As mentioned in an earlier entry Mike McCue who blogs for us is playing in this year's PSA 5K National Squash Academy Open. Mike played his first match last night which I was lucky enough to see and he won convincingly! Mike played Tyler Hamilton who is also from Canada. Tyler is the higher ranked player ranked #170 in the world to Mike's #197 ranking so this was a bit of an upset.
From the outset Mike was very focused on the task at hand. This was evident in his demeanor even during the warm-up. Once the match started Mike got off to a very quick start and never really looked back. He put Tyler under a lot of pressure with some exceptional length. There were several points won on straight length balls that Tyler looked to play early, decided not to because they were just too tight to the side wall and let them pass only to watch them die in the back court nick. Tyler was clearly not having one his better days on court but part of that was due to the quality of Mike's shots.
When Mike was put under some pressure by Tyler he was able to play some good defensive squash. He covered the court very well. Tyler was able to play some nice tight drop shots in to the front but Mike covered them well and was able to get the ball behind Tyler even from this difficult position consistently. When Mike was given a good chance to attack he was able to either put Tyler under a great deal of pressure or hit some great outright winners.
Mike won the first two games convincingly but winning the match is not always as easy. I know Mike well enough to know how much he wanted the result. He wanted the win. He is at the beginning of his PSA career and training extremely hard. Playing in these challenger tournaments is tough. They are hard to get in to and with a bad result it is one match and out. Knowing how much Mike wanted to win the match I was really hoping he could close it out. Mike managed to maintain is focus brilliantly in the last game. Even when there was some discussion with the ref by Tyler about a call you could still see the focus on Mike's face the same as you could early in the match. It is very important in situations like these to maintain that focus. It is easy to let up a bit when you are up two games and your opponent is struggling. Letting up though can result in your opponent getting back in to the game and finding some form. This can lead to a momentum switch and really put the pressure back on the guy who controlling play early. Tyler pressed back a bit late in the third game but Mike was having none of it. He closed out the match and moved on to the second round match where he will play Colin West.
Congratulations Mike on a well-deserved victory!