Wheadon is totally in his element

Tournament favourite Gary Wheadon was untouchable as he cruised to the Total Squash East London Open title in style over the past weekend.

MAKING HEADWAY: East London squash open champ Gary Wheadon lifts the trophy, flanked by runner-up Jason le Roux (orange hoodie) and third-placed Kelvin Edwards, along with tournament organiser Tim Leeuw (green/yellow shirt)

Cape Town-based Wheadon, who is ranked in the top five in South Africa and was the top seed, thumped number two seed Jason le Roux from Port Elizabeth in the final, held in front of a capacity crowd at Cambridge Squash Club.

Wheadon did not drop a single game all tournament and became the second winner of the tournament, after it held its inaugural showing last year.

“I had a number of tough opponents along the way, so it always feels good to get the win,” said Wheadon.

The tournament was hosted by Total Squash, and founder and organiser Tim Leeuw felt that the tournament went extremely well.

However, he expressed a wish to have better prize-money so that the tournament could draw even bigger names to East London.

“Judging by the number of people who have come to watch the matches, full capacity every day of the tournament, East London is ready for these kinds of events,” said Leeuw.

The action got under way last week Thursday, with day one going to tournament seeding as all the favourites progressed.

The match of the day was arguably the encounter between Geoffrey Stephens of East London and Gershwin Forbes of Port Elizabeth, with Forbes going 2-0 up in the match before Stephens clawed his way back to win 3-2 and secure a place in the quarterfinals.

Day two saw the top seeds celebrating Youth Day by providing free coaching for 42 aspiring youngsters.

The exercise is part of an ongoing Total Squash programme to bring in new players to the game, specifically from disadvantaged areas.

The quarterfinals were then battled out in the afternoon and all went according to seed, without any of the top seeds being tested.

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The match of the evening ended up being between two East Londoners – Border top seed Kelvin Edwards and Hayden Worth – which was a repeat of the Border Closed finals, which Edwards had narrowly won.

This time around Edwards showed his dominance, beating Worth 3-1 to secure his space in the semis.

Saturday’s semifinals were then battled out at Buffalo Sports Club and ended with the local hopes chances of taking the title being extinguished.

Wheadon comfortably disposed of Edwards in three quick games, securing his place in the final, while Le Roux had to work hard to secure a victory against bright young EL talent Adam Shean.

The match was neck-and-neck and went up to the fifth game, where Le Roux’s fitness proved too much for the youngster, who ran out of legs in the end.

Sunday then saw the finals, with Wheadon triumphing to claim the R4000 prize purse and Edwards taking third place after beating Shean 3-1 in a playoff.

In all 31 entrants competed in 75 matches over four days at different venues around East London, for another successful showing of the Open.


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