Essam and El Hammamy bounce through Black Ball openers
By ELLIE MAWSON in Cairo
Egypt’s Shehab Essam and Karim El Hammamy both claimed big wins on the opening day of action at the CIB Black Ball Squash Open in Cairo, Egypt as they reached the second round for the first time in their careers at a PSA Platinum event.
The Black Ball Squash Open is the first major tournament to take place in Egypt’s capital since the men’s 2016 PSA World Championships and it was a successful day for the home talent at the Black Ball Sporting Club.
Tournament wildcard Essam claimed the first upset of the day after he downed Scotland’s Greg Lobban by an 11-7, 11-8, 10-12, 11-8 margin in 62 minutes.
Egypt’s World No.80 played without fear to conquer World No.31 Lobban and reach the second round, where he will now face compatriot and World No.10 Mohamed Abouelghar.
“I was lucky to get the wildcard, so thanks to Black Ball,” said the 23-year-old Egyptian. “It was a really good win for me and I went for it for it with all I could.
Meanwhile, Essam’s compatriot El Hammamy also claimed a big win of his own after he took out World No.34 Mazen Hesham by an 11-8, 13-11, 10-12, 11-8 scoreline to set up a second round encounter with England’s George Parker, who defeated Wales’ Peter Creed in round one.
El Hammamy (right) was forced to hold off a resilient Hesham in an 81-minute intense battle on the glass court at the Black Ball Sporting Club as he booked his place in the last 32 for the first time at a major PSA tournament.
“Mazen is a great opponent and one of the most talented players on Tour,” said 23-year-old El Hammamy. “It feels good to win the first round against him and especially for me as it’s my first time advancing to the second round at a major event, so that’s good for me.”
They will be joined in the next round by fellow Egyptians Zahed Salem, Karim Ali Fathi and Mostafa Asal after they enjoyed wins over Mazen Gamal, Tayyab Aslam and Youssef Soliman respectively. Meanwhile, tournament wildcard Shady El Sherbiny, Omar Abdel Meguid and Mohamed Reda all fell to defeats in the opening round.
Elsewhere, Malaysia’s Eain Yow Ng battled back from two-games down against experienced Australian Cameron Pilley to record a big win, in what has been an impressive season so far for the 20-year-old Malaysian.
Ng was staring down the barrel of defeat against World No.27 Pilley. However, the Malaysian fought back in spectacular style to secure a second round berth, where he will now face New Zealand’s Campbell Grayson after he defeated Finland’s Olli Tuominen.
“I knew that Cam is an experienced and really good player,” said Ng after his victory. “He came out firing in the first and second game and I couldn’t really find the answer to it. But I just stayed calm and focused and it worked out in the end.
“I’ve been playing good squash lately and my confidence is pretty high. I came in without any pressure, so I just stayed focused and concentrated on playing well and hopefully I can continue doing the same.”
There were also wins for England’s Tom Richards and Chris Simpson after they prevailed against Egyptian wildcard Shady El Sherbiny and Spain’s Edmon Lopez in their respective first round fixtures.
Hong Kong duo Tsz Fung Yip and Leo Au were also both at their best to beat England’s Nathan Lake and India’s Vikram Malhotra to set up respective second round clashes with Egypt’s former World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad and France’s Gregoire Marche in round two.
While there were also victories for Scotland’s Alan Clyne, Todd Harrity (USA) and France’s Lucas Serme on the opening day of action in Cairo.
The second round begins on Tuesday December 4 when number one seed Mohamed ElShorbagy will begin his tournament. Matches from the glass court will be shown live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe only) from 12:00 local time (UTC+2).
Men’s CIB Black Ball Open, Cairo, Egypt.
Eain Yow Ng (MAS) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-2: 10-12, 9-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-7 (62m)
Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt Olli Tuominen (FIN) 3-0: 11-2, 11-2, 11-3 (20m)
Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) bt Nathan Lake (ENG) 3-1: 11-9, 11-9, 5-11, 11-4 (45m)
[WC] Shehab Essam (EGY) bt Greg Lobban (SCO) 3-1: 11-7, 11-8, 10-12, 11-8 (62m)
Karim El Hammamy (EGY) bt Mazen Hesham (EGY) 3-1: 11-8, 13-11, 10-12, 11-8 (81m)
George Parker (ENG) bt Peter Creed (WAL) 3-0: 11-5, 11-3, 11-7 (26m)
Tom Richards (ENG) bt [WC] Shady El Sherbiny (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-6, 13-11 (34m)
Alan Clyne (SCO) bt Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-8, 6-0 retired (27m)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Mohamed Reda (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 11-9, 11-8 (43m)
Leo Au (HKG) bt Vikram Malhotra (IND) 3-0: 11-6, 12-10, 11-5 (29m)
Zahed Salem (EGY) bt Mazen Gamal (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 11-6, 12-10 (43m)
Chris Simpson (ENG) bt Edmon Lopez (ESP) 3-0: 11-8, 11-9, 11-6 (47m)
Todd Harrity (USA) bt Adrian Waller (ENG) 3-1: 7-11, 11-9, 5-8 retired (37m)
Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) bt Tayyab Aslam (PAK) 3-0: 12-10, 11-6, 11-4 (36m)
Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt Youssef Soliman (EGY) 3-1: 16-14, 3-11, 11-8, 11-6 (89m)
Lucas Serme (FRA) bt Joshua Masters (ENG) 3-1: 8-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-4 (52m)
Round Two (Top Half, December 4):
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v Max Lee (HKG)
Eain Yow Ng (MAS) v Campbell Grayson (NZL)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v Diego Elias (PER)
Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v [WC] Shehab Essam (EGY)
Karim El Hammamy (EGY) v George Parker (ENG)
Raphael Kandra (GER) v Tom Richards (ENG)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
Round Two (Bottom half, December 5):
 Simon Rösner (GER) v Alan Clyne (SCO)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) v Leo Au (HKG)
Zahed Salem (EGY) v Chris Simpson (ENG)
Todd Harrity (USA) v  Paul Coll (NZL)
 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) v Omar Mosaad (EGY)
Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) v Saurav Ghosal (IND)
Declan James (ENG) v Mostafa Asal (EGY)
Lucas Serme (FRA) v  Ali Farag (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA