Qualifying and Opening Luncheon Commence U.S. Open Thursday

American Chris Hanson (L) and Mexico's Alfredo Avila (R) both return to U.S. Open qualifying after meeting in the first round last year.

American Chris Hanson (L) and Mexico’s Alfredo Avila (R) both return to U.S. Open qualifying after meeting in the first round last year.

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The 2015 Delaware Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships fortnight is officially underway Thursday at noon, as the top players and tournament supporters gather for the Opening Luncheon and the first qualifying matches slated for noon at three Philadelphia-area qualifying venues.

As always, the first round of qualifying involves a slew of local players backed by vocal home crowds as they fulfill the underdog role against the world’s top-ranked players aiming for eight spots in the World Series main draw.

Qualifying will take place at Drexel University’s Kline & Specter Courts, Germantown Cricket Club, Merion Cricket Club, Philadelphia Cricket Club, and Racquet Club of Philadelphia.

Eight matches will take place at Drexel, Merion Cricket Club, and Racquet Club of Philadelphia 12-8pm, and four matches will take place at Germantown Cricket Club and Philadelphia Cricket Club 5-8pm. Live scoring will be available powered by www.clublocker.com.

Drexel head coach and former world No. 1 John White will face English veteran Adrian Grant, whom the Scotsman faced numerous times on the tour previously, on Drexel Kline & Specter Court 1 at 7pm.

Young American professionals Todd Harrity, world No. 61, and Chris Hanson enter qualifying after successful seasons on the PSA tour. Harrity will play in front of a supportive Merion Cricket Club crowd, where he learned the game, against German world No. 41 Raphael Kandra at 7pm. Hanson, who cracked the world’s top 100 and won his first PSA title this year, will take on South Africa’s Shaun Le Roux at Racquet Club of Philadelpiha at 7pm. Blatchford is the eight seed in women’s qualifying with unseeded Marie Stephan set as her first round, 6pm opponent at Merion.

A number of Junior Team USA alumni who matriculated into local university’s have been selected to try their hands against full-time professionals including Princeton’s Maria Elena Ubina and Olivia Fiechter, the University of Pennsylvania’s Reeham Sedky and Derek Hsue, and Harvard’s Kayley Leonard. Sedky and Hsue’s Associate Head Coach at Penn and U.S. Open emcee, Gilly Lane, will take on Scotland’s promising Greg Lobban at Philadelphia Cricket Club at 7pm.

U.S. junior national champion Sean Hughes, a Philadelphia-area native, earned a position in qualifying through winning the national title in march, and takes on France’s Lucas Serme at Merion at 3pm.

Follow @USOpenSquash on Twitter and www.usopensquash.com for updates throughout Thursday.