Saturday, December 9, 2023

Heights and Lows of squash as Wee Wern sinks Sobhy in Weymuller battle

Low Wee Wern on the ball against Amanda Sobhy

Wee Wern wins it 13-11 in the fifth as King gets a fat lip
By LINDA ELRIANI – Squash Mad Correspondent

Malaysia’s resurgent Low Wee Wern is sure to continue her rise back up the rankings after beating American star Amanda Sobhy in the second round of the Carol Weymuller Open at Heights Casino in Brooklyn, New York.

The former world No.5, currently ranked 24, triumphed 13-11 in the fifth after an absorbing contest lasting 54 minutes. World No.7 Sobhy led 2-1 in games after a tough opening to the match but her movement was exposed in the fourth as Wee Wern powered through 11-3 to set up a thrilling fifth-game decider.

We saw two very different players in style and stature. Wee Wern is very nimble, is incredibly steady and likes to slow the ball down more, and Amanda, one of the two left-handed players in the draw, has wonderful power and strength, and volleys as much as she can.

Both players were so fair and respectful to each other and the referee. It was so lovely to see. It’s not easy to keep your composure under pressure but it can be done, and both Low Wee Wern and Amanda Sobhy showed us how.

Amanda took the control of the first game using her powerful volleys and containing Wee Wern nicely. She took the first 11-8.

In the second game Amanda was in control for the majority of the game, but Wee Wern would not let go and hung in there and took advantage of some errors from Amanda. It was a perfect backhand volley drop and a magnificently tight backhand drive that took Wee Wern through to win the second 12-10.

Amanda get her control back in the third and she won 11-8, but you could see Wee Wern starting to expose Amanda’s movement in certain areas of the court, especially over to Amanda’s forehand where she needs to use her once injured foot to push off the spot.

In the fourth Wee Wern dominated and played a perfect game, managing to pin Amanda back and then chop her in the front. Wee Wern won the fourth 11-3.

In the fifth game Wee Wern worked incredibly hard to gain some points and then Amanda would seamlessly win a few points back quickly. Amanda pushed through and reached match ball at 10-8. But with an amazing backhand drop and a great cross court that wrong footed Amanda, they were yet again completely even in this amazing match … two games all and 10-all. Amanda gained another match ball, but Wee Wern ripped the win out of Amanda’s sweaty hand with a series of brave and skilful shots, including a volley boast winner on the return of serve, a fading forehand drop and a forehand boast winner to take the match 13-11.

Wee Wern, who now meets No.2 seed Nour El Tayeb in the quarters, said: “Finally I get a good win. It’s been a while! It was a good match from the both of us and for the crowd. We have both come back from injury and it was can be very frustrating. There is not a day when you wake up and your body is fine or pain free any more!

“Wins like this make it all feel worth it. I do feel for Amanda as I know how it feels to lose 13-11 in the fifth, especially as we have both not had a great start to the year. In the quarters, Nour, she’s a top four players and she has very good hands, but I am looking forward to being back on court and giving it a go.”

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Earlier, Joelle King, the world No.6 from New Zealand, had to leave the court and the building to have two stitches inserted in her lip after an accidental clash of heads with Yathreb Adel, the world No.16 from Egypt. King was leading by one game to love with the score at 7-7 in the second when the incident occurred.

While play was suspended, Mariam Metwally (Egypt) overcame the higher-ranked Joshna Chinappa from India 11-9 in the fifth. Chinappa, ranked 12, held leads of 7-1 and 9-5 in the final game but Metwally, ranked 30, simply would not give up. Her winners were also accompanied by some loud rants at the referee as the match grew tense.

King returned to the court to complete a 3-1 victory over Adel but it was a tough challenge. Adel won the reconvened second game and the third game took on vital proportions. Kingmanaged to squeeze it 11-9, though she got clipped in her mouth again and luckily this time it did not bleed.

In the fourth game King managed to straighten up the ball really well, especially from the front when Yathreb was expecting a cross court. There was more blood, though, as Yathreb’s racket accidentally caught Joelle’s arm and it started to bleed.

Joelle came off the court yet again and we bandaged it up. Joelle still managed to return to the court with a positive and focused state of mind which was impressive. Yathreb felt the pressure from Joelle’s early volleys and tight lengths and the errors started to creep in, Joelle came through to take this epic match 11-6, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6.

I asked Joelle how she felt and she replied: “Good! I’m glad to get through that one! It was good mentally to come through a match like that that had a lot of challenges. We started the match at 5.30pm and we eventually finished at 9.15pm.

“As a top player these matches are the ones you need to get through. I think my main goal after being hit in the mouth was that I didn’t want to use that as an excuse. If I was going to lose the match it had to be because she played better than me. In these tournaments whoever you play is a tough match. Mariam and I have only played once before so we will see what happens.”

Reigning champion Nour El Tayeb faced young compatriot Farida Mohamed, who is only 18 and already 52 in the world.

These two players had not met before. And, as we saw, they also have completely different games. Nour likes to use the whole court and take the ball in short if there is an opportunity, varying the pace. Farida is the hardest hitting female player I believe I have ever seen! Even though she is young, she is tall and very strong and has an imposing presence on the court.

Nour really had to grind and suck up the power to get her opportunities. Nour won the first and second games, taking both by an 11-5 margin.

It was in the third that Farida’s relentless power really started to have an effect. It was difficult for Nour to control and use her finesse as Farida won the third 11/9.

In the fourth game Nour found more composure and tried to step forward and volley more to get her position on the T. This definitely worked as she came through to take it 11-7. If Farida manages to bring some variation in pace and some fading drop shots into her game, I’m sure she will become a very formidable player.

Nour said: “I’m very happy, actually. I fought hard, but the squash wasn’t fun, because it was hard to control her hard hitting. It was very difficult to play my own shots as the ball was so warm. So I had to dig in and play squash that’s not really my game to hang in there. I am very happy to be in the quarter finals.”

PSA $51,250 Women’s Carol Weymuller Open 2020, Heights Casino, Brooklyn, New York, USA.

Second Round (bottom half):
[4] Joelle King (NZL) bt [9/16] Yathreb Adel (EGY) 11-6, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6
[9/16] Mariam Metwally (EGY) bt [6] Joshna Chinappa (IND) 11-9, 11-6, 10-12, 9-11, 11-9 (62m)
[9/16] Low Wee Wern (MAS) bt [5] Amanda Sobhy (USA) 8-11, 12-10, 8-11, 11-3, 13-11 (54m)
[2] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt Farida Mohamed (EGY) 11-5, 11-5, 9-11, 11-7 (37m)
[1] Nouran Gohar (EGY) v Donna Lobban (AUS)
[3] Camille Serme (FRA) v [8] Salma Hany (EGY)
[4] Joelle King (NZL) v [9/16] Mariam Metwally (EGY)
[2] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v [9/16] Low Wee Wern (MAS) 

Pictures courtesy of JEAN ERVASTI


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