Low Wee Wern clinches stunning victory over top seeds Egypt as Sarah Jane Perry pulls England through against Hong Kong
By HOWARD HARDING – Squash Mad Correspondent in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada
After two dramatic semi-finals in the SHOP.CA WSF Women’s World Team Squash Championship today in Canada, second seeds England will face third seeds Malaysia in Saturday’s final of the biennial World Squash Federation championship at White Oaks Conference Resort & Spa in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.
In the biggest upset of the championship, Malaysia – bronze medallists in the past four events – reached the final for the first time after a sensational 2/0 upset over defending champions Egypt, the favourites who boasted an incredibly strong squad of four players in the world’s top ten.
Former champions England claimed a new record 11th successive appearance in the final after surviving 2/1 against Hong Kong China – semi-finalists for the first time ever.
In a battle on the all-glass showcourt described by event MC Vanessa Atkinson, the former world champion, as “the match of the tournament”, underdogs Malaysia took the lead when world number one Nicol David beat Egypt’s world No.3 Raneem El Welily 11-3, 8-11, 11-7, 11-9 in 54 minutes.
“She’s so on the ball – I had to work really hard,” said the jubilant David, who extended her unbeaten record in the event since 2004 to 32 matches. “I’m just so pleased to get a point for Malaysia.
“I took some time off after Macau to refresh and regroup – and I’m really enjoying the game now. Winning for Malaysia is a great feeling – I put my heart and soul into it.”
David then sat back as team-mate Low Wee Wern, a fellow Penangite who is ranked seven in the world, took on Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini, the world No.4 from Alexandria who boasted a 2-1 head-to-head record over the Malaysian.
After the first two games were shared, Wee Wern came out fighting in the third to reclaim the lead after dropping just two points.
But former world junior champion El Sherbini refused to buckle and took the fourth, and led 3-0, 5-3 and 7-6 in the decider. Wee Wern pulled back three points for 9-7 to lead for only the second time in the match – but El Sherbini rallied to bring the score to nine-all.
At the first match-ball for Wern, it was a stroke which finally signalled the historic win for Malaysia as Wern raised her arms in victory and quickly became engulfed by her ecstatic team-mates.
“It’s amazing to be in the final for the first time,” said an overwhelmed Wee Wern after her 11-9, 8-11, 11-2, 7-11, 11-9 triumph in 86 minutes. “The Egyptian girls really gave it their all.
“I am just so pleased for Nicol. For all these years, she has won for us – and the rest of the team have let her down. Now we have finally done it for her.
“Nicol is not just a role model for me, but a good friend too – and this is the first time I’ve given her the support she deserves.
“This win is huge – our biggest team success ever – it’s massive.
“But it’s not over yet,” added the 24-year-old as her mind turned to the final.
Egyptian team coach Omar Elborolossy was not too despondent: “I’m so proud of my girls – they gave their best efforts. Nicol played one of the best matches I have ever seen and Wee Wern definitely played her best match ever.
“The four girls played very good squash – I can’t complain.”
England suffered a scare in the first of the semi-finals when Alison Waters, the world No5 from London, went down to Joey Chan in her first defeat in eight meetings to the Hong Kong 23-year-old ranked 18 places lower.
A commanding performance by Laura Massaro saw England take the lead when the world number two beat Annie Au, ranked nine in the world, 11-7, 13-11, 11-4 in 35 minutes – saving four game-balls in the second to go through unscathed.
“You regroup and do what’s needed to get back into the best possible shape to help the rest of the team.
“The middle section of the second game today was definitely a turning point – you can’t go from 7-3 up to 7-10 down without refocussing and I was glad to take it. I was determined to stick to my game-plan for the third game.”
Underdog Chan (right) took the opening game against Waters, but the Londoner fought back to draw level.
Left-hander Chan played the game of her life, however, to reclaim the advantage and close out the match 11-4, 8-11, 11-9, 11-3 to force an unexpected decider.
“Every time I play Alison, I know it will be a fast game and the rallies will go on and on,” said Chan after her shock win.
“I had to keep her behind me. She can so easily dominate the ‘T’, my game plan was to try and move her around. Luckily I didn’t make many mistakes today – I have made too many errors against her in the past.
“It’s probably my best ever win – and it was good to do it for my team.”
Event newcomer Sarah-Jane Perry, England’s world No.17, took to the court against Hong Kong’s Tong Tsz-Wing, ranked 31 places lower, for the decider. After an incredible first game in which Perry squandered a 10-3 lead to lose 12-10, the 24-year-old from Kenilworth clinched a 10-12, 11-5, 11-3, 11-8 victory.
“Firstly, we’ll need to improve tomorrow,” said England coach David Campion as he began his assessment of the tie. “Laura was immaculate – she really showed she’s a world-class athlete and got us off to a great start.
“The next match didn’t quite go according to plan,” admitted Campion.
“It was not only Sarah-Jane’s first time in the England team in this event, but her first decider – and that was no easy task. She didn’t play her best squash, but under the circumstances it was a good job done. That match will serve her well in her future career.
“We’re happy to be in the final for the 11th time in a row – but we will need to improve on our performance if we’re to be successful tomorrow.”
Perry (pictured above with Tong) added: “I played really well to get up to 10-3 – but I let the pace drop and all of a sudden she was in front. The next time I went 10 up or something, I just made sure I finished it off!
“I haven’t ever played a decider for England in any event so there was massive pressure. And the fact that it was a semi which we needed to win to get into a record 11th final added to the pressure. But we’ve got a good team behind us.
France and USA (right) will battle for fifth place after victories over Australia and Ireland, respectively. Comprehensive wins by top two Amanda Sobhy and Olivia Blatchford ensured at least a best finish for sixth seeds USA since 1983, if not a best outcome of all-time.
“Our junior programme has been getting stronger and stronger since 2011 when our girls came second in the world juniors,” said 37-year-old team player/coach Natalie Grainger. “This group has been together for a long time now – with Amanda and Olivia leading the way.
“My job is to shore things up at the bottom end – I will stay on as long as I can and the job will be complete when other girls take over!
“We’re going to be a force to be reckoned with for a long time now.”
Wales beat hosts Canada 2-1 in the play-offs for 9th to 12th place with outstanding victories by Tesni Evans and Deon Saffery.
SHOP.CA WSF Women’s World Team Championship, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada
Semi-finals: (all ties played in team order 1, 2, 3)
 MALAYSIA bt  EGYPT 2/0
Nicol David bt Raneem El Welily 11-3, 8-11, 11-7, 11-9 (54m)
Low Wee Wern bt Nour El Sherbini 11-9, 8-11, 11-2, 7-11, 11-9 (86m)
 ENGLAND bt  HONG KONG CHINA 2/1
Laura Massaro bt Annie Au 11-7, 13-11, 11-4 (35m)
Alison Waters lost to Joey Chan 4-11, 11-8, 9-11, 3-11 (43m)
Sarah-Jane Perry bt Tong Tsz-Wing 10-12, 11-5, 11-3, 11-8 (40m)
5th – 8th place play-offs:
 FRANCE bt  AUSTRALIA 2/0
Camille Serme bt Rachael Grinham 11-7, 11-1, 11-5 (22m)
Coline Aumard bt Lisa Camilleri 11-6, 11-8, 14-12 (33m)
 USA bt  IRELAND 3/0
Amanda Sobhy bt Madeline Perry 11-1, 11-3, 11-3 (20m)
Olivia Blatchford bt Aisling Blake 11-3, 11-9, 12-10 (31m)
Sabrina Sobhy bt Laura Mylotte 11-4, 11-7 (12m)
9th – 12th place play-offs:
 NEW ZEALAND bt  SOUTH AFRICA 2/0
Amanda Landers-Murphy bt Siyoli Waters 11-7, 12-14, 11-6, 11-3 (46m)
Megan Craig bt Milnay Louw 11-9, 11-4 ret. (17m)
 WALES bt  CANADA 2/1
Tesni Evans bt Samantha Cornett 7-11, 12-10, 13-11, 11-4 (56m)
Deon Saffery bt Danielle Letourneau 9-11, 13-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-5 (62m)
Jennifer Haley lost to Nikki Todd 6-11, 5-11 (12m)
13th – 16th place play-offs:
[13/16] MEXICO bt [13/16] GERMANY 2/1
Samantha Teran bt Franziska Hennes 11-4, 11-6, 11-2 (20m)
Nayelly Hernandez lost to Annika Wiese 8-11, 11-4, 11-9, 9-11, 8-11 (41m)
Karla Urrutia bt Nicole Fries 11-9, 11-3, 11-8 (21m)
[13/16] INDIA bt [13/16] COLOMBIA 2/0
Joshana Chinappa bt Catalina Pelaez 11-1, 11-5, 13-11 (20m)
Anaka Alankamony bt Laura Tovar 11-9, 11-7, 11-5 (26m)
17th – 20th place play-offs:
[17/20] SPAIN bt [17/20] AUSTRIA 3/0
Xisela Aranda Nunez bt Birgit Coufal 11-9, 11-7, 11-7 (37m)
Marina de Juan Gallach bt Jacqueline Peychar 11-3, 12-10, 11-9 (26m)
Margaux Pitarch Moros bt Anja Kaserer 11-3, 11-7, 11-9 (19m)
[17/20] CHINA bt [17/20] GUATEMALA 3/0
Li Dongjin bt Winifer Bonilla 11-5, 11-5, 11-7 (20m)
Gu Jinyue bt Nicole Anckermann 11-2, 11-4, 11-7 (15m)
Duan Siyu bt Irene Barillas 13-11, 11-7, 11-5 (15m)
 MALAYSIA v  ENGLAND
3rd place play-off:
 EGYPT v  HONG KONG CHINA
5th place play-off:
 FRANCE v  USA
7th place play-off:
 AUSTRALIA v  IRELAND
9th place play-off:
 NEW ZEALAND v  WALES
11th place play-off:
 CANADA v  SOUTH AFRICA
13th place play-off:
[13/16] MEXICO v [13/16] INDIA
15th place play-off:
[13/16] GERMANY v [13/16] COLOMBIA
Official event website: wsfwomensteams.com/
For live streaming: womensworldteams.com/squashtv
Pictures by PAIGE STEWART