Misaki Kobayashi became the first Japanese player to reach the quarter-finals of the World Games Squash Championship when she upset eighth seed Samantha Teran in the second round of the 9th edition of the multi-sport games being held for the first time in South America, in the Colombian city of Cali.
The World Games squash action – featuring 40 of the sport’s leading men and women athletes, representing 20 member nations – is taking place at Club Canasgordas, which boasts six glass back courts plus an all-glass show court.
Kobayashi, ranked 36 in the world, made her breakthrough with a hard-fought 11-9, 4-11, 11-5, 8-11, 11-8 victory over Mexican Teran, a former world No11 now ranked 25 in the world.
“I’ve played Samantha twice before this year and beaten her both times – so this makes it three,” said the beaming Tokyo-born 23-year-old. “I felt relaxed and had no pressure to win. I look forward to playing Natalie, whom I have never played before.”
Kobayashi’s next opponent Natalie Grinham was runner-up in the 2009 championship in Chinese Taipei and won a record three gold medals in the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Now representing the Netherlands, third seed Grinham beat Brazilian hope Thaisa Serafini 11-3, 11-8, 11-5.
An unlikely Kobayashi double looked on the cards when Misaki’s younger brother Ryosei Kobayashi, an unranked 19-year-old, took a 2/1 lead over 9/16 seed Christopher Gordon in the men’s first round. But the 27-year-old US champion dug deep to see off the teenager 11-7, 8-11, 10-12, 11-8, 11-9.
But the effort clearly took its toll as world No45 Gordon then went down 11-8, 11-5, 11-8 to England’s No2 seed Peter Barker in the second round.
Barker will be the sole English men’s quarter-finalist after compatriot Tom Richards became the only second round seeding casualty. Lacking match practice after a four-month layoff with a serious hamstring injury, fifth seed Richards was unable to hold off Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet, going down 11-6, 10-12, 13-11, 12-10 to the 9/16 seed from Aix-en-Provence.
“Just to release his anger and frustration, Tom flung his racket onto the ground,” reported event spokesman Major Maniam. “It was a match he so much wanted to win.”
But there was unexpected English success in the women’s event when 9/16 seed Emma Beddoes beat Donna Urquhart, the sixth seed from Australia, in a surprise straight games triumph.
“I’ve never played in this region before so did not know what to expect,” said world No33 Beddoes after her 11-7, 13-11, 11-7 victory. “I focused on stepping forward and controlling the T – furthermore Donna was a little error-prone today!”
Beddoes will now face Low Wee Wern, the No2 seed from Malaysia who received a walkover after the withdrawal of Pakistani number one Maria Toor Pakay.
Indian hopes in the event ended when an out-of-sorts Joshana Chinappa lost 11-6, 11-6, 11-3 to Australia’s No5 seedRachael Grinham, runner-up in the 2005 championship.
“I felt like my head was going to explode,” said Chinappa. “I’ve never played in such conditions.”
Australian Ryan Cuskelly had to dig deep to overcome former US champion Julian Illingworth. The No8 seed from New South Wales was 2/0 up and cruising – then Illingworth staged a mighty fight-back to draw level. After a promising start in the decider, Illingworth fell away leaving Cuskelly to secure an 11-3, 11-4, 9-11, 10-12, 11-2 win.
“I had two easy games and I thought I had it in the bag and took it easy,” explained New York-based Cuskelly later. “Julian came on strong, and I lost my way. In the fifth I stepped up to the T and took charge like I did in the first two games – and it paid off!”
The final match of the day was between home favourite Miguel Angel Rodriguez and Indian Mahesh Mangaonkar. It was the match every Colombian was waiting for – and world No19 Rodriguez, the second highest-ranked South American of all-time, did not disappoint.
“His athleticism amazed the audience,” said Major Maniam after the popular sixth seed’s 11-9, 11-7, 11-4 victory. “Nothing should be taken away from the young Mahesh who fought gallantly for two games before he ran out of gas in the third against a supremely fit and speedy opponent.”
World Games, Cali, Colombia
Squash Championship – Men’s 1st round:
Christopher Binnie (JAM) bt [9/16] Harinder Pal Sandhu (IND) 12-10, 11-8, 12-10
[9/16] Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) bt Andras Torok (HUN) 11-5, 11-4, 11-7
[9/16] Yousif Nizar Saleh (KUW) bt Anderson Cardona (COL) 12-10, 13-11, 11-9
[9/16] Raphael Kandra (GER) bt Diego Elias (PER) 5-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-6
[9/16] Christopher Gordon (USA) bt Ryosei Kobayashi (JPN) 11-7, 8-11, 10-12, 11-8, 11-9
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [9/16] Shawn Delierre (CAN) 11-3, 11-6, 11-1
 Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt [9/16] Julian Illingworth (USA) 11-3, 11-4, 9-11, 10-12, 11-2
 Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt Christopher Binnie (JAM) 11-8, 11-4, 11-5
 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt [9/16] Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) 11-9, 11-7, 11-4
[9/16] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt  Tom Richards (ENG) 11-6, 10-12, 13-11, 12-10
 Simon Rosner (GER) bt [9/16] Yousif Nizar Saleh (KUW) 11-4, 11-3, 11-5
 Ong Beng Hee (MAS) bt [9/16] Raphael Kandra (GER) 8-11, 11-7, 11-9, 6-11, 11-7
 Peter Barker (ENG) bt [9/16] Christopher Gordon (USA) 11-8, 11-5, 11-8
Women’s 1st round:
[9/16] Franziska Hennes (GER) bt Mary Fung-A-Fat (GUY) 11-2, 11-2, 11-3
[9/16] Catalina Pelaez (COL) bt Edina Szombati (HUN) 11-3, 11-2, 11-3
[9/16] Thaisa Serafini (BRA) bt Laura Tovar Perez (COL) 14-12, 10-12, 11-5, 11-5
 Nicol David (MAS) bt [9/16] Franziska Hennes (GER) 11-3, 11-3, 11-4
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt [9/16] Samantha Cornett (CAN) 10-12, 11-5, 11-8, 12-10
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt [9/16] Catalina Pelaez (COL) 11-7, 11-7, 11-8
 Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt [9/16] Joshana Chinappa (IND) 11-6, 11-6, 11-3
[9/16] Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) bt  Samantha Teran (MEX) 11-9, 4-11, 11-5, 8-11, 11-8
 Natalie Grinham (NED) bt [9/16] Thaisa Serafini (BRA) 11-3, 11-8, 11-5
[9/16] Emma Beddoes (ENG) bt  Donna Urquhart (AUS) 11-7, 13-11, 11-7
 Low Wee Wern (MAS) bt [9/16] Maria Toor Pakay (PAK) w/o