Fiery squash in Weymuller qualifying finals
By LINDA ELRIANI in Brooklyn
Tonight was the last evening of the qualification at the 2015 Carol Weymuller Open. It’s always an exciting round as it really is all or nothing…main draw or out! The matches were very exciting and a fantastic display of how athletic and amazingly skilled the top women squash players are.
Our budding young squash juniors were also busy collecting autographs from the PSA players. It’s always so great to see how inspired they are by these amazing women.
[email protected], held in the Governors Room at the Heights Casino, was packed with members and Corcoran sponsors and everyone enjoyed a delicious lunch. It was a great chance to thank Corcoran for their amazing support of the Carol Weymuller for over 13 years now.
I did an interview with Jenny Duncalf from England, who is the president of the PSA women’s division and former Weymuller champion in 2009 and 2010. The group was treated to some great answers by Jenny and the crowd of patrons was given the opportunity to ask some of their own questions as well.
This was followed by the first of the qualifying finals matches played at 1.30pm between Guyana’s Nicolette Fernandes who is world # 23 and Joshana Chinappa from India who is world #24.So with a full stand of keen and excited members the first match began.
This match was the longest and most closely contested match of the day. The court was hot again and the rallies were long but Joshana took control of the middle of the court and managed to take the first 11-7.
The second started evenly with each player vying for the T and then at 4-4 Nicolette fell and had to have a time out for her bleeding finger. Once the game continued Nicolette squeezed ahead and eventually took the second 13-11.
Nicolette started the third game well but soon Joshana found her momentum and managed to work Nicolette around the court beautifully before using her accurate short game to finish the rallies. Joshana took the third 11-7.
It looked like Joshana was probably going to take the match from here forward but this doesn’t happen when you play someone as feisty as Nicolette! You really have to win every point as she will not go down without giving her all. Nicolette’s amazing retrieving and some attacking volleying along with a few mistakes from Joshana gave Nicolette the fourth game 11-7.
The fifth game started with a couple of unforced errors from both players while they found their rhythm again and it was even with points going back and forth until 5-5. Then, from 5-5, Joshana gave a big push and played the second half of the fifth game error free, while Nicolette suddenly seemed to lost her focus and made some errors and had a couple of strokes against her. This allowed Joshana to go through and win the fifth and final game 11-6.
After her match Joshana said “It’s SOOO hot!!! But it was a great match from beginning to end. I’m happy of course to get through”.
The first evening match on court at 5.30pm was between Kanzy Emad El Defrawy, the world # 36, playing Denmark’s #1 player Line Hansen.
Kanzy started the match on fire with every shot coming off and she rapidly took a 5-1 lead. Line started to find her rhythm as the first game went on but she started too late and Kanzy took the first 11-6.
Kanzy came out in the second with gusto and Line seemed to be reacting to Kanzy’s attacking game rather than playing her own. With a short break for a bleeding knee soon Kanzy took the second 11-5.
In the third Line played incredibly well. She stepped forward, hitting her lengths with weight and purpose and played some really well thought-out short shots to win the points. Kanzy gave everything to stay in the game and was literally diving around the court to win rallies but Line’s squash was too accurate and tight and Kanzy couldn’t stop her from winning the third 11-6.
In the fourth Kanzy took back the control and the huge effort that Line had put into winning the third game seemed to have taken its toll. Kanzy played excellent aggressive squash to win the final game 11-5 to qualify for the main draw.
A very happy and smiling Kanzy said after her win: “I feel great! I’ve never played Line before so I didn’t know what to expect. I just tried to play simple squash. My only problem today was I was a little hyper! When it’s too much it’s not good and I start being all over the court and diving.
“Then, instead of hitting a good length, I was sometimes hitting it too hard and was too excited! I’m really pleased, it’s my first time to qualify for this tournament. I’m excited to keep it going.”
The next match was between world # 32 Samantha Teran from Mexico against Joey Chan the world # 29 from Hong Kong.
Both Joey and Sam play a patient game with great retrieving so in the very warm conditions we knew the match would have long, hard fought rallies.
The points in the first game went evenly back and forth until 5-5 and then Sam sneaked away to get her first game ball at 10-6. Joey pushed to volley more and managed to get back to 10-10. Sam got her second game ball and after probably the longest rally of the day Sam clinched it 12-10.
After the first game Joey gradually took more and more control of the match. Both players varied the pace nicely and Joey threw in some nice holds to stop Sam in her tracks. Joey won the second game 11-7 with an impressive backhand volley drop winner from high above her head.
Now at one all in games both players really wanted to get the 2-1 lead. The third game was very evenly matched and both played really well, varying the pace, looking to volley and use the front of the court when they could, but in the end Joey’s nimble movement and great shot selection won her this important game 11-9.
The last game was error free and played with consistent and constant pressure from Joey. Samantha could no longer hang in the rallies and Joey went through to win 11-4 and qualify for the main draw.
Joey was obviously thrilled to qualify and said: “I’m very happy because it is the second $50,000 tournament that I have qualified for in 3 years. Playing Sam is always a very tough match. She is a strong fighter and she forces you to really concentrate. No matter who I play next I will try my best and with the court being hot here you really have to fight!”
Our last match of the evening was a wonderfully tense and colorful one between two young and very talented Egyptian players, Yathreb Adel and Salma Hany Ibrahim ranked 27 and 20 in the world. They are both only 19 years old but play like they have played at the top level for many, many years!
This match was the complete opposite of the match just before, where the players played long, patient rallies until they got their openings to go short. This match was played in a very aggressive style with both players looking for every single chance to cut the ball off short and finish the point.
Both players moved around the court so incredibly well, as if they almost knew ahead of time what the other person was going to play. This did cause a number of lets throughout the match but made for very entertaining squash.
Yathreb played a great first game with more great tight lengths than Salma and so giving herself more openings to use her creative winners. Yathreb took the first game 11-8.
Salma came out in the second all guns blazing, hitting aggressive hard lengths and holding the ball wherever she could to delay Yathreb’s movement. Yathreb started to make more unforced errors too and Salma took the second in a very impressive 11-5.
The third ended up being the deciding factor for the whole match. Yathreb started the game with more discipline and varying the pace a little more and got a 5-2 lead and then a 9-5 lead. Salma suddenly cut out the errors and pushed up to be in front of Yathreb. Yathreb clung onto her lead and did get game ball first but Salma had other plans and before we knew it Salma had taken the game 12-10.
While Yathreb fought all the way in the fourth Salma’s amazing athleticism and shot production carried her right through to win the match and the fourth game 11-8.
Salma was delighted after the match and said: “The last two tournaments I didn’t make it through the qualification, so for this tournament I was worried not to get through as well. But I told myself to just enjoy playing in one of my favorite tournaments.
“When I lost the first game it crossed my mind that I was going to lose 3-0 and not make it through, but then I told myself to fight for every point and when I came out in the second game I just told myself….win the point and play a good serve, win this point and play a good serve….over and over!!
“It was just so mental today and I know that my mum and brother were watching me (on the live streaming) and sometimes I looked at the camera and imagined they were there supporting in the stands, which helped a lot. Yathreb is a good friend of mine and we have played each other since we were eight years old and still play each now!”
Congratulations to all the players who qualified. All the matches were such great quality squash and everyone thoroughly enjoyed them. The first round matches start tomorrow night at 5.30pm and we are all very much looking forward to watching some more of the amazing squash.
2015 Carol Weymuller Open, Heights Casino, Brooklyn, USA.
Joshana Chinappa beat Nicolette Fernandes 11-7, 11-13, 11-7, 7-11, 11-6.
Kanzy Emad El Defrawy beat Line Hansen 11-6, 11-5, 6-11, 11-5.
Joey Chan beat Samantha Teran 10-12, 11-7, 11-9, 11-4.
Salma Hany Ibrahim beat Yathreb Adel 8-11, 11-5, 12-10, 11-8.
Main Draw, split first round:
5.30pm: Laura Massaro v Salma Hany Ibrahim
6.15pm: Emma Beddoes v Joshana Chinappa
7.00pm: Sarah-Jane Perry v Kanzy Emad El Defrawy
7.45pm: Alison Waters v Joelle King
Pictures by JEAN ERVASTI