Round-1 match recap from Squash Emcee Andy Taylor, Voice of the Qatar Classic.
Since 2017, Andy Taylor has been the voice of the Qatar Classic Squash Championship. With his individual style and delivery, Andy writes and narrates each player’s introduction; highlighting career accomplishments, providing context for fans before each match. As tournament emcee, Andy also interviews the winners and hosts the trophy ceremony at the conclusion of the championship.
A voice acting veteran, Andy is best known as the Voice of the US Open in New York. There, he has spent the last 20-years shaping the sound of the tennis season’s final Grand Slam; enhancing the fan experience. Informing. Entertaining. Celebrating sport and its colorful cast of characters.
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First meeting between two PSA veterans
Borja Golan -30- (ESP) | Round-1 Emcee Introduction
At 38-years-old, he is the most successful Spanish talent in squash history. A 16-time Spanish Nationals Champion – in all, he owns 32 PSA titles and has been ranked as high as World #5. In 2003, he made his Doha debut as a scrappy 20-year-old at the Ali bin Ali Open. Tonight, 18 years later, he’s back competing in his 35th PSA match in Qatar. And he’s had some memorable victories on this court – including wins over former World #1’s Lee Beachill and the French General Gregory Gaultier. In fact, after his win over Gaultier in 2013 – two weeks later, he went on to reach his first Platinum Final in Hong Kong – defeating Ramy Ashour and James Willstrop en-route to the Final. Competing in his 11th Qatar Q-Terminals Classic – From Spain, please welcome Borja Golan.
- R1 — W — Todd Harrity -44- (USA) | Score: 13-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-2 (50m)
- In 2008, he earned his first Qatar Classic main draw victory, defeating former World #1 and 2003 champion Lee Beachill
- In 2013, he upset the French General Gregory Gaultier to reach his first Platinum Semifinal – a month later, he earned wins over both Ramy Ashour and James Willstrop to reach his first Platinum Final in Hong Kong
- Overall, Golan is a 10-time Platinum Quarterfinalist, a 4-time Semifinalist, along with that run to the 2013 Final in Hong Kong
- Borja reached the Round of 16 in his last two Qatar Classic appearances. In 2018, he fell to Paul Coll. Last year, Fares Dessouky
Todd Harrity -44- (USA) | Round-1 Emcee Introduction
Last month, this 31-year-old launched the new 2021-22 season with a career-high ranking of World #43 – and tonight, makes his Doha Glass Court debut, in determined pursuit of his first match victory in Qatar. An 11-time Finalist on Tour – last April, he captured his 4th PSA title at the SRFI Indian Tour Challenger, defeating home-nation favorite Mahesh Mangaonkar to lift the trophy. Back in Doha, competing in his second Qatar Q-Terminals Classic – from the United States, please welcome Pan American Games Gold Medalist and 3-time U.S. Nationals Champion, Todd Harrity.
- R1 — W — Borja Golan -30- (ESP) | Score: 11-13, 8-11, 11-7, 2-11 (50m)
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QATAR SQUASH: 27 YEARS OF HIGHLIGHTS AND HISTORY
For nearly three decades, the Qatar Squash Federation has hosted the sport’s elite at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex. Originally coined the Qatar International, Pakistan’s Jansher Khan captured the first five Doha titles from 1992 to 1996. Canada’s Jonathan Power then won back-to-back Doha titles over Scotland’s Peter Nichol; earning triumphs at the 1997 Qatar International and the 1998 World Championship.
Enter the Qatar Classic Squash Championship
After a two year absence, professional squash returned to Doha in 2001. Rebranded the Qatar Classic, Peter Nichol – now representing England – again reached back-to-back Doha Finals. This time, he captured the first two Qatar Classic titles over Australia’s David Palmer. England’s Lee Beachill and James Willstrop won the next two Qatar Classic titles, before Egypt began its outright Doha dominance.
In fact, since Ramy Ashour became the first Egyptian Doha champion at the 2006 Qatar Classic; the Arab nation has won 13 of the last 15 Doha titles, including three World Championships. Alexandria’s Mohamed Elshorbagy – the only 3-time Qatar Classic Champion – reached a record six consecutive finals on this court between 2012 and 2017. Most recently, Ali Farag won back-to-back Qatar Classic titles in 2018 and 2020. Unfortunately, the World #1 won’t be back in Doha this year to defend the title.
Professional Squash and COVID-19
Like every international sport, the recent global pandemic has created tremendous challenges for squash events worldwide. Due to COVID’s insidious spread, the 2019-20 season ended abruptly in March; immediately following Mohamed Elshorbagy’s victory at the 2020 Canary Wharf Classic.
Without fans, the sport launched its return six months later in Manchester – another Elshorbagy triumph. However, with global cases hitting a second surge, all events in the United Kingdom, United States and Asia were shuttered. The 2020-2021 season was in peril. At the time, as a U.S. resident, Andy Taylor made the difficult decision to suspend all international travel. Reluctantly, he stepped away from his role as emcee at the 2020 Qatar Classic.
Saviors. The Qatar Squash Federation and CIB’s CEO Hussein Abaza of Egypt
Over the next 10-months, Qatar and Egypt were the only two nations to host PSA Platinum events. Without the U.S. Open. Hong Kong Open. New York’s Tournament of Champions. The Windy City Open. And British Open — The sport needed bold and determined intervention.
Cautiously, the QSF moved forward with the Qatar Classic, providing a COVID safe bubble for players and crew. Meanwhile, Egypt’s Hussein Abaza went above and beyond. Remarkably, CIB’s CEO spearheaded two PSA World Tour Finals, the Egyptian Open, two Black Ball Opens and El Gouna International. From September to June, he funded six expensive, top-tier PSA events for both the men’s and women’s tours. Egypt became the hub of the sport – a safe place to compete while vaccinations took hold; while the world recovered.
Thankfully, since July, much of the globe has slowly opened back up. Chicago hosted the World Championships. Hull welcomed the sport’s elite for the British Open. Last month, it was only fitting that the 2021-22 season began in front of the pyramids at Giza. True to form, Egyptian rivals Ali Farag and Mohamed Elshorbagy headlined the event; delivering an exceptional 5-game Final, where Farag lifted his 9th Platinum trophy.
A Sport Back on Track, thanks to human compassion and ingenuity
After September’s Egyptian Open, the U.S. swing was also a tremendous success. From San Francisco to the US Open’s immaculate new Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia; fans responsibly returned, recently tested or fully vaccinated. All starved to once again see the best in the world compete inside the glass.
Now, squash returns to the Arab Gulf for the 17th Qatar Classic Squash Championship.
Thankfully, as global vaccinations continue their ascent, the new squash season is beginning to follow a familiar path. While the past 19-months have been dark, spotlighting the reality of human fragility; it has also been an epoch defined by compassion, resilience and hope. Squash, as a sport and lifestyle, embodies these traits.
When we choose to quiet the noise, steel our determination, and commit to selflessly work together toward collective good; ultimately toward survival — the darkness is no match for our blinding ingenuity.
No, the fight isn’t over. But we’ve hit some astonishing nicks, and continue to edge closer toward “match ball.”