Marie Stephan wins tense tiebreak to earn maiden title in Montreal
By HOWARD HARDING – Squash Mad Correspondent
The surprise all-French climax of the Women’s Montreal Open in Canada went the full distance as compatriots Marie Stephan and Melissa Alves battled to secure success in their first ever WSA World Tour final.
But after a tie-break in the decider, it was eighth seed Stephan who prevailed over unseeded Alves to win the WSA Challenger 5 squash event in its fifth year at Club Sportif MAA in Montreal.
US-based Stephan, a student at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, made her breakthrough in the semi-finals where the 19-year-old from Nimes toppled top seed Hollie Naughton.
It was in the previous round that Alves upset the form book. Playing in her first WSA Tour event for more than two years – and currently ranked 216 in the world – the 21-year-old from Paris defeated second-seeded compatriot Cyrielle Peltier in a five-game marathon before taking out Mexico’s No.5 seed Nayelly Hernandez in the semis.
“Smaller pro events can often be interesting,” commented tournament organiser Yvon Provencal (pictured above with Stephan, centre, and Alves). “Players in the draw range from veterans with a ranking that is slipping, to players trying to get valuable ranking points to younger players just starting their career.
“The Montreal Open had all of those and the final had two unexpected players in the final. Unseeded Melissa upset the 6th, 5th and second seed. She has played less than 10 WSA events and this is her first event in the last two years.
“Eighth seed Marie upset the 3rd and 1st seed en-route to the final. After a successful junior career, was in her first WSA.”
Stephan twice came from behind to win the final 10-12, 11-6, 4-11, 11-7, 12-10 in 62 minutes in a maiden WSA Tour title triumph which is sure to see the French teenager make a dramatic jump from her current world ranking of 214.
Women’s Montreal Open, Montreal, Canada
Alexandra Norman (CAN) bt  Reyna Pacheco (MEX) 11-4, 11-6, 11-3 (25m)
 Diana Garcia (MEX) bt Michelle Craig (CAN) 11-6, 11-0, 11-4 (15m)
 Marie Stephan (FRA) bt Jessica Scott (CAN) 11-2, 11-2, 11-7 (15m)
 Nayelly Hernandez (MEX) bt Tara Newman (CAN) 11-5, 11-3, 11-7 (21m)
 Sachika Ingale (IND) bt Genevieve Lessard (CAN) 11-6, 11-6, 13-11 (25m)
Melissa Alves (FRA) bt  Melina Turk (CAN) 11-8, 11-6, 11-6 (20m)
 Hollie Naughton (CAN) bt Alexandra Norman (CAN) 11-8, 11-7, 5-11, 1-11, 11-2 (45m)
 Marie Stephan (FRA) bt  Diana Garcia (MEX) 12-10, 11-8, 13-11 (38m)
 Nayelly Hernandez (MEX) bt  Sachika Ingale (IND) 11-6, 11-8, 9-11, 9-11, 11-9 (48m)
Melissa Alves (FRA) bt  Cyrielle Peltier (FRA) 8-11, 4-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-7 (67m)
 Marie Stephan (FRA) bt  Hollie Naughton (CAN) 11-3, 14-16, 7-11, 11-8, 11-6 (68m)
Melissa Alves (FRA) bt  Nayelly Hernandez (MEX) 11-9, 11-7, 12-10 (38m)
 Marie Stephan (FRA) bt Melissa Alves (FRA) 10-12, 11-6, 4-11, 11-7, 12-10 (62m)
Picture courtesy of WSA