Sunday, February 25, 2024

England’s dynamic duo tackle Team Europe in a must-win battle in the Nations Cup

By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor)

England meet Team Europe tomorrow in a must-win battle in the new Carrus Nations Cup tournament taking place in New Zealand.

England’s Sarah-Jane Perry and Mohamed ElShorbagy currently trail Team Europe’s Nele Gilis and Sebastien Bonmalais after the second day of competition at the Trustpower Baypark Arena in Tauranga saw both teams maintain their 100 per cent records.

Team Europe stay top of Pool A after Belgium’s Gilis and France’s Bonmalais recorded wins against New Zealand B’s Kaitlyn Watts and Lwamba Chileshe.

Tomorrow’s clash promises to be a blockbuster tie and Gilis is looking forward to it. She said: “Seb inspired me to go out there and play well. I felt good out there, it was obviously Kaitlyn’s home crowd, so I knew she would be up for it and would be fighting, which she did. I’m really glad to get away in four.”

Mohamed ElShorbagy powers past Team USA’s Timothy Brownell

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s crunch tie, she added: “I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great battle. We train together, so we know each other’s games. I’m really excited.”

England have won the same number of matches and games as Europe, but have scored fewer points so far despite their win over USA today. Men’s world No.4 ElShorbagy overcame USA’s Timothy Brownell in straight games, while Perry required seven games to defeat world No.20 Olivia Clyne.

Perry said: “With the new format we’re trialling here, I think the concentration is very different. I think we’re all getting used to that and it’s led to some topsy-turvy matches so far, including my match just now.

“I think it’s the the men first (tomorrow), so I’ll be confident in Mo getting on there and doing the job as well. Hopefully he can get me onto the court in a good position and I’ll do my best to bring it home for England.”

Nele Gilis (left) and Kaitlyn Watts in action

Hosts New Zealand A have risen to the top of Pool A after they overcame Canada on day two.

Men’s World No.2 Paul Coll and women’s World No.5 Joelle King are starring on home soil this week and they achieved wins over World No.69 David Baillargeon and World No.17 Hollie Naughton, respectively, to put themselves on the verge of a place in Sunday’s final. They sit at the summit of Pool A courtesy of winning four matches to second-place Canada’s two.

They face Australia tomorrow and a win for Coll against Rex Hedrick or a victory for King against Jessica Turnbull would guarantee them top spot in Pool A.

Coll said: “I’ve gone into this week with a mindset to enjoy it and embrace the crowd.

“I wanted to enjoy it and try and put on a show for the crowd. It’s been a while since they’ve seen top level squash, and we’ve got some greats here, so I hope they have a good week.

Paul Coll volleys against David Baillargeon

“Catching up with friends and family is part of that, going out for lunch, enjoying the beach and the sea. I’m just enjoying my time here, enjoying my squash and hopefully that that transforms into some good performances.”

Scotland overcame Australia in the day’s other Pool A tie, with World No.25 Greg Lobban beating Hedrick 4-1. Lobban’s compatriot, Lisa Aitken, went down to Turnbull in a seven-gamer, but only required two games to win the tie for Scotland, who sit in third in Pool A.

“I’m really happy with today’s performance, it was really enjoyable,” said Lobban. “The quicker and the easier I win, it takes a little bit of the pressure off.

“To lose [the fourth], it could easily get away from you given that it’s only up to seven points with the Powerplay rule too. Before you know it, it could be 3-2, 3-3 and into a decider.”

Greg Lobban (right) wins against Rex Hedrick

2022 Nations Cup, Trustpower Baypark Arena, Tauranga, New Zealand.

Pool A Day Two:
[4] Scotland 1-1 [7] Australia: (Scotland win 7-5 on games)
Greg Lobban (SCO) bt Rex Hedrick (AUS) 4-1: 7-2, 7-6, 7-2, 3-7, 7-1 (42m)
Jessica Turnbull (AUS) bt Lisa Aitken (SCO) 4-3: 5-7, 7-3, 4-7, 7-6, 7-5, 5-7, 7-2 (45m)

[3] Europe 2-0 [8] New Zealand B
Sebastien Bonmalais (FRA) bt Lwamba Chileshe (NZL) 4-1: 2-7, 7-1, 7-5, 7-4, 7-5 (43m)
Nele Gilis (BEL) bt Kaitlyn Watts (NZL) 4-0: 7-4, 7-2, 7-2, 7-2 (28m)

[1] New Zealand A 2-0 [5] Canada
Paul Coll (NZL) bt David Baillargeon (CAN) 4-1: 7-2, 7-2, 7-2, 6-7, 7-2 (35m)
Joelle King (NZL) bt Hollie Naughton (CAN) 4-1: 4-7, 7-2, 7-0, 7-2, 7-5 (32m)

[2] England 2-0 [6] USA
Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) bt Timothy Brownell (USA) 4-0: 7-3, 7-1, 7-1, 7-3 (32m)
Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Olivia Clyne (USA) 4-3: 6-7, 5-7, 7-3, 7-6, 7-5, 0-7, 7-4 (45m)

Day Three (November 5):
[7] Australia v [5] Canada – Pool A
[1] New Zealand A v [4] Scotland – Pool A
[8] New Zealand B v [6] USA – Pool B
[2] England v [3] Europe – Pool B

Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour


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