‘It was really exciting seeing my name alongside seven Egyptians in the quarter-finals’
By ALAN THATCHER and SEAN REUTHE
England’s Georgina Kennedy will line up in the semi-finals of a PSA World Tour Gold event for the first time after she put in a devastating performance to beat world No.27 Farida Mohamed at the CIB Black Ball Open in Cairo.
World No.25 Kennedy, who has won eight titles on the PSA Challenger Tour in 2021, overcame England No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry in the previous round in straight games. And she continued her fine form against Mohamed as she recorded a 12-10, 11-8, 11-6 victory to seal her last-four berth.
“I am still in shock a bit right now,” said Kennedy, who was the only non-Egyptian to line up in the quarter finals.
“It was cool last night. My parents were watching SQUASHTV and saw the quarter-final line-up and it was my name along with seven Egyptians, so it’s really exciting. Egypt is known for being the dominant force in squash, so I am really proud that I can immerse myself amongst those girls.
“[To win] is a tough task for sure with the quality of the players still in the draw. I think I just need to focus on my game and not think too much about who I am playing because it’s quite intimidating, the quality of the squash that these girls play. I have been watching them at home on SQUASHTV and now I am here playing with them.”
The 24-year-old will go up against World No.1 Nour El Sherbini in the semi-finals after she got the better of World No.9 Nour El Tayeb in straight games.
El Tayeb is appearing at her first tournament in 14 months and gave birth to a baby daughter in July of this year. The 28-year-old tested El Sherbini in the opening game and certainly showed glimpses of her shot-making talents, but the reigning world champion proved to be too much for El Tayeb to handle as El Sherbini closed out an 11-9, 11-7, 11-5 victory.
El Sherbini reached the final of the Gold edition of the Black Ball event in 2019 and will compete against Kennedy for the first time in her career.
“She [El Tayeb] is a fighter and it is very inspiring that she is back and playing like this,” El Sherbini said.
“I don’t think anyone could believe she has just given birth five months ago. It is really amazing and I didn’t expect that she would push me that hard, but I am really happy to see her playing like this and she will get fitter and get better over the next few tournaments. I was a bit emotional playing her today.”
The other semi final will see world No.2 Nouran Gohar up against world No.4 Hania El Hammamy, who finished runner-up at the Gold tier Black Ball event last December.
The 24-year-old Gohar came back from a game down against fellow Egyptian Salma Hany to reach the semi finals of a Black Ball event for the first time since the inaugural edition back in 2019.
“I think we have played every tournament this season, me and Hania,” said Gohar.
“We always have great battles and I really enjoy it on court with her. I think we bring the best out of each other and it is good for the game. We have played in different occasions, in quarter finals, semi finals and finals. I am really excited for tomorrow’s battle.”
El Hammamy, who won the Platinum tier Black Ball Open in 2020, dispatched compatriot Rowan Elaraby by an 11-9, 11-7, 11-4 scoreline to earn her spot in the last four.
“I am definitely happy to get through, it is never easy playing Rowan, we have a long history in juniors,” El Hammamy said.
“Before the match, I saw the head-to-head and it was 6-3 in my favour, even though I felt I lost a lot of finals in World Juniors to her, so I didn’t think I had the upper hand. We have a long rivalry and we will play a lot on the PSA World Tour as well. I have a lot of memories of playing Rowan, so I am happy with the win and definitely happy with how I handled the pressure.”
Women’s 2021 CIB Black Ball Open, Black Ball Club, Cairo, Egypt.
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt  Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 11-7, 11-5 (33m)
Georgina Kennedy (ENG) bt Farida Mohamed (EGY) 3-0: 12-10, 11-8, 11-6 (32m)
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt  Rowan Elaraby (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 11-7, 11-4 (39m)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt  Salma Hany (EGY) 3-1: 9-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-8 (46m)
Semi Finals (December 15):
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v Georgina Kennedy (ENG)
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA