Egyptian teenager Habib stuns Malaysian star
By HOWARD HARDING – Squash Mad Correspondent
A 14-year-old Egyptian sensation sent Malaysia’s Delia Arnold spinning out of the Penang CIMB Women’s World Open.
Egyptian schoolgirl Habiba Mohamed Ahmed Alymohmed despatched top local hope Arnold on the second day of qualifying action to claim an unexpected place in the qualifying finals.
Still only 14 years old and already a four-time British Junior Open champion, Mohamed gave the strong home crowd something to ponder upon as she scored a convincing 11-5, 7-11, 11-5, 11-4 win over the qualifying draw’s highest-ranked Malaysian in 46 minutes.
It was a pulsating match which kept the crowd on their toes at the Nicol David International Squash Centre in Penang – but it was also a big blow to the recently-married Delia, ranked 37 in the world, as she struggles with her form.
But Habiba, the world No54, certainly deserves the plaudits as she seeks to follow in the footsteps of compatriots Raneem El Welily and Nour El Sherbini who have made the mark on the senior stage.
“It was really exciting to beat a great player like Delia,” said Habiba. “My main was to make the main draw and I am now one step closer. If I can get that far it’s really good enough for me.”
Habiba will go on to meet Dutchwoman Milou van der Heijden for a place in the main draw. The world No.51 from Eindhoven got the better of Malaysian Pushppa Devi, winning 13-11, 11-8, 11-1 in 21 minutes.
There were a further two notable upsets – none more so than the 10-12, 11-9, 11-7, 11-8 victory in 60 minutes achieved by unheralded South Korean Eun Chan Ahn over England’s Emily Whitlock, the world No25 and top seed in the qualifying draw.
The Seoul-born 28-year-old made an impressive WSA World Tour comeback earlier this month in the Malaysian Tour Squash Circuit 1 after a four-month absence – winning the title as the No8 seed!
Furthermore, 19-year-old Aparajitha Balamurukan of India got the better of experienced world No.48 Kylie Lindsay when she beat the 30-year-old from New Zealand 11-8, 11-8, 9-11, 5-11, 11-5. Ranked 104 in the world, Balamurukan becomes the lowest-ranked player through to the qualifying finals.
Qualifying second seed Nour El Tayeb however had no such problems as the Egyptian brushed aside the challenge of Malaysian junior Aika Azman with an 11-3, 11-4, 11-6 win in 17 minutes.
“Not my best performance, but it was good experience for me,” said 17-year-old Aika. “It was also nice that us juniors got a taste of what the world championships felt like.”
It was a bad day for the hosts, with all nine Malaysians in contention bowing out. Penang lass Celine Yeap gave the best fight but was still no match for Tesni Evans, losing 6-11, 5-11, 11-9, 6-11 to her Welsh opponent.
The first round of the main draw will start on Tuesday at the Subterranean Penang International Conference & Exhibition Centre (SPICE Arena).
Qualifying finals line-up:
Eun Chan Ahn (KOR) v Megan Craig (NZL)
Heba El Torky (EGY) v Deon Saffery (WAL)
Siyoli Waters (RSA) v Lisa Aitken (ENG)
Tesni Evans (WAL) v Olga Ertlova (CZE)
Habiba Mohamed Ahmed Alymohmed (EGY) v Milou van der Heijden (NED)
Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) v Salma Hany Ibrahim (EGY)
Samantha Cornett (CAN) v Aparajitha Balamurukan (IND)
Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v Lisa Camilleri (AUS)
Official event website: www.simplythebest.my/
For all the latest WSA Tour news: wsaworldtour.com
Results: Penang CIMB Women’s World Squash Championship, Qualifying second round, Penang, Malaysia
Eun Chan Ahn (KOR) bt Emily Whitlock (ENG) 10-12, 11-9, 11-7, 11-8 (60m)
Megan Craig (NZL) bt Sarah Cardwell (AUS) 7-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-4 (48m)
Heba El Torky (EGY) bt Rachel Arnold (MAS) 11-1, 11-7, 11-8 (23m)
Deon Saffery (WAL) bt Tong Tsz-Wing (HKG) 12-14, 11-7, 11-2, 11-6 (47m)
Siyoli Waters (RSA) bt Lotte Eriksen (NOR) 12-10, 8-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7 (58m)
Lisa Aitken (ENG) bt Christine Nunn (AUS) 11-4, 11-7, 10-12, 11-4 (40m)
Tesni Evans (WAL) bt Celine Yeap (MAS) 11-6, 11-5, 9-11, 11-6 (34m)
Olga Ertlova (CZE) bt Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) 12-10, 9-11, 11-4, 11-1 (39m)
Milou van der Heijden (NED) bt Pushppa Devi (MAS) 13-11, 11-8, 11-1 (21m)
Habiba Mohamed Ahmed Alymohmed (EGY) bt Delia Arnold (MAS) 11-5, 7-11, 11-5, 11-4 (46m)
Salma Hany Ibrahim (EGY) bt Teh Min Jie (MAS) 11-1, 11-6, 11-5 (21m)
Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) bt S Sivasangari (MAS) 11-5, 11-4, 11-6 (18m)
Aparajitha Balamurukan (IND) bt Kylie Lindsay (NZL) 11-8, 11-8, 9-11, 5-11, 11-5 (53m)
Samantha Cornett (CAN) bt Zulhijjah Binti Azan (MAS) 11-3, 11-2, 13-11 (26m)
Lisa Camilleri (AUS) bt Zoe Foo (MAS) 11-7, 11-3, 11-4 (22m)
Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt Aika Azman (MAS) 11-3, 11-4, 11-6 (17m)
Picture courtesy of www.aquashstars.com