Aziz Khan, one of the top five squash players in North America, defeated Thomas Page of Philadelphia, 15-12, 15-13, 9-15, 15-6, to win the 30th Woodruff-Nee Tournament yesterday at the University Club.
The 28-year-old Khan, who dropped only one game in the event, is the son of the legendary Hashim Khan of Pakistan. The senior Khan was world champion from 1950 through 1957 and taught Aziz, who started playing seriously when he was 12, the finesse game at which he excelled yesterday.
The match paired two contrasting personalities and styles of play. The flamboyant, 22-year-old Page relied on classic, fluid strokes and his natural athletic ability to smack each shot full blast. He also frequently bantered with the crowd.
Khan, a far more intense player, used a much wristier stroke than Page to attack his shots as quickly as possible, rushing his opponent and keeping him off balance. Aziz, only 5-foot-9, still gets tremendous pace on the ball with his whippy, slashing strokes.
"I kept the ball along the walls and when Tom was out of position, I went for the drop shot," said Khan, a teaching pro in Toronto. "For that shot, I use a short backswing and cut sharply underneath the ball, using my forearm and the snap of my wrist to apply underspin."
Khan's drop shots, which bounced only inches from the front wall, forced Page, the 1977 U.S. amateur champion, to move in close to retrieve shots. Aziz then came up behind Page and volleyed the balls in the air, preventing his opponent from getting set for his returns.
In the third game, Khan botched several points when he hit balls into the tin that runs along the bottom of the front wall and lost the game, 15-9. In the fourth game, he returned to his exquisite touch shots to clinch the match.
"I did not come here for the prize money," said Khan, who earned $750 playing in the tournament for the first time. "My aim is to promote the game, introduce more people to squash and to establish Washington as a squash center."
In the semifinals earlier in the day, Khan easily handled Peter Talbert, the son of former tennis great Billy Talbert, 15-12, 15-10, 15-9. Page, who won $450, outlasted his older brother, David, last year's winner, 15-9, 11-15, 12-15, 15-8, 15-9, to reach the final.