WSA hopefuls hit new Heights in Weymuller qualifiers
By LINDA ELRIANI – Squash Mad Reporter in Brooklyn
The 2014 Carol Weymuller Squash Tournament is now underway with the first eight qualification matches producing some exciting squash on our Heights Casino courts.
The weather in NY still very warm and consequently the courts are very hot and bouncy making the rallies very long and winners difficult to cultivate.
The 5.30pm match between Tesni Evans (right) the world # 27 from Wales against American Cecelia Cortes who is world #72. Tesni played a relaxed match, controlling the games with medium-paced shots, throwing in some holds and short winners when the chances came up.
Cecelia did a good job of trying to stay in the rallies and hustle for the T but Tesni controlled the middle too well and consequently came through 11/6, 11/5, 11/3.
Tesni said after her match “It’s nice and warm in there!! I like it!! I have played Cece once before – this time last year and I won then too, but she hard to play and she’d got good control. It’s my 1st time to Brooklyn and I love it!! I’m happy to get through tonight and it’ll be another tough match tomorrow!!”
The second 5.30pm match was between Mexican and world #39 Samantha Teran and Syoli Waters who is world #37 from South Africa. They are the closest in ranking in the qualifying draw which made for a very closely contested match.
Both players played at a fast pace and with the hot conditions the rallies where long and hard fought. The first two games were very even with the points going back and forth and as the match went on Samantha seemed to find her game and control the T, though Siyoli kept pushing hard and gave 100% effort right the way through.
Samantha (left) won 3-1 in the end and when I asked her how she felt about the match she said “I think I played good. I’ve never played Siyoli before and I’ve never seen her play before! I think the first game was to find out how we both played and then the second was very close through the points and she was volleying everything.
“In the third and fourth games I played much better as I knew what to do, but she kept fighting! It was a really good match, very clean and I enjoyed the match in general. Everyone is playing very good so you need to play your best to have a chance to win. I always enjoy playing here in Brooklyn”.
Tesni and Samantha T play at 1.30pm tomorrow,
It was a packed audience at 6.15pm on the championship court when our very own local Haley Mendez played young Egyptian Salma Hany Ibrahim. Haley has grown up playing squash at the Heights Casino and is currently studying and playing squash at Harvard.
Salma got off to great start and cut off every ball short that Haley didn’t manage to get deep enough. Haley started to find her length as the match went on and get in front and she hit a few perfect dying drives into the back, but Salma was making no unforced errors and it became increasingly hard for Haley to pin Salma in the back of the court.
Haley kept trying hard to force Salma deep but in the end Salma came through 11/5,11/6,11/5. Haley said “I’m feeling good. I unfortunately didn’t feel as prepared as I wanted to be because I wasn’t allowed on court for the last 2 weeks (due to a concussion), but it’s always fun to be home and playing at the Casino in front of a home crowd.”
Salma said after her win “I’m feeling good. I love the atmosphere here. It’s my first time to the States and I’m really enjoying the area and the people are so friendly. I am happy with the way I played and tomorrow I’m looking forward to play for a chance to make the main draw”.
The second 6.15pm match was between Victoria Lust world #30 from England and Brazilian Thaisa Serafina who is currently world #78. Vicky was the dominant player in the first two games and Thaisa gave a big push in the third taking a brief lead at 9-8 but Vicky manage to finish off the match and go through to the final round of the qualifying in 3 games.
I asked Vicky after her match if she was happy and she said “Yep, very happy, it’s always good to win! Thaisa played a lot better in the third game, the third game was tough. Tough match tomorrow against Salma. I won 3-2 last time, but it was long and close! I’m looking forward to having some Thai food now!!
Vicky plays Salma at 6.15pm tomorrow.
The 7.00pm match on the east court was between 2 budding young American players, Olivia Blatchford who has recently won her first WSA title and top USA junior Sabrina Sobhy. Olivia (right) looked as fit and composed as I have ever seen her, moving lightly, playing a very mature game, precise length and accurate short shorts.
Sabrina played well and produced some impressive winners out of nowhere from time to time, but didn’t seem to have enough purpose to her game today to topple Olivia. Olivia came through in an impressive 11/3, 11/8, 11/4.
Olivia said after her win “I’m pleased with that. It’s always tough to play a team mate, especially Sabrina who is super talented. I’m coming into this with a bit of confidence (after winning a tournament in Mexico). I didn’t hit many tins, which can sometimes happen. My short game worked well today and it was fun! I’m looking forward to tomorrow and hoping for a spot in the main draw!”
The other 7.00pm match was between top Canadian Samantha Cornett, world # 32 and Argentinean world # 89 Belen Etchechoury. Samantha played a steady straight game and managed to control runs of points which made it tough for Belen to find her rhythm.
Samantha (left) came through to make the final of the qualifying in 3 and said afterwards: “Basically I cut the court down as she has really good kills and whenever I gave her space to hit her kill-she HIT her kill!!
“I hit a lot of straight lengths and looked for the volley drops and also threw in a couple of holds. I played Olivia at the Pan Ams recently and I won, so hopefully I can repeat that!!
Samantha plays Olivia at 7.00pm tomorrow.
The 7.45pm match was between American and world #38 veteran Latasha Khan and world # 56 from New Zealand Amanda Landers-Murphy.
Latasha’s immense experience and great use of the court came through tonight and she won her first match of the 2014 Weymuller in four games.
Latasha commented ‘I’m happy to be in my home club in New York!!! I love playing here, I love the members, I love beating Cristian, the manager at doubles!!!:-) I want to thank my lucky charms….Martha, Laura and my nephew Salim.”
Lastly but certainly not least was Egyptian Nour El Tayeb against follow countryman Kanzy Emad El-Defrawy who is world #76. Nour has recently had a wonderful run, beating top ranked players in some major tournaments. Nour’s ranking has just moved up to its highest ever of world # 8, but unfortunately not in time for the closing date of this tournament, so Nour still has to qualify!!!
The match was full of many winners! Kanzy was vying for the T and trying to take the ball as early as possible but Nour managed to keep her game steady enough to force errors from Kanzy and play the big points better. Nour came through in a very tight 3-1 going down to the wire in the 4th 14-12.
Nour said “Kanzy and I train together in Cairo in the same club in the same league, so she knows my game well. Kanzy’s been playing well and recently won a tournament in Toronto so I was expecting a tough match. Luckily I managed to win the tie break in the end in the 4th game! Latasha and I have only played once and she won so I’m up for revenge!! Though I have to remember she is on the WSA board!!!:-)”
It was a truly fantastic evening of squash to start off the 2014 Carol Weymuller Open. Congratulations to all the winners and we look forward to the final round of the qualifying tomorrow. The first match is starting at 1.30pm, after the ‘Weymuller At-Lunch’ luncheon and the other 3 matches will continue on at 6.15pm.
Carol Weymuller Open, Heights Casino, Brooklyn, New York, USA.
Tesni Evans V Cecelia Cortes 11/6, 11/5, 11/3
Samantha Teran V Siyoli Waters 11/9, 9/11, 11/7, 11/4
Victoria Lust V Thaisa Serafina 11/4, 11/5, 11/9.
Salma Hany Ibrahim V Haley Mendez 11/5, 11/6, 11/5
Olivia Blatchford V Sabrina Sobhy 11/3, 11/8, 11/4
Samantha Cornett V Belen Etchechoury 11/8, 11/3, 11/6
Latasha Khan V Amanda Landers-Murphy 11/4, 11/3, 7/11, 11/4.
Nour El Tayeb V Kanzy Emad El-Defrawy 11/6, 6/11, 11/8, 14/12.
1.30pm (after the Weymuller At-lunch luncheon) Tesni Evans V Samantha Teran
6.15pm Vicky Lust V Salma Hany Ibrahim
7.00pm Samantha Cornett V Olivia Blatchford
7.45pm Nour El Tayeb V Latasha Khan
Pictures from LINDA ELRIANI (Heights Casino)