By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor
All four of the top seeds in action on day three of the CIB PSA Black Ball Open, Nouran Gohar, Camille Serme, Amanda Sobhy and Salma Hany, won in straight games to power through to the last 16 of the PSA World Tour Platinum event at Cairo’s Black Ball Sporting Club.
Gohar, the World No.2, began her tournament with a comfortable 3-0 victory over experienced Englishwoman Alison Waters, winning 11-8, 11-3, 11-4 in 32 minutes.
The pair met in December’s Black Ball Open when Gohar narrowly won a captivating five-game contest 14-12 in the decider. This time around, the No.2 seed was firing on all cylinders and she moves on to face USA’s Olivia Clyne in the next round.
“Getting Alison first round isn’t easy at all, it’s one of the toughest draws you can get,” said Gohar.
“She’s one of the most experienced players on tour right now. We had such a battle on the same court [in December] and this scenario never happens when you play the next tournament on the same court against the same player. It could have gone either way last match, so I was really careful from the beginning.
“Last time the crowd was very tense and they had a heart attack I think, so I didn’t want to do the same to them today.”
World No.3 Serme is looking to bounce back from the disappointing quarter-final exit she suffered in December’s Black Ball Open and she made a strong start to this edition with a commanding 3-0 win against Egypt’s Mayar Hany.
An 11-6, 11-6, 11-1 victory will see the Frenchwoman take on Canada’s Hollie Naughton for a place in the quarter-finals.
“It was quite demanding physically and mentally as well,” said Serme, who won the French Nationals last week.
“I tried to find my mark on the court, I wasn’t creating enough sometimes but I was fighting and trying to get every ball she would throw. That was the good point, I felt good on my legs. I’ve been at home, struggling a bit with a small injury, so I’m not 100% fit yet but I’m happy to be competing again and we’ll see what happens this week.”
US No.1 Sobhy also began her tournament in Cairo and recorded a 3-0 victory over England’s Julianne Courtice. The World No.7 from Boston will line up against Egypt’s Farida Mohamed in the next round after the Egyptian defeated World No.27 Millie Tomlinson.
“I was really, really excited and had so much pent up energy, so I was very happy to be out there,” Sobhy said.
“I’ve had some decent results [at the Black Ball Sporting Club] especially at the last one, so I’m coming off some good vibes which I’m excited about also. My dad lives between here and the tournament hotel, so it’s a home club type of vibe which is very nice. It makes me feel comfortable and happy to play.”
World No.10 Salma Hany was also a victor as she navigated a tricky tie against World No.12 Nele Gilis with relative ease, winning 11-9, 11-6, 11-6 in 39 minutes. Two-time World Junior Champion Rowan Elaraby lies in wait in the third round after she took out Sana Ibrahim in straight games.
“I felt pretty good out there to be honest,” said Hany afterwards. “I was very excited for the match, it’s an exciting first round for me. Nele is an amazing athlete and she keeps improving her squash every tournament. I had a game plan and I’m glad I stuck to it, I just had to accept that in some rallies, I’m going to have to run and dig deep but I enjoyed it all the way, and I’m really happy I managed to get through in three.”
Women’s 2021 CIB PSA Black Ball Squash Open, Black Ball Sporting Club, Nw Cairo, Egypt.
Second Round (Bottom Half):
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt Mayar Hany (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 11-6, 11-1 (25m)
Hollie Naughton (CAN) bt Zeina Mickawy (EGY) 3-1: 10-12, 14-12, 11-8, 11-5 (44m)
Farida Mohamed (EGY) bt Millie Tomlinson (ENG) 3-1: 15-13, 5-11, 11-6, 11-4 (34m)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Julianne Courtice (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-7, 11-3 (26m)
 Salma Hany (EGY) bt Nele Gilis (BEL) 3-0: 11-9, 11-6, 11-6 (39m)
Rowan Elaraby (EGY) bt Sana Ibrahim (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 13-11, 11-9 (35m)
Olivia Clyne (USA) bt Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS) 3-1: 7-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-8 (47m)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt Alison Waters (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-3, 11-4 (32m)
Third Round (March 15):
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v Tinne Gilis (BEL)
Olivia Fiechter (USA) v  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
 Joelle King (NZL) v Nadine Shahin (EGY)
Joshna Chinappa (IND) v  Hania El Hammamy (EGY)
 Camille Serme (FRA) v Hollie Naughton (CAN)
Farida Mohamed (EGY) v  Amanda Sobhy
 Salma Hany (EGY) v Rowan Elaraby (EGY)
Olivia Clyne (USA) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA