Chelmford professional Ben Coleman held his nerve and kept his composure to win the Holtrand Gas City Pro-Am in a 130-minute battle with Canada’s Shawn Delierre, a record duration for a three-game match.
Coleman took the title with an 11-9, 13-11, 12-10 victory but it was the second year running that Delierre had featured in a record-breaking marathon at the tournament.
“I’ve had some long three-set matches, but nothing was close to that to be honest,” said Coleman. “It’s a strange feeling, a feeling I’ve never felt and I’m really happy to get through that.”
Coleman, ranked No. 54 in the world, revealed that he had fallen twice at the hands of 55th ranked Delierre in the past, which made Sunday’s exhausting battle all the more satisfying.
“It’s as sweet as it can get. He’s a difficult customer at the best of times. It’s a proud victory for me, just as much mentally as physically,” he said. “I’m happy that I managed to get through that, 3-0 is just a bonus regardless of how long it was.”
Given their prior history, Coleman says he expected a highly demanding match against Delierre for the title, as he makes very few mistakes on the court.
“He’s a fit boy, he’s a strong boy, he gets in the way sometimes and he doesn’t take many risks. We have a similar game style but I managed to have a little bit more than him when it mattered,” said Coleman. “He tends to always have long games because he doesn’t do much wrong.”
In fact, Delierre has been in three of the five longest overall squash matches in history. The Montreal native was part of last year’s world record breaking 170-minute semi-final loss to eventual champion Leo Au of Hong Kong in Medicine Hat, as well as a 157-minute victory over Adrian Walker in 2013 and 150-minute win over Shahier Razik in 2008.
The majority of long rallies in Sunday’s final were cut off by let calls, largely contributing to the extended duration of the match and prompting several frustrated outbursts from both players.
Delierre, who regularly communicated with the crowd throughout the match, broke the tension following a let call in the third set by shouting, “Oh my god, squash is so boring today!”
‘Going for the player and not for the ball, often that’s the only choice’
It was one of several eruptions from inside the glass, as both Delierre and Coleman regularly expressed their frustration in front of the crowded bleachers.
While most of the frustration came as a result of the continual let calls — many of which were called due to physical contact — Delierre he says playing for the let was a necessary tactic.
“Going for the player and not for the ball, often that’s the only choice. If you try going around you’re going to get yourself in a bad position so it’s better that you try to go to the player,” Delierre said. “Sometimes it’s better to play lets. It’s an ugly way to play squash but sometimes it happens.”
“It was two of the top, hard-working warriors out there, both wanting to do anything they can to win,” added Coleman. “It wasn’t the prettiest squash. I accept that.”
While it ended with a frustrating result for Delierre, he says he’s proud of how he stretched Coleman to his limits while never submitting to the loss.
“I was never ahead in the final but I kept on going and pushing just to see what might happen,” said Delierre. “That’s a good feeling, that I never gave up and I made it to the end. Even in the lights of losing I hung in there to see if there was anything left.”
Report first published in the Medicine Hat News
$10,000 Men’s Holtrand Gas City Pro-Am 2016, Downtown YMCA, Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
 Ben Coleman (ENG) bt  Shawn Delierre (CAN) 11-9, 13-11, 12-10 (130m)
 Ben Coleman (ENG) bt  Nathan Lake (ENG) 10-12, 10-12, 11-4, 11-5, 11-5 (98m)
 Shawn Delierre (CAN) bt  Reiko Peter (SUI) 11-7, 11-8, 12-10 (49m)
 Ben Coleman (ENG) bt Chi Him Wong (HKG) 11-9, 11-4, 5-11, 11-6
 Nathan Lake (ENG) bt  Martin Knight (NZL) 6-11, 6-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-7
 Reiko Peter (SUI) bt  Angus Gillams (ENG) 12-10, 11-13, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9
 Shawn Delierre (CAN) bt  Andrew Schnell (CAN) 11-8, 11-8, 12-10
 Ben Coleman (ENG) bt [Q] Matthew Serediak (CAN) 11-6, 11-1, 11-5
Chi Him Wong (HKG) bt  James Huang (TPE) 2-11, 13-11, 5-11, 11-7, 11-9
 Nathan Lake (ENG) bt [Q] Albert Shoihet (CAN) 13-11, 11-6, 11-5
 Martin Knight (NZL) bt [Q] Brian Byrne (IRL) 11-4, 11-6, 12-10
 Reiko Peter (SUI) bt Adam Murrills (ENG) 11-6, 11-7, 11-8
 Angus Gillams (ENG) bt Matias Tuomi (FIN) 11-2, 7-11, 11-8, 11-6
 Andrew Schnell (CAN) bt [WC] Brock Janzer (CAN) 11-3, 11-5, 11-1
 Shawn Delierre (CAN) bt [Q] Nick Sachvie (CAN) 7-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-6