Motor City Open Champion and current world number one Mohamed Elshorbagy, who will look to claim an unprecedented third Motor City Open title. He is joined by fellow Egyptian, 2013 Champion, and former world number one Amr Shabana.

Last year’s finalist Peter Barker from England returns looking to avenge his dramatic defeat in five games in last year’s final. Rounding out the top four seeds is Spain’s Borja Golan who will strive to repeat his 2009 heroics when he claimed the title.

Qualifying action kicks off tonight. See the tournament schedule for a list of match times and other events. And be sure to checkout the 2015 draw to see just how strong the field is.

Now the second-longest running professional squash tournament in the United States, the Motor City Open has grown during its 16-year history into one of PSA’s premier North American tournaments behind only the Tournament of Champions, U.S. Read more →

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MCO Final: Elshorbagy outlasts Barker in five-game epic

Elshorbagy found his range in Game Three. MCO photo
Elshorbagy found his range in Game Three. MCO photo

Elshorbagy found his range in Game Three. MCO photo

Top-seed storms back from two games down, takes second MCO title
by James Hawkins

Bloomfield Hills, Mich. — Entering this year’s 15th Motor City Open presented by The Suburban Collection, only one player had won it twice — retired Canadian squash legend Jonathon Power. Egyptian World #4 Mohamed Elshorbagy added his name to that short list Tuesday night after rallying from behind to defeat World #8 Peter Barker in an epic, five-game championship match: 8-11, 12-14, 11-4, 11-6, 11-7.

For his efforts Elshorbagy won $11,000 in prize money and a $9,000 Rolex Oyster Perpetual watch — courtesy of Greenstone’s Jewelers.

“I’m happy to win my second Rolex now,” said 23-year-old Elshorbagy, who also won the MCO in 2011. “It’s an amazing feeling knowing the only other player who has won this tournament twice is Jonathon Power. It’s such an honor to put my name up there with him.”

After two games before a standing room only crowd at the Birmingham Athletic Club, however, it appeared Barker might be crowned the new champion. The Englishman’s short game was working to perfection and his dogged defensive retrievals were stifling Elshorbagy’s offense. It didn’t help that Elshorbagy struggled with his stroke, tinning four shots in Game One and five more in the second – twice when he had game ball. Read more →

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MCO final: It’s Elshorbagy vs. Barker

Top seed Elshorbagy at full tilt. MCO photo

Top seed downs exhausted Shabana; Barker impeccable in win over Pilley
By James Hawkins

Top seed Elshorbagy at full tilt. MCO photo

Top seed Elshorbagy took his first win over boyhood idol Shabana. MCO photo

Bloomfield Hills, Mich. — Mohamed Elshorbagy has always dreamed about the day he would earn his first victory over his idol – and fellow Egyptian – Amr Shabana. That day came Monday in the semifinals of the Motor City Open presented by The Suburban Collection, but it wasn’t as satisfying as the scenarios Elshorbagy had envisioned.

At the conclusion of the third game, Shabana —playing his eighth match in 10 days — hunched over, embraced Elshorbagy and explained that he couldn’t go any further because he felt light-headed. His retirement gave top-seed and World #4 Elshorbagy the match: 11-6, 12-14, 11-3 ret.

Elshorbagy will move on to Tuesday’s championship at 6:30 p.m. where he will face third seed and World #8 Peter Barker of England for the champion’s share of the $70,000 purse and a Rolex watch courtesy of Greenstone’s Jewelers.

“It’s of course a sad end for the crowd because the match was very high quality,” said Elshorbagy, who advanced to his second MCO final in four years. “I want to congratulate Shabana for an amazing two weeks. Read more →

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MCO Quarters: Pilley upsets Darwish while Elshorbagy, Shabana, Barker roll

Pilley got out in front of Darwish eraly and never let up. MCO photo
Pilley got out in front of Darwish eraly and never let up. MCO photo

Pilley (right) got out in front of Darwish eraly and never let up. MCO photo

All Egyptian semifinal Monday; Pilley/Barker vie for first MCO finals berth
By James Hawkins

Bloomfield Hills, Mich. — Egypt will again be well represented in the semifinals of the 2014 Motor City Open presented by The Suburban Collection.

One year after an All-Egyptian semifinal, top seed Mohamed Elshorbagy and defending champion Amr Shabana claimed two of the four spots in the semis after advancing through Sunday’s quarterfinals. Elshorbagy was first to take his place, ousting qualifier Olli Tuominen of Finland in straight games (11-9, 11-8, 11-7) to reach the semis for the fourth year in a row at the host Birmingham Athletic Club.

Tuominen looked to be riding the momentum from yesterday’s five-game upset of Egyptian World #12 Tarek Momen and was on the verge of taking Game One at 9-7, but Elshorbagy stormed back with four straight points to steal it. Tuominen would never get any closer as Elshorbagy jumped out to a 6-2 lead in Game Two and a 4-1 lead in Game Three,  winning both.

“I just tried to play my game, focus and I did that well. The first game was crucial. Read more →

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