Top-seeded Egyptian Darwish comes to U.S. to regain top ranking; American Illingworth is highest-ever ranked American player
Olli Tuominen, MCO champ in 2008, returns this year as the #4 seed. (Birmingham Athletic Club photo)
Birmingham, Mich. – World #5 Karim Darwish and #9 Thierry Lincou headline a strong international field for the 11th annual Motor City Open presented by Suburban Volvo, January 29-February 1. The tournament will be hosted by Michigan’s premier squash facility, the Birmingham Athletic Club, north of Detroit.
The dominant player in the world for the last year, Darwish was sidelined at the end of 2009 with a sore back and comes to the Motor City seeking to regain the #1 ranking. As the second seed behind Darwish, Lincou himself is a former number one who has had prior success in Detroit. He was a finalist here in 2003.
Also vying for a tourney-record $40,000 purse and a $7000 Rolex watch presented by Greenstone’s Jewelers will be World #17 and third seed Mohd Azlan Iskandar of Malasia, 2008 MCO champion Olli Tuominen (#4 seed), and World #30 Julian Illingworth of the United States, the #5 seed. At World #30, Illingworth is the highest-ranking U.S. player ever in a sport traditionally dominated by players from Europe and the Middle East. He resides in New York City.
The 16-man draw will kick off the First Round Friday, with play continuing through the weekend to the Finals Monday evening at 6.30 PM. A qualifying tournament will precede the MCO on Wednesday and Thursday with the top four qualifiers advancing into the main draw.
Darwish last competed in the MCO in 2004 as the third seed and World #9. Part of a strong contingent of Egyptian players including Ramy Ashour and Amr Shabana, the cat-quick 28-year old really hit his stride in 2008, vaulting to #2 in the world. In January of last year, he captured #1 – a ranking he would hold throughout the year until his injury in December.
In addition to the world’s top players, the Motor City Open offers kids clinics with guest appearances by the touring pros, and a pro-am doubles tournament.
For tickets call Julian Wellings at 248 646-1663 or email: email@example.com.