Top seed drops first game to Mexico’s Samantha Teran
By ALEX WAN – Editor, Squash Mad Asian Bureau
World No.1 Laura Massaro flirted with elimination in the opening round of the Naza PSA Women’s World Championship after she overcame a one-game deficit against experienced Mexican Samantha Teran in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Massaro, who was returning to the country where she won the 2013 World Championship, looked off the pace in the early exchanges and went a game down after a tenacious display from Teran saw her overrun the tournament top seed.
After falling 9-7 behind in game two, Massaro dug in and called on all of her mental strength to launch a spirited comeback to level things up and she followed that up by taking two further games to record a 9-11, 13-11, 11-6, 11-3 triumph.
“In practice over the last few days, the court felt really bouncy but, when we got on there, it just seemed to be dead,” said Massaro, who will face Indian No.1 Joshna Chinappa in the second round.
“In the first two games I was struggling with my length and leaving the ball short and she was picking me off. It was quite dead at the front so I wasn’t getting there quick enough. Maybe I was a little bit flat emotionally, in the first game particularly.
“In the second game, I had to get my body language up a little bit. I tried to use a bit more height on the front wall. I felt like I found my range, but I thought the ball also went a bit dead in the second game. It’s definitely something to learn from.”
Egyptian shot-making sensation Raneem El Welily will join Massaro in round two courtesy of a devastating display against Tesni Evans which saw the World No.3 advance in straight games.
El Welily showcased some of her best squash against her Welsh opponent, who began well in the opening two games but ultimately succumbed to El Welily’s craft and even saw a strong serve punished with a sumptuous drop from the back of the court from El Welily in the second.
The World No.3 maintained an inch-perfect weight of shot throughout the encounter and forced Evans into a number of defensive positions to claim an 11-5, 11-2, 11-6 win in just 27-minutes to ensure that she will take on Joelle King in the last eight.
“It was tough mentally as it was the first match of the tournament,” said El Welily.
“I was very excited and very nervous at the same time. I’m happy that I managed to stay calm. I’m happy with the way I played today and I hope I can stay as focused in the next match.”
World number 12 Nour El Tayeb, making her first appearance since the US Open last year, needed just 24 minutes to beat Hong Kong qualifier Liu Tsz Ling 11-6, 11-7, 11-3.
The 23-year-old showed no signs of that shoulder injury that laid her out for six months as she quickly sealed her place in the second round.
“This was my first match in six months and I spoke with my coaches on how to prepare myself for this match,” said El Tayeb.
“I’ve watched her play before and I knew what to expect. I was more focused on my own game and it’s a good win as I look to build up my confidence match by match.
“I’m also feeling a lot stronger since my injury. I had surgery after the US Open and I don’t think I’ll be doing any more dives or splits for a while.”
After El Tayeb, seventh seed Amanda Sobhy got the job done even quicker as she took 23 minutes to beat Kiwi qualifier Megan Craig 11-4, 11-5, 11-2.
The crowd was slowly building up for the Malaysian double header later in the evening. But former world number five Low Wee Wern was unable to deliver as she crashed out in straight sets despite a good display against New Zealand’s Joelle King.
Wee Wern, who missed months of action due to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, lost 9-11, 6- 11, 7-11 to the Kiwi.
The Malaysians did, however, have something to cheer as world number 15 Delia Arnold delivered a classy performance to beat Egyptian qualifier Mariam Metwally.
Delia, who has never ventured beyond the first round of the world meet in six previous attempts, won 12-10, 10-12, 12-10, 11-9 to set up a second round clash with Egypt’s Omneya Abdel Kawy, who beat England’s Emily Whitlock in straight games..
“It was my first time meeting Mariam and I knew it was going to be a tough match. But I played well enough to win in four. Now I have a day’s rest before I prepare to take on Omneya,” said Delia.
PSA W185 Naza Women’s World Championship 2016, Bukit Jalil National Squash Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Results – First Round (Top Half):
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [Q] Samantha Teran (MEX) 3-1: 9-11, 13-11, 11-6, 11-3 (46m)
Joshna Chinappa (IND) bt Victoria Lust (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-3, 11-5 (27m)
Delia Arnold (MAS) bt [Q] Mariam Metwally (EGY) 3-1: 12-10, 10-12, 12-10, 11-9 (59m)
 Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) bt Emily Whitlock (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-9, 11-7 (27m)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt [Q] Megan Craig (NZL) 3-0: 11-4, 11-5, 11-2 (23m)
Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt [Q] Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-7, 11-3 (24m)
Joelle King (NZL) bt [WC] Low Wee Wern (MAS) 3-0: 11-9, 11-6, 11-7 (38m)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt Tesni Evans (WAL) 3-0: 11-5, 11-2, 11-6 (27m)
Draw – First Round (Bottom Half):
 Camille Serme (FRA) v [Q] Joey Chan (HKG)
[Q] Olivia Blatchford (USA) v Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
Jenny Duncalf (ENG) v [Q] Nadine Shahin (EGY)
[Q] Coline Aumard (FRA) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v Donna Urquhart (AUS)
Dipika Pallikal (IND) v Annie Au (HKG)
Alison Waters (ENG) v Heba El Torky (EGY)
Rachael Grinham (AUS) v  Nicol David (MAS)
Pictures by ROSLAN HISAM (mroslanhisam.com)