Waters Continues Winning Trend In British Opener
Fresh from three consecutive WSA title wins, local wild card Alison Waters maintained her winning ways in the first round of the WSA Allam British Open Squash Championships, as she took out 13th seed Low Wee Wern in a scrappy 70-minute five-setter. It was a contest could have gone either way, as neither player maintained a faultless game.
Waters spoke afterwards at her relief to have put the match to rest. She said: “I’m relieved to have won that match really. It was a bit of an ugly contest and I sort of scraped through at the end. Wern played really well. She moved well and kept up the pressure all the way through. It’s good to get the first match out of the way and I’m looking forward to playing at the O2.”
When play moves to the O2 Arena in London for round two and the rest of the competition, Waters will face No7 seed Annie Au. The Hong Kong international saw out a 3-1 win against Swiss qualifier Gaby Huberat St Georges Hill Tennis Club, Weybridge to book her second round spot. An upset had seemed possible early on, as Huber started quickly and took the first game, but Au closed the game out in under an hour 6/11, 11/6, 11/1, 14/12.
The highlight of playing at the O2 Arena from round two is something that is on the minds a lot of the players, says No4 seed Madeline Perry having dispatched Canadian qualifier Samantha Cornett in straight games. “Everyone’s keen to make it that far,” said the Irish international. “It’s always nice to play well in round one, especially against a qualifier who has already had a match or two to warm up. It’ll be great to get across there tomorrow.”
Perry will face Egyptian teenager Nour El Sherbini, who was forced five-games in her first round match by Joey Chan. A lapse in concentration by the 16-year-old teenager, allowed the Hong Kong international to claw back level from a two-game deficit. Refocused however, Sherbini settled back into a rhythm to finish the contest 11/3 in the fifth.
Sherbini’s Egyptian counterpart Raneem El Weleily also saw success in round one, but not before being pushed to the longest game of the day as she claimed a 19/17 second game, on her way to a 3-0 victory against Amanda Sobhy of America.
Weleily will face Dipika Pallikal in the second round, an opponent against whom she has never lost. The Indian star nearly crashed out of the event in round one after going two games down to Omenya Abdel Kaway of Egypt, in a fractious and gritty tie. Pallikal turned it around however, as the Egyptian’s fitness waned and Kaway began to rely more and more on her front-court prowess.
“I’m really glad to get through though. The squash at the O2 has sounded incredible so far and it’s great for squash that we can be seen at these incredible venues.”
Eighth seed Kasey Brown’s hopes of a British Open run were ended by unseeded Jaclyn Hawkes of New Zealand. The Australian went two games down to Hawkes, before a change of tactics saw her back in contention at 2-all. In a thrilling final game encounter lasting 27-minutes, Hawkes scraped back two-match balls to force a tiebreak, which she claimed 13-11.
Buoyed by her first round win, Hawkes confessed that the O2 was not her sole focus this week. “This is the last competition before I get married,” explains the WSA President. “I really wanted a good run in this competition, not only for the O2 spectacle but I also want one last good tournament as a Hawkes!
“It was a very close match and although I played well in the first two games, she mixed it up more from then, taking the ball short and making things much harder for me.”
Joelle King joined her New Zealand compatriot in the second round after dismissing the hopes of French qualifier Coline Aumard in 28-minutes.
On the glass showcourt, No2 seed Jenny Duncalf saw off the Malaysian threat of Delia Arnold 11/6, 10/12, 11/8, 11/6 in just under an hour. This was followed by tenth seed Camille Serme of France beating England’s Sarah Kippax in a similarly close four-game encounter.
Third seed Laura Massaro faced a tough first round match against an in-form Latasha Khan, who had made short work of her qualifying opponents. Despite taking the first game, the Englishwoman found herself 2-1 down and admitted to using the prospect of playing at the O2 as an incentive to coming back and winning the game. She said: “At 2-1 down I thought about missing out on playing at the O2 tomorrow and it definitely fired me up.
“You never want a 3-2 battle in the first round of any tournament, but a win is a win. Latasha has played really well recently, so I knew it would be tough from the start. I’m glad and relieved to have come through though.”
Fellow Brit Emma Beddoes looked to be springing a surprise of her own as she took the first game against Australian and current British Open champion Rachael Grinham. Experienced paid dividends throughout the next two games however, as Grinham worked her way back into the match and extended a 2-1 lead. Ever resilient, Beddoes refused to be walked over and held her own for much of the fourth game. Forcing the tiebreak at 10-all, she had opportunities to finish the game and push for a fifth, following some remarkable retrieval but the Australian proved too much in the end, taking it 15/13.
Rachael’s sister Natalie Grinham gave birthday-girl Sarah-Jane Perry a lesson to remember in her British Open debut, as the experienced Dutch international put in an a consummate performance to progress to the next round, 11/9, 11/5, 11/7 in 30-minutes.
Photographs available upon request to [email protected]
First Round results:
Jaclyn Hawkes (NZL) bt  Kasey Brown (AUS) 11-7, 11-2, 4-11, 6-11, 13-11 (82m)
Alison Waters (ENG) bt  Low Wee Wern (MAS) 9-11, 12-10, 11-7, 8-11, 11-7 (70m)
Second round fixtures:
 Annie Au (HKG) v Alison Waters (ENG) Madeline Perry (IRL) v  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) Raneem El Weleily (EGY) v  Dipika Pallikal (IND) Jenny Duncalf (ENG) v  Donna Urquhart (AUS)
Thursday 17th: Nicol David (MAS) v  Samantha Teran (MEX) Rachael Grinham (AUS) v  Joelle King (NZL) Laura Massaro (ENG) v  Natalie Grinham (NED)
Jaclyn Hawkes (NZL) v  Camille Serme (FRA)