Waters wins first title in two years as Kawy runs out of steam in final
By LINDA ELRIANI – Squash Mad Reporter at Heights Casino in Brooklyn
Comeback queen Alison Waters was the toast of Brooklyn last night as she beat Omneya Abdel Kawy in the final of the Carol Weymuller Open to win her first WSA Tour title for two years. Linda Elriani sets the scene and brings you a blow-by-blow account of an epic battle at the famous Heights Casino Club.
Today was the final day of our 2014 Carol Weymuller Open. It’s been a tremendous week of squash and the WSA players have definitely left everyone inspired and motivated.
We sometimes have the honor of Carol Weymuller herself coming to watch the final, but Carol hasn’t been able to make it here over the last couple of years.
Carol started the junior squash program here at The Heights Casino many years back and it has obviously grown and grown along with the sport. We always like to thank Carol for all her hard work and dedication at the start, as we wouldn’t be where we are today with our program if she had not been forward thinking enough to develop squash in this area.
At 7.30pm the bleachers were packed with eager members, anticipating the outcome. Alison and Omneya first played in a WSA event back almost 11 years ago, but their rivalry started back when they were both juniors in the British Open Under-14 final, where Omneya won 3-1. Alison won the last time they played back in February in a long hard 3-2, so we knew that the match tonight was very likely to be a great one.
The first game started a little gingerly with both players trying to find their rhythm, but they soon settled into some wonderful, long and skillful rallies. The points went back and forth evenly until 7-7 with an array of different winners around the court.
Ali was concentrating on keeping the ball out the middle where Omneya is so deadly and managed to do so for the most part but as soon as the ball was off the wall Omneya would step in with her volley drops and finish the point. With a couple of winners and a stroke against Ali, Omneya edged ahead to go 10-7 up for her first game ball.
This is when Ali gave a huge push and really found her length and kept the T and a backhand volley drop tin and a backhand boast error from Omneya helped Ali to climb back to 9-10.
Just when we started to think that Ali was going to equalize, Omneya hit a lovely hard flat forehand drive that died perfectly in the back corner. First game 11-9 to the experienced and flamboyant Egyptian.
The second game started with a very similar pattern and momentum as the first. Both players were playing very clean, attacking squash with some wonderful retrieving and creative winners. The points stayed even throughout up to 6-6 but then suddenly Omneya managed to squeeze ahead again to take the lead to 9-6.
Omneya has an amazing ability to inject some serious pace on her drives when she chooses to and then a second later she is using her incredible touch to stop the ball perfectly in the front. She really looked like she was having fun out there.
In one amazing rally, Ali got back so many great shots and tried so hard to reapply the pressure, but she ended up in the front backhand corner where a crosscourt lob may have saved her, but Ali chose the straight drive at full stretch, probably to keep the ball out the middle and away from Omneya’s racket but it ended in a stroke. 10-8 game ball to Omneya to move 2-0 up .
But Ali wasn’t about to give up! With an amazing counter drop from Ali, a couple of tins from Omneya and a perfect forehand drop, Ali snatched away the second game from under Omneya’s nose to win 12-10.
The third game started perfectly for Ali, showing so much focused and discipline. Ali went 3-0 up before we knew it and it seemed that Omneya was still thinking about the last game that she should have just won.
Omneya started to look like some tiredness may be creeping into her movement as she labored for a couple of shots and the referee called them ‘not up’.
More pressure and precise squash from Ali and errors on the short shots from Omneya took Ali through to win the third game pretty convincingly 11-5.
The fourth game was did a complete 360 degree turn at the beginning, with Omneya getting a very fast and easy lead of 6-1, mainly from Ali’s unforced errors. Omneya continued through and at 8-3 we were definitely all thinking that this match was going to five games.
Yet once again Ali was not going to give up lightly. She pushed up the court, started to volley more, took some wonderful short shots in and changed the momentum in her favor. Ali went from 4 to 9 in one hand and with the game now at 9-9 we wondered who would play these last big points the best.
Next there was a wonderful rally where Ali retrieved Omneya’s forehand drop so incredibly well and played the most perfect counter drop of the match, which ended in a ‘no let’ when Omneya asked. This took Ali to her first match ball! Ali got slightly edgy and hit a tin to even it out again at 10-10.
Ali took advantage of a slight opening that Omneya gave her, hitting a powerful winning forehand kill to gave her a second match ball.
There was a great rally from both players trying to outmaneuver one another but a loose ball on the backhand from Omneya got Ali a stroke to take the final point she needed to become the 2014 Carol Weymuller Open champion.
Ali Waters, the comeback queen, said happily after her victory (right): “I’m really really delighted to have won! It’s been two years since I won a title and to win it here of all places is extra special!!
“It was another tough match….Omneya played really well and I could have gone 2-0 down. I’m pleased with how I stuck in there and just kept going, which was key all week in all my matches.
“That’s what I’m most happy with, is my attitude and commitment to it. I’m off to Philadelphia on Thursday for the US Open, so hopefully I can take this forward for next week.”
I went over to Omneya after the final and told her that she’d had a great week. She said: “I wanted to finish it good, but it was still a good week. I was playing well and took the first game and in the second I was up 10-8 and my head started to think stuff.
“So I put pressure on myself which was the last thing I wanted to do this week. But it happened and my shots weren’t working as well as when I was relaxed. My volley drop was great and in the end it wasn’t as accurate.
“Ali played really well, she pushed hard and I think that she felt when I got tense and that’s where she pushed and pressured me while I wasn’t relaxed. Overall this week was great for me and hopefully I’ll continue playing good squash and keep going and enjoying it.”
HOWARD HARDING REPORTS: It was appropriately at Heights Casino in New York that England’s Alison Waters recorded a new high in her illustrious squash career – winning the WSA Gold 50 Carol Weymuller Open to claim her 10th, but biggest, Tour title.
The 30-year-old Londoner reached a career-high world No.3 ranking in October 2010 – but just a year later saw her ranking plummet to 44 after taking time out to recover from an Achilles injury.
Waters was back in the world top five by the end of 2012 – since when she has won a fourth British National Championship title and, in August, secured a silver Commonwealth Games medal in the Mixed Doubles in Scotland.
Seeded three, the world No7 made her New York breakthrough in the semi-finals, where she ousted Egypt’s world No3 Raneem El Welily to set up a final meeting with Omneya Abdel Kawy, the fifth seed from Egypt.
WSA Gold 50 Carol Weymuller Open, Heights Casino, Brooklyn, New York, USA:
(3) Alison Waters (England) beat (5) Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egypt) 9-11, 12-10, 11-5, 12-10.
Pictures by JEAN ERVASTI