Birmingham – GBR, July 28, 2012: South Africa’s Peter Fahrenheim won a record-equalling fourth World Masters Squash title – and became the sport’s oldest world champion in the process – when he triumphed in the inaugural Men’s Over-80 event in the World Squash Federation championships in Birmingham, England.
More than 750 players from 47 countries competed across 18 different events from Men’s and Women’s Over-35 championships to the Men’s Over-80 event – with South Africa and Australia each claiming three titles but hosts England celebrating five successes in finals on a new state-of-the-art all-glass ASB showcourt erected in the Bramall Music Building at the University of Birmingham.
But it was Fahrenheim – who will celebrate his 82nd birthday at the end of the year – who was the toast of Birmingham after beating fellow octogenarian Alex Hamilton, from Scotland, 11-2, 11-2, 11-7 in the 14-minute Over-80 final.
“I felt a bit lucky!” claimed Fahrenheim after the 2012 success which follows his Over-65 world title in 1997, an O70 success in 2001 and an O75 triumph in 2006.
“I was fortunate to catch Alex on an off day. I watched him on Tuesday and thought I didn’t stand a chance of beating him. It has been a fantastic tournament and a pleasure to be involved.”
English players dominated the Men’s Over 70 and 75 categories, with Adrian Wright and Patrick Kirton victorious for the home nation – whilst there was also an all-English final in the Women’s O65 event with unseeded Ann Manley playing a faultless tournament to take the title against Worcestershire’s Bett Dryhurst.
Newly-crowned Over 70 champion Wright, winner of the O65 title in 2006, commented: “It was a very tough game, I thought for a moment he was going to come back in the third, so I’m pleased with the win.”
Manley, from Bristol and now a World Masters champion for the second time, added: “I had a difficult match considering my racket completely snapped in the second game! I was ready to get it restrung for the fourth but fortunately this wasn’t required. It was a very tight game despite the 3/0 score line.”
The Women’s O45 was an all-Australian affair with former World Open champion Michelle Martin managing to clinch a 3/1 victory against team-mate and friend Sarah Nelson.
The 45-year-old former world number one from Sydney commented: “It’s always great to win but it’s amazing to catch up with some old friends. Some of them I’ve not seen in years so that’s the best part for me.”
In the Men’s O45 event, top seed Craig van der Wath proved to be too strong for England’s Yawar Abbas who was in his first World Masters event, winning in straight games.
The South African, now also celebrating a record-equalling fourth World Masters title since 2001, said: “Playing Yawar is tough and I’ve managed to beat him today and defend my title. I know Yawar so well, he’s a good friend, and we’ve played in a league together for many, many years and I always enjoy playing against him. I’m delighted to have won today and happy with the way I played.”
Yorkshire’s Julie Field claimed the Over-55 title after a close match against Australian Anne Richards. Top seed Field was 2/1 down before clinching the fourth 12-10 to take it to a decider. In a tense last game, Field managed to remain composed to celebrate an 11-7, 4-11, 3-11, 12-10, 11-9 victory.
There were a few surprise winners with unseeded Jamaican Susan Lawrence coming out on top in her final against Zimbabwean Theresa Elliott in the Women’s O50 event, and John Macrury of the Cayman Islands beating home favourite Keith Jones in the Men’s O60.
There was more good news for the host nation in the Men’s O65 as Philip Ayton justified his number one seeding with a 3/1 victory over Welshman Brian Phillips.
Manchester’s Nick Taylor couldn’t manage another upset in his O40 final against Craig Rowland. Two games down, Taylor battled back to win the third before his Australian opponent found his rhythm again to win 11-6, 11-5, 5-11, 11-7.
The tournament concluded with the Men’s O35 event with second-seeded Frenchman Renan Lavigne up against Stefan Leifels – the German whose route to the final included beating the number one seed.
Lavigne won the opening game after a tie-break, but Leifels soon drew level. But Lavigne held his nerve to close out the match 14-12, 7-11, 11-7, 11-8 to retain the title he first won in 2010.
The ecstatic winner commented afterwards: “I expected a tough battle against Stefan in the final and that’s exactly how it was. As you saw from my celebrations after the last point, I am extremely happy to win the title.”
RESULTS: World Masters Squash Championships, Birmingham, England
Men’s O35 Final:
 Renan Lavigne (FRA) bt [3/4] Stefan Leifels (GER) 14-12, 7-11, 11-7, 11-8
Women’s O35 Final:
 Sabine Schoene (GER) bt  Wendy Maitland Jones (SCO) 11-3, 11-4, 9-11, 11-3
Men’s O40 Final:
 Craig Rowland (AUS) bt [3/4] Nick Taylor (ENG) 11-6, 11-5, 5-11, 11-7
Women’s O40 Final:
[3/4] Simone Korell (GER) bt Linda Shannon (RSA) 11-8, 11-7, 11-5 (21m)
Men’s O45 Final:
 Craig van der Wath (RSA) bt [5/8] Yawar Abbas (ENG) 11-9, 11-5, 11-6 (30m)
Women’s O45 Final:
 Michelle Martin (AUS) bt  Sarah Nelson (AUS) 11-8, 5-11, 11-6, 11-6 (25m)
Men’s O50 Final:
[3/4] Willie Hosey (IRL) bt Dominic Hughes (USA) 11-1, 11-7, 11-4 (20m)
Women’s O50 Final:
Susan Lawrence (JAM) bt [5/8] Theresa Elliott (ZIM) 11-8, 13-11, 11-8 (25m)
Men’s O55 Final:
 Pierr Roodt (RSA) bt  Peter Alexander (ENG) 11-6, 11-8, 11-8
Women’s O55 Final:
 Julie Field (ENG) bt [3/4] Anne Richards (AUS) 11-7, 4-11, 3-11, 12-10, 11-9 (33m)
Men’s O60 Final:
[9/16] John Macrury (CAY) bt  Keith Jones (ENG) 3-11, 12-10, 11-1, 11-3 (31m)
Women’s O60 Final:
 Sue Volkze (AUS) bt [3/4] Faith Sinclair (SCO) 11-4, 10-12, 7-11, 11-5, 11-2 (40m)
Men’s O65 Final:
 Philip Ayton (ENG) bt [5/8] Roy Plumstead (RSA) 11-5, 11-9, 10-12, 11-9 (33m)
Women’s O65 Final:
Ann Manley (ENG) bt [3/4] Bett Dryhurst (ENG) 11-7, 12-10, 12-10
Men’s O70 Final:
 Adrian Wright (ENG) bt  Brian Phillips (WAL) 11-6, 11-7, 7-11, 11-2 (26m)
Women’s O70 Final:
 Barbara Sanderson (IRL) bt  Glenda Erasmus (RSA) 10-12, 11-2, 11-5, 11-5 (22m)
Men’s O75 Final:
 Patrick Kirton (ENG) bt [3/4] Malcolm Gilham (ENG) 11-8, 11-7, 9-11, 11-5 (31m)
Men’s O80 Final:
 Peter Fahrenheim (RSA) bt [3/4] Alex Hamilton (SCO) 11-2, 11-2, 11-7 (14m)
Event website: www.squashworldmasters.com —- WSF