World champion taken to five by Egyptian teenager Salma Hany
By LINDA ELRIANI – Squash Mad Reporter at the Heights Casino in Brooklyn
World champion Laura Massaro had to battle through a five-game challenge from teenage Egyptian Salma Hany Ibrahim before reaching the semi-finals of the Carol Weymuller Open.
The 18-year-old played outstanding squash and a shock looked on the cards until Massaro’s greater experience saw her home in the fifth game. Before a packed crowd at Heights Casino, Massaro finally emerged triumphant 11-6, 11-8, 9-11, 9-11, 11-4.
“I felt like I was dominating in the first two games and I just lost a little bit of my focus. I just tried to get my body language up and find a bit of composure towards the end.
“I’m really happy to be in the semis,” added the 2012 champion. “It’s all a bonus from here!”
Another talented Egyptian lies in wait in the semi-finals after a relaxed Omneya Abdel Kawy held off the challenge of higher-ranked compatriot Nour El Tayeb to claim a first-time appearance in the semi-finals of this historic WSA Gold 50 squash event.
Fifth seed Abdel Kawy held a 6-2 head-to-head advantage over her younger Cairo colleague going into the match – but it was El Tayeb who had the upper hand in last month’s clash in the Atlantis Open on home soil, and the 21-year-old qualifier who now boasts a higher world ranking of eight after a sensational recent run on the WSA World Tour.
The control of the match kept switching back and forth between the players, with Omneya playing a great first game, with some very powerful lengths and lovely holds which worked Nour out of position. There was some lovely squash from both players but Omneya was more in control and won the first game 11-8.
In the second it was Nour’s turn to take control and Omneya made a whole bunch of unforced errors to give Nour a 7-1 lead. Omneya found her game a little at the end but Nour finished the game with a great deceptive crosscourt that sent Omneya the wrong way, winning 11-4.
Later, Abdel Kawy revealed the secret of her success: “It’s lack of pressure: this week I’ve told myself ‘Omneya just relax and enjoy’ – and it’s worked!
“I feel good inside the court and I’m enjoying every shot in the rally. Even if it’s a long rally, I’m not pressurising myself to win on the next shot.”
Looking forward to her next match, Abdel Kawy added: “I haven’t played Laura for a while since the British Open last year. I just want to enjoy it tomorrow!”
The other semi will also be an Anglo-Egyptian affair when Londoner Alison Waters, the third seed, takes on 2011 champion Raneem El Welily, the No2 seed from Cairo.
Both players had faced WSA opponents for the first time – Waters despatching Guyana’s top-ranked player Nicolette Fernandes 14-12, 11-2, 11-4, while El Welily twice had to fight back from behind to overcome England’s Emma Beddoes 13-15, 11-6, 7-11, 11-4, 11-4.
“I knew Nicolette had had a monster match last night so I knew a tough first game would take it out of her, which it did,” explained world No7 Waters later. “But she still sticks in and keeps going, which I knew she would. I was quite pleased to play well and close out the match.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Raneem is obviously a great player. We haven’t played in a while so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in there!”
El Welily’s response after surviving her close encounter was brief and succinct: “Thank God!” said the 25-year-old world No3.
RESULTS: Carol Weymuller Open, Heights Casino, Brooklyn, New York, USA:
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [Q] Salma Hany Ibrahim (EGY) 11-6, 11-8, 9-11, 9-11, 11-4
 Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) bt [Q] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 11-8, 4-11, 11-8, 11-9
 Alison Waters (ENG) bt Nicolette Fernandes (GUY) 14-12, 11-2, 11-4
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt Emma Beddoes (ENG) 13-15, 11-6, 7-11, 11-4, 11-4
 Laura Massaro (ENG) v  Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) v  Alison Waters (ENG)
Pictures by JEAN ERVASTI