Teenager squashes veteran

DEAN MCNULTY, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

It was a battle of the ages -- literally -- last night at the final of the PACE Canadian Squash Classis in the John Bassett Theatre between 19-year-old Ramy Ashour and 30-year-old David Palmer.

In the end it was youthful exuberance that won out over experience in the 11-7, 11-3, 11-4, straight set battle between the world's No. 2 ranked Palmer and the sixth-ranked Ashour.

And to rub salt in the veteran Palmer's wounds, Ashour's victory -- in just 32 minutes -- appeared to hardly even tax the teen sensation.

"You can never say any win was easy," Ashour said. "I don't know maybe (Palmer) was tired."

Ashour is expected to move up the world ranking to fifth, possible fourth, on the strength of his Toronto win.

He said he might now let himself think it is possible for him to reach No. 1.

"Yes, I guess I dream that now," Ashour said. "But I know it means a lot more practice because every player at the top of the rankings is very good."

Last night's final -- before a disappointingly sparse crowd -- was something of a rubber match between the Australian Palmer and the Egyptian Ashour.

The pair met twice in 2006 with each chalking up a win -- Palmer at the Liverpool Open and Ashour at the Hong Kong Open.

Palmer won the world squash championship just four months ago in Cairo, but lost the No. 1 designation to Egyptian Amr Shabana after a series of tournament defeats -- including the one to Ashour in October.

At 30-years-old Palmer is certainly on the cusp of being past his prime while Ashour's star is still rising in the squash galaxy.

Palmer admitted after the match that Ashour has a tremendous upside in the squash world.

"He was just better than me (last night)," Palmer said. "He has made such great strides in the past year.

"I think that the only thing that may stand in his way to getting to No. 1 would be pressure from squash-mad fans in his native Egypt."


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