By Geoff Robinson
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan—The Motor City Open presented by the Suburban Collection is off and running. While Day 1 of qualifying saw seven higher seeds cruise through in straight sets, one match took center stage and provided all of the drama spectators were looking for.
Ramit Tandon of India, World #80, took a firm grasp on his match with a 2-0 lead against 53rd-ranked Mohamed Reda of Egypt.
But Reda wasn’t about to go quietly.
Falling behind 3-0 in the third game, Reda’s tournament dreams were on life support. That’s when he dug deep and reeled off eight consecutive points to will himself to an 11-7 win in the third game. In the fourth, Reda used that momentum to cruise to an 11-5 win.
That’s when things got interesting.
Tandon had started to look tired towards the end of the third, leaving the crowd wondering what he had left in the tank as the unforced errors piled up. A former college player that left a job on Wall Street to take up squash professionally less than a year ago, Tandon had to find his footing in unfamiliar territory.
“I’m still adapting to the intensity,” Tandon said. “I get very casual at times, so I almost lost that match. I’m still trying to find that sweet spot and the fighting mentality I need to feel comfortable.”
Reda grabbed the first two points on the fifth and decisive game, but Tandon bounced back quickly with a four-point streak of his own. With the game knotted at 6-6, Tandon was able to get three crucial points in a row before finishing off Reda and holding on for the five-set victory: 11-7, 11-7, 7-11, 5-11, 11-9.
Tandon now faces a formidable opponent in World #56 Nathan Lake of England who cruised by local qualifier Ned Mylod in 29 minutes: 11-1, 11-4, 11-4.
“It’s a brutal sport,” Tandon said. “I’ll stretch, take a lot of fluids, ice down and hope to be feeling good tomorrow.”
As for Lake and Mylod – while the result was never really in doubt, it was a special moment for the host Birmingham Athletic Club as Mylod, a senior at Cranbrook-Kingswood high school, took the court for his first professional match at just 18-years-of-age.
Mylod trains at the BAC under head pro Julian Wellings and is currently ranked ninth in the US juniors.
“It’s a different experience, obviously,” Mylod said. “It’s a different physicality, the points are longer and it’s rough. I was a little nervous. I made a lot of mistakes early on, but I think I cleaned it up in the second game. The atmosphere was great, second to none to any of the other tournaments on tour. It’s the most supportive club in the country.”
One of the more intriguing matches of Day 2 will be between Qatar’s Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi, ranked 37th in the world, and Richie Fallows. World #60 from England. Both walked away with straight-set victories on Tuesday.
Al Tamimi beat Faraz Khan 11-4, 11-3, 11-8. Fallows defeated Eddie Charlton 11-6, 11-7, 11-8.
Al Tamimi (37th) got through qualifying at the MCO in 2017 before suffering a heartbreaking defeat in the main draw, so he knows the grind ahead of him.
“It feels good to get rested for tomorrow and finish this match quick,” Al Tamimi said. “I’m looking forward to tomorrow and I hope I can make the main draw again. I’ve played (Fallows) before and it’s always a battle.”
Qualifying results, Day 1:
 Campbell Grayson (New Zealand) def Karim El Hammamy (Egypt) 11-8, 11-8, 11-8 (54m)
Ramit Tandon (India) def  Mohamed Reda (Egypt) 11-7, 11-7, 7-11, 5-11, 11-9 (67m)
 Nathan Lake (England) def [L] Ned Mylod (USA) 11-1, 11-4, 11-4 (29m)
 Arturo Salazar (Mexico) def Michael McCue (Canada) 11-6, 11-7, 11-5 (33m)
 Peter Creed (Wales) def [L] Jon Geekie (Scotland) 11-7, 11-7, 11-8 (29m)
 Richie Fallows (England) def Eddie Charlton (England) 11-6, 11-7, 11-8 (37m)
 Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (Qatar) def Faraz Khan (USA) 11-4, 11-3, 11-8 (26m)
 Christopher Binnie (Jamaica) bt. Alex Noakes (England) 11-4, 11-7, 11-2 (42m)