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Day One: 2019 ITTF World Tour Czech Open

Published in Table Tennis
Thursday, 22 August 2019 01:00
Japan according to plan

As expected, the Japan vs. Japan matchups have left the seeded players standing. No. 3 Miu Hirano had an easy half-hour session against Ayami Narumoto that reuslted in a 4-0 victory (11-9, 11-9, 11-2, 11-7), while no. 13 Honoka Hashimoto defeated Miyuu Kihara 4-3 despite a slow start in a more protracted contest (3-11, 16-14, 11-8, 9-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-5). No. 12 Miyu Kato is out, however, falling 1-4 to China’s Liu Weishan.

Ishikawa sruvives Taipei challenge

That was something of a nail-biter for Kasumi Ishikawa: the defending women’s champion in Olomouc was nearly upset by the unseeded Cheng Hsein-Tzu of Chinese Taipei, who led 3-2 before Ishikawa pulled away during the final two games, allowing Chen just three points as she surged to a 4-3 victory to stay alive in the first round of the main draw (11-7, 7-11, 8-11, 11-2, 6-11, 11-1, 11-2). The top seed in this tournament and one of the big hopes to become Japan’s first women’s singles winner on the ITTF World Tour this year, Ishikawa has lived to fight another day.

Liu goes through, He stops Gu

Having fought her way through the preliminary rounds to the main draw, China’s Liu Xi sailed smoothly through her match with new Pan American Games champion Adriana Diaz, defeating the Puerto Rican 4-0 (11-4, 11-7, 11-9, 11-9). Faced with He Zhuojia, top Chinese women’s seed in Olomouc, Gu Yuting had a harder time of it: down 0-3, the 24-year-old (and 2010 Youth Olympic champion) took two games off He before capitulating. He won 11-7, 11-8, 11-8, 9-11, 7-11, 11-8.

Indian pair fall at first hurdle

Belgians Martin Allegro and Florent Lambiet were in top form as they saw off Indian hopefuls Harmeet Desai and Manav Vikash Thakkar in straight games (11-7, 11-7, 11-7).

The match lasted exactly 19 minutes, where Allegro and Lambiet left the Indians no space to work with. Frenchmen Tristian Flore and Emmanuel Lebesson also showed no mercy against host nation’s Tomas Polansky and Pavel Sirucek, winning 3-0 (11-7, 11-7, 11-8).

Asian powerhouses roll on

China’s Zhao Zihao and Zhu Linfeng needed five games to secure victory over their opponents from Chinese Taipei Chen Chien-An and Chuang Chih-Yuan, as they marched into the quarter-finals in Olomouc, mounting a magnificent comeback (11-13, 5-11, 11-5, 15-13, 11-9).

Following suit were Korea Republic’s Lee Sangsu and Cho Daeseong who had a slightly easier time defeating Denmark’s Anders Lind and Tobias Rasmussen 3-1 (11-6, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7).

Home crowd rises for Matelova and Balazova

The Czech Republic-Slovakia pairing of Hana Matelova and Barbora Balazova gave the fans something to cheer about as they glided past their Croatian opponents Mateja Jeger and Sun Jiayi in a 3-0 victory (11-7, 11-5, 11-8).

On Table 2, the Diaz sisters from Puerto Rico could not stop the Korean Republic’s duo of Kim Hayeong and Lee Eunhye. Adriana and Melanie Diaz won the first game, but had no response once the comeback started to unfold for Lee and Kim (9-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-3).

Russians stumble, while the French march on

Yana Noskova and Olga Vorobera had simply too much to deal with when they faced Singaporeans Lin Ye and Yu Mengyu, who defeated the Russian pair in straight games (12-10, 11-7, 11-6).

The match lasted no more than 8 minutes (!) as Lin & Yu seemed to be in a rush. In a surprise turn of events, France’s Stephanie Loeuillette and Audrey Zarif beat Chinese duo Qian Tianyi and Chen Xingtong. It took four fierce games to settle, but the European pair did just enough to move on to the quarter-finals (13-15, 11-9, 11-9, 12-10).

Dang & Nina battle through

German duo Qiu Dang and Nina Mittelham had to dig deep in their first match of the tournament here in Olomouc, as they won against Slovakian pair Lubomir Pistej and Barbora Balazova (11-8, 6-11, 11-5, 4-11, 15-13).

Lasting nearly 35 minutes, the match between the Europeans was fought till the end, with the final game lasting for 28 points. Meanwhile, a Japanese domestic ended with Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito seeing off Tomokazu Harimoto and Kasumi Ishikawa in straight games (11-5, 11-8, 11-7).

“It is a huge win for us. We played against Pistej and Balazova at the 2019 World Championships in Budapest and we lost quite close 2-4. So today we knew that they are a really good pair but we also knew how they play. Pistej has a very unique style he is very dangerous in doubles. But we just played better today and we put more balls on the table. There was nothing special. But still, we saved one match point so it was very close.” – Qiu Dang and Nina Mittelham

Mixed start for Koreans

Korea Republic’s Cho Daeseong and Shin Yubin had a difficult but winning start to the day, as they need all five games to beat French pair Tristian Flore and Laura Gasnier (11-6, 9-11, 11-4, 6-11, 11-5).

It was an intensive battle from the start, with either pairing winning alternative games. This pattern fell into place for the Koreans, as they managed to close the decider. Sadly, their compatriots Lee Sangsu and Jeon Jihee could not do the same, as the top seeds lost out to an impressive showing by China’s Ma Te and Wu Yang (6-11, 11-6, 11-6, 10-12, 13-11).

“We are very happy that we won because it was very hard and long match. We played against Lee Sangsu and Jeon Jihee last week in Bulgaria so today they had a better idea about our play. But we also prepared well. In the first set they were faster than us so we could not attack so much. But then we attacked more and we won next two sets. Then we became more relaxed. We don’t pracitise a lot together so last week was a good preparation for us. Now we will try to win as many matches as possible.” – Ma Te & Wu Yang

And here we go!

Stay updated with the scores for the whole event right as follows:

Northern Europe, destination for Ferenc Karsai

Published in Table Tennis
Thursday, 22 August 2019 05:00

by Dora Jeler, High Performance and Development Operations Manager

The first stop was Haapsalu in Estonia for a coaching seminar held from Sunday 23rd to Tuesday 25th June; a total of 27 students from Estonia and Latvia attended of whom 10 were women.

Significantly, the itinerary included a variety of topics and exercises. Particular focus was placed on footwork, multi-ball training and general table tennis coaching; this was complemented by lessons on techniques and tactical changes in modern table tennis, in addition to the preparation of a training plan.

Exchange ideas

All attendees actively participated in the exercises and were given the opportunity to share feedback and exchange best practices by providing their own examples; this proved especially useful to students preparing to renew their coaching licences. Most certainly the initiative was appreciated by Margit Tamm, Secretary General of the Estonian Table Tennis Association.

“The coaches gave very positive feedback on the activity. Mr Ferenc Karsai is an experienced coach and as a lecturer a very interesting person. He always explained why he chose a specific example before an exercise; his seminar was easy to follow.” Margit Tamm

Professional Development

Well received in Estonia, the next stop was Jersey for a training camp and coaching seminar. Staged from Monday 22nd to Wednesday 24th July the visit provided Jersey’s coaches with an excellent opportunity for professional development.

Three girls and seven boys aged 11 to 17 years old participated in the three day training camp. Three local coaches assisted Ferenc Karsai during the six training sessions. The group practised a total of 22 exercise routines, starting with regular exercises and then moving into regular and irregular exercises.

Each day the players were also given the opportunity to receive individual technical assistance from Ferenc Karsai during multi-ball training, at the same time the local coaches being delegated the task of overseeing the remaining members of the group. The final day finished with a team match involving Jersey ‘A’ versus Jersey ‘B’.

The evening sessions were dedicated to coach education, focusing on multi-ball, practice routines and footwork. Ferenc Karsai demonstrated approximately 20 different routines followed by 25 feeding exercises to improve players’ footwork. Notably, Paul Routier MBE, President of the Jersey Table Tennis Association, attended the evening sessions.

Notable assistant coach

Proceedings concluded in Jersey, the next stop was Iceland; a similar training camp and coaching seminar being held from Friday 2nd to Wednesday 7th August. Once again, Ferenc Karsai’s delivery was insightful and interesting, keeping all the participants actively involved.

Throughout, he was assisted by Bjarni Borgeir Bjarnason, who has extensive coaching experience as the former national coach and head coach of HK table tennis club in Iceland. Overall 18 boys and 11 girls attended the training camp. Notably, the camp was well attended by Icelandic coaches who took the opportunity to observe and learn.

All participants were ready for the hard work expected during the nine training sessions and did their absolute best during the varied exercises. Multi-ball, service and return plus interval training, along with sessions focusing on technical and tactical exercises comprised the itinerary. All were tired but very satisfied.


Additionally, coaching seminars were conducted over two evenings in the training hall, three male members of the Icelandic national team attending. Proceedings commenced with a discussion on the evolution of table tennis from 1950 to the present day, special attention being paid to the changes in recent years after the introduction of the plastic ball.

Furthermore, Ferenc Karsai highlighted the importance of teamwork and how to approach and work with individual players. He dedicated time to discussion on the importance of multi-ball training, where participants learned how to use techniques for the advancement of players of any level.

In total, the coaching seminar was attended by eight men and four women.

Citigold Wealth Management Canary Wharf Classic champion Paul Coll

Trip of a lifetime to watch the stars in action in Qatar
By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor

Squash fans have the chance to watch the finals of the 2019-20 PSA World Championships in Doha, Qatar, and get the chance to meet their favourite participating players in a fantastic new promotion.

As the official title partner of the Canary Wharf Squash Classic, Citigold are excited to offer the full VIP squash experience at the PSA World Championships to the first 20 clients who open and fund their account before 30 September 2019.

The enticing offer includes a pair of tickets to BOTH the semi-finals and finals and the opportunity to meet your favourite participating players after the matches.

In addition, the first 10 clients will also enjoy two nights’ accommodation for two at the official tournament five-star hotel.

Action from the Citigold Wealth Management Canary Wharf Classic featuring Declan James and Greg Lobban

The PSA World Championships will be held at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha, Qatar between November 8-15, 2019.

For this priceless experience, all you have to do is simply follow this link and open an account with Citigold*.

You will enjoy all the benefits of a global bank, receive your VIP squash package and have a choice of either up to 100,000 Avios points, £1,000 in cash or £1,000 on your Harrods Reward card.

* Minimum funding of £150,000 applies. Accommodation provided for first 10 accounts opened and funded. Flights not included. View Terms and Conditions.

Pictures courtesy of Citigold Wealth Management Canary Wharf Classic 

Posted on August 22, 2019

Women’s World Championship prize money rises to $430,000

Published in Squash
Thursday, 22 August 2019 05:12

Action at the Great Pyramid of Giza during the 2016 Al Ahram Open 

Title sponsors CIB pledge an extra $100,000
By SEAN REUTHE – Squash Mad Correspondent

The Professional Squash Association (PSA) and I-Events have announced that the prize money for October’s CIB PSA Women’s World Championship will now total $430,000 after title sponsors CIB pledged an additional $100,000 into the prize fund.

The 2019-20 CIB PSA Women’s World Championship is the most prestigious women’s squash tournament and will be held in front of the iconic Great Pyramid of Giza, the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, from October 24 to November 1.

Some 64 of the world’s leading female players will compete in Cairo for the coveted trophy, with the likes of Egyptian World No.1 Raneem El Welily, reigning World Champion Nour El Sherbini, French World No.3 Camille Serme and British Open champion Nouran Gohar all set to feature at the iconic Pyramids, which will host a World Championship for the first time since 2006.

The increase in prize money means that the 2019-20 CIB PSA Women’s World Championship becomes the second most lucrative professional squash tournament of all time, with only the 2018-19 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family boasting a higher prize fund.

“We’re delighted to announce a significant increase in prize money for the biggest tournament on the women’s tour, particularly off the back of last month’s announcement regarding record prize money being on offer during the 2018-19 season,” said PSA Chief Executive Alex Gough.

Top Egyptian stars like world number one Raneem El Welily (left) and world champion Nour El Sherbini will be favourites at the Pyramids

“Our female athletes will compete in front of one of the most breathtaking backdrops in all of world sport in October, and the increase in prize money and prestige that comes with being crowned World Champion means we could see one of the most dramatic and closely-contested World Championships the sport has ever seen.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank CIB for their incredible support of squash and, together with I-Events, I’m confident that we will put on a World Championship to remember.”

CIB Chief Executive and Board Member, Hussein Abaza, said: “We are thrilled to partner with the PSA and I-events to bring this tournament back to Egypt. As an avid enthusiast of the sport, I have to say some of the best squash I have ever seen has come from the female squash players and we at CIB are honoured to be able to offer a small token of our appreciation to the dedication of these world-class athletes. I look forward to some amazing squash.”

The men’s CIB Egyptian Squash Open will be held alongside the CIB PSA Women’s World Championship between October 25 and November 1, while the PSA Men’s World Championship will take place in Doha, Qatar between November 8-15.


Pictures courtesy of PSA

Posted on August 22, 2019

Former England rugby union international James Haskell has signed a deal to fight with mixed martial arts promotion Bellator MMA.

The 34-year-old is expected to make his debut as a heavyweight next year.

The former Wasps and Northampton Saints flanker, who won 77 caps for England, retired from rugby in May.

Haskell has previously trained with British MMA fighter Michael 'Venom' Page and worked as a television pundit covering MMA.

Bellator say 6ft 4in Haskell will continue his training this year with his first fight "expected to take place during the first half of 2020".

Haskell says his interest in MMA goes back a decade and in an interview during his rugby career said it "builds strength and endurance and has helped me to manipulate and move people on the rugby pitch".

He told at the time that he would "like to compete" in MMA and that it commands similar discipline to rugby.

Haskell played in the past two World Cups and won three Six Nations with England, including the Grand Slam in 2016.

But he struggled with ankle and toe problems while playing for Northampton last season and announced his decision to retire after a 17-year professional career in May.

World Rugby has made a law amendment after George North scored a try while England were down to 13 men to help Wales to victory on Saturday.

North's try came after England's Anthony Watson was sent off and before a head injury replacement for Willi Heinz had come on.

The amendment states that play can only restart once temporary replacement players are on the field.

The change comes less than a month before the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Wales became world number one after the 13-6 win and begin their World Cup campaign against Georgia on 23 September, while England's first match is against Tonga on 22 September.

Fly-half Byrne to make full Ireland debut against England

Published in Rugby
Thursday, 22 August 2019 03:34

Ross Byrne will make his full Test debut for Ireland on Saturday after being named in the side to play England in a World Cup warm-up at Twickenham.

The Leinster fly-half is included in a strong starting line-up which shows 12 personnel changes and one positional switch from the one which beat Italy.

Jordan Larmour moves from full-back to right wing and Garry Ringrose is again chosen at centre, alongside Bundee Aki.

Recently qualified South African-born lock Jean Kleyn retains his place.

The Munster second row is handed a second opportunity to stake his claim for a place in the final 31-man squad after making his debut against Italy.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt's selection to face England has a much more familiar look about it after an experimental line-up secured victory over the Italians at the Aviva Stadium on 10 August, with the return of a number of frontline players.

Rob Kearney, Jacob Stockdale, Aki, Conor Murray, Cian Healy, captain Rory Best, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, Peter O'Mahony, Josh van der Flier and CJ Stander all make their seasonal bows.

After Saturday's game at Twickenham Ireland continue their World Cup preparation games by facing Wales in Cardiff on 31 August and Warren Gatland's side again in Dublin on 7 September.

Byrne has won two caps off the bench to date - against Italy in Chicago in November last year and as a replacement for Darren Sweetnam in the last of Ireland's autumn internationals against the USA three weeks later.

Connacht number 10 Jack Carty is named on the bench as Schmidt prepares to give some big-match experience to both fly-halves in the light of the ankle injury which has put Joey Carbery's place in the World Cup squad in doubt.

Byrne appeared to slip down the pecking order in last season's Six Nations as Carty was called up as Johnny Sexton's understudy after Carbery was sidelined with a hamstring problem.

Carty made three appearances off the bench during the tournament, before making a fourth in the opening warm-up game earlier this month.

Byrne was one of three fly-halves who were part of the squad to tour Australia in June 2018 but despite being named among the replacements for the third Test of that series he remained unused.

Schmidt's current panel stands at 40 players after John Cooney, Finlay Bealham and Mike Haley were released back to their provinces last week but nine more must be culled before the squad travels to Japan for the World Cup.

Ireland: R Kearney; Larmour, Ringrose, Aki, Stockdale; R Byrne, Murray; Healy, Best, Furlong, Henderson, Kleyn; O'Mahony, Van der Flier, Stander.

Replacements: Cronin, J McGrath, Porter, Toner, Beirne, L McGrath, Carty, Conway.

England v Ireland: George Ford and Owen Farrell both start

Published in Rugby
Thursday, 22 August 2019 05:09

George Ford and Owen Farrell will start together for the first time in over a year when they line up for England against Ireland on Saturday.

Captain Farrell partners Manu Tuilagi in the centres for the first time in a Test match.

Flankers Sam Underhill and Tom Curry are both named in the back row.

"This weekend we will be looking to gain more match fitness and test different sorts of game strategies," said boss Eddie Jones.

Ford and Farrell formed a successful partnership for the first two years of Jones' tenure, before Farrell switched to fly-half regularly last year.

The last time they started in the same midfield was the second Test against South Africa in Bloemfontein last June, which England lost 23-12.

However, with Henry Slade injured and Ben Te'o not selected, Jones has reverted to the two-playmaker combination after England's defeat by Wales last weekend.

Elsewhere in the backline Jonny May will make his first appearance of the season on the left wing with Joe Cokanasiga switching to the right wing.

Elliot Daly continues at full-back, with Ben Youngs partnering club-mate Ford in the half-backs.

Up front, Joe Marler makes a first start since coming out of international retirement, with Jamie George and Kyle Sinckler also returning.

Mako Vunipola is named on the bench after a long injury lay-off, with brother Billy making his third straight start of the campaign at number eight.

"The players have come back in a very good physical and mental state and we have had a good preparation this week," added Jones.

"We purposefully made the week short looking ahead to the World Cup where this might happen beyond our control.

"It is the third of four games for us and come 8 September, when we get on the plane, we want to be ready to go. This is another step forward for us."

England: Daly; Cokanasiga, Tuilagi, Farrell, May; Ford, Youngs; Marler, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Kruis, Curry, Underhill, B Vunipola.

Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, M Vunipola, Cole, Lawes, Wilson, Heinz, Francis, Joseph.

Larson Doubles Down At Placerville

Published in Racing
Thursday, 22 August 2019 03:30

PLACERVILLE, Calif. — Kyle Larson kicked off the Fastest Four Days in Motorsports with a thrilling sprint car victory to claim Wednesday’s King of the West by NARC Fujitsu Sprint Car Series 30-lap headliner at Placerville Speedway.

Larson also won the BCRA midget feature.

Larson started the Paul Silva Finley Farms/McDonalds-sponsored sprint car in the fourth spot in the 24-car grid and took advantage of a pair of late race cautions to set up his winning move.

The last one allowed him to negotiate his way past Shane Golobic with only a mile remaining on the quarter-mile high banks to score the popular $5,000 victory.

Pole Shuffle winner Mitchell Faccinto paced the frantic field for the first five laps, holding off the aggressive advances of Tim Kaeding, Golobic and Larson. Kaeding finally won a drag race down the front straightaway on lap six to take the point.

Golobic and Larson followed suit two laps later.  The top four cars battled closely in a high-speed game of cat and mouse through traffic as track champion Andy Forsberg also moved into contention.

Golobic, piloting the Elk Grove Ford/NoS Energy sprinter, pestered Kaeding for several laps and finally powered past the leader as the pair crossed the flagstand on lap 20. Larson mastered the cushion and moved into second with five laps left when the red came out for Blake Carrick who got upside down on the back straightaway.

That bunched up the field for the restart and Larson quickly went to work. He maneuvered under Golobic in the fourth turn with four to go and cruised to the win. It was the 2010 King of the West champion’s eighth career series win.

“That caution helped me in the end,” admitted Larson.  “It took me a little while to get through the field, but the yellow bunched them up at the right time.”

Golobic scored the runner-up spot, chased by Kaeding in the Shark Racing Engines Helix.  Forsberg settled for fourth in his A & A Stepping Stone ride, chased by 12th starter Rico Abreu.

The finish:

Kyle Larson, Shane Golobic, Tim Kaeding, Andy Forsberg, Rico Abreu, Colby Copeland, Mitchell Faccinto, Chase Johnson, Sean Becker, Dominic Scelzi, Willie Croft, Bud Kaeding, D.J. Netto, Ryan Bernal, Stephen Ingraham, Kenny Allen, Shane Hopkins, Brad Sweet, Andy Gregg, Geoff Ensign, Nathan Rolfe, Blake Carrick, Cole Macedo, Jonathan Allard.

Superior Essex Backs Enfinger In Canada

Published in Racing
Thursday, 22 August 2019 06:56

MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Superior Essex, a manufacturer and supplier of communications cable, will partner with Grant Enfinger for Sunday’s NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

Superior Essex, based in Atlanta, Ga., will adorn the hood of Enfinger’s Ford F-150 as he competes in the second race of the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Playoffs, north of the boarder.

“It’s great to have Superior Essex on board our F-150 for the road course race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park,” said Enfinger. “This is the second race of the playoffs, and a track that is always exciting for both the drivers and fans. I know Superior Essex will have a big crowd there for the race, so this should be the perfect place to kick off a new partnership for both ThorSport Racing and Superior Essex.”

“We are honored to partner with Grant Enfinger and ThorSport Racing at the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park,” said Brian Ensign, Vice President of Marketing for Superior Essex. “This partnership has been a long time coming. I’ve gotten to know Grant over the past two years, and have a great deal of respect for his racing ability, and his impact on the sport. I can draw that same parallel to the Superior Essex brand in our industry, so this is a great partnership for many reasons. As a company who is already working with NASCAR, teams, and other industry partners to generate business-to-business relationships, we thought this would be a great way to support Grant and the team, as they compete in the Playoffs, and to give our guests an experience of a lifetime.”


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