The inaugural Courtcraft / Nick Matthew Academy Steel City Open in Sheffield was a huge success and after four days Greg Lobban (Scotland) won the final in classic style.

The top PSA world ranked player in the tournament and the No 1, he came to Hallamshire in fine form and on the back of some recent high class performances at World Tour events. Making the first round of the US Open, and last 32 in the World Championships, will move him higher up the rankings.

George Parker National under 19 Champion has had a tremendous tournament knocking out two seeds on is ways to the final.

Introduced on court to a packed house by Andrew Nickeas, Nick Matthew gave a short profile of the players during the knock up to the delight of all the spectators.

Both players started brightly testing each other and trying to command the tee. Parker opened the scoring; Lobban replied Parker then delayed and completely sent his opponent the wrong way 2-1 and a good start from Parker. Lobban started to apply pressure, working the ball all over the court changing the pace not letting Parker settle. His reward was three consecutive points, the first a sublime forehand drop followed by two unforced errors from Parker trying desperately to get back into the game.

After a longish rally Parker finished it with a beautifully executed forehand drop. Lobban now fleet of foot covering the court with grace applied more pressure on Parker resulting in four straight points to lead 8-3. An exchange of points with one game ball saved by Parker took Lobban to game ball 10-6. A duel of drops in the next rally Lobban pulled out of his bag of tricks a perfect cross court lob Parker retrieved for Lobban to execute a forehand drop with Parker stranded in the back of the court. First game to Lobban 11-6.

Again Parker lead the second 4-2, Lobban stepped up is game put Parker under more pressure and started commanding the tee, dominating the rallies winning them or forcing Parker to make mistakes to take it to 9-4. Parker secured his last point of the game with one off his favourite shots a backhand cross court volley drop. But the next two points to Lobban in quick succession closed the game out 11-5.

Complete dominance in the third by Lobban secured the match. Parker tried hard, worked hard, and never gave up but the extra pace movement and ‘courtcraft’ of Lobban proved too much for Parker on the day.

Winning clutches of points in succession with token resistance from Parker, Lobban secured the game and Match 11/5, 3-0 games to nil, in 31 minutes.

One hour before the final of the Courtcraft Nick Matthew Academy Steel City Open, you could find three times World Champion Nick Matthew on court coaching some of his Academy juniors. All credit should go to Nick and Prosquash Events for promoting and staging the PSA 5K Challenger.

There needs to be more of these Challenger events to help and assist our younger players in their chosen profession.

Greg Lobban commented in his after match interview, “It took a while to break George down; he is such a strong young player. It was a pleasure to play in front of such a great crowd. We don’t normally get this size of crowd at a 5K. Thanks to the club, Nick and Courtcraft for their sponsorship and support and to Prosquash for their great organisation”

Nick Matthew commented. “Courtcraft, Hallamshire, myself and Prosquash Events are delighted with how the 1st year has gone. The crowd support and media coverage we have received for a 5K Challenger event has been fantastic. A plan to improve for next year’s event is already under way and we intend to run a 10K Challenger event, minimum. Congratulations to all the young players who gave us a great level of squash to watch throughout the week, but especially to Greg Lobban who played a dynamic brand of squash to become a worthy winner of the inaugural event, and to George Parker on his first PSA final at 18 years of age.”

Managing Director of Courtcraft, Thomas Smith, said, ‘This has been a successful title sponsorship of the inaugural tournament in Sheffield. We are pleased that such a strong list of young talented squash players turned out in this first Courtcraft Nick Matthew Academy event. Congratulations to winner Craig Lobban and thanks to everyone who has been involved in the tournament including our hosts at the Hallamshire’.

Take a look at some of the images here: