Showy Sharif Khan Tops Desaulniers
Sharif Khan, Mike Desaulniers '80 and the rest of the elite brotherhood of professional squash players brought their road show to Hemenway Gym this weekend, competing for $10,000 in the 12th annual Boston Open Squash Tournament.
Playing perhaps as well as he has for two years, the 33-year-old Khan used every bit of his accumulated court savvy to quell defending champion Desaulniers in the final, 4-15, 15-13, 15-14, 15-18, 15-11. But it wasn't easy.
"Ah-peal." Khan turned on his heel and strutted indignantly to face the referee who had made that outrageous let call. Khan scowled, his eyes ablaze. Such a flagrant violation merited a point, not just a let, and the world's premier squash player wanted a reconsideration.
After all, here he was, The Champ, playing in the finals of the Boston Open against the Harvard kid, Desaulniers, heir apparent to his squash throne, no less, and some referee was going to deny him his right to swing a racquet.
Stonefaced, the referee held his ground. "The call is let, Mr.Khan." Khan thought about that for a minute. Khan's face grew darker, and his wieldy chest larger at the absence of justice in the world. Something unprecedented was about to erupt.
But just as suddenly as the storm gathered, it blew over. Khan shrugged his shoulders and was a man transformed. When he looked back at the referee there was a self-conscious grin on his face. Damn, caught with my hand in the cookie jar once again. "Let call?" Khan said. "Okay."
It was vintage Khan; Khan loved it, the crowd loved it. The referee allowed himself a small smile. The only person not particularly amused was Khan's opponent, Desaulniers.
From the beginning of the tournament, fans and promoters alike had been drooling over the prospects of a Khan-Desaulniers final. Seven of the last 12 WPSA tournament finals have pitted Khan, eternal champion cum showman, and Desaulniers, brash challenger become champion, against each other.
At last year's Boston Open however, the match-up did not materialize. Mark Alger upset Khan in the quarterfinals, and Desaulniers captured the championship relatively unchallenged. So this year when Desaulniers and Khan worked their way through their halves of the 16-man draw to reach yesterday's final 200 spectators jammed into standing room only conditions at Hemenway, and many more were turned away at the door.