Stamford, CT — Ahmed Abdel Khalek of Bates defeated Ryosei Kobayashi of Rochester 3-1 to win the Pool Trophy and the 2016 Men’s Individual Championship.
Abdel Khalek reached the semifinals of the Pool Trophy in 2013 and won the event last season. He was recently named the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Player of the Year, a distinction he has earned for four straight seasons.
Kobayashi is Rochester’s first-ever Pool Trophy finalist. He was named to the Liberty League All-Conference Team in 2014 and 2015.
Abdel Khalek, a senior who was a First Team All-American in 2012-2013 and 2014-2015, entered the tournament as its top seed and opened the weekend by defeating Neil Cordell (Rochester) in the round of 16. In the quarterfinals, he met St. Lawrence’s Moustafa Bayoumy and fought for a five-game victory. After losing the first game of the semifinal to Rick Penders (Trinity), Abdel Khalek rebounded to capture the match in four games.
Seventh-seeded Kobayashi, a junior and a two-time First Team All-American, defeated Trinity’s Michael Craig to open the 2016 Individual Championships. In the quarterfinals, he upset the 2013 champion, St. Lawrence’s Amr Khaled Khalifa, in four games, before defeating teammate Mario Yanez to earn a trip to the finals.
Kobayashi and Abdel Khalek last met in the 2015 Pool Trophy semifinals. In that match, Abdel Khalek prevailed in three games (11-2, 11-4, and 11-3).
Today’s match opened with Abdel Khalek opening up a 4-1 lead on Kobayashi in the first game. There was a series of long points between the two players, but Abdel Khalek remained in control. He won the first game 11-5.
Kobayashi came out with all cylinders firing in the second game, building up a 4-0 lead. Abdel Khalek closed the gap a bit thanks to a stroke, bringing the score to 2-4. Errors from Abdel Khalek helped Kobayashi increase his lead to 7-2. Abdel Khalek slowly began to chip away at Kobayashi’s lead. The Bates senior tinned a shot, then rebounded to win the next point, bringing the score to 6-9. The next two points went to Kobayashi, who won the game 11-6 and tied the match at 1-all in games.
Kobayashi got on the board first in game three. Abdel Khalek answered by winning the next three points. Kobayashi tied the score at 3-all. Abdel Khalek began to build up a lead again thanks to a few errors from Kobayashi: a ball hit out of court, a tin, a stroke. Kobayashi caught him again at 7-all. The two players kept the score close through 9-all. After a long point, Abdel Khalek had game ball. A stroke to Kobayashi tied the score at 10-all. There was a let ball, then another, and then Abdel Khalek went up 11-10. A Kobayashi volley cross-court that hit the nick tied the score again at 11-all. With Abdel Khalek bleeding, play paused for an injury timeout. Play resumed with a let ball and then a point to Abdel Khalek. Kobayashi once again tied it at 12-all. A stroke to the Rochester junior gave him game ball at 13-12. Both players hit the ground in the next point, and Kobayashi’s hand was injured. Play paused again for a fifteen-minute injury timeout. After play resumed, Abdel Khalek won the next two points to win the game 15-13.
Abdel Khalek had small leads several times early in the fourth game; at one point he was up 6-2. Kobayashi closed the gap after that, never letting Abdel Khalek get more than a point or two ahead. They tied at 10-all, then 11-all, before Abdel Khalek finally broke away to win 13-11, capturing the national title.
This is Abdel Khalek’s second consecutive intercollegiate individual championship and the second men’s national individual title for Bates. Abdel Khalek is coached at Bates by head coach Pat Cosquer.