Thursday, April 18, 2024

Nour El Sherbini hits the Heights

Nour El Sherbini (left) and runner-up Joelle King with Heights Casino's squash director Linda Elriani
Nour El Sherbini (left) and runner-up Joelle King with Heights Casino’s squash director Linda Elriani

Egyptian ends Joelle King’s run in Brooklyn final
By LINDA ELRIANI in Brooklyn


Nour El Sherbini overcame New Zealand’s Joelle King to win the final of the 2015 Carol Weymuller Open in straight games, 11-5, 11-6, 11-3 at Heights Casino in Brooklyn, New York.

Today was the final day of our 2015 Carol Weymuller Open. It’s been a tremendous week of squash and the PSA players have definitely left everyone inspired and motivated. The tournament is named after Carol Weymuller, who started the junior squash program here at The Heights Casino many years back and it has obviously grown and expanded along with the sport.

We always like to thank Carol for all her hard work and dedication back at the start, as we wouldn’t be where we are today with our program if she had not been forward thinking enough to develop squash in this area.

At 7.30pm the bleachers were packed with eager members, anticipating the outcome. Our finalists Joelle King from New Zealand, who was former world # 4, before her injury, and Nour El Sherbini from Egypt who is world #7, looked bouncy and eager to go.

Both players knew this was their last huge effort after a very successful and tiring week at the Weymuller. They will both have a couple of days off before the US Open starts in Philadelphia later this week. Either way they will both being going on to the next tournament full of confidence and high spirits.

In the head to head Nour was 3-1 up but both players have had plenty of experience in finals, especially Joelle. This was Joelle’s 17th Tour final, with eight titles under her belt and it was Nour’s ninth tour final with four titles to her name.

This match was going to be particularly interesting as both players, while very much on-form, play very different styles. Joelle plays a very fast, precise and attacking game, stepping forward on the court and has more traditional tactics of cutting the ball off around the T.

Nour varies the pace more and goes short with wonderful creative shots at almost every opportunity and tries to twist and turn her opponent and take away their rhythm. Who was going to manage to force their game plan over the other? We would soon find out.

The match started out with both players playing long, patient rallies and trying to find their own rhythm. The score stayed even through to 4-4 but then Nour, who had been uncharacteristically patient so far, started to slot in her wonderful winning shots as soon as Joelle hit a slightly lose or short length.

Nour went storming through, putting a very eager Joelle under so much pressure that she clipped the tin on a couple of openings. Nour’s movement was also particularly fast and fluid today and even when Joelle looked to have played a winner, Nour was onto it and re-applying pressure again.

The game finished in Nour’s favor with an amazing forehand volley drop winner from a high length that would usually be good enough to get someone out of trouble! Nour won the game 11-5.

Could Joelle come out in the second and find her usual faster paced deep lengths and start to control the middle of the court again or would Nour continue her near perfect game plan?
The second game started out much the same, with lots of patient long rallies and Joelle was trying so hard to really take some control. The points stayed even until 4-4 again and then Nour started surging forward through the points, playing better and better squash!

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Nour seemed to be consciously keeping the pace slower and this forced Joelle to also hit with less pace and purpose and it was definitely working in Nour’s favor. With some errors from Joelle and an array of winners from Nour after patient thought out rallies, Nour got herself up to 10-5 game ball again. With one perfect backhand drop from Joelle she squeezed out one more point but then a perfect forehand drop in the nick from Nour took her to a 2-0 lead, winning the second 11-6.

In the third game Nour was basically on fire. She played a perfect game of squash. She was so poised, calm, focused and error free! Whilst Joelle kept trying her best, she looked like she had run out of ideas of how to stop this barrage of amazing squash. The more Joelle tried, harder it became and Nour took advantage of every single tiny opportunity! Nour stormed through to take the third 11-3 and also the much deserved title of 2015 Carol Weymuller Open champion!

An absolutely thrilled Nour said: “I was really focused and really wanted to win. I was trying to be patient and calm and just wait for the right opportunity and that made the difference. Thank you to my brother for being here, I’ve finally won a tournament and he was here!

“Also to my parents for staying up and watching me at 2am (on the streaming) and my squash and fitness coach and Amr Shabana, the national coach. They all called me today and gave me the plan and it worked. Thanks to my sponsors EZZ Steel, Tecnifibre and ‘Brqthru’. Thanks for a great tournament and to the Mendez family for hosting me. See you again next year!”

A disappointed looking Joelle said: “I guess I feel mixed emotions right now, with getting so close to the finish line and getting pipped at the post. All credit to Nour, she played impeccable squash and capitalized on every opportunity and didn’t let me play my way into the game. I guess I’m just really happy to be back competing again and looking forward to coming back next year – hopefully not as a wild card!”

Results, 2015 Weymuller Open, Heights Casino, Brooklyn, New York, USA.

(5) Nour El Sherbini (Egypt) beat (WC) Joelle King (New Zealand) 11-5, 11-6, 11-3. 

Pictures by JEAN ERVASTI


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