Monday, April 15, 2024

Olivia Blatchford sinks supermum Natalie Grinham

Olivia Blatchford (centre) with Amanda Sobhy and coach Paul Assaiante
Olivia Blatchford (centre) with Amanda Sobhy and coach Paul Assaiante

Olivia Blatchford takes out Dutch veteran
By ALEX WAN – Editor, Squash Mad Asian Bureau


There would be no happy returns for supermom Natalie Grinham after she was denied a place in the main draw of the Naza PSA Women’s World Championship by American Olivia Blatchford.

The 38-year-old has been runner-up in the World Championship on four occasions, including one when she lost to Vanessa Atkinson when it was held in Kuala Lumpur in 2004.

This time she lost out 7-11, 9-11, 7-11 to the American No.2 Blatchford in the qualifying finals. Blatchford meets England’s Sarah-Jane Perry in the first round.

“Honestly, Natalie is a fantastic player and I really admired her. I watched her over the years and I’ve always learned from her,” said Blatchford.

“She’s incredible as well, having two kids and yet coming back to play. I really didn’t know how to play her. Everyone I asked said they hadn’t played her in years. So I was just trying to deprive her of those angles as she is very creative in her game.”

Natalie lost to her sister Rachael in the 2007 world final in Madrid. Rachael, now 39, beat Nicol David to win the 2005 title in Hong Kong. This year the two meet up in what promises to be an engaging first round clash, taking place on the Nicol David court at the Bukit Jalil Centre. It will be Grinham’s 20th appearance in the competition, dating back to 1994. What an incredible record! 

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Mariam Metwally, another rising star from Egypt, was the first through to the main draw after she defeated compatriot Amina Yousry in five sets.

The 19-year-old, ranked 39th in the world, did not have it easy as she fought hard for an 11-13, 11-2, 11-2, 9-11, 11-9 win over the 16-year-old Amina.

It was a superb match between two talented Egyptians which had excellent shot-making and retrieval, and world number 51 Amina struck first blood by taking the first 13-11.Mariam however, came back very strongly to take the second and third sets with identical 11-2 score lines.

Amina, the youngest player in this tournament however levelled by taking the fourth 11-9. In the end however it was Mariam who had a little extra in reserve as she completed the win in 68 minutes.

“I was nervous in the first because she is younger than me and I’ve never played her before,” said Mariam. “Amina also played really, really well. She’s one of the best upcoming players in her age group. I was more calmed in the second and third to win 11-2 and that’s when I thought I would have it easier.

“I was just too relaxed and I got sleepy. But I kept fighting until the end and I hope to do better in the main draw.”

Mariam, who is making the main draw of the world meet for the second time, takes on Malaysian No.2 Delia Arnold on Monday.

On the next court, Mexico’s sixth seeded Samantha Teran came through with an easy 11-5, 11-7, 11-8 win over Dutch player Milou van der Heijden. Hong Kong also had a pair of players – Joey Chan and Liu Tsz Ling – both easing into the main draw.

Fifth seeded Coline Aumard also battled from a game down to beat Japan’s Misaki Kobayashi 7-11, 11-2, 11-7, 11-8 but seventh seed Fiona Moverley of England was sent packing by New Zealand’s Megan Craig. The 23-year-old Craig won 11-7, 13-11, 11-9 and she meets American No.1 Amanda Sobhy in the main draw.

The final qualifying match of the day was another cracker as 18-year-old Nadine Shahin of Egypt produced a top-notch performance to beat second seed Line Hansen of Denmark.

The world No.50 was just too good on the day as she won 10-12, 11-7, 11-7, 11-4 and earn herself a date with England’s Jenny Duncalf in the main draw.

“It’s the first time I made the main draw of the worlds. I tried two years ago in Egypt but I didn’t get through,” said an elated Nadine. It’s also my first time beating Line. It’s really the first for everything and I still can’t believe it.”

PSA W185 Naza Women’s World Championship 2016, Bukit Jalil National Squash Centre, Kuala Lumpur.

First Round:
[1] Laura Massaro (ENG) v [Q] Samantha Teran (MEX)
[14] Joshna Chinappa (IND) v Victoria Lust (ENG)
[15] Delia Arnold (MAS) v [Q] Mariam Metwally (EGY)
[6] Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) v Emily Whitlock (ENG)
[7] Amanda Sobhy (USA) v [Q] Megan Craig (NZL)
[9] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v [Q] Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG)
[12] Joelle King (NZL) v [WC] Low Wee Wern (MAS)
[3] Raneem El Welily (EGY) v Tesni Evans (WAL)
[4] Camille Serme (FRA) v [Q] Joey Chan (HKG)
[13] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v [Q] Olivia Blatchford (USA)
[16] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) v [Q] Nadine Shahin (EGY)
[8] Nouran Gohar (EGY) v [Q] Coline Aumard (FRA)
[5] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v Donna Urquhart (AUS)
[11] Annie Au (HKG) v Dipika Pallikal (IND)
[10] Alison Waters (ENG) v Heba El Torky (EGY)
[2] Nicol David (MAS) v Rachael Grinham (AUS)

Qualifying finals:
Mariam Metwally (EGY) bt Amina Yousry (EGY) 11-13, 11-2, 11-2, 9-11, 11-9 (68m)
Samantha Teran (MEX) bt Milou van der Heijden (NED) 11-5, 11-7, 11-8 (32m)
Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) bt Deon Saffery (WAL) 11-6, 11-7, 11-6 (20m)
Joey Chan (HKG) bt Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL) 5-11, 11-2, 11-5, 11-3 (36m)
Olivia Blatchford (USA) bt Natalie Grinham (NED) 11-7, 11-5, 11-7
Coline Aumard (FRA) bt Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) 7-11, 11-2, 11-7, 11-8
Megan Craig (NZL) bt Fiona Moverley (ENG) 11-7, 13-11, 11-9
Nadine Shahin (EGY) bt Line Hansen (DEN) 10-12, 11-7, 11-7, 11-4 

Pictures by ALEX WAN 


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