Letourneau squeezes past Mendez in thriller
By JOE RUSSELL in Cleveland
Canadian trio Samantha Cornett, Hollie Naughton and Danielle Letourneau all powered their way through to the second round of the Cleveland Classic, but some seriously strong seeds stand in their way of advancing further in this $51,500 tournament.
Cornett meets England’s No.3 seed Alison Waters, Naughton faces Egypt’s No.7 seed Nadine Shain and Letourneau will tackle No.2 seed Tesni Evans of Wales.
In the most competitive match of the day, Letourneau beat Haley Mendez of neighbouring USA with an astonishing scoreline that included a “bagel” in the third game, before Mendez hit back to win the fourth and set up a thrilling fifth that was finally clinched by the Canadian to win 8-11, 14-12, 11-0, 7-11, 11-9.
Below, Joe Russell presents his notes on the first round ties.
Rachel Arnold vs Milou Van der Heijden: Very competitive. Close first game to Arnold on three good late winners 11-9. Both push up the tempo in the second, but Arnold is too good and wins 11-8.
Arnold loses focus in the third, but stays close with some difficult kills. But not close enough. 11-9 to Milou. Focused regained. Game and match to Arnold 11-9, 11-8, 9-11, 11-3.
Nele Gilis vs Marina DeJuan Gallach: Gilis waits patiently for openings and does not miss to win the first 11-6. Gilis looks marginally sharper than the Spanish wild card and uses it on every point to win the second 11-5. More of the same in the third as Gilis wins 11-6, 11-5, 11-4.
Hollie Naughton vs Ineta Mackevich: Ineta uses her length well to take the first 11-6.Hollie uses her experience to even match by winning the second 11-7.
Playing crucial points better, Naughton wins the third 11-8. She loses several points early in the fourth. How do you come back from a big deficit? One point at a time. Great comeback by Hollie to win 6-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-9.
Samantha Cornett vs Tinne Gilis: Blitzed. First game 11-6 to Cornett. More competitive from the get go in the second, but Cornett is too good and wins 11-6. Cornett not letting up. Giving Gilis no hope. Game and match to Cornett 11-6, 11-6, 11-4.
Nicole Bunyan vs Amanda Landers Murphy: Bunyan relies on her height and reach early on to keep up with her opponent. But Murphy is clinical, with disciplined length and very few errors to over-stretch Bunyan early on, forcing the pace. Game one ends 11-3 to Murphy.
Bunyan commits to deep patterns early on to the back court in the second. Works well. Errors fall the other way as Murphy attempts to reassert her dominance with a fast paced game. Game takes an anxious turn for Landers Murphy as she claws to a nervous 11-9 win.
Murphy closes the match out 3-0 winning 11-8 in the third. Bunyan battled but a few critical errors at the tail end cost her the match. Murphy wins 11-3, 11-9, 11-8.
Danielle Letourneau vs Haley Mendez: Mendez wins the first game 11-8. The American manages to stay ahead by adopting a very calculated and well-tempered deep game that forces Danielle to be more creative than she would have liked to this early.
Better selection of shots and execution from Letourneau push Mendez way off the T into the back way too often. This leaves an open front court for Letourneau to aim at. Mendez roars back, holding Letourneau at game ball for four straight points – game ties at 10-10. Letourneau holds her length and closes out the game 14-12.
Brilliant squash carries Letourneau through the third game 11-0.
Mendez regroups and wins the fourth convincingly 11-7. Sets up a nail-biter in the fifth. Hard fought in the 5th. Not much to put away, both players battle for the back court with the Canadian mixing in great short balls which prove to be the difference in the end. 11-9 to the Canadian as she wins 11-8, 14-12, 11-0, 7-10, 11-9.
Coline Aumard vs Lucy Turmel: Very nervy and frantic match with both players josling for stability through out the match. Aumard gets the best Turmel in three straight. 11-7, 11-6, 11-5 to Aumard.
PSA W52 Women’s Cleveland Classic 2019, Cleveland Racquet Club, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bye
Rachel Arnold (MAS) bt [9/16] Milou van der Heijden (NED) 11-9, 11-8, 9-11, 11-3
[9/16] Nele Gilis (BEL) bt [WC] Marina de Juan Gallach (ESP) 11-6, 11-5, 11-4
 Emily Whitlock (ENG) bye
 Nadine Shahin (EGY) bye
[9/16] Hollie Naughton (CAN) bt Ineta Mackevica (LAT) 6-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-9
[9/16] Samantha Cornett (CAN) bt Tinne Gilis (BEL) 11-6, 11-6, 11-4
 Alison Waters (ENG) bye
 Victoria Lust (ENG) bye
Lisa Aitken (SCO) bt [9/16] Rowan Elaraby (EGY) 11-4, 11-6, 2-11, 11-4
[9/16] Coline Aumard (FRA) bt Lucy Turmel (ENG) 11-7, 11-6, 11-5
 Mariam Metwally (EGY) bye
 Mayar Hany (EGY) bye
[9/16] Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL) bt Nicole Bunyan (CAN) 11-3, 11-9, 11-8
[9/16] Danielle Letourneau (CAN) bt Haley Mendez (USA) 8-11, 14-12, 11-0, 7-11, 11-9
 Tesni Evans (WAL) bye
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v Rachel Arnold (MAS)
 Emily Whitlock (ENG) v [9/16] Nele Gilis (BEL)
 Nadine Shahin (EGY) v [9/16] Hollie Naughton (CAN)
 Alison Waters (ENG) v [9/16] Samantha Cornett (CAN)
 Victoria Lust (ENG) v Lisa Aitken (SCO)
 Mariam Metwally (EGY) v [9/16] Coline Aumard (FRA)
 Mayar Hany (EGY) v [9/16] Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL)
 Tesni Evans (WAL) v [9/16] Danielle Letourneau (CAN)
Report by JOE RUSSELL. Edited by ALAN THATCHER.
Pictures courtesy of ANDREA DAWSON