By JANE BALL (Squash Mad Reporter)
World No.1 Nouran Gohar led the top seeds through to the the quarter-finals of South Western Women’s Open in Houston, Texas as the action on day two featured the top half of the second round draw.
Gohar was first in action and wasted no time as she stormed past her surprise round two opponent, Ka Yi Lee from Hong Kong.
With 43 places separating the two in the PSA rankings, the task could not have been tougher for Yi Lee, who struggled to gather any momentum as Gohar won through in 20 minutes.
Gohar said: “It’s always good to have a fresh start and a good start in a tournament. It’s always good to start with a good performance and a good win like this to give you that confidence.
“My off-season was both quite intense and relaxing. In the past, I would only take maybe two weeks off but last season I played a lot of matches so I took more time off than usual and I had a slight shoulder injury so I took some time to rehab that. But then the second part was tough training with Rod [Martin] in Connecticut, which was intense.”
Gohar’s opponent in the quarter finals will be USA’s No.6 seed Olivia Fiechter, who was victorious in the all-American encounter with Sabrina Sobhy.
Fiechter was without a win against Sobhy in four attempts on the PSA World Tour heading into the match but showed no signs of nerves as she took the opening game 11-8.
Fiechter used great hold and deception throughout the match and did a great job of retaining the T, keeping her compatriot behind her for most of the match.
Sobhy held a four-point advantage in the second game at 8-4 but Fiechter battled back to take an all-important 2-0 lead, winning 12-10.
The end came quickly for the younger American as the no.6 seed moved from strength to strength and secured her place in the last eight, winning 11-3 in the final game.
The match of the day came from No.8 seed Emily Whitlock and dangerous Egyptian Sana Ibrahim as they played out an entertaining five-game battle for the Houston crowd, which went the way of the Welsh No.2.
After falling behind twice in the match, Whitlock relied on her trademark accuracy at the front of the court partnered with her excellent use of height, exposing the technique of her younger opponent.
Ibrahim displayed great fight and determination to keep fighting in every rally but looked to have run out of ideas in the crucial fourth and fifth games as Whitlock took them 11-6, 11-3 to advance.
No.3 seed Rowan Elaraby closed out day two with a victory over compatriot Mariam Metwally to complete the top half quarter final draw. Metwally started the better of the two and came out firing in the opening game, attacking both the front corners with purpose and took the game 11-7.
It wasn’t long before the World No.7 clicked into gear and found her length to pin Metwally in the back corners and showcase her own attacking capabilities.
Elaraby’s growing confidence was clear to see as she progressed through the match and picked off the loose shots being played by her fellow Egyptian.
Elaraby closed out the final three games 11-6, 11-4, 11-5 to book her place in her first quarter final of the new season.
The action continues from the South Western Women’s Open today as the four bottom half matches take place and will be shown live on SQUASHTV from 16:30 (GMT-5).
English eyes will be watching the match-up between Commonwealth Games champion Gina Kennedy (seeded four) and 9/16 seed Jasmine Hutton.
PSA World Tour Gold $110k South Western Women’s Open, Houston Squash Club, Houston, Texas, USA.
Second Round (top half):
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt Ka Yi Lee (HKG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-2, 11-3 (20m)
 Olivia Fiechter (USA) bt [9/16] Sabrina Sobhy (USA) 3-0: 11-8, 12-10, 11-3 (37m)
 Emily Whitlock (WAL) bt [9/16] Sana Ibrahim (EGY) 3-2: 8-11, 11-5, 5-11, 11-6, 11-3 (60m)
 Rowan Elaraby (EGY) bt [9/16] Mariam Metwally (EGY) 3-1: 7-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-5 (37m)
Second Round (bottom half, today):
 Georgina Kennedy (ENG) [Bye] v [9/16] Jasmine Hutton (ENG)
[9/16] Olivia Clyne (USA) v  Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
 Salma Hany (EGY) v [9/16] Nadine Shahin (EGY)
[9/16] Hana Ramadan (EGY) v  Amanda Sobhy (USA)
Pictures by Collin Poon Kong courtesy of PSA World Tour