SQUASH: Elite gather for Tunbridge Wells’ Colin Payne Open

SQUASH: Elite gather for Tunbridge Wells' Colin Payne Open
UP AND COMING: Top seed Charlie Lee is only 20 years old

The Kent Open, now in its tenth year, will be hosted by Tunbridge Wells Squash Club for the first time and has been renamed in honour of a former county champion who lost his life in tragic circumstances in 2016.

The Colin Payne Kent Open, sponsored by Select Gaming, takes place over three days at the club on London Road from January 10-12.

The top seed is 20-year-old rising star Charlie Lee from Surrey, who is ranked No 90 in the world.

He faces hot competition from No 2 seed Rui Soares of Portugal, Belgian No 1 Jan van den Herrewegen, and the No 4 seed Leonel Cardenas of Mexico.

In the first round, which starts at 1pm on Thursday January 10, the British Under-19 champion Nick Wall from Yorkshire faces a tough test against the experienced Mark Fuller, the No 6 seed from Nottingham.

The quarter-finals will be held later that day with the semi-finals on Friday and final on Saturday. A Women’s Professional Challenge will take place before the main final starts at 6pm.

Local juniors will get the chance to go on court with the professionals on the first day, and the host club’s leading players will take part in a Lightning Round shoot-out before the semi-finals on Friday evening.

There will also be coaching sessions with the professionals on Saturday, followed by a doubles competition for the Colin Payne Shield.

COLIN PAYNE: Won the British Over-50s Championship

Former Tunbridge Wells No 1 Colin Payne was a professional player who reached the world top 50 and appeared for Kent on more than 100 occasions. He was county champion five times, won the Kent over-35 title on ten occasions and, during the year of his death, he won the British Over-50s Championship.

Payne owned the Ripples chain of bathroom stores in Tunbridge Wells, Reigate and Brighton.

His long-time friend Ben Ford, who is club coach at Bexley, has been awarded the wildcard in the draw and faces No 3 seed Jan van den Herrewegen in the first round.

Kent Open schedule

Thursday January 10

First round (seeding in bold) 1pm:

1 Charlie Lee (Eng) v Nick Mulvey (Eng)

7 Ben Coates (Eng) v Roman Allinckx (Swit)

6 Mark Fuller (Eng) v Nick Wall (Eng)

3 Jan van den Herrewegen (Bel) v Ben Ford (Eng)

4 Leonel Cardenas (Mex) v Connor Sheen (Eng)

5 Stuart Macgregor (Eng) v Viktor Byrtus (Cze)

8 Tom Walsh (Eng) v Harry Falconer (Eng)

2 Rui Soares (Por) v Miles Jenkins (Eng)

Junior Coaching Clinic 4.30pm

Kent Open quarter-finals 6pm

Friday January 11

Lightning Round 6pm

Kent Open semi-finals 7pm and 8pm

Saturday January 12

Coaching Clinics 10am-1pm

Doubles 1-4.30pm

Women’s Challenge 5pm

Colin Payne Kent Open Final 6pm

(followed by presentations and tournament party)

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