Shocks as English stars crash to Joelle King and Salma Ibrahim
By LINDA ELRIANI in Brooklyn
On a night of shocks, reigning champion Alison Waters and former world champion Laura Massaro crashed out of the Carol Weymuller Open in the first round, falling to resurgent New Zealander Joelle King and young Egyptian Salma Hany Ibrahim at the Heights Casino.
The bottom half was full of English players, with one in each of this evening’s four matches. The evening was full of upsets with all but one of the seeded players going out in the first round.
First on the Championship court was world #5 Laura Massaro (right) from England, who won the Weymuller back in 2012 and her young teenage Egyptian opponent, Salma Hany Ibrahim, ranked world #20.
In their head to head in PSA tournaments Laura stood at 2-0 but Salma came very close in one of them so we knew we are in for a great and competitive match. This match was by far the most exciting one of the evening!
The match started ferociously with movement all over the court with attacks and counter attacks, especially from Salma. Laura was trying to find her rhythm and stop the shorts from her young opponent. Salma managed to wrong foot Laura with her great holds and ability to straighten up the ball from the front forehand when under a massive pressure. Salma squeezed out the first game 12-10.
Laura came out playing her game in the second and managed to vary the pace more and control the T and she came through to win 11-8.
Salma started the third game on fire and with a couple of errors from Laura she was 7-2 and then 8-5 up . Laura lost the great length that she had which pinned down Salma in the second. Salma took advantage of her lead and won 11-7.
The fourth was all Laura. She pushed up the court, took the ball earlier and hit her length with a purpose again with some lovely hold cross court flick drop shots to finish off the rally. Salma started making errors and started reacting to Laura’s attacking game. Laura went through to win 11-4.
The fifth started off pretty evenly with Laura taking a small lead at 3-1 but soon Salma started hitting an array of wonderful winners again from all the court and she went ahead to 9-4.
Laura gave a huge push and started to climb back and Salma looked as though she was starting to doubt herself a little mentally, though she chased down every single ball and even did the splits in the front forehand corner while trying to get back one of Laura’s drop shorts.
Laura clawed back to 7-9 and then Salma hit a cross court volley nick winner off the serve to take her to match ball.
Salma panicked in the next rally and mishit the ball and you were left thinking that Laura could maybe pull this off! At 9-10 Laura had Salma running all over the court and then out of nowhere Salma hit an amazing unexpected forehand boast to take the match and her first win off Laura 11-9 in the fifth.
A red-faced and extremely happy looking Salma (right) said: “I’m speechless! It’s not that I can’t believe I won it’s that I pushed myself so much when I was tired! I didn’t want to lose this time after last year but I still had a feeling I’m not going to win, even though I’m playing well.
“So I made myself smaller goals and just told myself ‘just one point at a time’ as when I told myself I’ve got to win it felt harder.
“When it was 2-2 Omneya, Raneem, Nour and my friend Bolla (who drove 90 minutes to come and watch me) told me ‘You have only one game left so give it your all! Don’t lose your focus like last time’. I’m also impressed with my nick and boast at the end!”
Second match on the championship court was world #11 Emma Beddoes from England against India’s Joshana Chinappa, who is world # 24.
Emma recently got engaged to fellow Englishman and squash pro Eddie Charlton so there will be wedding bells ringing in 2016!! Emma has a 2-0 lead in the head to head but they haven’t played each other for a couple of years so it was interesting to see if the young Indian player had managed to close the gap since their last meeting.
Emma started the match in fine form and didn’t let Joshana settle and she won handily 11-4.
The second was a true battle and but a much different match than the previous one with longer more traditional rallies up and down the wall. Joshana started to do more with the ball than Emma and get in front of her and chop the ball in at the front. The score went back and forth but Joshana came through in a marathon 16-14!
The third stayed in Joshana’s favor and she used the front of the court well with great disguised backhand boasts. Emma seemed to have fallen into a reactive mode and before we knew it Joshana was 2-1 up winning the third 11-7.
Emma came out much more aggressively in the fourth and even though she fell down twice in the game she keep her composure and won 11-8.
In the fifth Emma went too defensive and was pushing the ball around the court and Joshana took advantage of this and attacked short whenever Emma’s lengths were not deep enough. With a fall that caused Emma’s calf to briefly cramp and a few more winners, Joshana went through to get her first win from the English woman in her career.
Joshana said: “I’m happy, of course. It was a tough match and it could have gone either way. With Emma being on form and at her highest ranking I’m really glad I pulled through”.
The next match on was between England’s Sarah-Jane Perry, who is world #15 against qualifier Kanzy Emad El Defrawy who is world #36. Their head to head was 1-1, with Kanzy winning last time they played back in June so we could be sure that Sarah-Jane wanted to get her own back!
Kanzy came out in the first game on fire and went 7-1 up before SJ had turned around. SJ found a little rhythm but Kanzy went on to win the first 11-5.
The second SJ was ready for the random winners and started to push up to the front better and use her great lob to regain her position throughout the rallies. In typical Kanzy form, she dived around the court several times in her huge efforts to retrieve everything humanly possible, with one of them resulting in a time out for bleeding knee. SJ came through in the end winning the second in tough 11-9.
The third was very one sided, SJ is deceptively fast around the court and has an amazing reach into the front and this really helped her suck up the pressure that Kanzy was trying put her under at the front of the court. SJ keep forward on the court and volleyed more and won the third 11-2.
The fourth was more evenly battled again, but with SJ’s constant pressure, a few more desperate dives from Kanzy and SJ taking the ball early helped her pull away at the end of the game and finally take the match 11-9.
Sarah-Jane said afterwards: “I thought I stuck in well there. She caught me a bit off guard in the first game, going short. I haven’t played the Weymuller before and it took a bit of time to get used to the court. Kanzy beat me last time we played back in June so it was to get my revenge!”
Later, Sarah-Jane posted a poignant message on Facebook: “Today was my Grandad’s funeral. He was an amazing man and I’m very glad I got to say my personal goodbyes before I left for the U.S.
“I know he was extremely proud of me and I hope I can continue to make him proud. Came through a tough match today and thought of him throughout. He always told me I could do it and that was just one of many reasons I adored him. He will be greatly missed but never forgotten RIP xx”
The last match on the championship court began very late due to all the very long and exciting squash previously. This match was between last year’s Weymuller Champion Alison Waters from England who is world # 4, against former world # 4 Joelle King from New Zealand.
Joelle has just recently come back from a serious achilles injury and is gradually clawing her way back up the world rankings to her rightful spot again. Alison is in the lead in the head to head, 4-2, but with both players playing a fast attacking game from the T, we knew it would an excellent match.
This match was of a very high caliber of squash with both players hitting deep, tight drives into the corners and volleying everything they could. Their movement was clean and sharp and there were very few lets unlike some of the previous matches.
Joelle managed to control the T more than Alison in the first, the rallies were long and hard fought but Joelle came through 11-6.
Alison found her rhythm in the second and starting finding her targets in the back and allowing her to use the middle of the court more and finish the rallies off at the front. Alison went through to win 11-8 to make the match even at 1-1.
The third game was the hardest of them all and ended up being the most crucial of the match. Both players were vying for the T and keeping the pace high and aggressive. There were some wonderful attacking volleys and deep dying lengths and it was Joelle that eventually sneaked the third 14-12.
Alison pushed hard but never really got her control back after the mammoth third game and Joelle went through to win 11-8 to make it the third upset of the night!
Joelle said after her win “It was tough for both of us after such long matches before. I think we both came out well considering. She’s a tough competitor and we’ve had so many battles over the years and it’s so nice to be back on court with her.
“The third game was a turning point and I think it took a lot out of both of us, but when you win those games it can give you a spring in your step again. I’m looking forward to playing SJ, we’ve only played once before”.
So here ends another incredibly exciting night of squash at The Heights Casino. The quality of the matches tonight was fantastic and the matches were so enjoyable to watch.
We all look forward to the second half of the first round starting at 5.30pm Friday night (October 2). See you again soon!
2015 Carol Weymuller Open, Heights Casino, Brooklyn, New York, USA.
First round, bottom half (October 1, 2015):
Salma Hany Ibrahim beat Laura Massaro 12/10, 8/11, 11/7, 4/11, 11/9.
Joshana Chinappa beat Emma Beddoes 4/11, 16/14, 11/7, 11/4.
Sarah-Jane Perry beat Kanzy Emad El Defrawy 5/11, 11/9, 11/2, 11/9.
Joelle King beat Alison Waters 11/6, 8/11, 14/12, 11/8.
First Round (Top Half):
5.30pm Jenny Duncalf v Omneya Abdel Kawy
6.15pm Nour El Sherbini v Delia Arnold
7.00pm Rachael Grinham v Joey Chan
7.45pm Raneem El Welily v Dipika Pallikal
Pictures by JEAN ERVASTI