Horse racing fans from throughout the tri-state area will be flooding Monmouth Park in Oceanport this weekend for the track’s biggest race of the year. About 35,000 people are expected to visit the park Sunday for the Haskell Invitational, which continues to be one of the premier races in the nation, attracting some of the top 3-year-old thoroughbreds. The race, which is named for Amory L. Haskell, the first president of Monmouth Park, includes a $1 million purse, and should attract somewhere in the area of $11 million in wagers from visitors to the track and simulcast bettors throughout North America. In the past, the historic race has included notable winners such as Touch Gold, Holy Bull, Skip Away and Serena’s Song, the only filly to win the race. This year’s field includes a number of strong contenders, although the likely favorite, this year’s Preakness winner Red Bullet, was pulled out due to health reasons. Red Bullet, who has reportedly suffered from minor ailments since its last race, was joined on the withdrawn list by Florida Derby winner Hal’s Hope. However, there are still several strong horses scheduled to run on Sunday, including Captain Steve, recent winner of the Swaps; and Dixie Union, winner of four of his first five races as a 2-year-old. The favorite at this point is More Than Ready, a horse owned by Rumson resident Jim Scatuorchio. More Than Ready has one win this year, and is trained by Todd Pletcher, who is also the trainer for Impeachment, another horse expected to run in the Haskell. Also entering the race are Milwaukee Brew, winner of his last four races; Dixie Union; Brave Quest; Thistyranthasclass (a Jersey-bred horse); Commendable, trained by legendary trainer D. Wayne Lukas; Kiss A Native; and Mercaldo, currently the long-shot at odds of 99-1. However, at this point it is not certain if Brave Quest will run in the race. The first race on Sunday has a post time of 1:10 p.m., with the entire day’s events likely to end around 6 p.m.
CBA repeats,Matawan boys second CBA repeats, Matawan boys second BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer PHOTOS BY CHRIS KELLY staff Above, Middletown North’s Stephanie Giordano races to the finish line at the Central Jersey Group IV meet at Holmdel Park on Saturday. At left, Keyport’s Ryan Loihle nears the finish line during the CJ Group I race. Matawan’s Tom Walsh captured his second straight Central Jersey cross country championship Saturday. The junior ran away from the field over the second half of the race to win the Central Jersey Group II title going away in 16:48 at Holmdel Park. Smith led a one-two Husky double at the front that helped Matawan finish second behind Spotswood (42-76). The top 10 individuals and top five teams from the sectional meets qualified for Saturday’s NJSIAA State Groups Championships at Holmdel. John Smith was second to Walsh, clocking 17:04 for the Huskies. Shawn DeFrance (18:31) and Joe Smith (18:32) were 22nd and 23rd for Matawan. James Maida was the fifth scorer in 28th (18:51). Packing their top five runners 25th to 36th place, the Matawan girls also extended their season to the Group II state championships by finishing fifth (153). Shore Regional coasted to its third straight sectional title with a low of 23 points. Nicole Driscoll led the Huskies. She finished 29th overall (23:15) and 25th in team scoring. Realignment moved Middletown South, Holmdel and Raritan to North Jersey Section 2. That meet was contested at Warinanco Park, Elizabeth. Middletown South’s girls finished fourth (123) to extend their season. Jamie Liberti led the Eagles with a fourth place on one of the state’s oldest courses, turning in a 19:48.74. The win went to North Hunterdon’s Becky Crossin in 19:31.41. Alex Beaver was 19th for the Eagles (21:23.24). Holmdel grabbed the fifth and final qualifying spot with 137 points. Lisa Picascia was the top Hornet posting a 20:50.90. Wendy Shuwei Wang was 23rd (21:42.54). Holmdel’s boys finished second behind Phillipsburg, 61-92. Jeff Cody (17:49.72) led the Hornets in 10th place. Teammate Adam Lampell (17:55.43) and Alex Emerel (18:00.47) were 12th and 15th, respectively. Raritan’s Matt Dahl qualified individually with his sixth place (17:44.10) behind champion Kyle Alpaugh of Voorhees (16:57.67). Also at Warinanco Park, Christian Brothers Academy, ranked No. 2 in the state, won the Catholic Track Conference cross country championship for the 22nd consecutive fall. Will Melofchik led the way with his second place (16:18) as CBA scored a low of 33 points. Jake Zorski was fifth (16:27). Chris Horrel, sixth (16:34), Greg Leach, ninth (16:48), and Brett Fiorovanti, 12th (16:52). Only 34 seconds separated CBA’s first through fifth man. The Parochial state championships are Saturday at Holmdel. BY TIM MORRISStaff Writer
BY WARREN RAPPLEYEAStaff Writer The Middletown High School North ice hockey team roared into the NJSIAA Public School tourney’s Round of 16 with a 6-2 triumph over Verona on Sunday at the Wall Sports Arena. The Lions, seeded fifth, were scheduled to meet 12th-seeded Old Bridge last night at Wall in the Round of 16. The winner moves on to the quarterfinals at South Mountain Arena on Friday. The win over Verona comes on the heels of a 2-0 loss to Bishop Eustace in the Handchen Cup Finals for the championship of the Southern Red Division. Middletown North is 15-7-2 on the year. Freshman Mike Criscuolo netted a natural hat trick to pace the Lions’ attack against Verona, which battled to a 1-1 tie after the first period. George Noble, Brian Waitt and Jesse Walton also scored, and Mike Foley notched a pair of assists, giving him 99 points in his high school career. “We played with a lot of intensity, and when we do that this is a tough team to beat,” Middletown North coach Joe Campisano said. “The key for us is coming emotionally prepared to play. That was not the case against Bishop Eustace. We were tentative, and it cost us.” Early in the season, the Lions were a bit inconsistent and they lost a game against Vernon that Campisano felt North should have won. “We went up there and we thought it was going to be easy,” he said. “It wasn’t. I was very disappointed with that effort, but the important thing is that our guys learned from it. They realized that they have to play hard for three periods against everyone.” Since then, the Lions have consistently played a hard-charging game, relying on grit, intelligence and good corner play to get the job done. Offensively, North’s top line of Foley (14 goals, 23 assists), Noble (17, 14) and Waitt (17, 13) has rightfully garnered a lot of attention. Campisano noted that the Lions second combo of Criscuolo (16, 8), Walton (10, 12) and Nick Brown (2, 3) have been solid and effective. At the other end of the ice, Luke Nesbihal has done the job in goal, with help from a strong blueline corps comprising Jim Hall, Mike Brown, George Berry and Steve Hague. “We’re where we want to be,” Campisano said. “We just have to take things one game at a time and play smart.” Notes… While the Lions are in the midst of their state playoff run, cross-town rival Middletown South is enjoying some success of its own. The Eagles punched their ticket to the Round of 16 with an impressive 10-1 win over Ridgewood. The line of Steve Valan (two goals, one assist), Brendan Crowe (two goals, two assists) and Chris Curchin (three assists) spear-headed the South attack, combining to contribute 11 points in the win. The Eagles outshot Ridgewood, 49-18, with R.J. Hering (eight saves) and Nolan Horowitz (nine saves) sharing time in net. With the win, the Eagles (14-10-2) earned a matchup with Vernon last night at Wall Ice Arena. As for CBA, the top seed in the NJSIAA Non-Public Tournament, they will face off with Monsignor Donovan today in the first round of that tournament. The Colts are coming off a 6-4 loss to Delbarton in the Gordon Cup final, and will not take Mon Don lightly, despite a 5-2 win over the Griffins in the preseason. The two teams did not play during the regular season. The Griffins defeated St. Joseph’s of Montvale, 3-0, last Thursday in their play-in game. BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer
BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer BY TIM MORRISStaff Writer MIGUEL JUAREZ staff Brookdale’s Correy Haskins heads to the hoop during the Jersey Blues’ game against Essex on Dec. 1. A few games into the season, Paul Cisek has been able to draw two conclusions about his Brookdale Community College men’s basketball team. “We’re young and we’re making young mistakes,” he said. “Second, we’re talented, but we’ll take our lumps early. “The pieces of the puzzle are there,” he added. “We have to get them to fit together. We need to get down to a rotation.” The Blues opened up 1-1, having beaten Camden, 94-70, and lost to Mercer, 63-50. They have since gone on to capture the Brookdale Invitational title over the weekend, after defeating Division II Prince George, 77-75, in the first round on Saturday, and following that win a win in the finals over Technical Career Institute of new York, 83-73, in Sunday’s final to improve to 4-3 on the year. Brookdale is undoubtedly a work in progress. Of the 16 players on the roster, only three are sophomores; and of that trio, only one, guard Devin Gilliard from Woodbridge, played for the Blues last year. The other sophs are guard Joel Modestil, a transfer from Middlesex, and forward Paul Butler from Passaic. Cisek is breaking in a large freshman class that does have talent led by two solid big men in 6-foot-4 Omar Garrett from Tampa, Fla., and 6-5 Jami McBride from Franklin High School. “Omar is a slasher who can who can shoot the three,” said the Blues veteran coach. “Jami is raw, but will give us an inside presence. He will be a factor.” Freshmen Correy Haskins (Red Bank Regional) and Jed Marquez (Jackson) have been the starting backcourt for the Blues thus far. With the way Brookdale is running its offense this year, the designation of point guard and shooting guard doesn’t apply to either Haskins or Marquez. Both can handle and pass the ball as well as score. Kevin Fallon, a 6-2 shooting guard from Roselle Catholic and Theo Fujita, a guard from Middletown North, have been seeing big minutes off the bench. Sean Carter (Freehold Borough), Derrick Truesdale (Passaic), Jeff Wedick (Mater Dei), Jason Miller (Rumson-Fair Haven) and Todd Eastmond (Manasquan) also figure in the rotation with 6-4 Miller, 6-2 Carter and 6-3 Truesdale, providing depth and size up front. Rounding out the team are Sean Murphy, a guard from Middletown, and Alex Henn, a guard from Keansburg. One of the reasons that Cisek said his team will take its lumps early in the season is the number of freshmen on the squad. He noted that it takes time for them to adjust to the quicker, more physical game played at the college level. Brookdale should be a fun to watch this year as Cisek uses his athleticism and depth to play an up-tempo game. “The big thing about this team is that it is athletic,” he said. “We can score and shoot. We’re going to get after people in our man-to-man defense, and we can press.” One important ingredient that is missing on the young Blues is leadership. “We’re lacking a leader, that floor leader who takes control,” said Cisek. Cisek believes that in time, that leader will emerge as roles become more defined and the players themselves see who the floor general is. This past weekend, the Blues signs of maturity in winning their home tournament. Against Prince George it was Fallon setting the pace offensively with 18 points, while McBride chipped in with 10 points and nine rebouds. Then, against Technical Institute of New York, it was Haskins that led the way, scoring eight of his 14 points during a key 13-2 run late in the game. After years of playing in the South Division of the Garden State Athletic Conference, the Blues have been moved to the North, where the competition this year is Passaic, Bergen, Sussex, Raritan and Middlesex. Passaic and Bergen are already ranked in the top 10 nationally in the junior college polls. Cisek expects that there will be some growing pains in December and early January. The goal is for the team to jell in the second half of the season and be playing its best ball when the postseason GSAC tournament begins at the end of February.
BY DOUG McKENZIE Staff Writer Upset of Monmouth proves Huskies are back BY DOUG McKENZIEStaff Writer RICH GRAESSLE Above, Matawan’s Daniel Cleary finds the end zone to score the Huskies’ second touchdown on Saturday night during their win over Monmouth Regional. Everything had been going Monmouth Regional’s way this season. As a result, the Falcons entered Saturday night’s game in Matawan with a perfect 6-0 record and sitting atop the Shore’s Liberty Division. The Huskies, on the other hand, were a team in need of a statement game – a performance that would prove they are indeed beginning to resemble the type of team that has made Matawan one of the winningest programs in the Shore Conference. Something had to give. And on Saturday night, before a capacity crowd, it was Matawan senior kicker Greg Coleman who did most of the giving, as he led his team to a thrilling 16-14 win over the Falcons with some clutch kicking that proved to be the difference in the game. “Greg Coleman played a huge game for us,” Matawan assistant coach John Kaye said. “Our special teams’ play in general was outstanding.” It started with sophomore Kyle Hardy’s 82-yard return of the opening kickoff, which gave the hometown Huskies the early 6-0 lead. Following the TD, the Huskies were flagged for one of two excessive celebration penalties (much to the dismay of the Matawan coaching staff – “Our kids got flagged for being happy, jumping up and down in celebration, and they weren’t even on the field. I’m still scratching my head over that,” Kaye said), forcing Coleman to attempt a PAT kick from 35 yards out. Fortunately for Matawan, he split the uprights, matching his longest field goal of the year. Matawan made it 13-0 on a Dan Cleary six-yard run, which was set up by a Jamiel Sims interception off a tipped pass. Matawan’s Andrew Tolian got his hand on a Tom D’Ambrisi pass, and Sims was there to make the play. D’Ambrisi would recover to lead his team back, getting the Falcons on the board with a seven-yard TD pass to Edrick Alleyne, and later engineering an 11-play, 94-yard drive that led to a 10-yard Marcus Brooks touchdown run. With the Falcons holding a 14-13 lead in the fourth quarter, it was Matawan that fought back to steal the win. The Huskies allowed J.T. Anderson to set up the game-winning field goal. Anderson, who rushed for 121 yards on the game behind a vastly improved Matawan offensive line, broke free for a pair of crucial runs during the final drive, helping the Huskies set up Coleman’s game-winning 30-yard field goal with 9:00 left in the game. From there, the Huskies’ defense held the Falcons in check, giving Matawan its most important win in over two years. “It legitimizes what we’ve been trying to do,” Kaye said of the win. “The last couple of years we’ve had a lot of young kids, and they’ve taken their lumps. This win puts us back in the picture in the Shore Conference football landscape.” It also continued a recent trend that has the Huskies playing much better at home – another thing the coaching staff can’t quite put their finger on. “I wish I knew,” Kaye said. “I’d change it if I knew why. I think it’s a combination of the home crowd, and having a comfort level on our own turf. We’re going to have to change that, though. We’ve got to play Freehold Borough (on Nov. 4), and we’ll need to play well to win there.” With the win, the Huskies greatly improved their chances of qualifying for the upcoming state playoffs. Matawan entered the game in eighth place in the Central Jersey Group II race, but were just four power points behind third-place Johnson High School. A win over Freehold Borough would assure the Huskies of a return to the postseason. “It would be huge for us,” Kaye said. “We set some attainable goals when the season began, and through hard work, we’re on track to reach them. We got out of the gate a little slow, losing to Red Bank Catholic and then dropping a tough one to Red Bank, but we’ve turned it around. “We’ve played well in all facets of the game,” he added, while predicting that Matawan could be a dangerous team come playoff time. “He have a lot of weapons. We can run the ball effectively with anybody with a big offensive line, and we have threats at flanker. Our defense is starting to play real well, and we have a dangerous kicker. “Once you get to the playoffs, everyone is 0-0. All you’ve got to do is win three games to be champions.” It’s been a while since we’ve been talking about Matawan football and winning championships in the same sentence, but following Saturday’s win over Monmouth, it certainly seems appropriate. Welcome back, Huskies. Eagles’ toughest test looming on Friday Is this the week that it finally happens? Will somebody, can anybody snap Middletown South’s 43-game winning streak? The Eagles, who improved to 7-0 with a 34-7 pasting of Freehold on Saturday, face what is likely to be their stiffest challenge yet on Friday night when the defending Central Jersey Group III champion Ocean Spartans come to town. Ocean enters the game ranked eighth in the Shore with a 5-1 record (5-0 in Federal Division play), and is hoping to snatch the division title away from the Eagles on top of snapping their brilliant winning streak. Surely, the Eagles are the favorite entering the showdown, based largely on their dominance on the field throughout the season. Those who were expecting the Eagles to come back to the pack after graduating 19 seniors from last year’s state championship team have been disappointed to see the Eagles demonstrating the same type of workmanlike brilliance we’ve come to expect from Middletown South under head coach Steve Antonucci. However, with a break here or there, Ocean is certainly a talented enough team to make things interesting in the Swamp. Get there early – it’s guaranteed to be a full house. Game time is 7 p.m. While the Matawan Huskies are beginning to entertain thoughts of making a run at the CJ Group II title, the Raritan Rockets are in the same boat. Raritan, which dropped its second game of the year on Saturday, 37-7, to the Shore’s top team, Manasquan, still has to be looked at as one of the top teams in the CJ II section. There’s no shame in losing to the Blue Warriors, who have looked every bit like the favorite in the South Jersey Group II section, and head coach Bob Generelli’s Rockets have proved that their loss of 14 starters from last year was a mere bump in the road for them as well. Raritan can still play with anybody the CJ II section has to offer, and with a win on Nov. 3 against Rumson-Fair Haven, the Rockets will begin their quest for another state title, after losing to Manasquan in the state final last season. That game will be no walk in the park though, as Rumson, which enters Saturday’s game with Point Beach sitting atop the Patriot Division at 5-1, could be in must-win mode in order to qualify for the state playoffs. Needless to say, both teams will be hungry. The only other local team still entertaining thoughts of a state playoff bid is the St. John Vianney Lancers, who scored a huge win over Point Boro on Friday night to greatly improve their chances of qualifying. SJV got strong running performances from Chris Lewnes (105 yards) and Dave Whitaker (101 yards), and a surprisingly strong performance from back-up quarterback Ciaran Andrews to shock the sixth-ranked Panthers, last year’s South Jersey Group II champs, 32-15. Andrews, who moved to the QB position from his linebacker slot, finished 2-4 for 75 yards, including a 60-yard TD pass to Lewnes that made the score 13-6 after the first quarter. From there, SJV scored three more TDs, including a 58-yard interception return from Tom Moncrief, to build an insurmountable lead, and improve to 3-3 on the year.
PHOTOS BY ERIC SUCAR staff Above: Adam Tietje, of Holmdel, competes in the tire flip event during the Strongman Competition held at Test Sports Clubs in Tinton Falls on June 20. Right: Christa Lippert, of Middletown, competes in the farmer’s walk event during the competition, which benefited Toys.Calm, a Little Silver charity that helps children fighting serious illnesses (www.toys.calm).
By WAYNE WITKOWSKI Correspondent Two brothers from Middletown playing ice hockey professionally — James and Trevor van Riemsdyk — will drop the puck for the opening faceoff and another brother, Brendan, will play in the 17th annual Shoot for the Stars Foundation Shore All- Star Hockey Game. The game is set for 5 p.m. Aug. 3 at Red Bank Armory’s ice rink.The game pits leading players of Monmouth and Ocean counties against each other.James Van Riemsdyk, a Toronto Maple Leafs winger the past two seasons, started his NHL career with the Philadelphia Flyers, where he played for three seasons after they made him the second overall selection in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Trevor van Riemsdyk is headed to his first NHL preseason camp with the Chicago Blackhawks. Both played at the University of New Hampshire before their pro careers.Brendan van Riemsdyk attends Christian Brothers Academy and was selected as a forward for the Monmouth County All-Stars.Monmouth County has won three of the last four games and leads the series, 11-5.Admission is $10, and proceeds from this year’s game, which includes raffles of signed NHL jerseys, hockey sticks and other items, go to Hometown Heroes, a nonprofit founded in 2008 to help local families. Recently it dedicated its efforts to families whose homes and lives were devastated by superstorm Sandy, which struck in late-October 2012. It has offered professional assistance, advocacy and monetary aid totaling more than $2 million to 2,500 families. For the past three years, the foundation has given proceeds to the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean County and to various other causes, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Brick Stars Challengers, youth hockey programs and the Frances Foundation. When a six-alarm fire destroyed the Hometown Heroes headquarters in Toms River, Jim Dowd, a member of its board, was determined to help. He made rebuilding that agency his cause for this year’s game. James van Riemsdyk participated on Nov. 24, 2012, in Operation Hat Trick, a charity hockey game held at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City to raise money for superstorm Sandy victims. “This organization is the best one out there. It’s helped thousands of people, especially from [superstorm] Sandy, on the idea of paying it forward, and we’re glad to help get them back,” said Dowd, a retired veteran of 16 NHL seasons on 10 teams, including the New Jersey Devils’ 1995 Stanley Cup championship team.Hometown Heroes reopened an office shortly after the fire a few blocks down on Washington Street, and Director Mike Schwartz said that despite losing computers, files and other ancillary equipment, his agency is “75 percent back to normal, although it’s going to take a while before we’re back to where we’ve been.” However, financial resources are low, with much of the money that has been given having already been spent on superstorm Sandy victims. Schwartz said the operating funds are sufficient to keep the agency moving forward.“Jimmy Dowd has been just great, and the game is such a success that it’s a blessing that he’s helping us,” said Schwartz, who said 26,000 people in Ocean County are still displaced from their homes.“Applications keep coming in. It’s a 10-year process,” Schwartz added about the recovery.There are other applications from military veterans and those who are sick or homeless.“On that level with Sandy relief, this aid has shocked us,” Schwartz said. “But we’re up for the challenge.”Many do not have money because of ongoing mortgage payments to rent an apartment, which usually requires an additional month’s deposit, Schwartz said. He warned of bogus groups collecting money under that cause.Hometown Heroes (hometownheroes.com) has chapters in Newtown, Pa., as well as the New York City area, Florida and Louisiana.Dowd will also closely watch the game, as he is taking on his first high school coaching job with the Manasquan/Point Pleasant Beach co-op team that will include his son, James, on the roster.Dowd, who led Brick Township High School to the 1985-86 NJSIAA title in his senior season, was inducted into the New Jersey High School Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010 and has been involved in youth hockey in Monmouth County for almost 20 years.“I want them to experience hockey like my four years I had at Brick [Township],” Dowd said. “I want to create a culture. I still talk to my high school coaches.”Brick Township coach Bob Auriemma has coached the team for 46 seasons.Dowd set a national high school scoring record when he finished his career at Brick Township with 375 points on 189 goals and 186 assists.Dowd said he is also about to launch a health and wellness company with Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman. The company is based in Frisco, Texas, specializing in a variety of health supplements.“I’ve been involved for a year-and-ahalf, and I’m all-in on this,” Dowd said.
A n exhibit of photo-paintings by Marlboro photographer and artist Alexander Agor is on exhibit at the Highland Park Public Library through the end of this month.Agor is an artist and photographer who has covered the Six Day War in Israel and had work published in the magazines Harper’s Bazaar and Italian Vogue. Along the way, he photographed John Lennon and other icons from the 1960s and 1970s.His diverse experience has contributed to many experiments in his photo-paintings that resemble large posters. His work has also been exhibited at the Mostly Mozart Festival at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center, Perry Rubenstein Gallery in Manhattan and Golda Center in Israel.The Highland Park Public Library is located at 31 North Fifth Ave. For hours and additional information, visit www.hpplnj.org.
By Peter StevensonFOOTBALLERS could receive fines of at least €40,000 or up to a lifetime ban from the sport if they are caught match-fixing the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) and the footballer’s union (PASP) said yesterday.Speaking at a press conference the CFA’s deputy chief Nicos Nicolaou said that match-fixing was one of the biggest problem that football was faced with on a global scale.“It troubles us and we feel shame whenever we receive files from European football’s governing body UEFA (regarding possible matches that might be fixed). The CFA hails PASP’s campaign to inform footballers on the subject as their testimonies are crucial in solving these cases,” he said.He called on footballers to report any possible incidents through PASP’s hotline.“The CFA is in touch with UEFA and a meeting well take place with European football’s governing body to see what tactics can be used to combat the phenomenon and also talk to other countries’ associations to see what methods they use,” Nicolaou said.Head of PASP Spyros Neophytides said that the footballer’s union has come to an agreement with the CFA to proceed with a common campaign in their attempts to prevent and inform footballers about match-fixing ahead of the new season.“We have already begun contacting footballers and what we have established is their surprise when it comes to fines that might be given out and how responsible they are even if they don’t actually bet on a match but give out information about their team,” he said.Fines start at €40,000 and can be as severe as a lifetime ban from the sport, Neophytides said.He explained that all footballers will receive an informative leaflet with the rules.“We owe it to the sport, to protect it,” he said.Players who wish to inform the association or the footballer’s union on possible match fixing should call 22466508 or 22466509.
By Nick MulvenneyORGANISERS lost more than four hours of play on the outer courts when a third day of high temperatures at the Australian Open forced them to enact their ‘Extreme Heat Policy’ on Thursday.The policy was put into force at 1.50 pm local time (02.50 GMT) as the mercury headed towards a peak of 43.4 degrees Celsius (110 Fahrenheit) and no play was possible until 6 pm.In a bizarre turn of events, less than two hours after the resumption, the players were forced off the courts again by lightning and rain.Play continued on the Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena through both stoppages after the retractable roofs over the main showcourts were closed.Organisers had been slammed for forcing players to play on in searing temperatures on Tuesday and Wednesday and the decision to stop play was largely welcomed.“I think it’s everybody saying that sometimes it’s even too hot,” said Agnieszka Radwanska, who beat Olga Govortsova 6-0 7-5 under the closed roof on Hisense Arena.“Some of the girls can’t even talk after the match or practise. You can see who played a match, you know. Just so red.“Today was really, really hard. Even indoors was ridiculous.”Under a change to the rules for this year, the decision on whether to stop matches at the tournament is now at the discretion of tournament referee Wayne McKewen.Rather than use the raw Celsius readings to assess the heat, organisers prefer to use the Wet Bulb Global Temperature composite, which also gauges humidity and wind to identify the perceived conditions.“Today the key parameters to determine whether play should be suspended were reached,” said the tournament’s chief medical officer Dr Tim Wood.“The ongoing forecast was for even warmer conditions and therefore the decision was made to suspend play on the outside courts until weather conditions improved.”With players having to finish the ongoing set before play ceased or the roofs were closed, however, Maria Sharapova’s match on Rod Laver Arena continued in the full glare of the sun for 50 minutes after the policy was enacted.The third seed eventually finished off Italian Karin Knapp 6-3 4-6 10-8 to reach the third round.“There is no way getting around the fact that the conditions were extremely difficult, and have been for the last few days,” Sharapova told reporters.“It’s a tough call. I mean, I think the question I have is no one really knows what the limit is.“Not the players nor the trainers themselves when you ask them when will the roof be closed.”American Varvara Lepchenko clearly struggled in the heat in the first match on court eight, which she lost 4-6 6-0 6-1 to Romanian Simona Halep.“I think they definitely should have not started the matches at first place,” Lepchenko, who had to be iced down during one changeover, said.“I think they should have started the matches after the temperature cooled down a little bit because this is just too much.“Obviously it is very dangerous if someone has conditions with their heart or anything like that or just being in this temperature it’s almost like going to the sauna.”On Tuesday, when temperatures peaked at 42.2 degrees, Canadian Frank Dancevic passed out during his first round match and accused organisers of forcing players to play in “inhumane” conditions.Ivan Dodig became the 10th player to retire in the first three days of the tournament on Wednesday and said he feared for his life after being rendered immobile by the heat on the exposed outer courts.Twelve doubles matches scheduled for day four were cancelled and will be played at a future date.The hot weather is forecast to continue through Friday before a dramatic drop in temperatures at the weekend.Men’s Singles Round 2 matches on Thursday1-Rafa Nadal (Spain) beat Thanasi Kokkinakis (Australia) 6-2 6-4 6-2Donald Young (U.S.) beat 24-Andreas Seppi (Italy) 6-4 2-6 6-3 4-6 7-56-Roger Federer (Switzerland) beat Blaz Kavcic (Slovenia) 6-2 6-1 7-6(4)10-Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (France) beat Thomaz Bellucci (Brazil) 7-6(6) 6-4 6-416-Kei Nishikori (Japan) beat Dusan Lajovic (Serbia) 6-1 6-1 7-6(3)Women’s Singles Round 2 matches on Thursday5-Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) beat Olga Govortsova (Belarus) 6-0 7-510-Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) beat Christina Mchale (U.S.) 6-0 1-6 6-23-Maria Sharapova (Russia) beat Karin Knapp (Italy) 6-3 4-6 10-8Garbine Muguruza Blanco (Spain) beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (Slovakia) 6-3 6-316-Carla Suarez Navarro (Spain) beat Galina Voskoboeva (Kazakhstan) 7-6(2) 3-6 8-625-Alize Cornet (France) beat Camila Giorgi (Italy) 6-3 4-6 6-420-Dominika Cibulkova (Slovakia) beat Stefanie Voegele (Switzerland) 6-0 6-111-Simona Halep (Romania) beat Varvara Lepchenko (U.S.) 4-6 6-0 6-1Elina Svitolina (Ukraine) beat Olivia Rogowska (Australia) 6-4 7-529-Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia) beat Mandy Minella (Luxembourg) 6-2 6-2Zarina Diyas (Kazakhstan) beat Marina Erakovic (New Zealand) 6-4 6-0