Ong Beng Hee‘s fairy tale run in the Motor City Open in the USA went the full distance when the unseeded Malaysian despatched second seed Hisham Mohamed Ashour in straight games in the final of the PSA World Tour International 50 squash event in its 12th year at the Birmingham Athletic Club in Bloomfield Hills, near Detroit, to win the second biggest title of his career.
It was after a difficult 2011 which brought him to the brink of retirement that the rejuvenated 31-year-old completed back-to-back upsets of the No4 and No1 seeds before ousting Ashour to secure his biggest PSA Tour title since winning theMalaysian Open in 2008.
In front of a sold-out Birmingham Athletic Club crowd, world No34 Beng Hee completed a wild four days by beating the world No14 from Egypt 11-8, 11-9, 11-7. The win netted the veteran a Rolex Explorer II watch, courtesy of sponsor Greenstone Jewellers, a winner’s cheque of $8,000, and a standing ovation from the packed house.
“After I won the last point, I was very emotional,” said the 31-year-old who in December contemplated retirement following first round exits in 10 of his 14 tournament appearances in 2011. “It’s been a very long road up to here.”
The road to the championship was an exhausting one for the former world No7. Beng Hee survived five-game marathons against Frenchman Gregoire Marche and Australian Cameron Pilley in the first two rounds before sweeping defending champion and world No6 Mohamed El Shorbagy in the semi-finals. Executing a flawless game plan against the talented Ashour, Beng Hee capped his week with another straight game win.
“For me, this tournament has been everything and luck,” Beng Hee said. “Managing to beat Pilley in five while having cramps – and Cameron cramping as well – that’s never happened before. And to be able to beat Shorbagy yesterday and then back it up to beat Hisham today . . . . luck played a big part.”
The Egyptian Ashour, famed for his deft racket and crafty shots, struggled with the bouncy club court – often forcing shots out of frustration. In the first game alone, the 29-year-old made nine unforced errors.
“The ball was bouncing like a like a tennis ball,” the colourful Ashour said afterwards. “I couldn’t put it anywhere. Every time I was putting it somewhere it was popping up again, so I couldn’t make him do the work. It was all in his favour. He controlled the whole situation. I’m a bit disappointed. I feel pain. But I’ll live.”
For Beng Hee, who last won a title in the USA in 1998 when he claimed the world junior crown, and as a 19-year old advanced to the Motor City Open semi-finals in 2000, it’s now about returning to form and ending his career on a high note.
“It took me a long time and I wanted to justify my retirement. I’m going to retire as high as I can,” he said. “I’ve given myself another year, hopefully two. And to be able to win this tournament: what a feeling!”
RESULTS: PSA International 50 Motor City Open, Detroit, USA
Ong Beng Hee (MAS) bt  Hisham Mohamed Ashour (EGY) 11-8, 11-9, 11-7