March 20, 2006
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Little more than a week after being honored with his fourth consecutive first-team all-Ivy selection, Julian Illingworth showed no ill effects in his transition to the professional squash circuit, winning the 2006 SL Green U.S. Nationals on Sun., Mar. 19 at the Brady Squash Center. Illingworth upset No. 1 seed Damian Walker in three games to win his second straight SL Green title and his first tournament as a pro.
Illingworth, the No. 4 seed in the tournament, cruised through his first two matches, defeating Eric Christiansen 11-1, 11-7, 11-6 and Gilly Lane 11-5, 7-11, 11-3, 11-10. He expected, however, that his semifinal match with Preston Quick would be more difficult.
"I had never beaten Preston before, and I was expecting to have a tough match," he said. "I stuck to my game plan, though, and it worked really well."
Indeed, Illingworth whipped Quick 11-7, 11-4, 11-5. He then took care of Walker in three games to take the title in front of his home fans.
"I feel like it's a storybook ending," he said. "Winning on the court I've played on for the last four years; it was really nice."
He received approximately $4,600 out of the $25,000 purse, and indicated that playing for prize money was completely different from competing in a college match.
"The main difference was the added pressure of, `This is actually for money,'" he said. "I'm a pretty competitive person though, so the added pressure helped me focus. I liked it."
He continued, "It's pretty funny, because it's almost guaranteed that this will be the most prize money I'll win until this tournament next year. Although it's a pretty nice paycheck, I do expect them to get smaller from here on out."
Nevertheless, after taking the next month or so off, Illingworth said he planned to move to England after graduation to train full-time.
"The level of competition outside the U.S. is higher, so I still have to improve," he said.
Report filed by David Sherfinski '08, Yale Sports Publicity