England’s top-seeded Joel Hinds nearly squandered a commanding two-game lead in the final of the Stratos Seattle Open when Ireland’s Arthur Gaskin, the No.2 seed, stormed back before succumbing to pressure – and what appeared to be a groin strain – in the deciding game of the climax of the PSA World Tour Challenger 5 event at Seattle Athletic Club Downtown in Seattle, USA.

It was the first since the 1988 U.S. Open – when Pakistan’s Jahangir Khan captured the title over Australia’s Chris Dittmar – that a Professional Squash Association tour event returned to the city in the US state of Washington, and the host Seattle Athletic Club.

“The capacity crowd, starved for men’s professional squash to return to Seattle, surrounded court one with its glass side wall, and cheered on both players as Hinds played the more controlled first two games,” reported US Squash Magazine editor Jay Prince. “Play was steady and methodical as both players sought to control the court with length before taking the ball short but, when Hinds did put his drop shots down, Gaskin seemed to have few answers.

“That is until the third game when he wrested control from Hinds who, late in the game, became distracted by a ball called down that he was certain was good. Gaskin tried to confirm for Hinds that the ball was in fact down, but rather than letting it go, Hinds lost his way and made three errors in the last four points to open the door for Gaskin.

“It would prove to be a door that Hinds probably wished he had slammed shut as Gaskin gladly ran through it to draw the match even after four games.

“But just two points into the fifth, Gaskin began stretching his right leg and massaging what appeared to be an injured groin muscle,” Prince continued. “Hinds took advantage of Gaskin’s dilemma and jumped out to an easy six-love lead – only to watch Gaskin climb his way back into the game, leaving Gaskin grasping for answers. It was an answer he found, however, as a brutal backhand drop off a Gaskin boast proved to be the crusher for Gaskin as he never scored again.”

The 11-8, 11-9, 7-11, 8-11, 11-7 triumph in 60 minutes gives Hinds, the world No.75 from Birmingham, his fourth PSA World Tour title.

Champion Hinds (centre) pictured with runner-up Gaskin and tournament host Zarak Jahan Khan

Final:
1 Joel Hinds (ENG) bt [2] Arthur Gaskin (IRL) 11-8, 11-9, 7-11, 8-11, 11-7 (60m)

Semi-finals:
1 Joel Hinds (ENG) bt [4] Todd Harrity (USA) 11-7, 14-12, 11-6
2 Arthur Gaskin (IRL) bt [5] Richie Fallows (ENG) 12-14, 11-4, 11-5, 11-4

Quarter-finals:
1 Joel Hinds (ENG) bt [7] James Earles (ENG) 9-11, 11-4, 14-12, 11-7
4 Todd Harrity (USA) bt [6] Robert Downer (ENG) 11-4, 11-2, 6-11, 11-6
5 Richie Fallows (ENG) bt [3] Matthew Serediak (CAN) 11-4, 11-5, 11-7
2 Arthur Gaskin (IRL) bt [8] Tom Pashley (ENG) 3-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-5

1st round:
1 Joel Hinds (ENG) bt [Q] Vinicius Rodrigues (BRA) 11-9, 11-8, 11-7
7 James Earles (ENG) bt Jonathan Maloney (ENG) 11-3, 11-6, 11-7
6 Robert Downer (ENG) bt [Q] Ashley Davies (ENG) 11-5, 11-8, 11-8
4 Todd Harrity (USA) bt [Q] Bart Ravelli (NED) 9-11, 11-2, 11-5, 11-1
3 Matthew Serediak (CAN) bt Jonathan Geekie (SCO) 11-6, 11-3, 11-5
5 Richie Fallows (ENG) bt [LL] Shahjahan Khan (PAK) 7-11, 11-8, 4-11, 11-4, 11-6 (120m)
8 Tom Pashley (ENG) bt [WC] Adnan Gul (PAK) 11-6, 11-5, 11-3
2 Arthur Gaskin (IRL) bt [Q] Adam Perkiomaki (USA) 11-8, 12-10, 11-6

Qualifying finals:
Vinicius Rodrigues (BRA) bt Ron McMahon (USA) 11-6, 11-7, 11-4
Adam Perkiomaki (USA) bt Sergio Lopez (MEX) 9-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-6
Ashley Davies (ENG) bt Naveen Garg (USA) 11-1, 11-2, 11-4
Bart Ravelli (NED) bt Shahjahan Khan (PAK) 6-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-9

1st qualifying round:
Ron McMahon (USA) bt James Asher (ENG) 11-4, 11-4, 11-4
Adam Perkiomaki (USA) bt Zane S McGee-Lowdermilk (USA) 11-5, 11-8, 12-14, 11-6
Ashley Davies (ENG) bt Dar Khalghi (USA) w/o
Naveen Garg (USA) bt Charlie Johnson (ENG) w/o
Bart Ravelli (NED) bt Andrew Wei (USA) 11-1, 11-0, 11-4