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Belgium's Jan Van Den Herrewegen beats Portugal's Rui Soares to Colin Payne Kent Open title at Tunbridge Wells Squash Club

By Craig Tucker

Jan Van Den Herrewegen won the Colin Payne Kent Open after a pulsating final against top seed Rui Soares.

The Birmingham-based Belgian won an entertaining five-setter 9-11, 11-9, 11-4, 9-11, 11-5 after 76 minutes of high-quality squash in front of a packed crowd at Tunbridge Wells Squash Club.

Van Den Herrewegen's win was a fitting coincidence, with Colin Payne spending two years in Belgium as a professional.

Jan Van Den Herreweggen, Kent Open winner, with councillor Jane March, head of Culture, Leisure and Tourism at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Picture: Artyom Liss
Jan Van Den Herreweggen, Kent Open winner, with councillor Jane March, head of Culture, Leisure and Tourism at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Picture: Artyom Liss

In a poignant presentation ceremony, Payne’s daughters, Alice and Charlotte, wore their late father’s Kent and England shirts.

The victory was Van Den Herrewegen's first PSA title for more than a year.

He said: “It was a great match, very fair, and we were both trying to play the ball at every opportunity.

“This is a great tournament and it has a lovely feel to it with all the club members getting involved. They were hanging from the rafters upstairs.”

Van Den Herrewegen booked his place in the final with wins over England trio Nick Mulvey, Ben Coates and Stuart Macgregor.

Soares, who defeated home hopes Mike Harris and Miles Jenkins on his way to the final, said: “I keep coming back and maybe one day I will win this tournament.

"As Jan said, this is a great event with so many people working hard in the club to make it happen.”

The eyes of the squash world were on England’s Nick Wall, runner-up in the British Junior Open the week before, but his bid ended in the quarter-finals, suffering an ankle injury during the third game against Macgregor.

He said: “It was my ninth match in nine days and I didn’t want to risk doing any permanent damage.”

With Wall gone, the crowd got behind Mexican teenager Leonel Cardenas, who reached the semi-finals before going down to top seed Soares.

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