‘Fans helped me through’ says delighted Douglas
By SEAN REUTHE – Squash Mad Correspondent
The opening day of the 2019 FS Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships saw an American quartet – Andrew Douglas, Olivia Blatchford Clyne, Sabrina Sobhy and Olivia Fiechter – claim victories to move into round two of the PSA Platinum tournament taking place in Philadelphia.
Today’s matches were split between the glass court inside Drexel University’s Daskalakis Athletic Center, the traditional ‘side court’ located at the same university and also the Racquet Club of Philadelphia. And it was at the glass court that Brooklyn-based wildcard Andrew Douglas claimed his biggest win on the PSA Tour as he scalped Frenchman Lucas Serme.
Douglas, ranked at World No.119, had never made it past the first round of a Platinum event before but the University of Pennsylvania junior played with poise and control to defeat the World No.36 by an 11-6, 11-9, 7-11, 11-5 scoreline after 75 minutes, and he will face New Zealand’s Campbell Grayson for a place in the third round.
“I didn’t expect to be here, but it’s an amazing feeling,” said 21-year-old Douglas afterwards.
“I have to thank everybody that has come to cheer me on. It means a lot for them to come out and support me and undoubtedly I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.
“I think he was probably a bit nervous, so I wanted to put pressure on him and I wanted to really enjoy the last game without thinking too much about the score and that’s what ended up helping me win the match and maybe helping him feel a bit on edge. I just tried to enjoy every minute on this court and I played well.”
Grayson, meanwhile, got the better of Egypt’s Youssef Soliman at the Racquet Club of Philadelphia in what was the longest match of the day at 107 minutes.
Fireworks as Parker beats Richards
England’s George Parker came through a stormy four-game battle with compatriot Tom Richards at the university to complete what he regards as the biggest win of his career to date.
The World No.40 from Leicester produced a focused performance to get the better of Richards, winning 11-3, 9-11, 11-3, 15-13, despite Richards having three game ball opportunities in the fourth.
“Some people might not understand it, but confidence-wise that’s the biggest win of my career so far,” Parker said.
“When it was 10-10, I felt a bit sick deep down in my stomach because I lost so many 3-2s last year to people like [Daryl] Selby, against [Adrian] Waller I was 10-9 up in the fifth and had match balls, so I had that in my mind when I was playing.
“I was probably a bit aggressive with him and it got a bit heated, but when you’re fighting at the bottom for scraps at No.40 in the world like me, it means everything.” Parker now meet’s No.7 seed Diego Elias from Peru.
In an all-English battle in the second round, Adrian Waller meets Declan James, while Daryl Selby tackles top seed Ali Farag after beating Karim Ali Fathi in four games.
Connecticut-based Spencer Lovejoy was the other US player in action in the men’s draw, and he went down in straight games to Egypt’s Mazen Hesham.
In the women’s draw, wildcard Sabrina Sobhy marked her return to the U.S. Open for the first time since 2016 with a 3-1 victory over Egypt’s Mayar Hany to reach round two in Philadelphia for the first time.
The first two games were nip and tuck as Sobhy edged the opener 13-11, before Hany came back to take the second 11-8. Sobhy, playing in front of home support, steadied her nerves in the third to restore her lead, and she was in complete control in the fourth as she attacked with vigour to earn a round two spot against No.2 seed Camille Serme.
“I was happy with my performance today, the first match of any tournament is always a little nerve-wracking,” Sobhy said.
“Especially with it being in the US, I have family and so many friends that have come out to watch me, so I didn’t want to underperform and lose in 20 minutes after they’ve come out here all the way. I found my game, felt comfortable and enjoyed it out there. I’m looking forward to it [playing on the glass court] a lot. I haven’t really processed it a lot yet. Any tournament on the glass court is a fantastic experience and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Philadelphia’s own World No.40 Olivia Fiechter was another home heroine as she dispatched England’s Emily Whitlock in four games … and she will clash with the USA’s No.1 player, Amanda Sobhy, in the next round.
After splitting the first two games 11-9, 4-11, Fiechter gained control of the match, outplaying her opponent in the remaining two games 11-4, 11-3 in 37 minutes.
“I don’t have words,” the Princeton graduate said. “I have my coach, my family and a million friends here and I can’t imagine anything more special than getting a win here. I’m just over the moon and can’t believe it.”
Last year Fiechter, coached by former world No. 1 Peter Nicol, rose more than 100 places in the world rankings, finishing inside of the world’s top 40.
“Compared to last year, the player I am today is completely different,” Fiechter said. “Going through my first season on the pro tour last year, I learned so much and my game is constantly evolving. I’ve put in a lot of hard work over the summer and I definitely felt more confident coming into this tournament and wanted to play well.”
US No.2 Olivia Blatchford Clyne was also in action as she came up against England’s Lucy Turmel, with the match going the way of the American by an 11-6, 5-11, 11-9, 11-7 scoreline.
She will now take on New Zealand’s No.5 seed Joelle King for a place in round three.
“It feels fantastic, it definitely wasn’t an easy day at the office,” said Blatchford Clyne afterwards.
“Lucy is a fantastic young player and these young ones come and nip at your heels. I’m used to being the young one and trying to nip at other people’s heels! It’s a new experience with someone trying to hunt you, but I’m very happy to be through today.”
Haley Mendez came close to making it five Americans in the last 32, but she narrowly went down 3-2 to Australia’s former World Champion Rachael Grinham, despite fighting back from five match balls down in the decider.
Round two action begins today (Sunday October 6) at 12:00 (GMT-4), with seeded players such as defending champions Mohamed ElShorbagy and Raneem El Welily getting their tournaments under way.
Fixtures from the glass court will be broadcast on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour.
FS Investments US Open 2019, Daskalakis Athletic Center, Philadelphia, USA.
$185k PSA World Tour Platinum Men’s First Round:
Daryl Selby (ENG) bt Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) 3-1: 9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-6 (56m)
Adrian Waller (ENG) bt Karim El Hammamy (EGY) 3-1: 8-11, 12-10, 11-2, 11-5 (54m)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 11-9, 11-7 (48m)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt Vikram Malhotra (IND) 3-0: 11-7, 11-7, 11-7 (31m)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt Greg Lobban (SCO) 3-1: 11-7, 11-9, 7-11, 11-6 (56m)
George Parker (ENG) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 3-1: 11-3, 9-11, 11-3, 15-13 (60m)
Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) bt Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) 3-1: 13-11, 6-11, 11-8, 12-10 (58m)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt Alan Clyne (SCO) 3-1: 11-9, 11-8, 7-11, 11-8 (48m)
Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt Ramit Tandon (IND) 3-0: 11-5, 11-3, 11-9 (42m)
Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) bt Leo Au (HKG) 3-0: 12-10, 11-7, 11-3 (39m)
Raphael Kandra (GER) bt Tayyab Aslam (PAK) 3-2: 8-11, 11-3, 6-11, 11-7, 11-3 (47m)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt Richie Fallows (ENG) 3-1: 11-4, 11-13, 13-11, 11-4 (50m)
Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt [WC] Spencer Lovejoy (USA) 3-0: 11-4, 11-3, 11-9 (27m)
Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt Youssef Soliman (EGY) 3-2: 11-5, 13-15, 11-7, 6-11, 12-10 (107m)
Borja Golan (ESP) bt Arturo Salazar (MEX) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 11-7 (35m)
Men’s Second Round:
 Ali Farag (EGY) v Daryl Selby (ENG)
Adrian Waller (ENG) v Declan James (ENG)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) v  Miguel Rodriguez (COL)
 Diego Elias (PER) v George Parker (ENG)
Joel Makin (WAL) v Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) v Gregoire Marche (FRA)
Mostafa Asal (EGY) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT)
Fares Dessouky (EGY) v Raphael Kandra (GER)
Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v Zahed Salem (EGY)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v  Simon Rösner (GER)
 Paul Coll (NZL) v Saurav Ghosal (IND)
Mazen Hesham (EGY) v Omar Mosaad (EGY)
Campbell Grayson (NZL) v [WC] Andrew Douglas (USA)
Borja Golan (ESP) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
$185k PSA World Tour Platinum Women’s First Round:
Nadine Shahin (EGY) bt [WC] Laila Sedky (USA) 3-0: 11-2, 11-6, 11-6 (21m)
Julianne Courtice (ENG) bt Danielle Letourneau (CAN) 3-0: 11-3, 11-9, 12-10 (31m)
Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS) bt Coline Aumard (FRA) 3-2: 9-11, 11-3, 11-6, 7-11, 11-9 (55m)
Hollie Naughton (CAN) bt Alexandra Fuller (RSA) 3-0: 11-5, 11-7, 11-7 (29m)
Olivia Blatchford Clyne (USA) bt Lucy Turmel (ENG) 3-1: 11-6, 5-11, 11-9, 11-7 (45m)
Rowan Elaraby (EGY) bt Ho Tze-Lok (HKG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-8 (30m)
Nada Abbas (EGY) bt Zeina Mickawy (EGY) 3-2: 5-11, 11-7, 11-9, 5-11, 11-6 (61m)
Tinne Gilis (BEL) bt Lisa Aitken (SCO) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-7 (31m)
Nele Gilis (BEL) bt Tsz-Wing Tong (HKG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-7, 11-6 (36m)
Low Wee Wern (MAS) bt Mariam Metwally (EGY) 3-2: 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 7-11, 14-12 (59m)
Lee Ka Yi (HKG) bt Millie Tomlinson (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-2, 11-4 (26m)
Melissa Alves (FRA) bt Milou van der Heijden (NED) 3-1: 12-10, 11-5, 9-11, 11-7 (42m)
Olivia Fiechter (USA) bt Emily Whitlock (ENG) 3-1: 11-9, 4-11, 11-4, 11-3 (37m)
Donna Lobban (AUS) bt Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-2, 11-5 (19m)
Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt Haley Mendez (USA) 3-2: 6-11, 11-7, 4-11, 11-4, 13-11 (46m)
[WC] Sabrina Sobhy (USA) bt Mayar Hany (EGY) 3-1: 13-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-3 (48m)
Women’s Second Round:
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) v Nadine Shahin (EGY)
Julianne Courtice (ENG) v 15] Yathreb Adel (EGY)
 Alison Waters (ENG) v Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS)
Hollie Naughton (CAN) v  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
 Joelle King (NZL) v Olivia Blatchford Clyne (USA)
Rowan Elaraby (EGY) v  Victoria Lust (ENG)
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) v Nada Abbas (EGY)
Tinne Gilis (BEL) v  Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) v Nele Gilis (BEL)
Low Wee Wern (MAS) v  Salma Hany (EGY)
 Joey Chan (HKG) v Lee Ka Yi (HKG)
Melissa Alves (FRA) v  Tesni Evans (WAL)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) v Olivia Fiechter (USA)
Donna Lobban (AUS) v  Joshna Chinappa (IND)
 Annie Au (HKG) v Rachael Grinham (AUS)
[WC] Sabrina Sobhy (USA) v  Camille Serme (FRA)
Report by SEAN REUTHE (PSA). Edited by ALAN THATCHER
Pictures courtesy of PSA