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Teen lives up to billing

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Greg Gaultier. Squash players take note: Remember the name. The young player from France is being touted as one of the rising stars of the game.

In two rounds of the Squashworks Professional Open being played in Salt Lake City, he's proven supporters right.

In the opening round on Thursday, the 17-year-old, who entered the event through qualifying, upset the No. 7 seeded player.

Friday, in the opening match of round two, he beat another of the talented young stars, Yasser El Halaby of Egypt, in the best of five games, 15-10, 15-5, 15-11.

According to his coach, Andre Delhoste, also from France, Gaultier started playing squash at his parent's club at the age of 4 1/2.

"I spotted him when he was nine," Delhoste said. "He was packed with power and very, very quick. He's one of the quickest people I've seen — on or off the court. By 10 or 11 he had all the technical basics down.

"Now it's a question of being fit and having good, smooth rhythm. You need it to save energy. He's very, very smooth."

His toughest match will come today when he faces No. 1 seeded Stefan Casteleyn of Belgium.

In other matches played Friday, No. 2 seeded Shahier Razik of Canada beat Oriol Salvia of Spain, another of the young stars who made it into the event through qualifying and opened the tournament with an upset. Final scores were 15-11, 15-11, 15-7. Casteleyn beat Mohamed Essam a Hafiz of Egypt, 15-6, 15-13, 12-15, 15-6.

Along with the money, $10,000, players here are fighting for world rankings. Higher rankings are guaranteed tickets into the larger tournaments.

In Gaultier's case, for example, he is currently ranked No. 109.

"Just to make it into qualifying in the larger events he will need to be in the top 65 or 70. So far this has been a good tournament for him. This will help."

The end objective is to make it into the World Championships, which will be held in Melbourne, Australia, in October.

The tournament, being played at Squashworks, 225 S. 500 East, will continue today with semifinals starting at 3 p.m. The finals will be Sunday at noon.

From this event, players will move on to play in a tournament in Oklahoma.


E-mail: grass@desnews.com