Sunday, July 14, 2024

Kawy’s Casino conquest leaves Laura Massaro stunned

Omneya hits the Heights to reach final showdown with Alison Waters
By LINDA ELRIANI – Squash Mad Reporter in Brooklyn

Omneya Abdel Kawy chases the ball into the back left corner as Laura Massaro watches from the T
Omneya Abdel Kawy chases the ball into the back left corner as Laura Massaro watches from the T

Omneya Abdel Kawy produced one of the most outstanding performances of her career to beat world champion Laura Massaro to reach the final of the Carol Weymuller Open. She will face another English opponent after Alison Waters fought back from two games down to overcame Raneem El Welily.  

Abdel Kawy, the 29-year-old world No.14 from Cairo came into the semi-finals in fine form and must have been encouraged by the fact that Massaro had been taken to five games the previous day by 18-year-old Salma Hany Ibrahim.

But few could have expected the events that unfolded at the start of this match in the WSA Gold 50 event at Heights Casino.

The opening game started very much in Omneya’s favor with her taking control of the pace and hitting some excellent winners.

HClauraomLaura looked a little flat and was not getting on to the short shots the way she had been last night and was hitting her shots very one paced, where usually Laura has the ability to vary the pace and control the game so well. With a series of wonderful winners Omneya flew away with the first game 11-2.

In the second game Laura came out looking much more upbeat, her movement was much better and she seemed to be following a game plan now and not playing the reactionary squash she had in the first. A few unforced errors from Omneya too got Laura to an 8-4 lead.

Omneya brought out some crazy flicks and holds which sent Laura completely the wrong way but she battled to find her place on the T and implement her usually steady, smart game. Laura hit a backhand boast winner and a lovely forehand drop from the mid court to take the second game 11-7.

The third game stayed evenly with points but it also didn’t have that much rhythm as a lot of Omneya’s shots were either outright winners or tins. It was as if the whole game was decided by whatever Omneya was going to do.

The score stayed even until 6-6, when Omneya hit three perfect drops to take her head to 9-6. A few more hard fought rallies and a perfect dying forehand length from Omneya took her to 10-8 game ball and with a tricky forehand boast gave Omneya the third 11-9.

In the fourth, Omneya’s confidence was at its highest and she hit so many great winners from spectacular holds, forcing Laura out of position. Laura as always keep fighting to regain her control but today it was Omneya’s day for sure and she went through in style to win the fourth and final game 11-5.

Abdel Kawy is now in her second WSA final of the year, but looking for her first title for four years. She was delighted and said: “I really was enjoying it! When I won the first I wasn’t thinking about winning or losing. Then in the second I started to think about this, so it messed up my game and she played really well in the second too.

“But I tried to get back in the second game at 7-0 down so that even if I lost the game, she knew I was still in the match. I’m happy to win this one. It’s my first gold final in a long time, maybe since 2010. So tomorrow, no pressure, just relax and enjoy it!”  

Earlier, the first semi-final was between the world # 3 and previous Weymuller winner in 2011, Raneem El Welily and world #6 from England, Alison Waters. The head to head was 7-2 in Alison’s favour but Raneem won 3-0 last time they played back in February 2013.

The match started very well for Raneem with great control, wonderful flowing movement and a series of amazing winners all over the court taking her to 10-4 game ball quite quickly! Alison did her best to stick in there, weather the storm and pin Raneem in the back. Ali managed to climb back from 4 to 7 but she couldn’t stop Raneem from taking the first game 11-7.

HCalirantightThe second was very hard fought with long attacking rallies from both players, but Raneem used her great holds and finishing shots and this took her 6-2 up. Ali was hitting some wonderful shots but there didn’t seem to be much that Raneem wasn’t getting back today!

Ali gradually started plugging back the points, keeping a constant pressure on Raneem and the errors started to creep in. Raneem certainly seemed to favoring the front backhand corner and she very often played either an outright winner or an error there. Ali climbed back with some lovely drops and steady play and took the lead at 8-4 for the first time in the match.

Raneem then dug in and retrieved so well and implemented some amazing straight drive winners from the front when under a lot of pressure. The game eventually evened up at 9-9 and at the end of a very long rally Ali hit what you thought was a winning forehand boast, but Raneem managed to not only get onto it, but also play a perfect backhand drop to go 10-9 game ball which she took on her first attempt to go 2-0 up.

Raneem took the first three points of the third game, but Ali was still working so hard to keep structure to her game, trying to volley as much as possible and prevent Raneem from having the middle to play her favorite short shots. Ali climbed back from 0 to 7 in one hand with a combination of her own great play and also errors from Raneem.

The rallies stayed very competitive and hard fought and with a backhand volley boast in the tin from Raneem, Ali came through to have her first game ball of the match at 10-7. Ali played a magnificent volley drop from Raneem’s crosscourt to take the third game 11/7.

We all started to see that it may be possible for Ali to comeback in this match if she could keep this incredible pressure on Raneem and finish off the rallies with great short shots and make no unforced errors. This is obviously easier said than done!

Ali started the fourth off very well and kept her previous momentum going to take a 4-1 then 6-3 lead but this didn’t last for long as Raneem was relentless with her movement and keep defending so well and attacking the ball in short as soon as Ali hit the ball even slightly loose!

With a few winners from Raneem, including a couple of cross court volley rolling nicks off the serve, the game evened up at 9-9. A perfect forehand volley boast gave Ali her chance to equalize the match at 2-2.

Raneem won the next point on a very brave backhand drop, but with a no let and forehand volley drop winner, Ali had her second chance to make it through to the fifth game. Raneem helped Ali on her way to win the fourth 12-10 by playing a lazy forehand crosscourt drop in the tin on an opening!

Ali’s momentum and confidence seemed to be growing and she started off the fifth game exactly the way you always hope you can by taking a 3-0 lead. Raneem hit another rolling crosscourt nick off the serve but that was one of the last great shots from Raneem in the match.

With a couple of great dying lengths and precise drop shots from Ali and many errors from Raneem, Ali went through to from 4 to 11 in one hand to take the match and win herself a much deserved place in the 2014 Carol Weymuller final!

An incredibly happy and red-faced Ali said after the match: “Being 2-0 down I still felt confident because I had played well in the first two. I knew that if I kept persevering I could get the errors from her, especially as I knew she’d had a tough match last night, I told myself to keeping pushing away! It’s nice to be in the final. It’s been a while so I’m really excited and looking forward to it!” 

WSA Gold 50. Carol Weymuller Open (Heights Casino, Brooklyn, New York, USA):

[5] Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) bt [1] Laura Massaro (ENG) 11-2, 7-11, 11-8, 11-5
[3] Alison Waters (ENG) bt [2] Raneem El Welily (EGY) 7-11, 9-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-3



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