Stunning maiden win over top-five star propels Kennedy into first PSA Gold quarter-final berth
By ALAN THATCHER and SEAN REUTHE
Georgina Kennedy delivered a stunning victory over Sarah-Jane Perry to share the Black Ball Open headlines with Egypt’s Nour El Tayeb, who celebrated her return to the court with a second round win.
Kennedy claimed the biggest victory of her career after she ended the title defence of England’s No.1 player. Perry won the Gold Black Ball event in December 2020, but bowed out in round two this year after Kennedy recorded an 11-7, 13-11, 11-6 victory to gain her first win over a top five player.
The 24-year-old, ranked at World No.25, will compete in the quarter finals of a PSA Gold event for the first time and she will line up against 19-year-old Egyptian Farida Mohamed, who also caused an upset as she took out World No.7 Joelle King. Kennedy is the only non-Egyptian left in the event.
Kennedy, who beat New Zealand’s Joelle King in the recent US Open, said: “It’s definitely my best result, SJ has always been my an idol of mine.
“I’ve had the opportunity to play her a couple of times and she’s taught me so many lessons. I’ve always taken something away to work on with my coach after playing her.
“I think today I played above my normal level and I sensed she was slightly off and I got some good dying lengths and that was the difference. I’m just so happy to be through.”
Kennedy is tipped for a place in England’s Commonwealth Games squad to play singles and doubles in Birmingham next year.
She will now enter the Black Ball quarter-finals full of confidence against world No.27 Mohamed, who made it back-to-back wins over Joelle King as she achieved a 9-11, 11-8, 3-11, 11-9, 12-10 victory in the opening match of the day. It follows up her shock win over the Kiwi in the Platinum Black Ball Open back in March, 2020.
Mohamed said: “It’s interesting to play top players. The pressure isn’t on you but at the same time, it is time for me to rise up the rankings.
“Joelle is very experienced and she wanted her revenge. It was very hard from the first point, but I’m so happy with this win and I’m glad I managed to focus at the end.”
Former World No.3 Nour El Tayeb made a triumphant return to action after 14 months on the sidelines as she overcame fellow Egyptian Hana Ramadan to reach the quarter finals of the CIB Squash Open Black Ball – just five months after giving birth to a baby daughter.
El Tayeb, who withdrew from the 2020 edition of this tournament last December due to her pregnancy, fought back from a game down to complete a stunning win over World No.33 Hana Ramadan, completing a 9-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-8 victory to move into the last eight of the PSA World Tour Gold event held at the Black Ball Sporting Club.
The 28-year-old – who has slipped to No.9 in the PSA Women’s World Rankings – welcomed her daughter, Farida, into the world in July of this year, together with husband and men’s World No.1 Ali Farag.
“I surprised myself with how I kept hope even after losing the first game,” El Tayeb said.
“I felt a little bit emotional when I saw my parents here, I felt like when I was growing up and they used to come to my matches when I was still a child. To play this way and win was good, although I got quite tense at the end.
“For me, I had to do something, I had to come back to squash, it’s the only thing I do well. I’m happy to have my family here for my first match and I can keep going with the comeback. It’s a nice challenge and I think I can do it.”
El Tayeb will lock horns with World No.1 Nour El Sherbini in the next round. El Sherbini was El Tayeb’s most recent opponent before this week, with the reigning PSA World Champion beating El Tayeb at the CIB Egyptian Open in October, 2020. El Sherbini booked her spot in the last eight courtesy of a comfortable 3-0 win over Belgium’s Nele Gilis.
“The next round is going to be difficult playing Nour [El Tayeb] again, it’s amazing to see her back and winning,” said El Sherbini, who won the Platinum edition of the CIB Black Ball Open in March of this year.
“It’s always been a rivalry between us since we were juniors and have been travelling together, so it’s really good to see her back on court and to be playing against each other.”
There were also wins for World No.2 Nouran Gohar, World No.4 Hania El Hammamy, World No.8 Salma Hany and World No.10 Rowan Elaraby.
Women’s 2021 CIB Black Ball Open, Black Ball Club, Cairo, Egypt.
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Nele Gilis (BEL) 3-0: 11-1, 11-6, 11-2 (25m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt Hana Ramadan (EGY) 3-1: 9-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-8 (36m)
Farida Mohamed (EGY) bt  Joelle King (NZL) 3-2: 9-11, 11-8, 3-11, 11-9, 12-10 (58m)
Georgina Kennedy (ENG) bt  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 13-11, 11-6 (33m)
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt Nada Abbas (EGY) 3-0: 11-7, 11-3, 11-6 (36m)
 Rowan Elaraby (EGY) bt Tesni Evans (WAL) 3-1: 13-11, 14-12, 6-11, 14-12 (58m)
 Salma Hany (EGY) bt Mariam Metwally (EGY) 3-2: 6-11, 11-8, 11-9, 6-11, 11-4 (51m)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt Coline Aumard (FRA) 3-0: 11-4, 11-2, 11-4 (28m)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v  Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
Farida Mohamed (EGY) v Georgina Kennedy (ENG)
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) v  Rowan Elaraby (EGY)
 Salma Hany (EGY) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA