Greg Lobban (Inverness) and Douglas Kempsell (Edinburgh) created history this past weekend when they were involved in the first ever all-Scottish PSA World Tour final. In the end it was Greg who claimed the title at the Geneva Open, one of the longest running events on the PSA Tour – now in its 41st year.
Lobban, the No.2 seed, was looking to build on his excellent performances at the Scottish Closed Championships less than 2 weeks ago where he pushed Scottish No.1, Alan Clyne, to a fifth game before cramping in the decider at the end of a brutal match.
On the opening day, he negotiated a couple of dangerous early round encounters with successive 3-1 wins over Portugal’s Claudio Pinto and Frenchman, Christophe André, to secure his place in the quarter finals against No.8 seed, Carlos Cornes (Spain).
Meanwhile, in the top half of the draw, Greg’s hopes of securing the title received an early boost when top seed, Jan Koukal (Czech Republic), lost in the first round to reigning World Junior Champion, Karim El Hammamy of Egypt.
Dougie enjoyed a straight-forward win against Anthony Brindle (Gibralter) before narrowly defeating England’s Mark Fuller 11-8 6-11 14-12 11-7 in a gruelling match that took over an hour for the first two games alone. Fuller had previously defeated another Scot, Jamie Henderson in his first round.
The quarter-finals saw Greg and Dougie ease through with comfortable 3/0 wins over Cornes and Belgium’s Jan Van den Herrewegen respectively - saving valuable energy for the semi-finals later in the day.
Dougie was first up against El Hammamy, who had followed up his first round upset with two more wins over higher-ranked opponents. The opening exchanges were again long and demanding but Dougie took the first game 12/10 only to lose the next by the same score. El Hammamy got off to a good start in the 3rd game and closed it out 11/6 but Dougie managed to apply pressure and make his younger opponent work hard for his points. This investment eventually paid off as he was able to recover to win 3-2 to reach his first PSA final.
In the other semi-final, Greg won convincingly against 3rd seed, Adam Auckland (England), 11/1 11/9 11/1.
With former top-ranked Scottish trio Peter Nicol, John White and Martin Heath having competed regularly in the latter stages of major events during the late-1990s and early-2000s, but never in a PSA final while both representing Scotland, the record books appeared to indicate that this would be the first time two Scots had reached the final of any World Tour event on the PSA circuit.
Greg ultimately proved the stronger in the final and was able to take advantage of his more clinical route to the final. Although Dougie put up some strong resistance in the second before running out of ideas and energy, Greg sealed his 3rd victory on the PSA Tour with an 11/5 11/8 11/3 victory.
Both players will move further up the rankings next month on the back of these results and they will be looking to continue this form as they build up to the European Team Championships at the end of April.
Photo Credit: Rob Eyton-Jones